air transport

Bloggers bullied for posting TSA memo

[Updated 12/31: The Transportation Security Administration dropped the subpoenas! Good!  Read more here. ]

The past day or so has been rough on two bloggers – Steve Frischling (Flying with Fish) and Chris Elliott (

Each posted a leaked copy of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) memo about the new security rules rolled out in the wake of the botch Christmas Day airplane bombing.

You can read the Associated Press summary of what happened here, but the scary part is that last night, armed with subpoenas, special agents from the Department of Homeland Security visited each of these writers and demanded that they reveal who gave them the leaked security directive.

Tuesday night, while Frischling Tweeted messages to fellow bloggers about what was happening, two special agents were going through his home computer and his Blackberry looking for clues.  They came back Wednesday morning to get his laptop so they could take it off-site and copy files.  Read his detailed account of the visit here.

Here’s what Chris Elliott wrote on his blog about what happened at his house. We haven’t heard yet whether or not Elliott felt compelled to give over his computer, or his sources, but you can read the full text of the subpoena on his Web site.

What will come of this? Is someone going to jail? Will the “leaker” be unmasked? We’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, the story has kicked off a serious discussion about the rights of bloggers vs. journalists; the appropriateness of posting leaked documents and, of course, the strong-armed actions the DHS is taking in order to smoke out the leaker.

Here are some links to some of the bloggers and Web sites that have written about many of the issues raised by this incident:

David Parker Brown (Airline Reporter) wrote about the incident early and has been updating as news breaks.

In Aviation Week, Chris Fotos wrote about why he’s not so sure Elliot and Frischling should have posted the security directive in the first place.

Chris Gray Faust (Chris Around the World) wrote of  her concerns about “who protects journalist bloggers”? And in her blog post titled “Paying a price for setting the record straight?” Mary Kirby (Runway Girl) shares a few late-breaking comments from the TSA and offers additional information about the leaked security directive saga.

Stay tuned.