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White House Pulls Down TSA Petition 638

Posted by timothy
from the change-your-hope dept.
Jeremiah Cornelius writes with a note that on Thursday of this week "The Electronic Privacy Information Center posted a brief and detailed notice about the removal of a petition regarding security screenings by the TSA at US airports and other locations. 'At approximately 11:30 am EDT, the White House removed a petition about the TSA airport screening procedures from the White House 'We the People' website. About 22,500 of the 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the Administration were obtained when the White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition. The site also went down for 'maintenance' following an article in Wired that sought support for the campaign."
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White House Pulls Down TSA Petition

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:41AM (#40964339) Homepage

    We need a petition for the petition!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:50AM (#40964411)

      We need a petition for the petition!

      That petition will get pulled early too. Look it's doesn't matter how many petitions you stand up. Basically the folks that have the authority and power to control the people, will. Common folk are only here to support the rich and powerful by way of their taxes. Nothing else matters. You're either part of the good-old-boy network, or you're nobody. It's always been this way; for every country; for every regime; for every global power, since time began.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:00AM (#40964461)

        We need a petition for the petition!

        That petition will get pulled early too. Look it's doesn't matter how many petitions you stand up. Basically the folks that have the authority and power to control the people, will. Common folk are only here to support the rich and powerful by way of their taxes. Nothing else matters. You're either part of the good-old-boy network, or you're nobody. It's always been this way; for every country; for every regime; for every global power, since time began.

        Yes and every once in a while a revolution comes along that burns the old ways and chops heads or worse.

        • by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:09AM (#40964519)

          Yes and every once in a while a revolution comes along that burns the old ways and chops heads or worse.

          But somehow fails to effect any change at all.

          • by shentino (1139071) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:43AM (#40964745)

            People are inherently evil, and behind their altruistic motives is the instinct to backstab if they can get away with it.

            Put someone in a position of trust where they have a chance to fuck everyone over and get away with it, they will do so.

            The few who wouldn't, never seek such a position to begin with.

            It's human nature, and will never change.

            The best we can do is put in checks and balances so that we turn this nature against itself and keep it deadlocked in a stalemate.

          • by Surt (22457)

            It rotates in a new set of good ol' boys. It's change, just not the change the revolutionaries were hoping for.

          • by slashrio (2584709) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:29PM (#40965975)
            I'm afraid I just found out that the whole point of the people's power, which allegedly started with the French Revolution, was to fool us, the people, in thinking that finally we would be in control.
            While on the other hand it was just a puppet revolution setup by the banks to get rid of their bad-debt risks with lending huge sums of warfare money to kings and queens where the inheritor of the same would deny responsibility for paying back those debts. With governments you don't have this problem because then it's the whole country which is liable for the debt, and countries don't change that often.
            So the whole french revolution was nothing more than a good PR, suckering 'the people' in taking over responsibility of their countries' loans.
            While keeping those in control who already were...
            (I think the current 'debt crisis' proves my point.)
        • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:46AM (#40964769) Homepage

          > Yes and every once in a while a revolution comes along that burns the old ways and chops heads or worse.

          And within a generation or two (if that long), the revolutionaries are just as corrupt as the original regime.

          Also, it's a rare revolutionary who just wants things to be FAIR. Most of them want to get EVEN. (A very fine distinction.) History is also filled with examples of revolutionaries who, once having taken power, simply use that power to oppress those who originally oppressed them.

          • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:22PM (#40965043) Homepage Journal

            "In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.

            In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace - and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

            -- Harry Lime

            • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:21PM (#40965533)

              ... and what did that produce?

              500 years of democracy and peace.

            • by manaway (53637) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:36PM (#40966031)

              "In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace - and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Harry Lime

              Well let's see now Mr. Lime (while ignoring that *whoosh* over my head), Switzerland also produced or was a sometime inspiration for: CERN, Jacob Bernoulli, Carl Jung, Voltaire, Rosseau, Freddie Mercury, and Nietzsche. And a few international banks which are far less reliable than cuckoo clocks. So perhaps people develop science, literature, art, and whatever economics is, independently of foreign relations.

              Swiss politics involves town meetings with lots of talking, and thus real representations of local concerns instead of representatives in popularity contests (cool to have a beer with, has my family values? yeah I'll for for him/her). Switzerland's not perfect, not just banking but paying non-Swiss cheap wages for jobs the locals don't want to do; but other countries and especially the US with its take-down petitions could learn a few techniques. If, that is, the motivation was to improve democracy, which it's not.

