Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Artful Concealment?

So, what exactly is artful concealment? Prior to working for TSA, I had never heard the term before. I used the term in a blog post a couple of months ago and based on the responses I got, many of our readers didn't seem to be too familiar with the term either.

So what does it mean? Does it mean to artfully conceal something you need to have Bob Ross paint a happy little tree on it so we won’t see it? Nope…

Let me give you a few examples, and then I’ll give you a definition.

A sword in a cane. A gun umbrella. A derringer belt buckle. A cell phone stun gun. A crucifix knife. A hollowed out bible with a gun inside. A gun taped to the bottom of a steel plate. I could give many more examples, but I don’t really want to give folks any ideas.

So basically, artful concealment is when you disguise an object by modifying its natural form to the form of something that will conceal it. This can be done by modifying the object to look like a permissible object, or it can be done by hiding the object in a belt, or shoe, bag lining etc. An artfully concealed item can also be an item that has been intentionally shielded by another object to hide its view from the x-ray.

In many cases, folks go through a lot of trouble concealing something with an item our x-rays can see right through. It’s sometimes comical to see the things that people think will fool an x-ray.

Here are some of the artfully concealed items that came through various checkpoints around the country just yesterday.

• A passenger was arrested after an officer found 19 rounds of .38 caliber ammunition hidden in their carry-on bag. The ammunition was taped together, wrapped in aluminum foil, and placed inside the handle of his carry-on bag.

• An artfully concealed 3-inch bladed belt buckle knife was detected in the carry-on bag of a passenger. The passenger surrendered the knife and was allowed to continue on their flight.

• A 2-inch pocketknife was hidden inside a laptop. The knife was located between the keyboard and the laptop screen. The passenger stated he knew the knife was in the laptop and that it was a prohibited item. Law enforcement officers issued a summons to appear in court and allowed the passenger to continue on the flight.

• A cane with an 18-inch sword blade was found during checkpoint screening. The police responded, confiscated the cane and interviewed the passenger who stated she did not know the cane (which was given to her by her husband) contained a sword. Law enforcement officers allowed the passenger to continue on the flight.

• A passenger was arrested after an artfully concealed 4½-inch knife was found inside a Santa Claus ornament. Police responded, confiscated the knife, and interviewed the passenger who stated she received the item as a gift and did not know there was a knife inside.

• A concealed pocketknife was detected during checkpoint screening. The passenger alarmed the metal detector and said that he had metal implants in his left hip. The passenger again alarmed the metal detectors and was referred to secondary screening. During hand wanding procedures, the passenger alarmed on his right side. The passenger produced a utility knife with a 2½-inch blade and wooden handle from his right pocket. State Police responded, confiscated the knife and arrested the passenger on the state charge of attempting to circumvent security screening.

• A 2½-inch knife was found inside a passenger’s belt buckle. The County Sheriff’s Department responded, took possession of the knife, and interviewed the passenger. Law enforcement officers allowed the passenger to surrender the prohibited item to a non-traveling family member and continue on the flight.

There are also a few blasts from the past I’d like to mention. We’ve had a gun in a teddy bear and a diaper bag, a knife in a baby carrier, and too many cane-swords to mention. Many of these canes are hand-me-downs or were purchased at an antique store or yard sale and the passenger had no idea whatsoever that there was a sword inside.

So what’s the moral of this story? It’s not worth getting arrested or delayed in your travels to sneak a small knife on a plane. And before you leave for the airport, double check your bags, belt and pocket for items that could cause you trouble at a checkpoint.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Update 12/17/08 1846: This happened after our blog post went live, but we wanted to share it with you anyway. After noticing a piece of metal in a shoe on the x-ray monitor, a passenger was caught artfully concealing a crack pipe under their shoe insert.



Bob

EoS Blog Team


Update 12/26/08 1500: Five rounds of .38 caliber ammunition were detected artfully concealed in a deck of cards in the carry-on bag of a passenger. The deck of cards were glued together and had five individual bore holes drilled out in order to hold the five rounds. Police responded and interviewed the passenger, who stated he “wanted to keep the bullets out of the reach of his kids.” Police arrested the passenger on the State Charge of Unlawful Possession of Ammunition.


Bob

EoS Blog Team

175 comments:

Sandra said...

So - are we supposed to be impressed?

Anonymous said...

Wow! I had to look pretty far down that list of "concealed items" to actually find someone who missed a flight! I love TSA touting that it found all these "concealed items" and then turning around and allowing the passenger to fly! Why shouldn't someone attempt to get something past the checkpoint when we (Yes, "we" - I work for the TSA) then allow them to fly?
We had to deal with this all the time. Find a prohibited item then allow the passenger to basically thumb thier nose at you while they get on thier plane. Amazing!
No wonder passengers think so little of us. We have absolutely no enforcement powers. I had to be actually assaulted by a passenger (knocked down) in front of the LEOs who would have let the passenger board the flight. It was only the air carrier who told the passenger they couldn't fly.

Anonymous said...

I think you have other problems if somebody can still take down a plane with a 2" knife.

If we keep up worrying at this rate, soon buff men won't be allowed on flights because those muscles are prohibited!

Zayin said...

What can we do to get toothpaste on the flight so we don't have to buy it when we land? What about water for the longer flights so we don't dehydrate?

Anonymous said...

I've got a story for you. To put things in context, this took place before 9/11. A well respected, elderly, computer lecturer had taken his laptop bag with him on a hunting trip. He stuffed his loaded .44 magnum in his laptop bag one night and forgot about it. Phone rings, and his wife summoned him home because her mother had died suddenly. He drives home, collects the wife, and heads straight for the airport. You can guess the rest. He was caught during the x-ray, of course, and arrested. Despite his obvious circumstances and upstanding reputation, he was prosecuted and had to plead guilty to a felony to avoid jail time. If it had been after 9/11 he'd probably still be in Gitmo, so I guess he should count himself as lucky. A few days after 9/11 my future wife flew from Miami to Frankfurt with a huge can of Mace in her purse and nobody noticed until I spotted it at the hotel and nearly had a heart attack!

Anonymous said...

That's pretty interesting. Any statistics on how many of these kinds of incidents there are per day, or per passenger, or per airport? I'm glad you guys exercise some common sense and don't punish the people who had no idea they were concealing something. I'll be honest, I look down on the TSA for many invasions of civil rights but at least in this case you guys are doing the right thing. I look forward to you using this common sense in more situations.

Anonymous said...

I could give many more examples, but I don’t really want to give folks any ideas.

Yes, because all the "Evil Doers" (tm) come to the TSA blog to get their ideas for things to hide from the TSA.

Um, buh?! REALLY? You actually really THINK like that?

Andy said...

Don't forget to pat yourself on the back for seizing all those dangerous liquids that have been artfully concealed as beverages and personal care products.

Roger D. Parish said...

re: 2-inch pocketknife concealed in laptop. I thought short-bladed pocketknives were now permitted? Or is it the fact that a legal knife was "artfully concealed"? The story doesn't say that the knife was confiscated.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone on this blog who would feel threatened by someone waving a classic Swiss army pen knife? I mean other than by their obvious stupidity?

Robert Johnson said...

So Bob, if 4 inch scissors are allowed on board and can do as much damage as any of the knifes of equal or lesser length, why are 4 inch scissors allowed but a 2" pen knife not allowed?

Doesn't make any sense, but then again, not much TSA does either.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Next, why don't you define what a permitted "round bladed butter knife" is?

Gunner said...

So how many guns or knives or atomic bombs were hidden in 20 ounce bottles of water?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long till the repeat questions and accusations start?

NoClu said...

Thanks for posting this new and informative story. Could you please update the comments from previous columns as well.

Thanks,

Anonymous said...

Posted by Bob:
A concealed pocketknife was detected during checkpoint screening. ...

The passenger produced a utility knife with a 2½-inch blade and wooden handle from his right pocket. State Police responded, confiscated the knife and arrested the passenger on the state charge of attempting to circumvent security screening.


Uh, Bob, how is having a POCKET knife in one's POCKET artful concealment? That's the natural place to carry such a tool, and in spite of TSA's paranoia, many of us still carry such tools in our pockets on a daily basis. (And prior to TSA's paranoia we even carried them when flying.) When you go banning ordinary everyday items, you are going to have people innocently forget where they are.

And I thought you didn't refer pocket knives to law-enforcement unless they were 4". This guy had a 2.5 inch blade, which is a small-medium pocket knife. What gives?

And also, of the artful concealment cases you mentioned in your post where passengers were allowed to continue to their flight, how many of those passengers later received a fine in the mail? Were those passengers told that they would be fined at the checkpoint? Your administrative extortion fines that can only be contested in a far-off Kangaroo court are a disgrace. I notice you've also added artful concealment of liquids and gels to the list of finable-offense. You people have a lot of gall to fine someone for carrying an item that is not a threat to aviation and is only an issue because of TSA's irrational paranoia and technological ineptness at differentiating between nitroglycerin and water.

Anonymous said...

When is the TSA blog going to stop artfully concealing my posts? None of the four I posted this week have shown up.

And for that matter, how can a small knife hamper security on an airplane now that cockpits are locked and passengers have learned to fight back? How is this small knife better than the many other was of getting sharp cutting objects on board (for example, broken bottles, metal pieces from bathrooms, etc)?

George said...

This is, for once, a post about the TSA actually doing the job they're supposed to do. And if passengers face sanctions as a result, it's in no way a violation of anyone's civil liberties. The TSOs have done their job and caught violations of rules that are clear, obvious, rational, and definitely not secret. Isn't that exactly what we all want?

So why all the criticism of an entirely straightforward and sensible post? Some people possibly can't accept the TSA even when it's actually doing good work and providing effective security. But I don't think that's the case here. The TSA does so many things that are arbitrary, absurd, incomprehensible, and dubiously connected with security (at least to ordinary mortals who aren't privy to the mysterious secrets that necessitate and justify the apparent lunacy) that it destroys the credibility of even sensible posts like this one.

The criticism just shows that the TSA hasn't made much progress in solving the credibility and public relations problems that this blog was (apparently) intended to address. Whoever succeeds Kip really needs to examine the TSA's policies and procedures (including TSO training and interaction with the public) with an eye toward regaining public trust and confidence. That trust and confidence is vital for effective security.

Even if the TSA has the best of intentions, by the time the Homeland Security bureaucracy grinds the "robust intelligence" into the sausage of rules and procedures at airport checkpoints the result may be more harmful than beneficial when people perceive it as pointless, intrusive, and offensive. When that happens, even genuinely effective measures are perceived in the same light as the liquids, shoes, and nipple piercing. And that undermines whatever good the TSA actually does. I can only hope the new administration will provide an environment in which the TSA can improve its credibility with the public, and thus its effectiveness.

John Mc said...

Same question as other commentors. I thought the restriction on small pocket knives was lifted??

Bob said...

Sandra said... So - are we supposed to be impressed? December 16, 2008 5:57 PM
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Sandra, while I expect to impress some, I could never expect to impress you. 
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Anonymous said... Wow! I had to look pretty far down that list of "concealed items" to actually find someone who missed a flight! I love TSA touting that it found all these "concealed items" and then turning around and allowing the passenger to fly! Why shouldn't someone attempt to get something past the checkpoint when we (Yes, "we" - I work for the TSA) then allow them to fly? We had to deal with this all the time. Find a prohibited item then allow the passenger to basically thumb thier nose at you while they get on thier plane. Amazing! No wonder passengers think so little of us. We have absolutely no enforcement powers. I had to be actually assaulted by a passenger (knocked down) in front of the LEOs who would have let the passenger board the flight. It was only the air carrier who told the passenger they couldn't fly. December 16, 2008 6:16 PM
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Anon, if you truly work for the TSA, you should realize that it’s up to the Law Enforcement Officers on whether the passenger flies or not in situations such as these.
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If we keep up worrying at this rate, soon buff men won't be allowed on flights because those muscles are prohibited! December 16, 2008 6:24 PM
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Darn, I guess I’m going to have to stop working out. ..
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Zayin said... What can we do to get toothpaste on the flight so we don't have to buy it when we land? What about water for the longer flights so we don't dehydrate? December 16, 2008 6:30 PM
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Zaylin, simply buy travel size toothpaste in tubes of 3.4 oz. or less. As far as the water, you have a couple of options. You can buy water from a vendor after you pass through the checkpoint, or you can request water on your flight from an attendant.
------------------------
Anonymous said... That's pretty interesting. Any statistics on how many of these kinds of incidents there are per day, or per passenger, or per airport? I'm glad you guys exercise some common sense and don't punish the people who had no idea they were concealing something. I'll be honest, I look down on the TSA for many invasions of civil rights but at least in this case you guys are doing the right thing. I look forward to you using this common sense in more situations. December 16, 2008 7:45 PM
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I don’t have the number broken down, but all of the events that were in bullet points happened the day before yesterday. We only had one artfully concealed item yesterday, but it was a good one. It was a crack pipe in a shoe.
--------------------------
Anonymous said...Bob Said “I could give many more examples, but I don’t really want to give folks any ideas.” Yes, because all the "Evil Doers" (tm) come to the TSA blog to get their ideas for things to hide from the TSA. Um, buh?! REALLY? You actually really THINK like that? December 16, 2008 8:16 PM
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Yes.
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Roger D. Parish said... re: 2-inch pocketknife concealed in laptop. I thought short-bladed pocketknives were now permitted? Or is it the fact that a legal knife was "artfully concealed"? The story doesn't say that the knife was confiscated. December 16, 2008 9:58 PM
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Pocketknives and box cutters of all sizes are still prohibited.
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Anonymous said... Is there anyone on this blog who would feel threatened by someone waving a classic Swiss army pen knife? I mean other than by their obvious stupidity? December 16, 2008 10:18 PM
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Hmmm… I guess it depends on who you ask? The flight attendants and the person sitting next to the individual would probably mind. Even if the passengers jumped the individual, somebody is probably going to get cut. Hope it’s not an artery…
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Anonymous said... Next, why don't you define what a permitted "round bladed butter knife" is? December 16, 2008 10:53 PM
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A permitted round bladed butter knife has no serrated edges.
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Anonymous said... Posted by Bob: Uh, Bob, how is having a POCKET knife in one's POCKET artful concealment? December 17, 2008 10:43 AM
-----------------------------
If it was truly an accident, this wouldn’t have been artful concealment. However, the individual knowingly tried to sneak the knife through security by lying about having a hip replacement.

