Monday, September 21, 2009

What happens to your prohibited items?

Guns and knives.
CNN ran a story today titled: From carry-on to eBay: The journey of airport security booty. It talks about what happens to items that passengers have to surrender at checkpoints.

It’s been a pretty popular piece so far, so I thought I would open it up for discussion on our blog.

Our officers would really rather not have you lose the trusty pocket knife your grandfather gave you. They would really prefer you didn’t have to surrender the knife you used to cut your wedding cake. When prohibited items come through the checkpoint, passengers are given options:

1) Take the item to the ticket counter and check it in your baggage or a box provided by the airport.
2) Many airports have a US Postal Service or other shipping services area where boxes, stamps and envelopes can be bought so you can ship your items home.
3) If there is somebody seeing you off, you can hand the prohibited item to them.
4) If your car is parked outside, you can take the item to your car.


If you’re not given these options, you should ask to speak with a supervisor or manager. You can also use the “Got Feedback?” program to contact TSA Customer Support at that specific airport.

We understand passengers aren’t always able to use these options due to the chance of missing flights, etc.

So, what happens to these items if passengers can’t use one of the options? Many folks are under the wrong impression that our officers get to keep the items. It just doesn’t happen. If somebody is caught pocketing the surrendered items, they are terminated. There is zero tolerance for theft at TSA. I know of somebody who was fired for stealing .69 cents.

Nico wrote a really informative blog post on this last year that can be found here.

For your convenience, I’ll just copy and paste it:

So What Exactly Happens To All Of That Stuff? 5.05.2008
As every passenger and visitor to this blog probably knows, hundreds of thousands of items are identified each year by our security officers that are prohibited from being carried onto an aircraft. Of course, occasionally, items get through, but that’s a whole different post.

There are two classifications of items, prohibited and illegal. The prohibited category includes things like knives, scissors (larger than 4 inches), some tools, chain saws, swords, boulders, replica guns, bottled water, soda, toothpaste, hair gel, snow globes and on and on.

Illegal items are obviously guns, brass knuckles, switch blades. When discovered at the checkpoint, we contact law enforcement and they do what they need to do, maybe arrest, maybe a citation,…. it really depends on each jurisdiction.

We often refer to prohibited items internally as Voluntary Abandoned Property. Passengers call them confiscated…, either way; these items become possessions of the federal government, and are deemed excess government property.

While it may seem like we enjoy taking this stuff, the fact is passengers have choices. A passenger can go back to the airline and place the item in his/her checked bag. Some airports have mailing facilities or mail back programs so travelers can mail the item home. The item can be given to a loved one seeing you off at the airport or, if you drove yourself to the airport, you can go place the items in your car. Or for that matter, a passenger can go throw the items away in a nearby trash can. If they decide to do none of these and "surrender" the prohibited item to a security officer, they are considered excess government property.

Now before you go and post a comment about the options, I’m not saying they are good or bad options, I’m just pointing out that there are options. I know if someone is late for a flight, the last thing they are going to do is go back to their car, and wait in line again. Can we just agree these are options? Of course, the best option is to know what is in your bag and not bring a prohibited item to the checkpoint to begin with, but that’s not the point of this post.

Of interesting note, of all the items I have seen, most, almost all, could have made it from Point A to Point B, had the passenger simply taken the time to place it in a checked bag.

Depending on the size of the airport, each day, week or month, the items are picked up. Because the items are excess government property, we must follow General Services Administration guidelines for the disposition of the material. Many airports use a TSA-provided contractor who collects the “stuff” and disposes of it….. quite literally, throws it away. Or, as some airports do, we donate items to approved, non-profit organizations in accordance w/GSA regulations.

We have heard of local schools receiving the scissors. We have heard of local police departments training with the mace. Some VA hospitals sell some of the items to help make ends meet. Some non-profits, including several state surplus property divisions, sell the material on the auction web site eBay, and put the profits in THEIR coffers. TSA does not sell or profit in any way from the selling of this voluntarily abandoned property.

There have been references to this practice on this very blog, but the fact is, those news reports are plain wrong. Again, we are required to follow GSA guidelines for the disposition of this property and we do.

