TSA Dodges Congressional Investigation of Breach

Outraged by this revelation, Congress called for hearings. Gale Rossides, TSA’s acting director, was called to testify and to explain how such a thing could have happened. In defense of the matter, Rossides told Congress that the security manual posted online doesn’t matter because a new security manual overrides the older one. At least one representative saw through the ruse. "Any new versions [of the manual] were built on older versions," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said. "There obviously is information that is out there that is in the latest iteration."

Rossides was then asked to provide members of the House Homeland Security Committee with a copy of the most current manual, so that its members could decide for themselves. Citing that this was "Sensitive Security Information," or SSI, Rossides refused.

Rep. Charlie Dent, a ranking member of the House of Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security and infrastructure protection, picked up the ball. Dent demanded that TSA provide him with a copy of the new manual so he could decide for himself. Dent told the Washington Times that he had never seen a federal official refuse to share a document such as this with members of Congress. “By refusing to give a document to this committee because of concern about a public disclosure, that’s implying that this subcommittee would disclose the document,” Dent said, adding that he would press the issue further. He didn’t say how or when.

Outside the hallowed halls of Congress, whistleblowers had a field day with TSA’s having being caught red-handed. “Rossides’ tap dance routine put Ginger Rogers to shame,” said Dan Hanley, public spokesman of the Whistleblowing Airline Employees Association. Former DHS Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin chose his words more carefully, but more or less said the same thing. “There has been a pattern of incompetence and ineptitude on the part of the TSA over the years,” Ervin explained.

In its own defense, the TSA shamelessly issued more of its trademark doublespeak: "Thorough post-incident analysis has determined that our systems are secure and that screening protocols have not been compromised," a TSA spokesman said.

Translation? Flying with a bin Laden doesn’t seem so bad after all.