Bob
EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Posted by George:
This is, for once, a post about the TSA actually doing the job they're supposed to do. And if passengers face sanctions as a result, it's in no way a violation of anyone's civil liberties. The TSOs have done their job and caught violations of rules that are clear, obvious, rational, and definitely not secret. Isn't that exactly what we all want?

So why all the criticism of an entirely straightforward and sensible post?


My criticism (10:43 post) derives from TSA touting its big-catches of artful concealment of items that aren't really a threat. Many of the examples involved blades under 3 to 4 inches, which in my opinion are not a credible threat.

Oh, and TSA has in fact added artful concealment of liquids to the fine-able offense list. See http://tinyurl.com/64thof That they would fine people for concealing something that they know is not a threat (TSA wouldn't throw it in the trash if it were suspected to be a threat) is a sign of how big of a power trip they are on.

Why couldn't they stick to stories of TSA catching large blades, ammunition, guns, etc.? I'm all in favor of TSA catching those items, and referring the offending passengers for arrest and prosecution under the existing criminal justice system which requires due process, open courtrooms, presumption of innocence, opportunity to present evidence, etc.

I am completely against TSA's "administrative" fines, which can only be contested in a kangaroo court and are an end run around the justice system that allows them to punish people for non-offenses like "non-physical interference with screening" (i.e., disagreeing with a screener) and "artful concealment of a liquid" (i..e, having a water bottle). TSA should leave enforcement/punishment to the cops and the courts, and stick to searching for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries as it is permitted to do by law.

It is likely that many of the passengers cited in the examples received fines in the mail even though the TSOs involved in their incidents who diligently collected their address information almost certainly made no mention of the possibility of fines. That's dishonest and equivalent to a police officer pulling you over for speeding, telling you that you are getting a warning, and then sending you a ticket in the mail later.

Tomas said...

Perhaps this would be a good place to allow my previously blocked/censored comment about how after surgery in Philly I was on my way back home to the west coast, and being doped up forgot my 30 year old, limited edition, numbered small single bladed collector's edition $600 pocket knife was in my pocket (I've carried a pocket knife since I was a boy scout in the early '50s).

Not wanting to miss my flight, and certainly not wanting to lose my valuable, treasured property to picayune non-sensical rules, I artfully concealed my 2.5 inch blade pocket knife by ______ __ __ _ _____ _______ ___-___ ___ ___ __ ______ __ _____ _____ ______ _ ___ ________ ___ ____ __ _______ ___ __________ _______ ________.

Then again, maybe not...

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Trollkiller said...

I just wonder how many things the TSOs miss because they are too busy running illegal ID verifications.

Stick to looking for the weapons, explosives and incendiaries that you are legally restricted to, and give up the illegal ID sham.

Speaking of that, I would like an entry explaining the new law that is to take effect on the 28th and how the TSA thinks that gives them the right to force an ID verification seeing how the TSA is not covered aircraft operator.

Anonymous said...

Listen folks, you're not keeping the big picture in mind. The machine must be fed, and in this case the machine is the legal-law enforcement-prison industries, the 2000's version of the military-industrial complex that is now so effective at hovering up YOUR tax dollars.

The goal of law enforcement and the legal system is to keep those numbers up. 1:100 ratio of citizens/imprisoned citizens is only just enough to keep the money flowing upstream, so they keep lowering the bar for what will get you 'into the system'. Everyone has to do their part! Right now the US is slacking, with 5% of the world population you're only at 25% of the worlds convicts - c'mon, you want to be #1 don't you?

Tomas said...

Blogger Bob wrote...
Zayin said... What can we do to get toothpaste on the flight so we don't have to buy it when we land? What about water for the longer flights so we don't dehydrate? December 16, 2008 6:30 PM
------------------------
Zaylin, simply buy travel size toothpaste in tubes of 3.4 oz. or less. As far as the water, you have a couple of options. You can buy water from a vendor after you pass through the checkpoint, or you can request water on your flight from an attendant.


Bob, I see that no one has answered a related question of mine that I (and others) have asked several times... Since the "ounce" markings on a tube of toothpaste are in weight, not fluid measure, which allows the manufacturer to put a larger number on the tube (good for sales), why do TSOs insist on rejecting tubes of toothpaste that WEIGH more than 3.4 ounces, but are LESS than 3.4 FLUID ounces?

Even if you can't fix that problem, will you at least address the question?

Thanks,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

NoClu said...

Blogger Bob, I'm confused...
You write about the frequent discovery of "artfully concealed items" but your own TAS website provides the following statistics:
Oct 27-Nov. 2: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 3 - 9: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 10 - 16: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 17 - 23: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 24 - 30: 6 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
and
Dec. 1-7: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints.

Seems like there is some confusion over reporting or you are blowing the issue out of proportion.

Finally, It seems that the vast majority, if not all of the incidents you are describing were not an attempt to threaten the command/control of an airline, or even to cause danger to others.

Anonymous said...

Here's one.

1. Passenger asks TSA for a comprehensive printed list of all the rules s/he should follow when traveling by air.
2. TSA says, "That's SSI!"

Now that's "artful concealment".


T-the-B at FlyerTalk

Phil said...

Tomas raises an interesting point.

Bob, presumably your restrictions are based on volume, not weight. How will your luggage inspectors determine the volume of a tube of toothpaste if the label does not state volume?

More generally, how will your staff determine the volume of any container? Is a label sufficient? What if I made the label? How will your staff determine which labels are accurate?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... Posted by Bob: Uh, Bob, how is having a POCKET knife in one's POCKET artful concealment? December 17, 2008 10:43 AM
-----------------------------
If it was truly an accident, this wouldn’t have been artful concealment. However, the individual knowingly tried to sneak the knife through security by lying about having a hip replacement.

Bob
EoS Blog Team

December 17, 2008 1:38 PM


Come on Bob, it was in his pocket. If he lied about the knife then ok, refer him to a LEO but it was by no means "artful".

How about my question that was not posted, if a permitted item is concealed is the "artful concealment"?

Seems like you and TSA are afraid of truthful answers!

Anonymous said...

NoClu said...
Blogger Bob, I'm confused...
You write about the frequent discovery of "artfully concealed items" but your own TAS website provides the following statistics:
Oct 27-Nov. 2: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 3 - 9: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 10 - 16: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 17 - 23: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
Nov 24 - 30: 6 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
and
Dec. 1-7: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints.

Seems like there is some confusion over reporting or you are blowing the issue out of proportion.

.............................
Bob, you sticking by the incidents you reported or is this another example of TSA stating one thing on the Official Web Site and different information being posted here?

Who are we to believe?

Joe said...

When are you guys going to start answering some of the legitimate questions that the regular posters keep asking? This blog has become a joke - it's a speakhole of TSA propaganda.

Blogger Bob,

Your suggestion about water forgot one option, the person can declare the water as medically necessary and get it through your checkpoints. Stop withholding information from people. We are tired of it.

Bob said...

Check this post for an update.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Phil said...

Bob from TSA updated the post with:

"After noticing a piece of metal in a shoe on the x-ray monitor, a passenger was caught artfully concealing a crack pipe under their shoe insert."

Hey, nice work, guys. If your hawk-eyes weren't out there, man, we'd have crack pipes in shoes on airplanes. I'll sleep better on my next flight.

Bob, why do you even care about this? Why are we wasting all this money under the guise of providing security so that you can bust people for things that probably don't hurt anyone and definitely don't endanger fellow passengers?

Are you confident that what you found is a crack pipe? Was there cocaine in it that you detected with your checkpoint cocaine detector? I can't see it very well, but it could be a meth pipe. It could also be a cannabis or tobacco pipe, but those usually aren't made of clear glass, and this one looks like it might be. Did you guys find anything illegal in this pipe, or just take it away and call it a crack pipe so you could put it on your blog?

Great! TSA is really cracking down on ID fraud, carrying of concealed smoking accessories, and... I forget what else you guys have trumpeted, but it's yet to be anything related to safety.

TSA should start checking pet licenses at airport checkpoints, too. There are probably illegal unlicensed pets out there, and they're going to come through your dragnet sooner or later. That could be one more TSA success story, right?

Seriously -- which is a bigger threat to airline security and/or more important to you to notify the police of: A) an unlicensed kitten, or B) piece of glass that looks like it could be used to smoke something, tucked away in some guy's shoe? Honestly: can you say which you consider a bigger deal? I can't say that either is more significant to a flight but I guess someone who doesn't chip in on funding for animal shelters (which is where your municipal pet licensing fees tend to go) is kind of mean to animals who need our help, so I guess missing or expired pet licensing is probably a bigger deal than pipe smuggling.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Jim Huggins said...

Bob ... forgive the snarkiness here ... but where in the list of permitted and prohibited items are crack pipes covered? If the same passenger had not artfully concealed the item, would there have been any TSA issue?

I'm just wondering if, when I hide an extra $20 in my shoes to keep in case of emergencies, I'm inviting some sort of trouble at a checkpoint ...

Sandra said...

Bob, please explain to us how a crack pipe is a threat to an airplane.

No, I didn't think you could explain that.

Please stop tooting your own horn over incidents that are NOT a threat to aviation. Nobody takes you seriously when you do that - like the boy who cried wolf.

Anonymous said...

Bob, please explain how a crack pipe poses any threat whatsoever to a jetliner.

Anonymous said...

How did the crack pipe threaten the safe operation of a commercial aircraft?

Good job protecting the travelers from such a threat!

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Roger D. Parish said...
re: 2-inch pocketknife concealed in laptop. I thought short-bladed pocketknives were now permitted? Or is it the fact that a legal knife was "artfully concealed"? The story doesn't say that the knife was confiscated.
************************************************
Knives are NOT permitted regardless of length, unless they are a round bladed non serrated butter knife, which I also disagree with, because a butter knife can still cut you regardless of the blade.

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andy said...

About your update,

How do you know it was a crack pipe instead of a tobacco pipe or a marijuana pipe? Do you have the results of laboratory tests that prove the pipe was used to smoke crack? Did you find and crack with the pipe?

Did the owner admit to smooking crack with the pipe? If so, was the owner in TSA or police custody at the time? Was the owner charged with possession of drug paraphernalia? Was the owner allowed to continue with his/her flight?

MarkVII said...

Hi Bob -- Your post starts with an interesting comment:

"So, what exactly is artful concealment? Prior to working for TSA, I had never heard the term before. I used the term in a blog post a couple of months ago and based on the responses I got, many of our readers didn't seem to be too familiar with the term either."

Fundamentally, the flying public doesn't necessarily speak the TSA's jargon, and this goes back to my prior posts about "operational definitions".

Like a lot of organizations, the TSA uses a lot of jargon in its communications. While jargon can be a useful form of shorthand among insiders, using jargon when dealing with outsiders causes confusion. I like the fact that "artful concealment" is now defined in layman's terms and with examples. Unfortunately, I have to ask "what took so long"?

If you want another interesting example of internal catchphrases vs. operational definitions, consider the discussion over what constitutes "liquids, gels or aerosols" -- especially when dealing with gray areas like lipstick, lip balm, and peanut butter. I notice some good operational definitions are in place now, but again "what took so long"?

Now here's a term that's never been defined operationally -- making "non-verbal contact", for which a passenger can be fined. How do you make "non-verbal contact"? The Force? (I thought the Sith had been taken care of at this point.)

In all seriousness, catchphrases without definitions lead to "gotcha" situations, and can fuel the perception of arbitrary and capricious application of the rules. It wouldn't hurt to comb through the TSA web site to make sure that all the catchphrases are defined in layman's terms.

Thanks for your efforts on the blog, and happy holidays....

Anonymous said...

Too lazy to go after the fruit on the higher branches, TSA declares victory on a pocket knife in a pocket and summons the local police.

You guys sure the Monty Python crew isn't ghost writing these posts?

Anonymous said...

Knives are NOT permitted regardless of length, unless they are a round bladed non serrated butter knife, which I also disagree with, because a butter knife can still cut you regardless of the blade.

So can an ordinary #2 wooden pencil, a cheap plastic ink pen, a crafted stryofoam cup, a paper mache knife, a glass shard from a bottle and keys.

TSO Tom, do you confiscate any of the above items because they may be used as weapons?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I see that no one has answered a related question of mine that I (and others) have asked several times... Since the "ounce" markings on a tube of toothpaste are in weight, not fluid measure, which allows the manufacturer to put a larger number on the tube (good for sales), why do TSOs insist on rejecting tubes of toothpaste that WEIGH more than 3.4 ounces, but are LESS than 3.4 FLUID ounces?

Even if you can't fix that problem, will you at least address the question?


I've brought up the same question about weight vs volume measurements and have been ignored by Blooger Bob as well. If they admit they were wrong about one thing then their house of cards might collapse under its own weight.

Anonymous said...

No wonder passengers think so little of us. We have absolutely no enforcement powers. I had to be actually assaulted by a passenger (knocked down) in front of the LEOs who would have let the passenger board the flight. It was only the air carrier who told the passenger they couldn't fly.

Your organization answers to no one. It is out of control and deserves being reined in. Knocked down? Did they pummel you or did they accidentally bump into you? Were you screaming at them in a faux rage?

Custom Patches said...