      • by Animats (122034) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:07AM (#40964493) Homepage

        Look it's doesn't matter how many petitions you stand up. Basically the folks that have the authority and power to control the people, will. Common folk are only here to support the rich and powerful by way of their taxes. Nothing else matters. You're either part of the good-old-boy network, or you're nobody. It's always been this way; for every country; for every regime; for every global power, since time began.

        That wasn't true of the US from WWII to about 1960. Truman and Eisenhower were modest people. Truman ran a hat store. Eisenhower was a night supervisor at a creamery before he got into West Point. That period was probably the most successful in American history.

        • by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:18AM (#40964593)

          Incidentally, the top tax bracket in that period was 80-90%. The rich could still live like kings, but they didn't have billions (or the contemporary equivalent) to buy politicians.

          Income disparity is a self-reinforcing problem. If you let the rich have too much of the pie, that gives them the power to take even more.

        • by Trepidity (597)

          True, but that's a very short period, and Eisenhower only managed to get to the Presidency because he was a war hero, and becoming a war-hero has always been a way to jump rank into the aristocracy, even in the old English aristocracy.

        • That wasn't true of the US from WWII to about 1960. Truman and Eisenhower were modest people. Truman ran a hat store. Eisenhower was a night supervisor at a creamery before he got into West Point. That period was probably the most successful in American history.

          My, what rose colored glasses you have.

          Truman was a dyed-in-the-wool machine politician who inherited the presidency from Roosevelt - and he was only in the position because of deals made in smoke filled back rooms and political patronage. E

        • by DesScorp (410532)

          That wasn't true of the US from WWII to about 1960. Truman and Eisenhower were modest people. Truman ran a hat store. Eisenhower was a night supervisor at a creamery before he got into West Point. That period was probably the most successful in American history.

          It's easy to be successful when the rest of the world is still digging out of the rubble, and you live in the only place that went both untouched by the war on your mainland, and also had the last major center of industrial production intact on a large scale. You're giving people credit for all the wrong reasons here.

      • For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

        -- George Orwell, 1984

  • Tyranny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubwvj (1045960) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:42AM (#40964349)

    So much for open government and responsiveness. Yes, but only if we ask for what they want to give us.

    • How much time? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:49AM (#40964387) Journal

      TFS and TFA state that the "White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition", and indeed, the petition's page now says "The petition you are trying to access has expired, because it failed to meet the signature threshold."
      It would be nice if EPIC provided information on (i) how long a petition normally gets before it expires, and (ii) how old this petition was when it was abruptly terminated. We know that it had garnered 22500 out of the 25000 signatures required, but how much time was taken away by the early termination of the petition?

      • Re:How much time? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:18PM (#40964989)

        but how much time was taken away by the early termination of the petition?

        I'm too lazy to dig up wherever I read it, maybe it was a comment on hacker news, but it sounded like it had about another week to go before expiration.

        FWIW, I'm inclined to write this off as a glitch. There is nothing to be gained by nefariously disappearing the petition other than to draw attention to the petition. If history is any evidence, petitions that do get enough signatures don't provoke any action anyways, just a condescening pat on the head.

        • Re:How much time? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jcrb (187104) <[jcrb] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:14PM (#40965849) Homepage

          I'm too lazy to dig up wherever I read it, maybe it was a comment on hacker news, but it sounded like it had about another week to go before expiration.

          Actually you can't look it up. I was surprised when I did a search for the link that no hits from the actual site came up. So I tried forcing the link in googlecache and still got nothing so I checked the page source at petitions.whitehouse.gov and all the links have no-follow on them. Strange really, why would such an exercise in open government want to make sure there were no search engine results that brought people to the petitions or any record of what had appeared on the site.

          I'm thinking someone needs to set up a shadow copy of the site with links to all the pages created on petitions.whitehouse.gov so they get seeded into the search engines, since supposedly the no-follow only stops the initial indexing, if the page gets in from some other link it should stay in the search engine.

        • Re:How much time? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ksevio (865461) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:55PM (#40966155) Homepage

          The petition was set to expire that day, so if you assume it expires at midnight, that's just a few hours short.

          They have a month to get enough signatures, so it looks like people were just bad at promoting it. I'd go with glitch as well since the last TSA petition just got a response from the head of the TSA saying how wonderful it was.

        • but how much time was taken away by the early termination of the petition?

          I'm too lazy to dig up wherever I read it, maybe it was a comment on hacker news, but it sounded like it had about another week to go before expiration.