Now liquids are another story. As you can imagine we have voluminous amounts of liquid items surrendered daily and from airport to airport the disposition is different. Some airports have the local janitorial staff pick up the trashcans. Some are collected and picked up by our contractor and in some airports, both can happen, depending if a passenger throws the item away prior to screening or in the security checkpoint. Either way, it’s disposed of … that goes for liquor, water, lotions and everything in between.

Early on, there was a move to donate the liquid items to local homeless shelters but we were forced to suspend that practice after the determination was made that there is a liability risk. We couldn’t continue to donate items and not know if the if the water was truly water or if the shampoo was truly shampoo. While unfortunate, the litigious world in which we live forced the abandonment (pun intended) of that process. So now, those items are tossed out.

It is important to note, that currently there is a California state senator-sponsored bill that would require all California airports to donate these liquid items to homeless shelters. While it is unclear exactly how that would work, an effort to actually put these items to use is in the works; at least in one state.

A question raised many times on this blog is how can we justify throwing all of these liquids away in a trash can near the checkpoint if they are such a danger. While a fair question, the answer has been available in many different threads though not directly answered, so here it goes.

We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device. That combination means explosives, detonator and other components to have a fully assembled bomb. Take one component away and you have a collection of harmless items. Of course we don't want liquid explosives anywhere near us but without the other components, they're not causing catastrophic damage.

That’s why it is safe for us to store the items together in a trash can near the checkpoint and that's what we do with prohibited items. ~ Nico

Thanks,

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

153 comments:

Anonymous said...

"We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device. That combination means explosives, detonator and other components to have a fully assembled bomb. Take one component away and you have a collection of harmless items. Of course we don't want liquid explosives anywhere near us but without the other components, they're not causing catastrophic damage."

And yet, the TSA brain trust has never, ever, ever, ever been able to cite any independent peer-reviewed data to support its liquid policies.

Adrian said...

I thought the observation that, after eight years, the volume of surrendered items hasn't diminished was interesting one. One possible conclusion is that passengers simply don't think of most of these items particularly dangerous. In the grand scheme of things, are they dangerous? Sure, the 9/11 hijackers used (then-allowed) box cutters. But today I doubt passengers and crews would let a wannabe terrorist get very far with a Swiss Army knife or even a kitchen sink.

Did I read that right? Are kitchen sinks prohibited items?

I also think it's interesting that this stuff becomes federal property, but it's the states who get to sell it off.

Trollkiller said...

So what happens if you have a passenger like me that would insist that the items "surrendered" be thrown away? Would the TSA honor the request or just steal the item?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

""We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device. That combination means explosives, detonator and other components to have a fully assembled bomb. Take one component away and you have a collection of harmless items. Of course we don't want liquid explosives anywhere near us but without the other components, they're not causing catastrophic damage."

And yet, the TSA brain trust has never, ever, ever, ever been able to cite any independent peer-reviewed data to support its liquid policies."

---------------------

What would such a study cite?

philr said...

Boulders?

Anonymous said...

Bob, the message hasn't gotten out to the TSOs at many airports.

Anonymous said...

"One possible conclusion is that passengers simply don't think of most of these items particularly dangerous. In the grand scheme of things, are they dangerous?"

Many of them aren't, frankly. I understand banning large knives and kitchen knives and such, but no one's going to get anywhere with a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman. And the small-knife rules make no sense at all when compared to the scissors which are not banned.

Anonymous said...

A question raised many times on this blog is how can we justify throwing all of these liquids away in a trash can near the checkpoint if they are such a danger.

Here is a related question: if someone is trying to take even a component of a bomb, why just causally toss it aside? Why not record the information of the person who attempted to bring this component on to the airplane, tag it, and test it?

Oh...it's not cost effective to do this to every item, given the low rate of return....hmmmm....

Anonymous said...

I guess in TSA parlance if a mugger threatened to hurt me if I didn't give him my wallet that would be the same as voluntary surrender not confiscation.

Isaac Newton said...

Nico said:

"A question raised many times on this blog is how can we justify throwing all of these liquids away in a trash can near the checkpoint if they are such a danger. ...

We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device. That combination means explosives, detonator and other components to have a fully assembled bomb. Take one component away and you have a collection of harmless items. Of course we don't want liquid explosives anywhere near us but without the other components, they're not causing catastrophic damage.