I do not understand why people will go through many lengths just to conceal an item that they can probably purchase at their destination. As far as the crack pipe, while I do agree with the above posters that it is not necessarily a direct threat to security, it is nonetheless illegal to possess. I think the point of the poster was to show how creative people get to conceal items that could possibly be a threat to passengers. While at times airport security is an inconvenience, I would much rather have them watch out for things like this (even if it's not a threat, in this case a crack pipe, which the screeners probably didn't realize until they manually inspected the shoe) than to risk a drunk, drugged or aggressive passenger pull out a blade at 35,000 feet.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Why is the crack pipe considered dangerous? Is this just because it was concealed? I can't understand why you would make a big deal about it (or any deal at all). Was the pipe added to the official TSA concealed items list? If these are the kind of items the we are paying millions of dollars to be found twice a week, you are certainly justifying the immediate end of your organization.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

When you first boasted about the crack pipe I thought it was some kind of explosive that I did not know about, and stepped back a little thinking you actually may once in a while do something useful.

Today, having found out it is an actual pipe to smoke crack with, you are back down to zero on the useful scale.

Are crack pipes the "artfully concealed" items the TSA site so proudly boasts to find a couple of times every week? Is this what we want our money spent on?

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Why don't you just admit that the reason TSA insists on x-raying all shoes, is to look for drugs, drug paraphernalia, cash, etc.?

If you really wanted to screen out weapons and explosives, clearing a metal detector and an ETD or ETP would clear the shoes. But what you really care about is setting up a dragnet for people who are trying to hide something. And in many cases, what they are trying to hide (i.e., cash on a domestic flight) is perfectly legal. Yet you harass them anyway.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves for setting up this un-Constitutional dragnet that grossly exceeds the scope of your permitted administrative search for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries.

HappyToHelp said...

Came across this recently

H. Res. 1150
"Urges TSA to give special attention to school transportation systems by working with school administrators, state and local law enforcement, and other representatives in the school transportation industry to keep children safe from terrorist attack."

What is TSA doing in regards to school transportation? What is the way forward on school transportation?

I know this is just a urging from the House of Representatives and holds no power over TSA but it would be nice to know what HQ is doing on this issue.

source:H. Res. 1150

Bob said...

Phil's comment from December 17, 2008 10:09 PM has been deleted due to a link to adult content.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Bob said...

NoClu said... Blogger Bob, I'm confused...
You write about the frequent discovery of "artfully concealed items" but your own TAS website provides the following statistics:

Oct 27-Nov. 2: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 3 - 9: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 10 - 16: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 17 - 23: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 24 - 30: 6 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

and

Dec. 1-7: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints.

Seems like there is some confusion over reporting or you are blowing the issue out of proportion.
December 17, 2008 2:57 PM
-------------------------
NoClu – You listed Dec. 1-7. These events occurred between Dec. 8-14th Stand down. No conspiracy to see here…
-----------------------------
Joe said... Your suggestion about water forgot one option, the person can declare the water as medically necessary and get it through your checkpoints. Stop withholding information from people. We are tired of it. December 17, 2008 6:39 PM
-----------------------
You are correct, but how am I withholding information? It wasn’t addressed in the comment and the information about exceptions is readily available at tsa.gov
-----------------------
Jim Huggins said... Bob ... forgive the snarkiness here ... but where in the list of permitted and prohibited items are crack pipes covered? If the same passenger had not artfully concealed the item, would there have been any TSA issue? I'm just wondering if, when I hide an extra $20 in my shoes to keep in case of emergencies, I'm inviting some sort of trouble at a checkpoint ...December 17, 2008 7:46 PM
----------------------
Jim, folks stuff money everywhere. Money belts are a common item we see at checkpoints. There is nothing wrong with hiding money as long as you’re not trying to take over 10 grand out of the country without declaring it.

As far as the pipe, if you have ever seen a blasting cap, you would know that they look similar. They looked extremely similar on the x-ray image. Our TSO noticed this anomaly in the shoe and had the shoe inspected as they should have. The problem is that once we found out it was drug paraphernalia, we had to contact Law Enforcement. I can’t say it enough, we are not in business to find drugs, but when we stumble across them, we can’t just say “oh well, it’s not my job” and look the other way.
-----------------------
Sandra said... Bob, please explain to us how a crack pipe is a threat to an airplane. No, I didn't think you could explain that. December 17, 2008 7:53 PM
-----------------------
Sandra, if somebody lit the crack pipe in flight, the residual smoke would be pulled into the ventilation system and distributed to all passengers and crew on the plane. You would eventually have a plane full of crack heads jonesing for their next hit. I think that’s a threat to aviation… OK, for those of you with no sense of humor, that was a joke…
---------------------------
Anonymous said... Bob, Why is the crack pipe considered dangerous? Is this just because it was concealed? I can't understand why you would make a big deal about it (or any deal at all). December 18, 2008 3:04 AM
---------------------------------
Ok. Who made a big deal out of this? It wasn’t me… I posted an article on Artful Concealment. The next day, an interesting report popped up about the crack pipe in a shoe and it had some pictures. So, I updated my post. Nowhere did I say we saved the world… If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post."

Bob, you made a big deal by including it as an update. And, I note that you have yet to answer the many questions about how a crack pipe poses a threat to an airplane. That is because it does not, just as shoes do not and water does not and gel deodorant does not.

You are lying to us, and we are sick of it.

Anonymous said...

Why is pie exempt from liquid and gel restrictions?

Is this a holiday-specific exemption, or an ongoing change in policy?

Is it because pies pose no danger? Neither do any other liquids TSA has barred citizens from traveling with.

Is it because pies are a food item? Then will TSA stop barring bottled beverages, peanut butter, and other foodstuffs that pose no danger to anyone from planes?

Is it because barring pies from flights would be pointless, stupid, and do nothing to make anyone safer? Neither do TSA's other liquid policies.

What recourse does a citizen have if a TSO and that TSO's supervisor decide not to let a pie through screening?

George said...

Bob, this is unfortunately another case where you've put your foot (or at least a shoe) in your mouth, and undermined your agency's credibility.

The original post was clear and commendable, although the term "artful concealment" is a confusing term of art. What it seems to mean is intentionally concealing a prohibited item in an attempt to sneak it past security screening. That's apparently distinct from the case of a passenger who unintentionally brings a prohibited item to a checkpoint (e.g., a forgotten pocket knife or the sword in a cane purchased at a thrift shop). If there's an official term for that, Bob didn't use it. In either case, if checkpoint screening finds the item and prevents its entry into the sterile area, the TSA has done its job. They deserve credit rather than criticism for this. Presumably, the distinction between "artful concealment" and unintentional possession of a prohibited item is relevant only to what happens next to the passenger and/or the item. Either way, the TSA has successfully interdicted an item officially designated as a threat to aviation. That counts as a "success."

The problem arose when you added that picture of the shoe, apparently as a well-meaning illustration of "artful concealment." Unfortunately, a "crack pipe" is neither an item prohibited from carrying on an airplane nor a threat to aviation. Although it's arguably drug paraphernalia, I'm not sure it's actually illegal. So while I'll give the TSO credit for finding a metal foreign object concealed in a shoe, I'd classify this as a "false positive" rather than a "success." Yes, it illustrates the TSA's ability to detect metal objects concealed in shoes. But unless there's some kind of classified Executive Order deputizing TSOs as drug enforcement agents, the TSA is not in the business of interdicting drug paraphernalia. So your well-meaning illustration merely opened you up for criticism about "mission creep" and the possibility that actual threats to aviation are so few and far between that the TSA has to rely on false positives (which do not threaten aviation) to justify its existence.

Note that it would have been very different if the shoe had contained a knife or explosives. That's supposedly why we have to remove our shoes, stand in our stockinged feet on a cold and filthy floor, and then balance precariously on one foot to hurriedly put our shoes back on after screening (not every checkpoint has a "re-composure area," and not every "re-composure area" has an available chair). But if the only thing you can show us to justify this "pain point" is occasionally finding hidden drug paraphernalia, we will be even more skeptical whether the War on Shoes is worthwhile.

Dave said...

Oh wow! I feel so much safer now!! The TSA found _gasp_ wait for it... A CRACK PIPE! Are you people serious?

Dunstan said...

"TSA should start checking pet licenses at airport checkpoints, too. There are probably illegal unlicensed pets out there, and they're going to come through your dragnet sooner or later. That could be one more TSA success story, right?"

Don't get TSA started down another rabbit hole.
As I found out during the rescue of my dog two years ago, it is illegal to transport a dog across state lines without a valid Rabies Certificate. Not just the collar tag, mind you, but the paper proof.

Needless to say, terrorists armed with travel kennels loaded with small rabid animals should be a major concern of the TSA.

Phil said...

Bob at TSA wrote:

"The problem is that once we found out it was drug paraphernalia, we had to contact Law Enforcement."

Bob, what qualified it as drug paraphernalia? It was a tube with a bowl on the end, right? Weren't you simply guessing that it was something that would be used to administer illegal drugs?

What rule requires TSA to notify law enforcement when they find something that is suspected of being drug paraphernalia? Whose definition of paraphernalia does TSA use (there is no federal law regarding paraphernalia, thus those laws which exist vary from one jurisdiction to another).

Where was this found?

We've asked several times and you have neglected to answer: Was any illegal substance found in this pipe? If not, why did you hassle the person any more than if you had found a pornographic magazine "artfully concealed" in a sweater?

"I can’t say it enough, we are not in business to find drugs, but when we stumble across them, we can’t just say `oh well, it’s not my job' and look the other way."

1. That's a straw man argument. We're not talking about you stumbling across drugs, but across something that looks like it might be used to smoke things including legal and illegal drugs.

2. Sure you can -- just like you might do if you looked out the window and saw someone parking illegally, or if you heard someone in line mention that the pet license for the kitten he is carrying onto a flight is expired. Your job is to keep dangerous items off airplanes.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Posted by Bob:
There is nothing wrong with hiding money as long as you’re not trying to take over 10 grand out of the country without declaring it.


Then why does TSA insist on calling law enforcement when a passenger is discovered to have a large wad of cash (or concealed cash)while headed to a DOMESTIC flight?

You admit that there is nothing wrong with carrying cash domestically. Yet you admit to referring passengers found with large amounts of cash to law-enforcement, who can then proceed to harass the passenger or even seize the cash under what are seriously messed-up civil forfeiture laws (laws that derive from English common law allowing law-enforcement to seize nuisance cows). Please resolve this contradiction.

And even if a passenger is traveling internationally with over $10K, neither you nor airport law enforcement are qualified to determine if they have filed the correct form. They may already have filed it; they may be planning to file it at the gate while they wait for their flight; etc.

TSA should not be in the business of searching out cash. You can't even do a decent job of meeting your statutory mandate to screen for weapons, explosives, or incendiaries, so messing with things like cash, drugs, toothpaste, water, and IDs is just silly.

Phil said...

[reposted without link to what Bob at TSA characterized as adult content, a link to a Google search for that item, or even the name of the item (which rhymes with "flashlight")]

Furthermore, consider what you did to this person by making such a big deal out of the pipe he felt he had to hide in his shoe in order to take it wherever he was headed. Everyone reading, please set aside your "why would I care what happens to some crackhead" feelings for a moment and consider this rationally (crackheads don't fly much, anyway).

I will venture to guess that nobody is proud of smoking crack. Lots of people will happily admit to using alcohol (which is woven into our society), nicotine (until they die of lung cancer, sometimes), caffeine (even caffeine addicts, whose day is ruined without a large morning dose of it, celebrate their use of it), cannabis, prescription pain killers and muscle relaxants, psychedelics, and sometimes even powdered cocaine. But crack cocaine carries the stigma of being the reputed drug of choice of people who don't have much money to spend on their drugs of choice. Smoking crack is -- at least to someone who can afford airfare -- similar to admitting to smoking methamphetamine: a dirty little secret -- nothing morally superior or inferior to the others, but heavily frowned upon. Even at the height of Prohibition, when the illegal drug alcohol was considered the scourge of American society, drinking brandy or moonshine did not carry the stigma that smoking crack does now.

So not surprisingly, this guy didn't want your associates to see his pipe, Bob. And as it's not a weapon, explosive, incendiary, or anything that would endanger other passengers should it be carried onto an airplane, it's none of your or your associates' business. The moment that someone realized that what was in the shoe was not a danger, your people should have apologized and embarrassingly let the person go about his business. It's like you caught him with a sex toy. Then stopped him, pulled it out, and photographed it. While he stood there with no shoes on.

It's not as if you intercepted a crack shipment; you found someone carrying what you think might be used to smoke crack. Then you (presumably) called in some others to huddle around the x-ray screen, probably called over a supervisor, then left the man or woman standing there without shoes while you carefully examined and photographed the completely legal object he or she tried to hide in the shoe (sure, paraphernalia is prohibited in some places, but really -- how do you differentiate between a "crack pipe" and any other pipe, anyway? It's really only a crack pipe if it has crack in it.) and probably called the police. He probably missed his flight, in which case you probably cost him several hundred dollars.

All over a pipe. A pipe, Bob. A pipe that this adult (I assume, since you didn't mention that a child was involved) whose day you runied might have used later to adjust his state of mind. An adult who wasn't trying to bring down a plane, stab his aisle-mate, or even smuggle crack or stolen crack pipes, but just trying to go about his business. He may as well have been stopped for having rolling papers or a martini glass stashed in his belongings.

Thanks, TSA, for wasting our money and ruining someone's day. And thanks, Bob, for bringing this to our attention. It really enhances the "what is artful concealment" story when you show us things that people stick under the insoles of their shoes (there was nothing artful about this) in an attempt to get past your unconstitutional security checkpoints without you bothering them. When you find a nudie mag "artfully concealed" in a sweater in somebody's bag, be sure to post a photo of it here on the blog.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Bob,

The "Post a comment" box does not show up in older posts like http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/08/got-feedback.html with Firefox or Linux or Safari on Mac. Maybe older posts still use the old-style posting mechanism that somehow is now broken?

Jim Huggins said...

Phil writes:

Sure you can [overlook drug paraphanelia] -- just like you might do if you looked out the window and saw someone parking illegally, or if you heard someone in line mention that the pet license for the kitten he is carrying onto a flight is expired. Your job is to keep dangerous items off airplanes.

Actually, I can see Bob's point of view on this one.

If we allow screeners to selectively ignore violations of law, we introduce yet another source for inconsistencies in the screening process. And if one screener reports a suspected crime while another doesn't, you create possibilities of charges of at best arbitrary enforcement --- and, at worst, prejudicial enforcement.

