Brief: TSA subpoenas bloggers to find source of security doc leak.
The Transportation Security Administration is attempting to find the source of a leak of a sensitive security directive that followed a failed airline bombing attempt on Christmas Day. Two travel bloggers have revealed that they have been subpoenaed to provide information that may lead to the source of the leak.
Shortly after an attempted “underwear” bomber was discovered on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25, the Transportation Security Administration issued immediate, temporary changes to security procedures in an attempt to prevent similar incidents. The particular details of those changes were issued in an internal security directive, intended only for TSA employees. However, copies of the directive were leaked to several bloggers and quickly spread around the ‘Net.
Writers Chris Elliott and Steven Frischling both received copies of the security directive from anonymous sources, and both published the text of the directive after mass confusion set in among holiday travelers affected by the sudden changes in security procedures. It appears that the TSA is not punishing either for publishing the document; rather, they are trying to find the source of the leak.
“The DHS & TSA are taking this matter seriously, and that tells me that they are paying attention to security in detail,” Frischling wrote on his blog. So far, neither has admitted to knowing the identity of the source of the TSA directive.
The leak is somewhat embarrassing for the TSA, though, in light of a recent leak of the entire contents of the TSA’s “Standard Operating Procedures” manual online. That disclosure was due to improper redacting of the document, which the TSA later claimed to be out of date.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you find yourself in possession of information which would embarrass the government, don’t pin a giant target on yourself by posting it to your blog. Instead, use Tor to upload it anonymously to Wikileaks.