July 6, 2010

TSA CYA - Now You See It...

Hatched by Dafydd

The first clue that a new governmental policy is boneheaded is that the promulgating administration instantly attempts to "clarify" its pronunciamento.

The initial edict was as indefensible as it was inexplicable:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a "controversial opinion," according to an internal email obtained by CBS News....

It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed "inappropriate for government access."

Four of the blocked categories make at least some sense: chatting and messaging sites (potential security breach), sites devoted to engaging in criminal activity (duh), sites depicting "extreme violence" (where one can watch jihadist beheading videos, for example), and gaming sites (we don't want government employees playing online poker or HALO on taxpayer time). But then there's the joker -- websites that provide "controversial opinion."

CBS continues:

The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a "controversial opinion."

But I bet I can guess...

The e-mail was sent Friday afternoon (the day after it officially went into effect -- how well timed!); the story ran on CBS's website Saturday; and today (Tuesday), the TSA was already scrambling to "explain" what the heck it was doing. The pushback spin, however, was one of those "non-explanatory explanations":

In response, the TSA sent the following statement to CBS News Tuesday:

"TSA routinely makes improvements to our information technology systems to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats to keep our systems secure. As part of this continued effort, TSA uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization and in fact expressly created the TSA IdeaFactory and the TSA Blog to promote diverse opinions. TSA employees will be able to access web sites required for work purposes."

So the reason they must block employee access to websites with "controversial opinion" is that, in order to "keep [their] systems secure," they must "limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk." There, what could be clearer or more convincing?

Thus one presumes that the Drudge Report, Power Line, the National Review Online, Fox News, the Washington Times online, and the Washington Examiner online might all pose such immediate and obvious security risks that blocking them is a no-brainer: They interfere with employees suckling at the teat of (uncontroversial) liberal orthodoxy.

The TSA Administrator is currently John S. Pistole, a former Deputy Director of the FBI; but he was just recently appointed in May and confirmed by the Senate on June 25th. Since I assume this policy was in the works longer than one week before being announced last Friday, it's probably the baby of Pistole's predecessor, Acting Director Gale Rossides.

But in reality, the TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security; so the real capa dei capi is Janet Napolitano, President Barack H. Obama's intensely politicized administrative protégé, acolyte, and all-around groupie. If nothing else, blame the policy on the Democratic culture of suppression.

From the very beginning, the Obama administration has fought tooth and nail against freedom of speech, in both its aspects -- speaking out, and hearing what others have to say:

  • Obama's attempts to freeze out Fox News;
  • His administration's initial refusal to give interviews to any news medium that didn't already share "the Vision;"
  • His refusal, for more than three hundred days, even to hold a press conference;
  • His staggering use of "policy czars" to keep all decision-making within the administration (and under the rose), not even allowing the ultra-Democratic Congress into the inner circle of knowledge;
  • His repeated invocation of "national security" and "executive privilege" -- more than any president since Richard Nixon! -- to clam up his federal employees and keep the public in the dark;
  • His bitter opposition to allowing campaign expenditures (themselves a form of speech) by corporations, in order to balance those routinely made by unions.
  • And his threats to employees to zip it -- or face termination, or possible prosecution, as in the recent disclosures about the Justice Department killing the already-won case against the New Black Panther Party. One career federal prosecutor was exiled to South Carolina (ending his career); another had to resign, giving up his career voluntarily, in order to be free to speak out.

    (See Power Line for a good primer on the NBPP scandal, especially the three "Shadow of the Panther" posts, here, here, and here.)

In each case, Obama has made it clear that freethinking, open discussion, and especially "controversial opinion" was neither valued nor tolerated in his administration. Under pure Obamunism, only the truth is allowed to be spoken -- where "the truth" equals the catechism of the radical Left.

Of course, Barack Obama is not the first "progressive" to see dissent as at best a nuisance -- and at worst, a criminal act; consider Woodrow Wilson's signing of the Sedition Act of 1918, which in his administration included any "'disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language' about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt," is a direct precedent.

So why should we be shocked that someone in his administration -- whether Rossides, Napolitano, or the big B.O. himself -- has troubled to codify that antipathy to free speech in an internal e-mail?

The only "hope and change" we have left is that we can begin undermining his anti-American power base this November, and that this task will continue through the presidential election of 2012.

That's when the real work begins, of course, trying to undo six years of Alinskyite radicalism before it metastasizes to a terminal cancer in the American body politic, economy, and culture.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 6, 2010, at the time of 3:33 PM

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I began yesterday's lone post with this preamble: The first clue that a new governmental policy is boneheaded is that the promulgating administration instantly attempts to "clarify" its pronunciamento. The decision to prevent access by Transportation S... [Read More]

Tracked on July 7, 2010 1:59 PM


The following hissed in response by: Rhymes With Right

Come on -- do we really want our government employees reading blogs rather than doing their job? Seems to me to be a similar policy to what my school district has -- call it the "quit reading and start teaching" policy. :)

The above hissed in response by: Rhymes With Right [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2010 4:35 PM

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