Collateral Damage And Public Relations
DC Pilots, a well-connected and media-savvy online association of those most directly affected by the ADIZ and other Washington-area flying challenges, was the first to notice the transcript's absence. From there, word spread quickly until AOPA was motivated by the event to file a Freedom of Information request to have the transcript (the whole thing) put "back in public view." AOPA President Phil Boyer is shouting his disdain from the rooftops. "How ridiculous can you get?" Boyer said. "These were public meetings covered by the news media. Nothing was said that wasn't already in the more than 21,000 written comments. Do they honestly think security information was disclosed during the public meetings?" As of Friday, it seems the TSA doesn't. The Transportation Security Administration has performed an assessment and on Friday, pronounced Bush's comments clear of any SSI. "We did a review of the testimony to make sure there was no SSI contained," TSA spokeswoman Amy von Walter told CNET.com. "We did not find any." The circumstances surrounding both the meetings, and the flood of public comment (almost all negative and full of anecdotal evidence about the failure of the ADIZ), has prompted speculation that the removal of the transcript has more to do with public relations than national security. "There was nothing said that would help a terrorist, but there was certainly plenty said about operational problems, the economic impact, and general criticism of what most pilots view as bad public policy," Boyer noted.