Report: TSA Special Agent who threatened blogger spaces out, drops notebook in public place


(Click for large). Oh, those TSA agents are special alright. Mary Kirby, aka Runway Girl, reports that one of the federal agents who showed up at travel writer Steven Frischling's house to issue a subpoena and search his computer for the source of the agency's leaked security directive flaked out and left his notebook lying in a public place.

Yes, a notebook with notes on the very important Department of Homeland Security investigation they were conducting. No TSA response on this one yet. Kirby blogs the photo above, and asks:

Would you define such a misstep as complete ineptitude? Would you wonder how the agency protects the information it gleans from other - more important - investigations (you know, ones involving threats against our nation)?
Such tough questions! These were the same agents who (according to the Wired report) showed up armed at Frischling's home, told him "I don't think you know how much trouble you're in," said they had to run to Wal-Mart to buy a hard drive to burn his MacBook contents to, came back and couldn't figure out how to get that to work, then seized his hard drive and took off, returning it later in malfunctioning order after they'd copied what they wanted.

Wonder what else was in the little notebook ("created with pride by Americans who are blind.") Presumably, some directly identifying information which is not shown in the photos Kirby chose to publish.

Exclusive: TSA agent's notebook discovered in public place (flightglobal)


  1. So… I take it that 24 isn’t, in fact, how spy agencies actually work in real life? One has to wonder what these spooks see every morning when they look in the mirror.

    I’m reminded of the fumbling IAD detectives in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. I’ll bet these jokers even look similar.

    1. For what it’s worth, the TSA isn’t a spy agency either. They aren’t even a police agency. They’re basically security guards with delusions of grandeur.

      1. They’re basically security guards with delusions of grandeur.

        And just in case the meaning of that sentence isn’t 100% clear in your mind, dear reader, you may wish to review this.

      2. That’s what’s bothering me about this whole story. The TSA can’t legitimately show up at anyone’s doorstep and demand anything.

        Honestly, if a couple rent-a-cops showed up on my doorstep demanding they be let in to conduct a search, I’d be calling 911 to report a home invasion in progress.

      1. “24 isn’t even how real life operates in real life.”

        I’ve used Visual Basic and I can assure you it does.

  2. I cant draw my eyes away from the lowercase i in “JOURNALiST”. Sure, it is a personal pet-peeve, but I cant fathom that the nation is being protected by anybody who puts a lowercase letter in the middle of a clearly uppercase word. Why does “i” get that treatment ?

  3. So, we now know how “Hot Shorts” got on the airplane? The TSA agent assigned to hand carry the database information from the embassy liason dropped his little notepad and so it never made it into the “No-Fly” database?

  4. The best part was this very special agent was “serving” a subpoena, not a warrant. He went out of his way to threaten a citizen with what amounted to a lawyer’s wish list. Any lawyer worth his salt would have told the agent to leave the premises with his tail tucked between his legs. The lawyer who sent out a subpoena to a blogger should be sanctioned and disciplined by his bar, and the agent should be fired for pulling such a sleazy deception to get “consent” for a search.

  5. For everyone’s information, the Federal Government is mandated by Congress to buy from NIB/NISH if they make what you are looking for. Skillcraft is the main National Industry for the Blind source for most office supplies.
    I don’t like that size of steno pad, myself. I prefer the next size up (6.5″ x 9″)k it has more space.

  6. Has anyone else noticed that the spiral binding on the notebook on the left (14 weird and loopy spirals) is completely different than the one on the right ( 13 nice and tight spirals)?????? Just saying. I’m smelling a little fish.

  7. Nice catch. The notebook cover on the left does not match the picture on the right. Looks to me like someone is trying to play a little game here, and everyone eagerly bought it.

  8. Yes, doesn’t look like the same notebook to me, either. Don’t understand that because if you were going to fake that why not use the same notebook for both pics?

  9. @ other Anonymous:

    Re: spiral count.

    Don’t count the spirals, count the HOLES they go through. Both notebooks have 13 holes, and if you look, the last “spiral” is actually the end loop going back through the hole again to keep the wire from unraveling out of the holes.