          It expired on the 9th. See, e.g. Bruce Schneier's post a week ago [schneier.com], or the Fark thread from the 8th saying 'it expires tomorrow' [fark.com].

      • Re:How much time? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:19PM (#40965001)

        The petition was set to expired on August 9th and expired on August 9th but long before midnight, I was looking at the site when it happened but I don't remembver the time between 10 am and 2pm IIRC. Since we don't know at what time the petition was set up in July, it's difficult to say whether the White House cheated or not.

    • Re:Tyranny (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:51AM (#40964413)

      Its getting more and more obvious though. When a government is no longer working for the people, the people will change it one way or the other, this is the lesson of history. I sometimes wonder how these guys got into power in the first place with such a poor understanding of cause and effect in politics.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:44AM (#40964359)

    Given that online petitions are notoriously ineffective, I wonder why they'd bother. Let the thing get to 25,000, and issue a generic, mostly content-free response about balancing safety and the War on Terror with civil liberties and whatever. I doubt it'd be particularly politically damaging either way, since this is one issue where the Obama administration is more or less in line with the GOP opposition, which created the TSA in the first place, and whose law-and-order branch still strongly supports it.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:45AM (#40964365)

    They were going to give a non-answer answer anyway. This is just an attempt to avoid any coverage of the issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:47AM (#40964381)

    The reddit crowd already went over this one in detail... it wasn't pulled down...the petitions have a limited amount of time, and there was a standard maintenance window near the time this particular petition ended. So no big conspiracy...just normal network maintenance...

  • by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:52AM (#40964419) Homepage Journal

    ...for the least transparent administration in American history. Perhaps the Obama Administration will restore the petition shortly after they turn over the Fast and Furious documents Obama has claimed Executive Privilege over [latimes.com].

    This is also par for the course for the Obama Administration's constant defense of the TSA. When Texas tried to pass a bill to ban TSA groping in the state, the Obama Administration threatened to impose a no fly zone on Texas [tenthamendmentcenter.com] over the right for TSA agents to grope people. Do you think think the Obama Administration will be any less protective now that they're unionized [dailycaller.com].

    Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz has called for the abolition of the TSA. Given the wasteful, intrusive, and ineffective security theater they stage, does anyone think the America public would object to to their abolition?

    • by LourensV (856614) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#40964697)

      ...for the least transparent administration in American history.

      I seriously doubt that. With modern media and the Internet all the parts of the government are more visible than they've ever been. Yes, there are things that governments today won't tell their citizens about, but those have always been there. It's just that the citizens now know about the existence of these things at all, whereas in earlier times the citizens did what they did in their homes and the politicians did what they did in their capitols and there was much less communication. And so, modern governments seem less transparent, while the citizens now actually know more about what their government does than ever before.

  • by Samuel Dravis (964810) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:52AM (#40964421)
  • Special Screening (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CosmicRabbit (1505129) <jppequenao@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:54AM (#40964431)
    The petition was not removed, but randomly chosen for special screening in a side room, away from public eyes to protect its privacy. Hence you saw it "under maintenance".
    Unfortunately it has been determined that the petition was carrying some dangerous baggage, and therefore it was denied boarding rights to the oval office. It is now blacklisted for future trips.
  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:09AM (#40964513)
    Has the "We The People" website had one iota of influence on ANY issue?

    I suspect the whole purpose was to get some good touchy-feely-see-I-care press for launching the site, not to actually do anything substantive but pat people on the head and continue to do whatever the hell they want anyway.
    • by LourensV (856614) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:04PM (#40965425)

      I suspect the whole purpose was to get some good touchy-feely-see-I-care press for launching the site, not to actually do anything substantive but pat people on the head and continue to do whatever the hell they want anyway.

      From my foreign perspective, it seems that American politicians often can't actually do that much. Let me explain that.

      Here in The Netherlands, the most important elections are for our Lower House. The people vote for any of a range of political parties, and the seats get divided based on the vote share. Then, the largest party negotiates with other parties to form a coalition large enough to have a majority in the Lower House (and the Senate, although it's of less importance), and they together write a plan for the next four years and form an administration. The leader of the largest party becomes the Prime Minister, and the others contribute some ministers as well.

      As a result of this, the executive branch is always backed by a majority in the legislative branch, enough to decide anything except changes to the constitution. Of course, this is counterbalanced by the fact that the administration is a collaboration of parties that partially disagree with each other, so that the common plan is a compromise that balances the various concerns. Sometimes parties are not willing to compromise, and they end up in the opposition as a result, with little opportunity to further their cause. Thus, there is an incentive to cooperate.