I'm not a lawyer ... but I suspect the issue is that TSOs, as government employees, are obligated to report potential crimes in progress, even if not directly related to their duties. This is hardly unique to TSA. (An old pastor of mine had a member of his church who was a firefighter ... he could never attend the candlelight services at the holidays, because the open candles violated some local fire code and he'd be obligated to report them if he saw them.)

I don't know if this situation would be any different if screening was done by private employees rather than public employees. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but the duty to report a crime for private citizens seems to be much, much lower.

But if TSA is required by law to act in this way, far better that it should act consistently than inconsistently.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Who made a big deal out of this? It wasn’t me… I posted an article on Artful Concealment. The next day, an interesting report popped up about the crack pipe in a shoe and it had some pictures. So, I updated my post. Nowhere did I say we saved the world… If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

December 18, 2008 12:35 PM

........................................
Gosh Bob, getting a little defensive?

You made a follow up post about a possible crack pipe that is in no way a threat to an airplane.

Since this person was in a federal checkpoint I would be curious if you could articulate the Federal Law that this person was in violation of?

I think it is pretty clear based on the responises you received that pretty much everyone feels you were making this "big catch" a "big deal"!

I also noticed that you haven't taken the time to mention the 12,000 plus complaints filed against TSA and its staff as mentioned on the NBC station in Dallas during the evening news 12/17/2008.

Guess you guys are to busy finding possible crack pipes or reporting people who happen to have a large amount of cash on them to do your jobs well.

Noclu said...

(I hope this isn't a double post, sorry if it is. Glitch using the approval process...)

Bob said:
NoClu – You listed Dec. 1-7. These events occurred between Dec. 8-14th Stand down. No conspiracy to see here…

I think you miss the gist of my listing multiple weeks worth of data. What I said was

"Seems like there is some confusion over reporting or you are blowing the issue out of proportion."

Even for the week of Dec. 8-14th, there were "7 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints" in all airports covered by the TSA combined. Your story here says "Here are some of the artfully concealed items that came through various checkpoints around the country just yesterday."

To me, that either a) there has been a historical under-reporting of discovered "concealed" items and your team got either lucky or super diligent yesterday, b) all your events listed in this article didn't occur "just yesterday" c) you are trying to make a relatively common and generally unimportant occurrence into a matter of utmost urgency. or d) this is yet another PR article trying to prove that the TSA is diligently protecting our Security and we as travelers should respect your authoriti.

Seriously. The vast majority of artfully concealed items you list as being discovered are not a threat to aviation security, are carried by people having no intention of using them during flight, don’t pose a significant threat to travelers or the control of an aircraft, and/or seem to fall far outside of your mandate.

Finally, “Stand down” doesn’t work with me as I’m no longer in the military. It is important to point out to employees of the government when they don’t make sense, inappropriately obfuscate or otherwise mis-inform or exaggerate. I would also offer this request to you. Please respond. Increasing dialogue may help us make progress in the effort to establish rational aviation safety policy, close gaps in security and improve the overall safety and security of our transportation systems.

Bob said...

Due to the many complaints I've received, I have reverted to the old comment box.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Ok. Who made a big deal out of this? It wasn’t me… I posted an article on Artful Concealment. The next day, an interesting report popped up about the crack pipe in a shoe and it had some pictures. So, I updated my post. Nowhere did I say we saved the world… If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

December 18, 2008 12:35 PM

Phil, I sent a message to Bob about the "adult content" of your post. If anyone clicked the word "fleshlight" it did take you to an adult website. To have that address pop up on a tracked system could get some people in hot water with their employer. I have no problem with the word but your link was inappropriate for this forum.

Trollkiller said...

Blogger Bob said...

Due to the many complaints I've received, I have reverted to the old comment box.


And us old goats thank you.

Anonymous said...

Bob said...
Due to the many complaints I've received, I have reverted to the old comment box.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

December 18, 2008 2:57 PM

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trollkiller said...

You know I like busting on the TSA as well as the next guy but come on, it was a Crack Pipe, wrapped in a Crack Baggie.

I am a person that tries to hold the TSA to their legal mandate of searching for weapons, explosive and incendiaries. If the TSA finds something ILLEGAL or something that truly appears illegal they are obligated as good citizens report it.

A large amount of cash, while it may be unusual, should not give rise to suspicion sufficient enough for law enforcement involvement. There is NO law against carrying any amount of money domestically. If the ticket does not state the flight is international the TSA has no cause to involve any other agency.

In this case the comparison of crack pipes to cash is apples and oranges.

Tomas said...

Hi, Blogger Bob!
_______________________
Blogger Bob wrote...
Sandra said... Bob, please explain to us how a crack pipe is a threat to an airplane. No, I didn't think you could explain that. December 17, 2008 7:53 PM
-----------------------
Sandra, if somebody lit the crack pipe in flight, the residual smoke would be pulled into the ventilation system and distributed to all passengers and crew on the plane. You would eventually have a plane full of crack heads jonesing for their next hit. I think that’s a threat to aviation… OK, for those of you with no sense of humor, that was a joke…

_______________________

Quick question? If you can find the time to respond to this with a joke, why do you appear unable to find the time to even acknowledge the following question from myself and others? This question has been repeated several times for over a month with zero response.

Since the "ounce" markings on a tube of toothpaste are in weight, not fluid measure, which allows the manufacturer to put a larger number on the tube (good for sales), why do TSOs insist on rejecting tubes of toothpaste that WEIGH more than 3.4 ounces, but are LESS than 3.4 FLUID ounces?

"Dialogue" is two way...

Tom (1 or 5-6)

Phil said...

Bob, thanks for fixing the comment so that anyone using a modern browser, not just whichever ones your people tested the new feature on, can participate. I wish you hadn't blamed it on complaints, but on the fact that the change introduced new problems.

Trollkiller, a crack pipe is only a crack pipe if someone uses it to smoke crack. Unless its accompanied by a bag of white stuff (and even then I'm not sure) I think the TSA should discretely replace any pipes they dig out of someone's belongings during a search for dangerous items and let that person go on about his business.

We put up with a lot of inconvenience and likely-unconstitutional behavior from TSA because people are scared into thinking it's necessary for security. Slowing down their checkpoint searches to deal with what might be a controlled substance -- much less slowing it down to deal with something that might be used to administer a controlled substance -- is just plain wrong.

They should have advised that guy to put his pipe in his carry-on bag next time instead of suspiciously tucking it under his insole, wished him a nice day, sent him on his way, and gotten directly back to keeping weapons, explosives, and incendiaries off of airplanes.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

"That's supposedly why we have to remove our shoes, stand in our stockinged feet on a cold and filthy floor, and then balance precariously on one foot to hurriedly put our shoes back on after screening (not every checkpoint has a "re-composure area," and not every "re-composure area" has an available chair)."

I deal with this by putting my shoes on as soon as they come through the X-ray, while I'm still in line. If it inconveniences anyone else, they should complain to TSA about it.

"But if the only thing you can show us to justify this "pain point" is occasionally finding hidden drug paraphernalia, we will be even more skeptical whether the War on Shoes is worthwhile."

There's no justification for the War on Shoes, it is not worthwhile, and every patriot should be skeptical of it and every other misbegotten policy propagated by the domestic terrorists at TSA.

Anonymous said...

Why is pie exempt from liquid and gel restrictions?

Is this a holiday-specific exemption, or an ongoing change in policy?

Is it because pies pose no danger? Neither do any other liquids TSA has barred citizens from traveling with.

Is it because pies are a food item? Then will TSA stop barring bottled beverages, peanut butter, and other foodstuffs that pose no danger to anyone from planes?

Is it because barring pies from flights would be pointless, stupid, and do nothing to make anyone safer? Neither do TSA's other liquid policies.

What recourse does a citizen have if a TSO and that TSO's supervisor decide not to let a pie through screening?

Anonymous said...

Sandra said...
So - are we supposed to be impressed?
___________________________________

Eww don't read the blogs if you don't care what they say. Its people like you that make this page so difficult to read.

Anonymous said...

I think you have other problems if somebody can still take down a plane with a 2" knife.

If we keep up worrying at this rate, soon buff men won't be allowed on flights because those muscles are prohibited!
___________________________________

This is stupid! You could still cut someone with that knife. Exceptions can not be made because the public is not smart enough to follow directions. If TSA were to allow 2" knives than people would be trying to bring their 3" knives because they are only one inch bigger.

Anonymous said...

What can we do to get toothpaste on the flight so we don't have to buy it when we land? What about water for the longer flights so we don't dehydrate?
___________________________________
Get the travel size toothpaste or even two if you are going to be gone for a while. And buy a water at the airport. WOW

Anonymous said...

Why does FSO have a better Red Team score? And will the new "See, Feel, Think, Do" help get the scores up? The only problem I see is the lack of TSOs that have been on the job and know what they are "Seeing, Feeling, Thinking, Doing."

Anonymous said...

re: 2-inch pocketknife concealed in laptop. I thought short-bladed pocketknives were now permitted? Or is it the fact that a legal knife was "artfully concealed"? The story doesn't say that the knife was confiscated.
___________________________________

Where do people get their information? No knife is allowed! If it is under 3 inches the person can take it back out of security. If it is over than the leos get involved.

Anonymous said...

And I thought you didn't refer pocket knives to law-enforcement unless they were 4". This guy had a 2.5 inch blade, which is a small-medium pocket knife. What gives?
___________________________________

This man had the option to empty his pockets when he alarmed the walk through metal detector. He did not, there for was concealing the knife(2.5 inches or not).

Anonymous said...

Please use some common sense to the effect we at TSA per se didn't care that it was a crack pipe we looked at it as an item that was concealed to escape detection, we as federal employee's are required to inform the local law enforcement and let them make the decision. The comment compairing it to a "nudie magazine" and would not be a danger to the airplane could be turned to what if was child pornography should we not report it as it doesn't threaten you. If you just hate the organization just leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Please use some common sense to the effect we at TSA per se didn't care that it was a crack pipe we looked at it as an item that was concealed to escape detection, we as federal employee's are required to inform the local law enforcement and let them make the decision.

............................
Since informing an LEO is a federal requirement as you say please show us the regulation that requires this procedure. Thanks

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

"we at TSA per se didn't care that it was a crack pipe we looked at it as an item that was concealed to escape detection"

Unless that item is a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, it's none of your business. If you see a pipe, assume it is free of residue of illegal substances and intended for use with legal substances. If you see some porn, assume that it contains people of legal age. If you see a pet, assume that it is licensed and has had its rabies shots. If you see some cash, assume that it belongs to the person holding it. If you see an digital music player, assume that the person holding it had permission to copy the data it contains onto it. If you see some papers, assume that they are not secret plans for world domination. If you see someone with brown skin, assume that he has a right to be where he is. None of that is any of your business.

Your job is to find dangerous things. When you're not doing that, leave us alone. If you see someone being mugged at the terminal, sure, offer assistance, but when anything else catches your eye and turns out not to be a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, go back to doing your job. Please.

"If you see a pipe, we as federal employee's are required to inform the local law enforcement and let them make the decision."

I don't believe you. Please back up your claim with verifiable information. We've asked repeatedly here for

"The comment compairing it to a "nudie magazine" and would not be a danger to the airplane could be turned to what if was child pornography"

Still not a danger, and still something you should never notice in the first place unless that magazine was rolled up in the shape of a handgun. And even then as soon as you realize it's not a gun, leave it alone and go back to doing your job. Don't thumb through it. Don't ask the holder if he stole it or copied it without permission of the copyright holder. Don't ask him to prove that he is not a criminal, don't ask him what his name is. Leave him alone and do your job.

"should we not report it as it doesn't threaten you."

YES! It is not your job to inspect everyone who passes your checkpoint for anything they might be doing wrong!

People repeatedly accuse your agency of conducting unconstitutional dragnet operations, and the attitude you display here shows that you think this is exactly what you're supposed to do. You are not.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller said...
If the TSA finds something ILLEGAL or something that truly appears illegal they are obligated as good citizens report it.

Then I guess the TSA should report themselves. ID checking, confiscation of property, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, practicing medicine without a license, and the list could go on and on.

Anonymous said...

Guys come on its Drug Paraphernalia. Ok it cant take down an aircraft but it STILL is illegal. Also if it was found Artfully Concealed then by law TSA needs to notify Law Enforcement no matter what it is, because they are trying to sneak something on the aircraft. the guy hollowed out his shoe and knowingly hid something in it. I dont care if it cant take down the plane the act of doing that and trying to get through security is suspicious enough and by law tsa needs to notify LEOs

Anonymous said...

"The comment compairing it to a "nudie magazine" and would not be a danger to the airplane could be turned to what if was child pornography should we not report it as it doesn't threaten you."

So should TSA now search every piece of paper a citizen wants to bring on an airplane in the vanishingly unlikely event that it's got child pornography on it?

Bob said...

Anonymous said...So should TSA now search every piece of paper a citizen wants to bring on an airplane in the vanishingly unlikely event that it's got child pornography on it? December 18, 2008 8:36 PM
--------------
OK. I'll say it again. We are not looking for these types of things. It's only when we stumble upon them that we have to act.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Bob, the comment you're responding to at 8:47 pm clearly quotes a post from a typically hysterical TSA apologist. No need for you to get up in arms when you could be using that energy to answer legitimate questions from the citizens you are supposed to be serving.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "This is stupid! You could still cut someone with that knife. Exceptions can not be made because the public is not smart enough to follow directions. If TSA were to allow 2" knives than people would be trying to bring their 3" knives because they are only one inch bigger."

I can cut people with pens, combs, broken wine bottles, paper, and so forth - all of which can be easily found or made on planes.

This argument is moot when other sharp and point objects like knitting needles and 4 inch scisssors are allowed.

If the same purpose can be accomplished with scissors and they're allowed, prohibiting boxcutters and knives of equal or lesser length is ridiculous.

A blade is a blade, right? Break the fulcrum off of scissors and you essentially have two knives.

