Sai v. TSA: Legal action

Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

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Since being abused by the TSA at BOS and SFO, I have filed multiple lawsuits against the TSA.

You can read all filings in my TSA litigation for yourself, as well as my full archive of legal research and blog posts.


  1. Sai v. TSA, No. 1:14-cv-00403 (D. D.C.) [FOIA]

    Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

    Filed 2014-03-13, this case asks the court to force the TSA to respond to my requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act.


    • Thousands of pages of documents have been released to me post-litigation.
    • 2016-02-29: Final response re policies & procedures, withholding in full 359p of documents about no fly, selectee, etc lists.
    • 2016-01-07: TSA claims that it has no records about my complaints (BOS, SFO).

    Next update: March 11 status conference. June 9 TSA MSJ / Vaughn. August 8 opposition / cross motion. September 7 TSA reply / cross opposition. October 7 cross reply.

  2. Sai v. DHS et al., No. 1:14-cv-01876 (D. D.C.) [Rehab Act]

    Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

    Filed 2014-11-05, this case asks the court to require the TSA to respond to my two formal administrative complaints under the Rehabilitation Act (re SFO and BOS), as well as for damages stemming from TSA's intentional obstruction of justice by its office of chief counsel telling its complaint processors to "not process" my case.

    Outcome: I won, and TSA was ordered to pay my costs.

    In January 2016, TSA responded to my March 2013 SFO complaint after ordered to do so by the judge in December 2015. I immediately filed an administrative appeal. On Feb. 16, TSA responded to my appeal by upholding its decision.

    In March 2015, during litigation, TSA responded to my January 2013 BOS complaint, and then in August 2015, responded to my May 2015 administrative appeal thereof.

    Their actual deadlines: 180 days for the complaint, 30 days for the appeal.

    2018-08-18, after threatening further litigation, finally got a response to the non-Rehabilitation Act aspects of my BOS and SFO complaints.

    BOS & SFO incidents, and TSA's obstruction of justice in ordering its people to "not investigate" my complaints, will be separately litigated.

  3. Sai v. TSA et al., No. 1:15-cv-13308 (D. MA.) [BOS]

    Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

    Filed 2015-09-04, this case brings a wide range of civil rights claims against TSA, individual TSA agents, and Massport police stemming from my abuse at BOS airport.

    Status: Court denied my motion for IFP privacy. On hold entirely, pending appeal of that denial (see below).

    Next update: Probably in a few months, once the IFP appeal is resolved and I can ask for appointment of counsel without violating my privacy.

  4. Sai v. Neffenger, No. 15-2356 (1st Cir.) [§46110]

    Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

    Filed 2015-11-12, this case challenges all of TSA's "orders", which includes all of their "standard operating procedures", their "Sensitive Security Information" (SSI, 49 U.S. Code § 114(r)) withholdings in my FOIA requests, and the special review statute (49 U.S. Code § 46110(a) and § 46105(b)) that violates due process.


    1. 2016-04-13: Court granted my motions for abeyance, withdrawal, and evidence preservation. Injunction will be re-briefed in entirety after they decide whether I get to have appointed counsel (and hopefully after TSA files the record).


    1. Sai: Petition for review (petition; motion to dismiss expected)
    2. TSA: Motion asking the court to let them not file the record as required by law (motion; response and cross-motion to compel; TSA reply/response; reply re cross-motion, evidence preservation letter re SEA)
    3. Sai: Motion to compel production of unpbulished citations (motion, 15-AP-E summary and minutes, 15-CV-EE summary and minutes; response; reply; supplemental authority; 2nd supplemental authority; 3rd supplemental authority, April 2016 Appellate rules committee TOC, Tab 9 - 15-AP-E, Criminal rules committee TOC, Tab 7A - 15-CR-D; 4th supplemental authority, June 2016 standing committee TOC, Tab 3A - 15-AP-E, Tab 3C - appellate agenda, Tab 3D - 15-AP-E, Tab 4C - 15-CV-EE, 15-CV-GG, Tab 6C - 15-CR-D)
    4. Sai: Motion for clarification re abeyance (motion; no response)
    5. Sai: Motion for modification / clarification re evidence preservation (motion, TSA correspondence with CAS, DHS, SFO, 3rd party, Congress; see TSA's motion for response)
    6. TSA: Motion to be relieved from having to preserve evidence (motion; response pending. Also: TSA letter; my response, emails from me, from them)
    7. Sai: Emergency motion to strike, stay, redact, compel provision of citations, & appoint interim counsel (motion; response; reply; partial withdrawal)

    Next update: TBD.

    Related: pursuing a very similar injunction as Corbett v. TSA, No. 15-15717 (11th Cir.), as well as a challenge to TSA's international security interview program (another § 46110 "order"), Corbett v. TSA, No. 15-10757-A (11th Cir).