  10. “Has anyone else noticed that the spiral binding on the notebook on the left (14 weird and loopy spirals) is completely different than the one on the right ( 13 nice and tight spirals)?????? Just saying. I’m smelling a little fish.”

    See a doctor for that smelling problem. And see an optometrist also:
    Photo on the left is closed giving an unobscured view of the wire binding. Photo on the right the notebook is open and obscures most of the wire binder – you cannot see “13 nice and tight spirals”.

  11. Spiral Truthers: Not only the hole count, but also look at the way the spirals bend (or don’t) in the first photo — which match how they bend in the second photo. The light is dimmer in the second photo, which gives the illusion of thicker, darker wire, but you can clearly see it is thin silver wire in the fourth hole from the left.

    1. Looking at the linked blog I got the impression that the scrappy notebook at the top of the page is just intended to give the impression that this is an article about notebooks. They don’t put them side by side the way BB does and don’t present them as being the same book.

  12. So I took a picture of one of mine. It does appear to look black when in shade without proper lighting.. as it has picked the darkness of the silver.

    Also a close review you can see the wires bending at the odd angles since the majority of the wires are covered because the top hasn’t been flipped open properly. The wires are being about 70% covered. It is hard to tell, but knowing the idiotic moves the guys made (subpoena, no backup media, breaking the keyboard and many other stupid moves…) I will have to say this is totally believable in the light of that.

  13. Something I’ve often wondered: are law enforcement officers required to reimburse citizens for property damage they cause in the course of executing their duties? For instance if the TSA breaks down my door to image my hard drive and figure out how I got a copy of a TSA agent’s SSI-protected information into my browser cache, are they required to fix it? Or if they break the laptop of someone cooperating with them, are they required to reimburse?
    BTW, google “strange spirals” if you want something to direct your spiral-debunking skills at. I see nothing contradictory between the two photos, just different viewpoints.

  14. “I don’t think you know how much trouble you’re in,”
    I take by saying that you mean I shouldn’t say a word to you and call my lawyer? No problemo!

  15. Would have been funny if it said:

    TSA Agent’s Notes

    1. Treathen bloggs
    2. ????
    3. Profit

  16. I’ve just updated the blog to include a close-up of the actual spiral. I think it will answer your questions about the holes.

  17. To be fair to the TSA, they probably didn’t send their best and brightest on Operation: Intimidate Bloggers. It feels more like one of those stupid things a boss orders on a whim in the middle of a tirade, and probably got tasked to “New Guy” and “that scary-looking temp.”

  18. the scattered letters that are darkened by repeated pen strokes (like the “R” and “Y” in “uppeR nY”. I’m not searching for a secret word. I’d guess that the agent’s are told to periodically nod and write something (anything!) on their pad. The presence of so many such letters is a giveaway that the agents didn’t hear much that interested them. If they DID hear something significant, they would’ve written that instead of darkening another random vowel. I suppose our taxpayer dollars have gone to train them to simply nod at strategic moments and scribble busily on their pad, perhaps to unnerve the person being interviewed.

  19. Isn’t it innnnnnnnnnnteresting that this thread was thrown spiraling off track by one anonymous writer’s accusation that the photos of the notebook smelled of fish. Did it make you feel better to see the next writer agreed with them? Except that second blogger is called anonymous. It can’t be the same anonymous blogger agreeing with themselves, can it? Pretty good job of creating a diversion, no? Give them credit. They’re learning, people.

    Kinda creepy to think they are watching. Learning. Absorbing. Utilizing. Evolving. Whoa, I don’t mean the TSA. I mean those crappy little grocery store discount cards we’ve been swiping for years. They whetted the monster’s appetite for our data. That gave them a taste of what it’s like to feed on our data.

    ‘Scuse me for a second… Now who could that be…. knocking on my door at this hour?

  20. I wonder if the TSA dropped its subpoenas because it knew that the special agents who visited Steven Frischling’s house broke the rules including misplacing a notebook associated with their investigation of Frischling.

  21. Upstate NY is common usage. If in Manhattan, uptown.

    Who are these people? Upper NY??

    I find it hard to believe that the blogger would let anyone in without a warrant.

  22. Hey don’t knock the notebook (created with pride by Americans who are blind). I work overseas for the State Deparment and we use those things every day. They’re free and they’re awesome.

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