Can't have it both ways.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Bob, in your first examples of artful concealment they were all about weapons, and in your update, the brouhaha is about alleged drug paraphernalia.

Is is "artful concealment" to hide perfectly legal things, like a flash drive, a mp3 player, a key, a bolt, money, or rolling papers? Or a switch inside a flashlight? Or a wire inside a pair of earbuds, or a battery inside a laptop?

Trollkiller said...

Phil said...

Trollkiller, a crack pipe is only a crack pipe if someone uses it to smoke crack. Unless its accompanied by a bag of white stuff (and even then I'm not sure) I think the TSA should discretely replace any pipes they dig out of someone's belongings during a search for dangerous items and let that person go on about his business.


Phil, I worked a head shop for many years, I am very familiar with the fine line between paraphernalia and not.

Some jurisdictions make certain styles and materials of pipes part of the paraphernalia definition regardless of what was smoked in them or if they had never been used. Assuming this was not found is a jurisdiction that that includes material or design as their definition, the appearance of the pipe would lend a reasonable person to believe that it was a drug pipe. A pipe like that would not normally be used to smoke tobacco or LEGAL herbs.

You don’t need a baggie of crack, if there is residue on the pipe, baggie or anything within "close" proximity showing an illegal substance that will be enough to make the charge stick. While the amount of drug residue may not give rise to a possession charge the presence of residue will give rise to a paraphernalia charge.

If the TSO did what you suggest and put the pipe back in the bag, and that pipe meets the qualifications of drug paraphernalia, the TSO would be an accomplice.

P.S. I tried pot a couple of times, nothing harder. I think I am the only truly straight person to have ever worked a head shop.

MarkVII said...

Thanks for switching back to the old way of submitting comments. The CAPCHA didn't work at all with FireFox and took several tries with IE.

MarkVII said...

"I had to be actually assaulted by a passenger (knocked down) in front of the LEOs who would have let the passenger board the flight."

Not to minimize what happened to you, not to excuse someone getting physical, and not to justify assault, but.....

The TSA would be in a better position if, as an organization, it was on the moral high ground in how it deals with passengers. I think the TSA needs to take a strong stand for civility in how it treats passengers.

Unfortunately, I've experienced a lot of unprovoked yelling and rudeness at checkpoints. Also, consider the number of posts here about screeners seeking to escalate tense situations instead of defusing them. That overall situation is a recipe for someone going over the edge and getting physical.

That being said, I think the LEO's should have taken a hard look at the fact that the passenger laid hands on you. However, if I were one of those LEOs, I would want to see the whole interaction in context -- particularly if there was an element of provocation.

I'm speculating at this point, but if the LEO's felt the passenger was provoked in some way, that might of played into their not making an arrest.

And that gets back to my point of being on the moral high ground of the issue.

Anonymous said...

Quote:
"Tomas said...
Perhaps this would be a good place to allow my previously blocked/censored comment about how after surgery in Philly I was on my way back home to the west coast, and being doped up forgot my 30 year old, limited edition, numbered small single bladed collector's edition $600 pocket knife was in my pocket (I've carried a pocket knife since I was a boy scout in the early '50s)."

Prohibited item, you were dumb enough to carry it. You should lose it.

Anonymous said...

Where do people get their information? No knife is allowed! If it is under 3 inches the person can take it back out of security. If it is over than the leos get involved.

December 18, 2008 4:53 PM
............................
Sadly not from TSA since they will not provide complete,accurate information on just what it takes to transit a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint.

The information has been requested many, many times and still has not been acted on.

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller said...
You know I like busting on the TSA as well as the next guy but come on, it was a Crack Pipe, wrapped in a Crack Baggie.

I am a person that tries to hold the TSA to their legal mandate of searching for weapons, explosive and incendiaries. If the TSA finds something ILLEGAL or something that truly appears illegal they are obligated as good citizens report it.

A large amount of cash, while it may be unusual, should not give rise to suspicion sufficient enough for law enforcement involvement. There is NO law against carrying any amount of money domestically. If the ticket does not state the flight is international the TSA has no cause to involve any other agency.

In this case the comparison of crack pipes to cash is apples and oranges.

December 18, 2008 3:31 PM
.............................
TK, I do not disagree with your base premise but as you know their is no reliable published documentation for public consumption to know just what TSA is looking for.

We know from comments here that they do in fact look for cash even though it is not and should not be something that concerns TSA.

The crack pipe in this blog update may be illegal under local law but I'm not sure it is under federal statues.

TSA found and identified an alarm. It was not in any way hazardous to the safe operation of an aircraft and they should have moved on to the next person in line. Perhaps a word to the wise would have been in order but nothing else.

When TSA can find the things they should be looking for without fail then they will be doing their job, not one second before. All of this other crap in no way makes anyone safer.

It just makes finding the real dangerous items less likely!

Anonymous said...

So what actually happened to the owner of the shoe pictured in the update? Assuming that the TSO dutifully reported him to law enforcement, did the police thereby add him to that month's tally of Successfully Vanquished Enemies in their sector of the Drug War? Did the TSO (or the TSA) share any of the credit for this Victory? And most important of all, assuming that this drug criminal speedily proceeded through the Drug War Justice Assembly Line directly to the appropriate penitentiary for the appropriate mandatory term, with everyone involved taking appropriate credit in their monthly Drug War metrics, has aviation been made any safer as a result?

Also, if (hypothetically) the "crack pipe" had been in a carry-on bag rather than artfully concealed in a shoe, would the outcome have been any different?

Anonymous said...

Bob, since "Artful Concealment" is the current topic can you tell us what steps TSA has taken to protect travelers who check baggage from TSA, airline or airport employee thieves. We know that any security scrutiny should bring to light the removal of stolen items from the airport grounds. Sadly, to date that seems not to be the case.

These thieves must be adept at "Artful Concealment".

kellymae81 said...

Anon said: My criticism (10:43 post) derives from TSA touting its big-catches of artful concealment of items that aren't really a threat. Many of the examples involved blades under 3 to 4 inches, which in my opinion are not a credible threat.

EXACTLY!!!!!!! YOUR opinion. How are we to know what someone's intention is with something that COULD harm someone. Maybe not fatally, but if we allow knives to everyone, who does that include? THE TERRORISTS!!!! If they really wanted to kill with a 2 inch blade, it IS possible. I sure don't want to be the passenger who fights back and gets a 2 inch blade jabbed into the side of my neck that I didnt know he had.

Do you all really not get that we are doing everything possible to prevent any bad scenario we can. If I wouldn't want someone to have even a 2 inch knife on a plane, I'm sure I'm not the only one. The traveling public who do respect what we do, have a right to feel safe when getting on an aircraft. YOU can think it's silly all you want, but you are not the only one with an opinion!!!!

SDF TSO

Ayn R. Key said...

Bob,

When I was in military technical training, we played a practical joke on base security. We poked a hole in the side of an empty soda can, shredded a cigarette onto the hole, and smoked the tobacco through the side hole and the drinking hole.

The end result looked a lot like a used improvised crack pipe. They do use soda cans.

Base security was going nuts looking for the drug users. They brought the drug dogs to the cans, and the dogs were entirely disinterested. They increased the frequency of random drug tests and found nothing.

Are you sure it was a crack pipe?

kellymae81 said...

Anon said: am completely against TSA's "administrative" fines, which can only be contested in a kangaroo court and are an end run around the justice system that allows them to punish people for non-offenses like "non-physical interference with screening" (i.e., disagreeing with a screener) and "artful concealment of a liquid" (i..e, having a water bottle). TSA should leave enforcement/punishment to the cops and the courts, and stick to searching for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries as it is permitted to do by law.

Okay, first of all, having a water bottle is not considered "artful concealment" and does not constitute a punishment.
2nd...we DO stick to the searching and then hand passengers off to law enforcement when necessary (i.e. finding of weapons)

It is likely that many of the passengers cited in the examples received fines in the mail even though the TSOs involved in their incidents who diligently collected their address information almost certainly made no mention of the possibility of fines. That's dishonest and equivalent to a police officer pulling you over for speeding, telling you that you are getting a warning, and then sending you a ticket in the mail later.

Okay, now you are just speculating what we do. You have no idea the procedures that take place. Don't go saying things you have not a clue about. If something does happen that constitutes a punishment, it IS taken care of by LAW ENFORCEMENT and/or the courts. Yes, I'm sure TSA HQ is involved somehow b/c they were involved initially.

SDF TSO

kellymae81 said...

Phil said: Bob, why do you even care about this? Why are we wasting all this money under the guise of providing security so that you can bust people for things that probably don't hurt anyone and definitely don't endanger fellow passengers?

How many times do we have to tell you that we dont LOOK for these items, but if we find them, we have to report it. YOU and I both are required as a CITIZEN of the United States to report illegal possesion of drugs or paraphanelia. So, do you really think that as a Federal Officer (yes, whether you think we are or not, i dont care) that we are not to report these items if found? I DONT THINK SO!!!!!!!!!

SDF TSO

Anonymous said...

I can cut people with pens, combs, broken wine bottles, paper, and so forth - all of which can be easily found or made on planes.
___________________________________

Yes you are very smart. A knife is a weapon. No matter how big or small, it is what it is. Now the other things, this isn't prison. If people really want to try to hurt someone they will. So what is your point. But they will not be hurting people with a knife or gun or box cutter. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Sadly not from TSA since they will not provide complete,accurate information on just what it takes to transit a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint.

The information has been requested many, many times and still has not been acted on.
___________________________________

Don't give me the pore passenger garbage. The public is given enough information to make inteligent decisions.

Anonymous said...

We know from comments here that they do in fact look for cash even though it is not and should not be something that concerns TSA.
___________________________________

You are wrong. TSA does not look for cash. Yes they come accross it sometime. There are not international flights out of my airport, but the connecting flight could be out of the country. Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

Anonymous said...

It is likely that many of the passengers cited in the examples received fines in the mail even though the TSOs involved in their incidents who diligently collected their address information almost certainly made no mention of the possibility of fines. That's dishonest and equivalent to a police officer pulling you over for speeding, telling you that you are getting a warning, and then sending you a ticket in the mail later.
___________________________________

A TSO has nothing to do with collecting a person address and information. If a person is doing something wrong that constitutes a fine, the law enforcement officers handle that. The LEO makes the decisions, not the TSO. Don't talk about things you don't know about.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
We know from comments here that they do in fact look for cash even though it is not and should not be something that concerns TSA.
___________________________________

You are wrong. TSA does not look for cash. Yes they come accross it sometime. There are not international flights out of my airport, but the connecting flight could be out of the country. Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

December 19, 2008 3:54 PM

..........................
Once again the carrying of cash is of no concern to TSA even if the flight the person is taking is out of the country. None whatsoever.
Customs forms must be completed given to Customs but not TSA.

Bringing an LEO into the act when a person has large sums of cash should result in the TSO facing a Judge resulting in a fine or jail time.

I hope I am the one to get you there.

Anonymous said...

"Don't give me the pore passenger garbage. The public is given enough information to make inteligent decisions."

Try again in English, please.

Tomas said...

kellymae81 wrote...
Okay, now you are just speculating what we do. You have no idea the procedures that take place. Don't go saying things you have not a clue about. If something does happen that constitutes a punishment, it IS taken care of by LAW ENFORCEMENT and/or the courts. Yes, I'm sure TSA HQ is involved somehow b/c they were involved initially.

Sorry, wrong. TSA DOES slap folks with admin fees that are outside the normal legal system and if you want any confirmation of what is being talked about do a simple Google search and read some of the large number of things written about that... Google TSA Admin Fines

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Tomas said...

Yet another Anonymous wrote...
A TSO has nothing to do with collecting a person address and information. If a person is doing something wrong that constitutes a fine, the law enforcement officers handle that. The LEO makes the decisions, not the TSO. Don't talk about things you don't know about

Neither should you, Anon, neither should you.

Please see this news article:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7806697/

Tom (1 of 5-6)

George said...

kellymae81: YOU and I both are required as a CITIZEN of the United States to report illegal possesion of drugs or paraphanelia.

Although I'm sure some officials in the DEA fervently dream of the day when every citizen has a legal obligation to report drug possession, I was unaware that such a law actually existed. But anything is possible, since there are so many laws on the books that no ordinary citizen could possibly keep track of them. Therefore, could you please cite the relevant section of the United States Code that imposes such an obligation on citizens?

I'm more inclined to believe that TSA officers have an requirement to report to law enforcement any "illegal" items they happen to find while searching for items that threaten aviation. I'd very much like to read the relevant law or regulation that imposes that requirement, and particularly to see what they consider reportable. However, I suspect a TSA official would respond "Of course that's SSI!" (assuming anyone from the TSA deigns to respond at all).

Anonymous said...

kellymae81 said...
Okay, now you are just speculating what we do. You have no idea the procedures that take place. Don't go saying things you have not a clue about.

The reason we must speculate is because TSA refuses to publish ALL Rules and Regulations that they force upon the traveling public.

To eliminate any speculation, please post the COMPLETE list of ALL rules that we as the traveling public must adhere to to get past the TSA checkpoint without any problems.

When rules are classified as SSI, and we have no access to those rules, please explain to all of us how we are supposed to know and follow those rules.

The TSA hides behind SSI, refuses to inform the public of the rules, and then somehow expects us to follow those rules.

If you can't fathom the stupidity of it all, then I guess there is zero hope.

There are many legitimate questions on this blog that go unanswered.

Anonymous said...

Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

Or so that they can seize the cash on the automatic presumption that anyone who is carrying that (arbitrarily large) amount of cash must be involved in drugs or terrorism. The passenger might be able to get the cash back if he hires a lawyer, brings a lawsuit in the approprirate jurisdication, and proves to the judge beyond any doubt that the cash has no connection whatsoever with any illegal or questionable activity.

And if the TSA finds cash that is promptly seized when the law enforcement officer gets wind of it, how does that contribute to the safety of aviation?