      Looking at this chart of the various administrations and corresponding party representations [wikipedia.org] reveals a general pattern of aligned legislative bodies and administrations especially in the early years, but more recently a lot of situations where it's not so clear-cut. For an administration to be really free to act, it needs the Presidency, a majority in the House of Representatives, and a majority in the Senate. Starting from the 63rd Congress on the page linked above (the last 100 years), I count 22 2-year periods in which there was no party agreement between the three, and 28 in which there was. It seems to me that it's actually pretty difficult to get anything done for an American administration.

      Of course, this can still work if the other party is willing to cooperate on things they don't fully agree with in exchange for favours on other things. Historically, that seems to have gone pretty well. But the American political environment has been getting more and more hostile and negative, and now parties seem to be happy to block things that are in the interest of the nation just to keep the other party from getting the credits for them. Broad strategic filibustering has upped the Senate requirements for getting anything done to a 3/5 majority (which hasn't occurred since the 1970's). As a result, we see things blocked for the political advantage of being able to attack the opposition over not achieving it, unless someone is willing to contribute enough campaign funds. Meanwhile, the nation is falling apart, but the politicians are too busy recording attack ads to do something about it.

      Final note: our system isn't perfect either. In the last elections we had five parties (Socialists, Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, Liberals, and Populists) all come out at about the same amount of seats. The resulting ChrDem-Lib-Pop coalition had difficulty agreeing on a plan, and broke up prematurely when the Populists backed out of the 2013 budget negotiations. So it's back to the polls in September, and meanwhile no important decisions will be taken unless there's a majority amongst the existing representatives. The 2013 budget was agreed on by such an ad-hoc majority, who recognised that something had to be done and acted in the best interest of the nation. It has left our government hamstrung though, and current polls have the leftmost and the rightmost of the large parties leading, so it doesn't look like the situation will improve soon...

  • by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@gREDHATmail.com minus distro> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:12AM (#40964537) Homepage

    oh wait.....

  • RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lexsird (1208192) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:15AM (#40964567)

    If anyone bothers to read this, (and this is an old story already, been done at Reddit) they will discover that it was due to be taken down in a half an hour. It was a half an hour early, BIG FUCKING DEAL. It's highly doubtful that they would have got the 2500 signatures in that time anyway. Besides these petitions are only for letting them know what people are on about, to get a public opinion. They don't set policy.

    This is a none issue, only made an issue by hysterical paranoid loons.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:34AM (#40964679) Journal

    I tried to sign this petition several times over the last couple of weeks, but the system would not let me create an account.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:02PM (#40964887)

    We just recently saw a study which shows that the TSA isn't an issue -- Americans don't hate them that much.

    But the study didn't control for whether you'd flown or not in the past few years.

    Obviously, I'd like to see the study redone with whether you've flown. I suspect people who've flown HATE the TSA and people who haven't think they're grand.

    But I'd also like another variable added. People who vote.

    I suspect the people who don't hate the TSA are a complacent bunch who don't read, don't think, and don't vote. I further suspect people who don't fly don't vote. But it could go the other way. I want to see those numbers. The TSA may be a much, MUCH bigger issue than the administration thinks it is, or they may be completely right -- ignore it, because it's not something the real people who vote crare about.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:12PM (#40964947)
    getting rid of janet napolitano should be the focus of the effort. She loves the police state for some reason. When she was governer of Arizona they put in revenue cameras. When she left they ripped them out. Get rid of napolitano and there is a better chance to get rid of the tsa.
  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:45PM (#40965241)
    Might as well get used to it folks. The TSA is never going away. Already it has absorbed several other agencies along the way (coast guard, etc.). As Rham Emmanuel once famous said "never let a good crisis go to waste". The creation of TSA was a direct result of 9/11 and it's continued existence is playing upon people's fears of some vague "terrorist" threat somewhere in the distance. Remember in the airports they always used to announce that the threat alert was "orange"? Never yellow, never red. Always orange. If it was yellow people might question if we even need the TSA. It was never red because they never actually caught anyone doing anything that could justify setting it to that. So basically it was just a charade. Remember how the govt told us how they were going to replace those rent-a-cops that the airlines used to hire for security? Looks to me like the same drones that were there before. The only difference is that it costs more and the lines are longer. I don't feel one bit safer. Oh, and the screenings are more invasive and we have given up (or had taken away more accurately) more of our civil rights. If someone wanted to blow up a plane they could do it TODAY, with or without the TSA. I'm not suggesting that we don't need screening in airports I just don't want the government in charge of it.

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