After the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) failed to fulfill its legal obligations to produce documents to federal investigators, House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) Chairman Jason Chaffetz has called it “unacceptable” and threatened to subpoena the agency for withholding information.
The Daily Caller reported that TSA Administrator Huban Gowadia claimed she received guidance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that granted her agency permission to withhold documents under the attorney-client privilege. Unfortunately, there is no written or documented proof of this alleged guidance. In the video below, she claimed it was an attorney, though refuses to relinquish the name of the individual.
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) March 2, 2017
In response to her allegations, Chaffetz retorted, “You just make this up, it’s not in writing?”
He later told Gowadia to furnish proof of those documents. “You have a week from Friday, OK? A week from Friday, or I issue a subpoena. And guess what? I don’t need a committee vote. I don’t need to go ask a judge. I can do it myself, and I’m telling you here on national television, you will get a subpoena for that information.”
In the video below, Chaffetz presses Gowadia during a hearing for a list of “specific names” of those who have prohibited her agency from providing information to Congress and the Office of Special Council (OSC). He also calls for the TSA to produce “complete and unredacted records,” which he stated need to be submitted to the OSC by March 10, otherwise the agency will face getting subpoenaed.
“If you don’t provide this by March 10, I will issue a subpoena,” Chaffetz said.
According to OSC Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner, the TSA claimed attorney-client privilege without knowing who the client was, and the OSC has received over 350 TSA employee whistleblower complaints dating back to 2012. Conveniently, the same year Congress granted TSA employees whistleblower protections, says The Daily Caller.
Reportedly, the TSA has a long history of classifying information as unreleasable sensitive security information, which can have “far-reaching consequences,” according to DHS Inspector General John Roth.
Officials with TSA, for instance, redacted from documents information that travelers should remove things like belts in airport security checks even though the same information appears on TSA’s website.
Roth told Chaffetz, “For instance, SSI designation have been used as a basis for challenging the disclosure of information by whistleblowers, which may have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers.”
H/T: The Daily Caller
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