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Kellymae: "How many times do we have to tell you that we dont LOOK for these items, but if we find them, we have to report it. YOU and I both are required as a CITIZEN of the United States to report illegal possesion of drugs or paraphanelia. So, do you really think that as a Federal Officer (yes, whether you think we are or not, i dont care) that we are not to report these items if found? I DONT THINK SO!!!!!!!!!

Kellymae, what you don't seem to get is that you have a distinction when you put on that uniform. You are not just a US Citizen. You are an agent of the US government. As such, there are laws and rules that you are bound by as a government actor that don't apply when you are off duty.

When I worked for the government, there were certain tasks that I couldn't do even to myself while working lest I violate my own constitutional rights. Yes, it's possible to violate your own rights. These same tasks are ones that I could do off duty and not violate my rights.

By your logic, a cop could do things that would normally exceed his authority or require warrants while on duty if he were to do them as a citizen. Or asking someone to do something for him as a citizen that he wouldn't be able to do, such as an LEO asking you to do a thorough secondary on someone he thinks might be suspicious but wouldn't be able to excecute because he doesn't have probable cause. Read up on the silver plate doctrine.

You can't have it both ways. When you're in uniform and performing in an official capacity, your "citizenship" takes a backseat as you are an agent of the government.

It's amazes me that people that work for the government just don't get that you.

Now, regarding this: "EXACTLY!!!!!!! YOUR opinion. How are we to know what someone's intention is with something that COULD harm someone. Maybe not fatally, but if we allow knives to everyone, who does that include? THE TERRORISTS!!!! If they really wanted to kill with a 2 inch blade, it IS possible. I sure don't want to be the passenger who fights back and gets a 2 inch blade jabbed into the side of my neck that I didnt know he had.

Do you all really not get that we are doing everything possible to prevent any bad scenario we can. If I wouldn't want someone to have even a 2 inch knife on a plane, I'm sure I'm not the only one. The traveling public who do respect what we do, have a right to feel safe when getting on an aircraft. YOU can think it's silly all you want, but you are not the only one with an opinion!!!!"


This line of thinking illustrates what's wrong with TSA. It focuses on the wrong thing. Instead of focusing on the 99.999999999999999999999999999% that are law abiding citizens, you're focusing on the minutia that detracts from the mission. TSA is focusing on every scenario imaginable it seems. Imagination being the key concept there ... TSA is letting hyperactive paranoia and an overactive imagination dictate security and not reality. I can imagine my bottle of liquid could explode while I'm dancing in the street and getting hit by a bus. It could happen. But how likely is it that it will really happen?

You are ranting like there are terrorists out there crawling in our airports waiting to use a bottle of water or a pocket knife to take over a plane. The mere 0.000000000000000000001% chance of it happening (if it's even that great) has TSA in CYA mode.

Do terrorists exist? Yes.

Do sharp and pointy objects exist on planes even with TSA? Yes. Many of them are brought on by crew as part of the plane's equipment (preparation knives, silverware, etc). Many of them are already permitted. I have yet to see anyone from TSA explain to me why a 4" blade on scissors are permitted yet a 2" pocket knife is not. Tell me which of the those two are the more dangerous item.

Are the terrorists going to win if a small 2" pen knife is permitted when 4" scissors are already permitted?

Please, come back to reality, and write a book or a screenplay because the imagination shown by TSA shows that talent is being focused in the wrong place.


Robert

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "Yes you are very smart. A knife is a weapon. No matter how big or small, it is what it is. Now the other things, this isn't prison. If people really want to try to hurt someone they will. So what is your point. But they will not be hurting people with a knife or gun or box cutter. Get over it."

You're right ... this isn't prison. So why are we being treated like prisoners?

So what if they won't be hurting anyone with a knife? TSA's trying to prevent people from being hurt for cyring out loud!!! They can still be hurt by all this stuff, and I don't even have that vivid of an imagination. Imagine what a terrorist could come up with!!!

Yes, I'm being sarcastic. The point is that if the obsession is about weapons and given the paranoia TSA has about these things, why does it care about some things in a given class but not others ... like scissors? The paranoia and imagination are rclearly evident in the TSO and official posts lately. If they're really thinking about every little thing, why are they harping about the little things while ignoring other larger threats in the same area?

Yeah, you might not get stabbed with a 2" pen knife, but what about scissors?

Robert

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from an Anonymous TSO: "Don't give me the pore passenger garbage. The public is given enough information to make inteligent decisions."

Right ... that's why it's given to us when we ask for it in a clear, concise manner in an easy to find place without contradictions.

I can't even make it thru a checkpoint without seeing either contradicting or false information. TSO's on here can't even give the same information.

The public may be able to make intelligent decisions. Unfortunately, it's clear that TSA and its employees aren't.

"A TSO has nothing to do with collecting a person address and information. If a person is doing something wrong that constitutes a fine, the law enforcement officers handle that. The LEO makes the decisions, not the TSO. Don't talk about things you don't know about.

Right ... that's why personal information is taken down for administrative fines down the road. Is it not a TSO that demands ID to either copy or take down the information when an complaint form is requested (not all places do this, but it happens quite often). Just where do you think that information comes from and who's collecting it. It's not always an LEO.

If you're going to call people out for not knowing what they're talking about, you should at least be well informed of what your employer does before spouting off.

Robert

Anonymous said...

"Non-flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint Yes - 3 oz. or smaller container "
Here's some really fancy research. It does not matter how much is in your container by what kind of measurement, TSA requires your carry on liquids to be in a 3 oz or smaller container (with the wonderful leniency of allowing 3.4oz to accomodate the metric system which measures out to 100ml. standard international size for travel containers.) Get over your toothpaste problem by getting travel size liquids, reading the very available TSA pamphlets on prohibited items (which are written in a very simple format anybody can understand)and be ready for your flight for goodness sakes!

BlognDog said...

What is it with Americans? They strongly oppose any attempt at preventing people from wandering around in public with firearms, and calmly mingle in public with heavily armed individuals every day, but put them on a plane and suddenly the possibility of being in the vicinity of someone with a 2 inch blade is an unacceptable risk.

In any event, wasn't it just a few years ago that the DHS was up on Capitol Hill, providing sworn testimony that those alarmists who believed that the federal government would be incapable of resisting the temptation to use airport screening for anything other than prevention of terror attacks were just being silly? And now they seem to be openly bragging about it.

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
We know from comments here that they do in fact look for cash even though it is not and should not be something that concerns TSA.
___________________________________

You are wrong. TSA does not look for cash. Yes they come accross it sometime. There are not international flights out of my airport, but the connecting flight could be out of the country. Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

December 19, 2008 3:54 PM

..........................
Once again the carrying of cash is of no concern to TSA even if the flight the person is taking is out of the country. None whatsoever.
Customs forms must be completed given to Customs but not TSA.

Bringing an LEO into the act when a person has large sums of cash should result in the TSO facing a Judge resulting in a fine or jail time.

I hope I am the one to get you there.

December 19, 2008 4:21 PM
***********************************
So anon, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You believe that smugglers of large sums of cash, including cash smuggled by drug dealers, is OKAY? That a TSO should not have to notify a LEO in such instances and that these people who produce and sell drugs to possibly YOUR children, have the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to smuggle drug money out of the country? And that I as a TSO who is doing what I'm told to do, and possibly stopping such a smuggler, should be prosecuted as a result? Excuse me but that's idiotic! First of all, if its a drug dealer, guess what anon...he's not going to declare it to customs! Secondly, if its a legitimate traveler with legitimate purposes, he would have already declared it, have the proper paperwork to prove he declared it and be on his way without LEO intervention. Let's think about this logically, while we are NOT police, we do work in conjunction with local, State and Federal Law enforcement agencies...that said, it would be impossible for us NOT to notify a LEO of such actions, whether they are criminal or not....again if customs paperwork exists and the cash is NOT artfully concealed, there is NO PROBLEM at all! Get over it anon, we do what we do, if someone wants to smuggle money or drugs out of the country they should find another way to do so, because if we catch them we are calling a LEO. And anon, there isn't a court in the country that will prosecute a TSO for stopping a drug dealer!

Stephen said...

Of course... you talk about the efficacy of artful concealing. You talk about how many peopl ehave been caught.

I notice however not even a consideration about what this says about the efficacy of the rule itself.

What percentage of the people caught with "Artfully concealed" items have been shown to have ties to terrorist organizations? How many plots to hijack airplanes or otherwise harm the crew or passengers have been shown to have been foiled by this?

Oh wait... is that because no such ties have ever been found? No such plots uncovered? Hmmm so what was your point again?

-Steve
(who is still a disgruntled taxpayer)

Stephen said...

To the TSA bloggers:

I read the anonymous comment about the man who plead guilty to bringing a gun to the airport under quite accidental circumstances.

Can you please explain a) How incidents like this help us? b) WHats the ratio of actual "bad guys" caught to innocent people just trying to travel?

-Steve

Stephen said...

Bob,

I have to say this for the first time... I agree with you. A federal employee finding a crack pipe really does need to notify the authorities... its a sad state, and its MORALLY WRONG (I would quit the job before rather than do that to someone... but what can I say...I am moral)

Anyway... this is just ONE MORE EXAMPLE of why this is NOT a job for federal employees. Isn't it?

This has NOTHING to do with airport security. In fact, many of the so-called security rules and regs don't. This is why it makes sense to put this job back where it belongs: in the hands of private security funded by the airports.

Stephen said...

>Don't give me the pore passenger
> garbage. The public is given enough
>information to make inteligent decisions.

I don't believe it. WHy not? Because if the public made informed decisions, then all the congressmen who voted to create the DHS would have been voted out of office 4 years ago and this blog, much less the agency that runs it, would have already ceased to waste our tax dollars and time.

-Steve

Tomas said...

Yesterday my most recent "6.0 oz. net wt." tube of toothpaste finally gasped it's last and was empty. Just to verify what I already knew (toothpaste is heavier than water) I thoroughly rinsed it out, grabbed a syringe and pumped the empty tube full of water. Pumped up ready to explode, it would not take 4 ounces of liquid, measured when I poured it out into a measuring cup.

I suspect brand new that "6.0 oz. net wt." tube of toothpaste probably held less than 3.4 ounces, liquid measure. (They do not fill them anywhere near as full as I pumped that tube up to.)

Blogger Bob! Can we get some sort of valid TSA response to TSOs rejecting "liquids" by weight instead of volume? We have asked quite nicely a number of times over a considerable period.

Thank you,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Al Ames said...

@Tom: "So anon, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You believe that smugglers of large sums of cash, including cash smuggled by drug dealers, is OKAY? That a TSO should not have to notify a LEO in such instances and that these people who produce and sell drugs to possibly YOUR children, have the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to smuggle drug money out of the country? And that I as a TSO who is doing what I'm told to do, and possibly stopping such a smuggler, should be prosecuted as a result? Excuse me but that's idiotic! First of all, if its a drug dealer, guess what anon...he's not going to declare it to customs! Secondly, if its a legitimate traveler with legitimate purposes, he would have already declared it, have the proper paperwork to prove he declared it and be on his way without LEO intervention. Let's think about this logically, while we are NOT police, we do work in conjunction with local, State and Federal Law enforcement agencies...that said, it would be impossible for us NOT to notify a LEO of such actions, whether they are criminal or not....again if customs paperwork exists and the cash is NOT artfully concealed, there is NO PROBLEM at all! Get over it anon, we do what we do, if someone wants to smuggle money or drugs out of the country they should find another way to do so, because if we catch them we are calling a LEO. And anon, there isn't a court in the country that will prosecute a TSO for stopping a drug dealer!"

I'll keep it simple for you.

It's none of your business. You're not looking for drug smugglers (or someone who might be just because they carry a lot of cash). It's between the person and customs if their money is declared. Domestically, it's none of your business. Period. You're not looking for drug dealers.

You're not cops. The vast majority of your job should be be able to be done without law enforcement. None of this "conjunction with" BS. If you're working as an extension of law enforcement, the protections the constitution provides are in full force.

You're harassing passengers by exceeding the scope of your authority. The "nothing to hide, nothing to worry about" line is BS, especially with civil forfeiture laws. Cop can't prove that someone's a drug dealer but might suspect, he can seize the money and the person has to file suit to get it back. An expensive proposition with the burden of proof on the person. How many innocent people is it ok to be caught in such a dragnet until it becomes an issue? Is it collateral damage?

While they may not have a constitutional right to take large amounts of cash out of the country without declaring it, they DO have a right not to be harassed by the government without probable cause. A large amount of cash is not probable cause for harassment by TSA. Customs is free to check it if they wish if the person's traveling internationally.

Emotional rhetoric about thinking of the children doesn't fly Tom. If there's anything idiotic, it's the "ends justify the means" garbage and disrespect for the constitution that's destroying the very freedom you're supposedly trying to protect for Americans.

Go ahead and keep doing what you're doing. We didn't need that constitution anyway.

Al

Anonymous said...

TSO Tom said in part......
So anon, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You believe that smugglers of large sums of cash, including cash smuggled by drug dealers, is OKAY?

............................
Tom why do you think everyone taking a flight is some sort of crimminal?

Just because I might have a large sum of cash on my person is no reason to believe that I am any thing other than a person who has some money.

In fact I find it very offensive that you would think that I or anyone else must be a drug dealer or some other sort of crimminal just becuase I want to take a commercial flight.

Perhaps you are not cutout for working with the public if all you see are people will ill intent.

I certainly hope I never have to deal with the likes of you during my travels.

Another fine TSA example!

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Al said:
It's none of your business. You're not looking for drug smugglers (or someone who might be just because they carry a lot of cash). It's between the person and customs if their money is declared. Domestically, it's none of your business. Period. You're not looking for drug dealers.

You're not cops. The vast majority of your job should be be able to be done without law enforcement. None of this "conjunction with" BS. If you're working as an extension of law enforcement, the protections the constitution provides are in full force.

You're harassing passengers by exceeding the scope of your authority. The "nothing to hide, nothing to worry about" line is BS, especially with civil forfeiture laws. Cop can't prove that someone's a drug dealer but might suspect, he can seize the money and the person has to file suit to get it back. An expensive proposition with the burden of proof on the person. How many innocent people is it ok to be caught in such a dragnet until it becomes an issue? Is it collateral damage?