  5. Sai v. TSA et al., No. 15-2526 (1st Cir.) & Sai v. TSA, No. 16-5004 (D.C. Cir.), No. 16-287 (SCOTUS) [IFP]

    Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

    Filed 2015-12-15 (1st Cir.) and 2016-01-19 (D.C. Cir.), these two cases appeal the D. MA. and D. D.C. courts' denials of my IFP privacy motion, asking the court to allow me to file for in forma pauperis (aka "broke enough to waive court fees and appoint free lawyer") status with my affidavit under seal (protected from the public) and ex parte (protected from the other side — in this case, including the US government).


    Next update: TBD (1st Cir. cert. pet. forthcoming)

  6. Sai v. Smith et al., No. 3:16-cv-01024-JST (N.D. CA.) [SFO]

    Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

    Filed Feb. 29, 2016, this case brings civil rights claims against TSA and individual TSA agents stemming from my abuse at SFO airport.

    Status: pending CM/ECF order and other initial filings

    Next update: probably mid-March

  7. Sai v. Abdi et al., to be filed (W.D. WA.) [SEA]

    Unless settled, this case will bring civil rights claims against TSA and individual TSA agents stemming from my abuse at SEA airport (caught on video), primarily involving mandatory electronic strip search. The latter is already in court.

    Status: 2016-08-18 TSA response gotten by threat of litigation; appeal pending; FTCA claim pending

    Next update: TBD.

Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

Why I'm suing the TSA

Freedom of travel is a Constitutional right. International travel is even more protected, both under US law and international treaties (UNDHR, art. 13, ICCPR art. 12 / CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.9). US citizens have a statutory right to travel through US airspace.

The TSA is repeatedly infringing on those rights.

My ultimate goal is to change TSA policy nationwide, so that what's happened to me never happens again to anyone — not simply to make things easier for myself.

If I wanted to just get through airports easier, I could e.g. give up my privacy rights and show them notes from my neurologist; I could give up my 4th amendment and Rehabilitation Act rights and buy juice after security (which might or might not suit my needs); I could show them highlighted policy documents that they are supposed to know.

If I did all that, I might indeed get through checkpoints more easily and with less risk in that particular incident. But then I wouldn't have a legal claim, and all the people who don't have the chutzpah (and knowledge) to do the same would be deterred from exercising their legal rights.

My aim is to make systemic changes — so nobody has to go through choose between being abused or being able to exercise their civil rights.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists #124

I think I'm pretty reasonable, and it's TSA that is unreasonable by violating civil rights. But I suppose it's a matter of perspective.

What a huge debt this nation owes to its "troublemakers." From Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King, Jr., they have forced us to focus on problems we would prefer to downplay or ignore. Yet it is often only with hindsight that we can distinguish those troublemakers who brought us to our senses from those who were simply... troublemakers. Garcia v. Bloomberg, 865 F. Supp. 2d 478, 482 (S.D. N.Y. 2012)

Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

Abbreviated timeline

  • 2013-01-21: Boston incident happened.
  • 2013-01-26: I filed a formal ADA grievance, FOIA, etc about the Boston incident.
  • 2013-03-01: SFO incident happened. On the same day, I filed a formal ADA grievance, FOIA, etc.
  • 2013-03-30: I published my video of the SFO incident to YouTube and it went viral.
  • 2013-04-01: I was on RT America News about the SFO incident. Internally, TSA's Rehab Act complaint handler said that TSA office of chief counsel had told them to "not process" my complaint.
  • 2013-04-03: I got the SFO video via a FOIA request and added it to YouTube.
  • 2013-04-04: I was on RightThisMinute about the SFO incident.
  • 2013-04-05: TSA ODPO finally acknowledged my complaint, months late and one day after I was on TV.
  • 2013-04-08: TSA told RightThisMinute that "TSA did not follow its procedures" at SFO.
  • 2013-05-01: TSA ODPO initiated "formal resolution" (months late under 29 USC 794), saying that it would take 180 days.
  • 2013-09-18: TSA confirmed that they had written responses to both incidents but that they're "under review". (This is over a month past the statutory 180 day deadline, which itself was unlawfully 3 months late in being started.)
  • 2013-11-23: I filed a FOIA request for all documents related to both incidents (including their already-written responses that they've refused to release).
  • 2014-01-02: I filed suit in the US District Court of DC.
  • I didn't get any proper responses or documents from TSA until months after I sued.

Updates | FOIA - Rehab Act - BOS - §46110 - IFP - SFO - SEA | Why - timeline - support

I <3 supporters

To everyone who has donated so far — all my patreon patrons, 27 anonymous people, Alan Jaffray, Ben Heaton, Brent Smith, Forrest Davie, Jakob Burgos, James O'Keefe, Jonathan Hammer, @hibitcoin, Leland Paul, Michael Chermside, Michelle Tackabery & zmccord — thank you!