30/12/2009 – The Fallout From SD-1544-09-06 : The Feds At My Door
Yesterday evening was like most other nights, until around 6:30pm when I received a phone call from Chris Elliot. Chris is a travel journalist, who happens to be National Geographic Traveler’s Reader Advocate, writes a regular column for The Washington Post, produce a weekly segment for MSNBC…and Chris is the other journalist who received and published a copy of the TSA’s Security Directive SD-1544-09-06
Chris and I have conversed many times before, however this phone call began by him asking me if any Federal Agents had visited me from the Department of Homeland Security this evening, as he had just been visited by a TSA Special Agent.
Moments after my call with Chris ended a sedan pulled in front of my house and two US Transportation Security Administration Special Agents were at my door with some questions and paperwork for me. I sent two of my kids upstairs, and like Chris I was served a subpoena by the Department of Homeland Security to disclose who sent me the contents of SD-1544-09-06 (you can read Chris’ subpoena HERE)
The two Special Agents were at my house for more than two hours speaking with me as I held my youngest son in my arms most of the time. When the agent left they said they’d see me again tomorrow morning, and hopefully we come to a resolution.
First let me say this, the two agents were polite and professional. I understand they have their job to do. I understand these agents have been given a task to investigate and that what they will do. I would expect nothing less. I have repeatedly written about positive TSA experiences on Flying With Fish. I am not an apologist or looking to gain favour, I simply believe the vast majority of those in the TSA are serious professionals and these two agents acted in a manner that upheld this belief.
The DHS & TSA are taking this matter seriously, and that tells me that they are paying attention to security in detail. Their issue is not that the Security Directive expires tomorrow, or even that I posted SD-1544-09-06 but that someone within the TSA sent this sensitive document outside of the agency. I understand why the TSA wants to find the person leaking this information and I wish I had a long intertwined story about how I got the document, but I don’t.
I received it, I read it, I posted it. Why did I post it? Because following the failed terrorist attack on the 25th of December there was a lot of confusion and speculation surrounding changes in airline & airport security procedures.
We are a free society, knowledge is power and informing the masses allows for public conversation and collective understanding. You can agree or disagree, but you need information to know if you want to agree or disagree. My goal is to inform and help people better understand what is happening, as well as allow them to form their own opinions.
While I sort out what happens next in this situation, and keep my opinions to myself to protect my family from the potential ramifications, I will continue working to keep travellers informed.
Hopefully this is resolved in an amicable way so that we can all move forward and focus on the greater good of servicing the public’s best interest.