While they may not have a constitutional right to take large amounts of cash out of the country without declaring it, they DO have a right not to be harassed by the government without probable cause. A large amount of cash is not probable cause for harassment by TSA. Customs is free to check it if they wish if the person's traveling internationally.

Emotional rhetoric about thinking of the children doesn't fly Tom. If there's anything idiotic, it's the "ends justify the means" garbage and disrespect for the constitution that's destroying the very freedom you're supposedly trying to protect for Americans.

Go ahead and keep doing what you're doing. We didn't need that constitution anyway.

Al
***********************************
Al, we can debate over this until the cows come home, bottom line is this, the key words here are "smuggle" and "artfully concealed". First of all let me say that I agree with you to an extent....where we part ways is where you say its none of our business period as to how much cash someone is carrying or why. Here's the deal, when you go to the airpot, you know you're gonna have to go through the checkpoint, and by doing so, by placing your items on the belt, by walking through the metal detector, you are consenting to a search of your property and your person.The scope of that search is determined by what we encounter during the search. Now you may dispute that fact, but it is a fact and has been upheld by law. Now onto where it becomes our business: When we search a bag, and we come across drugs, money or whatever, there are certain laws that must be adhered to. First of all, if its drugs its cut and dry.....LEO. No ifs and or buts. If its money exceeding ten grand, I have to notify a supervisor. If the passenger is traveling out of the country, the supervisor has to notify a LEO...the LEO has to make sure the passenger has the appropriate paperwork from customs. That's the long and short of it. If the passenger has peaceful intentions and the proper paperwork, he or she is on their plane. If paperwork does not exist, customs is notified and they take over. Once I notify the supervisor, my part is done, once the supervisor notifies the LEO their part is done accept for paperwork and other notifications. Now like I said, dispute it all you want, its been upheld that this is the way it is supposed to be. And again, there is not a court in the country that will prosecute a TSO for doing it.

Tom

Anonymous said...

TSO Tom
There are plenty of reasons that people will carry cash, domestically and through borders.

If you sell a car, and get cash for it, if you refuse to pay the crazy bank fees for moving money, if you are travelling and understand the fundamental uselessness of travellers cheques, if you are annoyed at the $10k limit on transfers that invokes the know your customer rules, if you value your privacy and don't want your financial transaction tracked by those untrustworthy banks. When all is said and done cash is still legal tender, and there are plenty of people who are paid more than $10k each month - it isn't a lot of money any more.

Regardless, the requirement is to declare only when you go through a border, so for a start all non-international terminals should ignore cash being carried. Please do not assume criminal activity, especially when you should be looking for terrorist activity. I know it is a boring job, but this sort of stuff annoyed the heck out of travelers, and travelers that would inform you of anything truly suspicious if they actually trusted you.

Anonymous said...

There are many legitimate questions on this blog that go unanswered.

I think most all questions get answered but the person asking does not understand the answer or doesn't like the answer so they keep asking the same question.

TSO Tom said...

Anonymous said...
TSO Tom
There are plenty of reasons that people will carry cash, domestically and through borders.

If you sell a car, and get cash for it, if you refuse to pay the crazy bank fees for moving money, if you are travelling and understand the fundamental uselessness of travellers cheques, if you are annoyed at the $10k limit on transfers that invokes the know your customer rules, if you value your privacy and don't want your financial transaction tracked by those untrustworthy banks. When all is said and done cash is still legal tender, and there are plenty of people who are paid more than $10k each month - it isn't a lot of money any more.

Regardless, the requirement is to declare only when you go through a border, so for a start all non-international terminals should ignore cash being carried. Please do not assume criminal activity, especially when you should be looking for terrorist activity. I know it is a boring job, but this sort of stuff annoyed the heck out of travelers, and travelers that would inform you of anything truly suspicious if they actually trusted you.

December 27, 2008 7:33 AM
***********************************
Anon;
While I agree that there are many legal reasons for carrying cash, both domestically and internationally, I also know that there are many people who try to smuggle cash by air. I did NOT say that everyone who carries cash either domestically or internationally is a criminal. What I did say, and I'll repeat myself again, since maybe I'm not being entirely clear, but what I DID say is that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES. Those who do NOT have legitimate purposes for carrying large quantities of cash, should worry because if we catch them, they're going to jail. That anon, is what I said.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
There are many legitimate questions on this blog that go unanswered.

I think most all questions get answered but the person asking does not understand the answer or doesn't like the answer so they keep asking the same question.

December 27, 2008 11:42 AM
.............................
You must be reading some other blog.

Anonymous said...

TSO Tom, regarding the carrying of cash.

First, a TSA checkpoint is not a Dragnet. You should be looking for things that could cause harm to travelers on airplanes. I think those things are refered to as weapons, explosives and incendaries per the enabling documents for TSA.

Someone carrying cash is of no concern to TSA, period. It doesn't matter how much, why or even where they are going.

Perhaps if TSA tried doing their real job then TSA performance would go up instead of the dismal reports from GAO and other sources.

Your continued support of these illegal dragnet checkpoints demonstrate that you do not understand you job and should be terminated.

I'm curious, at what airport do you conduct these illegal searches?

You answer or lack of will futher demonstrate your competence to be a TSO.

Anonymous said...

Anon;
... What I did say, and I'll repeat myself again, since maybe I'm not being entirely clear, but what I DID say is that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES. ...

December 27, 2008 12:24 PM
-----------------
No worries - probably.

But they will be questioned. And that is the crux of the problem. A police officer cannot just stop a person on the street to check to see if that person is carrying a large amount of cash without having PROBABLE CAUSE.

A citizen of the United Stated USED to be protected by the Bill of Rights. The Patriot Act has essentially done away with it. The TSA sees no problem with that.

That is the concern

Anonymous said...

nner@gmail.com
TSO Tom said......."Anon;
While I agree that there are many legal reasons for carrying cash, both domestically and internationally, I also know that there are many people who try to smuggle cash by air. I did NOT say that everyone who carries cash either domestically or internationally is a criminal. What I did say, and I'll repeat myself again, since maybe I'm not being entirely clear, but what I DID say is that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES. Those who do NOT have legitimate purposes for carrying large quantities of cash, should worry because if we catch them, they're going to jail. That anon, is what I said."

December 27, 2008 12:24 PM
/////////////////////////////////

Question for you TSO Tom;

Do you refer everyone who appears to be a non American, you know those people with brown skin, to police so they can determine their immigration status?

You know that they might not be in the country legally, right?

Gosh, if they are legal they have nothing to worry about, right?

And they may be breaking some law, right?

I wouldn't want you to miss an opportunity on your little TSA witch hunt.

Bob said...

I'm back. I hope everybody had a great holiday.

Check out the blog post for another update.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Do you refer everyone who appears to be a non American, you know those people with brown skin, to police so they can determine their immigration status?


I don't think racial type comments have anything to do with this blog. A non American can be anyone not just those with brown skin.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Do you refer everyone who appears to be a non American, you know those people with brown skin, to police so they can determine their immigration status?


I don't think racial type comments have anything to do with this blog. A non American can be anyone not just those with brown skin.
...................
OP here,

Sorry that you were offended,that was not my goal.

I used an extreme example in an effort to demonstrate to TSO Tom why his comments are unacceptable. Nothing more.

TSO Tom could easily see no problem with referring anyone to Law Enforcement for any reason since he does not understand that having money is not a violation of the law and is not a concern of TSA. Or that I should be concerned that I will in fact be referred to an LEO if I just happen to have money and wish to fly on a commercial airplane.

TSO Tom seems content to follow orders regardless of their legality.

I have asked Blogger Bob many, many times for the document and who signed said document requiring a TSO to refer someone who happens to have a large amount of cash and wishes to pass through a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint.

Blogger Bob continues to ignore my request.

I have to wonder just what TSA is hiding (and why) from the citizens of this country that Blogger Bob must hide, especially since cash money has no bearing on transportation safety.

This is additional proof that TSA cares little about our safety but has an agenda (unannounced) for something else entirely.

Anyone with a concern for their civil rights should be asking their elected representatives the exact same questions.

Anonymous said...

I'm back. I hope everybody had a great holiday.

Check out the blog post for another update.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Can you share any details on this item?

Anonymous said...

The update with the bullets "artfully concealed" in a deck of cards is a much better example than the previous illustration. Unlike drug paraphernalia, bullets are definitely a potential threat to aviation even if the possessor isn't carrying a gun. Unlike drug paraphernalia, this "find" is definitely within the TSA's mission and is therefore a valid "success" for which the TSA (and the TSO who found it) deserves full credit.

Despite all the well-documented problems and failings of the TSA, sometimes they actually do prevent items that are a genuine threat to aviation from getting on airplanes. The question then, as always, is whether these successes sufficiently justify all the stupidity, arrogance, hassles, and failures that accompany them.

(I would actually recommend that Bob remove the previous update with the shoe and the drug paraphernalia. The bullets in the playing cards are a relevant (and sufficient) illustration of "artful concealment" that does not seriously undermine an otherwise good post as the drug paraphernalia does. But since the TSA routinely ignores any suggestions we constructively offer here to improve the TSA's operations, image, and interaction with the public, I expect this one to be ignored as well.)

Tomas said...

TSO Tom, Al, I'm not trying to step into the middle of this, but there are two things in the repeated statements and clarifications I see here at EoS that are beginning to bug me...

(1) "...that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES."

I'm sorry, but in better days when I was making a substantially larger amount of money than what I make now on disability, it was not at all unusual for me to have a number of $500 dollar bills in my wallet, or for me to make substantial purchases from retailers in cash. My "legitimate purpose for carrying large amounts of cash" would have boiled down to a very simple "because I want to, what's your problem?"

(2) "... the key words here are "smuggle" and "artfully concealed". First of all let me say that I agree with you to an extent....where we part ways is where you say its none of our business period as to how much cash someone is carrying or why."

"Smuggle" and "artfully concealed" are terms that can quite legitimately have quite different interpretations or meanings on the opposite sides of the conveyor belt.

On my side (passenger) if I am carrying something valuable to me (substantial cash, family heirloom, confidential information, trade secret information, info from a pending patent, personally valuable items, easily broken items, easily mis-understood items, etc.) I will not wear it round my neck, staple it to my lapels, put it in a glass box with flashing lights or call attention to it in any other way.

If I were to be legitimately carrying a substantial amount of cash for whatever reason (and the reason is quite truthfully NOT something that the government has any right to be privy to) you are absolutely right that I would do my best to artfully conceal that cash rather than advertise it's presence.

Legally carrying a large amount of cash for whatever personal reason I might have, even it it is concealed, is NOT smuggling. It is not doing something unlawful. it is not something that should concern the TSA. It shouldn't concern the government at all unless I attempt to cross a national border with it, and then it is Customs' concern to the extent that I need to fill out a form so they know. I don't even have to show it to them.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

P.S. You familiar, I'm sure, with those "secret compartments" that 99.99% of men's wallets came with (about as "secret" as this morning's news headlines). When I lived in NJ/NY while working for AT&T and Bell Labs, I normally had $2000 in there; four $500 bills. That would cover me for picking up a good deal on a camera or some sound equipment, picking up the tab for a meal, grabbing a rental or a flight to get to a location I was needed at on short notice, etc. That was simply my backup funds for the little unknowns.

These days it sounds like that would cause apoplexy at a TSA choke point if someone found that artfully concealed cash I was "smuggling." (Especially since that was IN ADDITION TO whatever daily use cash I might have decided to carry - which on a trip, could be a pretty fair amount.)

T

Anonymous said...

To Anon who said...I don't think racial type comments have anything to do with this blog. A non American can be anyone not just those with brown skin.

December 29, 2008 3:43 PM

//////////////////////////////
OP again, I have to wonder why you have not spoken out about TSA causing people to be interrogated just because they have bought a ticket on a commercial airplane and while passing through a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint are found to have a large amount of cash.

These people have not violated any law.

Where is your indignation on this point?

There is nothing in the law that determines how much cash one may have on their person.

Yet TSA seems to think it is their business to control people and their actions.

I have asked TSA for an explanation of this practice only to meet complete silence.

I will continue until TSA articulates why they find currency to be a danger to the operation of a commercial aircraft or announces a halt to this illegal inquisition!

Anonymous said...

I did indeed have a nice holiday, in part because my family drove rather than be subjected to the pointless groping and scrutiny of the domestic terrorists at TSA. Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I did indeed have a nice holiday, in part because my family drove rather than be subjected to the pointless groping and scrutiny of the domestic terrorists at TSA. Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner.

December 30, 2008 11:34 AM

I am no fan of TSA or Bob but the ammo is a fair catch.

It is on the prohibited list to carry in the cabin of the aircraft.

Any number of small devices can be made to fire a round. Some could look like a large fountain pen. A real possibility exist that a weapon could get aboard.

So TSA gets an attaboy on this one.

kellymae81 said...

Anon said Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner.

Are you kidding me? The bullets are the most dangerous part. If they are okay, then why not the barrel of a gun, or just the trigger or how about just the revolver? If we go along with that argument, then guess what...terrorist #1 brings one part and terrorist #2 brings another and so on....getting the picture? One part added to another part equals a LOADED GUN!!!!!!!!!! I'm sorry but I have to say that question takes the cake of all the ones I've seen on here.

SDF TSO

Anonymous said...

Yet another Anon said on December 30, 2008 at 11:34 AM,
"Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner."

You know, it's comments like this that should get certain IP's banned from posting, if only for their own protection from exposing their own stupidity. It is clear to me that no matter what TSA does or says, there will always be some idiot with a stupid question or complaint(probably the same guy that holds me up in line with the bottle of water that he "forgot" in his bag). I don't agree with everything TSA does, but I can see that over the years there have been slow improvements in the right direction, and face it people, it's not that hard to travel smart! My God, get a life!!

Ayn R. Key said...

Good job on the bullets.

Now refer to my question about the crack pipe.

Anonymous said...

