Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/11/tsa_dhs/

Congressmen steam over Wikileaks TSA breach

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll achieve very little

By Christopher Williams

Posted in Government, 11th December 2009 14:24 GMT

Three US Congressmen, outraged that parts of US government airport security manuals were inadvertently published and then posted on Wikileaks and Cryptome, are demanding to know what legal weapons are available against whistleblowing websites.

Republicans Peter King, Charles Dent and Gus Bilirakis wrote to the Department of Homeland Security this week with a series of questions about the bodged publication of a Transport Security Administration (TSA) document.

The manual revealed standard screening procedures at airports. Sensitive portions had been redacted before it was published, but a simple cut-and-paste operation beat the attempted blackout.

The results, which discussed limitations of screening equipment and procedures, were posted on Cryptome and Wikileaks.

In a letter the Congressmen asked: "How has the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration addressed the repeated reposting of this security manual to other websites and what legal action, if any, can be taken to compel its removal?"

The answer of course, as experience shows, is none.

Repeated legal huffing and puffing at Wikileaks by offshore banks, air traffic controllers, calculator makers and Scientologists has met with no success. Or at least no success that has had any effect, thanks to the site's global network of mirror servers.

Cryptome meanwhile specialises in national-security-related documents, and is long-versed in the celebrated strategy adopted by the respondent in Arkell v Pressdram.

But perhaps aware that takedown has proved impossible, the Republican trio also ask if DHS believes "criminal penalties necessary or desirable to ensure such information is not reposted in the future?"

The Congressmen's other questions are about TSA redaction procedures, how the blunder came about and what officials will do to avoid a repeat. Five individuals were suspended this week, pending an investigation ®