TSO Tom, after your comments in the post dated, December 27, 2008 12:24 PM, I left a couple of follow-up posts with a couple of questions for you.

Your sure did get quiet all of a sudden.

Tom, they weren't hard questions. One was asked what airport you worked at and the other questioned how you might refer people for immigration violations.

If you didn't understand the comments because the words were to big I will be happy to rephrase them so you can understand.

What say you TSO Tom?

We can do better said...

So <7" screwdrivers, and <4" sharp-bladed, pointy metal scissors are allowed, but not pocketknives... Hmmmmmmmm

I think I'll bring a couple screwdrivers and 2 pairs of scissors, which can be taken apart to make 4 4"-bladed "knives".

Would the flight attendants and the people next to me feel better? Can't hit an artery with a 6.75" screwdriver???


It's this kind of ludicrous, arbitrary BS that succinctly points out how retarded the TSA is. It is an inherently ineffective system, because it's never about the weapon, it's about the WILL.

and don't get me started on the shoes.

I'm flying to JFK again tomorrow and I just can't wait to deal with the lowest-common-denominator TSA employees. Woo hoo.

WE CAN DO BETTER! What was the rationale behind banning NAIL CLIPPERS again???? Please.

Anonymous said...

"I'm flying to JFK again tomorrow and I just can't wait to deal with the lowest-common-denominator TSA employees. Woo hoo."

...and I am sure they look forward to dealing with a lower than "lowest-common-denominator" pax like you.

I hope I'm not behind you when you start your crap.

Leave the peons alone if they leave you alone.

Go for the head. Work through your legislators and public opinion to make changes.

Now is the time.

Dan S. said...

I'm curious: a 29¢ Bic Stic ballpoint pen is far more deadly a weapon than a 2-inch "executive" pocket knife (yes, I'm being serious).

Could carrying one in my attaché or laptop case be construed as 'artful concealment'?

Anonymous said...

Quote;
" We can do better said...
So <7" screwdrivers, and <4" sharp-bladed, pointy metal scissors are allowed, but not pocketknives... Hmmmmmmmm

I think I'll bring a couple screwdrivers and 2 pairs of scissors, which can be taken apart to make 4 4"-bladed "knives".

Would the flight attendants and the people next to me feel better? Can't hit an artery with a 6.75" screwdriver???"


Just for the record, the TSOs who actually work at the CPs have been complaining about the stupidity of the tool/scissor allowance policy since the inception.

RB said...

Go for the head. Work through your legislators and public opinion to make changes.

Now is the time.

January 2, 2009 2:15 PM

Yes go for the head and while doing that toss a handful of sand in the many gears that will make the machine grind to a halt.

All legal effots should be taken, none excluded, when dealing with an agency that has failed its assigned mission.

TSO Tom said...

Anonymous said...
TSO Tom, after your comments in the post dated, December 27, 2008 12:24 PM, I left a couple of follow-up posts with a couple of questions for you.

Your sure did get quiet all of a sudden.

Tom, they weren't hard questions. One was asked what airport you worked at and the other questioned how you might refer people for immigration violations.

If you didn't understand the comments because the words were to big I will be happy to rephrase them so you can understand.

What say you TSO Tom?

January 1, 2009 9:26 AM
***********************************
Anon;
first of all I haven't made it a secret as to what airport I work at if you go back through my postings you will surely see for yourself where I am. Secondly, I don't make referrals for immigration violators at all.

TSO Tom said...

One poster said in part:
TSO Tom could easily see no problem with referring anyone to Law Enforcement for any reason since he does not understand that having money is not a violation of the law and is not a concern of TSA. Or that I should be concerned that I will in fact be referred to an LEO if I just happen to have money and wish to fly on a commercial airplane.
***********************************
First of all, I have not come across anyone who was artfully concealing large amounts of cash, I have not personally. Some of my co-workers have however come across such items. As to whether or not I have a problem referring someone to law enforcement, no I do not have a problem doing that, because that is what I am REQUIRED to do....I contact my supervisor, my supervisor determines what needs to be done, and if that involves law enforcement officers, so be it. End of my part is when the supervisor steps in.
***********************************
Tomas Said in part:
Legally carrying a large amount of cash for whatever personal reason I might have, even it it is concealed, is NOT smuggling. It is not doing something unlawful. it is not something that should concern the TSA. It shouldn't concern the government at all unless I attempt to cross a national border with it, and then it is Customs' concern to the extent that I need to fill out a form so they know. I don't even have to show it to them.
***********************************
Tom, the key word is LEGALLY CARRYING. My point involves those who are NOT LEGALLY carrying, and I'm sorry if you or anyone else in this forum disagrees with me or the policy, it is what it is, I'm doing what I'm required to do, period. As to the customs issue, when we come across cash that is in excess of ten grand we are REQUIRED to notify the LEO who is then required to notify customs, who then checks to determine whether the passenger is crossing a national border and if so, has the cash been declared to customs? End of story for me guys.

TSO TOM

Ayn R. Key said...

My point about the phony crack pipes we made to annoy base security has been ignored by spokespeople for the TSA.

Not surprised.

Anonymous said...

TSO Tom said in part..........

Anon;
first of all I haven't made it a secret as to what airport I work at if you go back through my postings you will surely see for yourself where I am. Secondly, I don't make referrals for immigration violators at all.

January 3, 2009 7:09 PM
...............................
"Secondly, I don't make referrals for immigration violators at all."
..................................
Very telling Tom. Would this be because you only support certain laws and refuse to act on those you personally disagree with or has TSA put out a directive saying to not take notice of someone who may be illegally in the country?

What about their documents used to ID themselves? Any thought that they could be less than legit?

Or if in the country illegally that the person could have infiltrated to participate in some sort of attack on the country?

Every little bit I learn about the TSA and its employees reinforces that something is very wrong in your agency.

What other violations of law do you cherry pick Tom? Would this practice be in agreement with TSA integrity polices?

I hope others pick up on your statement.

Anonymous said...

Ayn R. Key said...

"My point about the phony crack pipes we made to annoy base security has been ignored by spokespeople for the TSA.

Not surprised."

Perhaps because they felt it would be a waste of time to discuss such a childish act performed by a member of the military. How would you have felt if there was an actual security breach while you had the MP's chasing after your faux crack pipes? You are just as sad as those who constantly defy the 3-1-1 policy out of sheer pettiness and petulance. Ever wonder how smooth it would be for your fellow travelers if everyone just paid attention and followed the few small rules? Less bag checks = less frustration for all involved and a happier and safer public. Think about it while you grow up.

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous TSO wrote:
Perhaps because they felt it would be a waste of time to discuss such a childish act performed by a member of the military.

The point of the story is - just because it looks like drug paraphanelia doesn't mean it was ever used for illegal purposes. Thus the assertion that it must be reported as an illegal item is false.

Think about it while you grow up.

Think about the constitution while you grow up.

Vincent said...

We need to abolish the TSA. This is a destructive government agency which is helping to sink us even further into the bottomless pit of debt that we are already too deep to get out of. This agency puts on the charade of security but the only real security to prevent another 911 is locked cockpit doors and alert passengers. No plane will ever be hijacked again because passengers will not allow it! It makes more sense to be afraid of lightning, or sharks, or aliens even than a terrorist statistically. This is a fraud and a sham and each TSA employee should hang their head in shame for harassing even one person and interfering in the running of a business on the free market. This is disgusting, when will Americans here in the USSA figure out what is going on and call it what it is? I don't want this crap on my airline, how come I can't pay to fly on one that doesn't have this nonsense? That would be an American solution, all the skirts could fly "safe" airlines if they like and then we could look at the statistics and see that this charade makes us no more safe than an airline could by it's own actions and be accountable to us, the customers. That is fact. The government has never been good at anything but war and welfare, and it's not good at those either.

Stephen said...

> I think most all questions get answered
> but the person asking does not
> understand the answer or doesn't like
> the answer so they keep asking the same
> question.

Well often people tend to ask questions that can be half answered, and I see a lot more of that than anything else.

I don't mean to bash the TSA bloggers, lord knows they are the only people at the TSA whose job I approve of (if only because the organization exists and I think its good that they take comments, at least until this country has the good sense to defund them)

However, I see a lot of cherry picking. A lot of answering the really easy questions, and ignoring the real points.

Bruce Schnier's repeated point in several articles (which has appeared in many blog posts here) has gone utterly ignored, while weaker points near it get answered definitively.

If you accept the liquid ban makes sense (which is a whole different issue), then you HAVE to treat EVERYONE with a prohibited amount of liquid as a bona fide terrorism suspect....because if there is no consequence to getting caught with liquids, then they can just keep trying till they get something through.

SOp either you give up entirely (which I believe is his suggestion on that issue), or you toss every old lady who brought a container of eye drops thats .05 oz over the limit up against the wall and arrest her.... with no possibility of tossing her contraband and continuing on.

Anything in between is just "Theater", a show put on for the benefit of the TSA budget justification.

Frankly, I agree 100% with his assesment and I have yet to see ANY serious attempt to address the real issues brought up.

-Steve

Anonymous said...

Dan @ "Could carrying [a 29c Bic] in my attaché or laptop case be construed as 'artful concealment'?"

Yes. If a TSO thinks you might be a terrorist capable of using a pen as a weapon, then the pen is a prohibited item and if they think you've cleverly concealed it, then you are guilty of artful concealment. See this PDF for your fines.

Jim Huggins said...

TSO Tom writes:

As to the customs issue, when we come across cash that is in excess of ten grand we are REQUIRED to notify the LEO who is then required to notify customs, who then checks to determine whether the passenger is crossing a national border and if so, has the cash been declared to customs? End of story for me guys.

And that's why we are questioning the TSO policy. We understand that you are obeying the rules established by your superiors. However, there is a serious question as to whether or not the TSA policy is sound.

Harmony1 said...

Its seems as if all peoople have to speak of is negativity. It is as if regardless of any situation, TSA will never be right. As in any organization, their are a few bad apples, but it is rediculous to deem all TSA employess as horrible people. It seems as if now days people are more concerned about keeping their water that they know has not been allowed through the checkpoint for more than 2 years now vs. getting a $400 moving violation ticket. TSA is here to help you believe it or not. Nobody likes taking t hings from passengers but, it is our duty to protect you and the rest of the traveling public to the best of our ability. Hopefully all the TSA haters will start to see that TSA is for no not against you. It's better to be safe then sorry. Until next time.

Kaleb Klein said...

I think you have other problems if somebody can still take down a plane with a 2" knife.

If we keep up worrying at this rate, soon buff men won't be allowed on flights because those muscles are prohibited!

Frank Sanders said...

I recently read in the NY Times that dozens of those swords hidden in canes are seized every year. Many people have purchased these second hand and do not even know what they have.

pianoz4u said...

I know it is an inconvenience to be patted down or go through a screening device, and thoroughly embarassing and humiliating, but I would rather be embarassed than just one person slip through the system that could bring down my ride.... Just my thought... I know the system is not perfect yet, and may never be, but those few discoveries made by TSA is one less possible problem.... I like to look at the overall picture rather than the smudge in the corner.

Anonymous said...

I can't say I've flown since 1992 (think thats what year it was)?
I would have only been 12 flying with my 14 yr old brother. Going from Oakland to Chicago to Harrisburg. Was very fun & enjoyable.

Of course back then I wasn't too surprised that my suit case with a brick of fireworks, some bottle rockets, a machete & real nun chucks got through. Of course this was NOT a CARRY ON.

If I ever do fly again.
I will try to pack light (without banned stuff) & get through security as fast as I can. & be polite to the Security workers.
Without bitchen n moanin.

(So that the line of impatient people behind me don't have to wait longer (because of me) & get more impatient & then be rude to the TSA people. Who may then be rude to you or hold you up on purpose just because you're being rude & holding up all the people behind you...making the whole process more longer n drawn out. Making the travelers & workers more impatient...& so on.)

Anonymous said...

So where do all these weapons & fluids go?

Are the coolest weapons raffled off @ the Company Christmas party???

I think if they auctioned off the weapons. Recycled the fluids & sold them in a store after you got off your flight...Then they could lower airfares & baggage fees???

Anonymous said...

"You are wrong. TSA does not look for cash. Yes they come accross it sometime."

This is an absurd statement. Due to the depths of the searches it is the presumption that nothing will be missed. Therefore, one can presume that if they're carrying a large amount of cash it WILL be noticed.

"There are not international flights out of my airport, but the connecting flight could be out of the country. Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US."

It is an unreasonable search to search someone and question them regarding something that MAY be illegal in some possible place in their near future. Considering that someone MAY have a connecting flight out of the country is not probable cause.

Anonymous said...

THAT STUFF IS BAD STUFF TO HIDE

brian said...

Hi,
Really great post. For me we can't have something like gun for example in us.
It's very dangerous and i hate that
Thank you
Sincerely
http://www.hollandparkplumbers.co.uk/

Old Hippie said...

What is "drug paraphernalia" to some people is often "medical devices" to legal medical marijuana patients in 16 states (and counting!). I hope the TSA will use compassion and common sense in dealing with people.

reza said...

And so Chad, in the event that 5 in . scissers are allowed up to speed that will undertake equally as much injury because within the knifes regarding equivalent or lower time-span, what makes 5 centimeter scissers granted although the 2" pad utensil against the rules?

Doesn't help make sense at all, however, not a whole lot TSA really does often.

Anonymous said...

I think TSA sucks. Still, the fact the some idiots think they can outsmart xrays and sneak ammo on a aircraft makes me less angry at the existence of TSA... All this aside, why TSA will allow a pair of three inch scissors and not the pathetic knife in a swiss tool is INANE. More so, if I cannot carry my own water through the checkpoing, I expect the price of water to be lower than market, not five-fold the market price. Screw all that.

thomas clark said...

I think Concealment of Art is a kind of stegnography concept means, An art which has any hidden message in it. Your exmaples are not enough to explore whatever you want to tell.
Overture Art Show

Anonymous said...

So if someone accidentally forgets a pair of fingernail clippers or a pocket knife in their bag then they shouldn't be able to fly? Ur a little extreme.