That’s why it is safe for us to store the items together in a trash can near the checkpoint and that's what we do with prohibited items."

____________
Bob, Nico (if you're still there),
When many people have pointed out the extreme difficulty of mixing liquid explosives in an airport lav or on board, we've been told that the liquid explosive intended to be used in the UK plot was pre-mixed. (Recent media coverage mentions "injecting liquid explosive" into a drink bottle.) Disposing of this pre-mixed explosive in the trash would be idiotic.

Yet here's Nico saying that the individual liquids are harmless until mixed.

Will you, once and for all, make up your minds about this? If it's pre-mixed, you need to call Hazmat disposal for every water bottle and shampoo that you confiscate. If it's not pre-mixed, please explain how the bad guys were going to mix the explosive after the checkpoint without a full chemistry lab.

Frankly I think the whole liquids threat is exaggerated, but I wish you would just pick one story and stick to it.

KBCraig said...

It is a curious dictionary indeed that would describe this "voluntary surrender" as "voluntary".

Jim Huggins said...

Bob:

If, as you state, TSA employees are not allowed to keep items that are surrendered at the checkpoint, can you explain why TSA employees were allegedly seen
playing with toy swords
shortly after such items were surrendered by a family coming home from Disney World?

Anonymous said...

I got to admit, I don't understand why the kitchen sink was prohibited. How exactly are you going to use that to endanger the plane, crew, or passengers?

TSORon said...

Trollkiller said...
So what happens if you have a passenger like me that would insist that the items "surrendered" be thrown away? Would the TSA honor the request or just steal the item?

Standard liquid items (water, G2, sodas, etc) are tossed into a trash can and disposed of in the usual manner. Liquid items containing hazardous materials are transported to an appropriate storage area / container and later disposed of using the appropriate protocols. Liquor and other alcoholic drinks are poured down a drain and that disposal documented and witnessed. Other hazardous materials are disposed of as EPA and GAO directives mandate.

Blades and tools are put into a locked container (much like the standard mail box on your street corner) until such time as they are disposed of IAW GAO directives.

Its much easier to just not bring the stuff to the checkpoint as Nico says. That way you don’t lose it, we don’t have to store it or see to its disposal, and generally everyone is much happier at the end of the day. One can insist however much they like, but the TSA is going to follow the appropriate procedures and directives no matter what wishes concerning disposal the passenger may express.

Anonymous said...

I hate disposing of paint and other chemicals because I need to go to my local transfer station which takes time off my day. I should just bring them to the airport with me next time I fly and let TSA do me a favor for once.

Anonymous said...

If you mistakenly bring some container of fluid to the airport and are forced to turn it over, take the cap off and keep it. Then, the container of fluid cannot reasonably be reused or donated without a cap. Keeps everyone honest about it.

Anonymous said...

When you mistakenly bring a container fluid to the airport and are forced to turn it over, remove and keep the cap. This keeps everyone honest.

Anonymous said...

I can buy lots of items on the Prohibited list in airport shops after I come thru the checkpoint.

Tell me again how TSA is protecting air travellers.

Anonymous said...

"Standard liquid items (water, G2, sodas, etc) are tossed into a trash can and disposed of in the usual manner. Liquid items containing hazardous materials are transported to an appropriate storage area / container and later disposed of using the appropriate protocols. Liquor and other alcoholic drinks are poured down a drain and that disposal documented and witnessed. Other hazardous materials are disposed of as EPA and GAO directives mandate."

Since TSA does no testing of any kind on the liquids it confiscates, you have no way of knowing what's hazardous and what isn't.

If you're going by the labels to determine what's hazardous and what's not, you've just admitted that the liquids policies are pointless: If a bottle's being labeled "Pepsi" is proof enough that it contains only harmless soda to determine how to dispose of it, then you have no reason not to accept that same label as proof that the contents are harmless soda that should be allowed on a plane.

But since you take care of hazmats, I have some old paint cans I need to get rid of. Guess I'll bring them with me to the airport next time I fly and let you take care of 'em.

Bubbaloop said...

I was going to ask Ron how hazardous liquids are separated from non-hazardous, but Anon beat me to it.

Basically, the fact that liquids are tossed nonchalantly is proof everyone knows they are not dangerous. It you are willing to run the risk of tossing them together in an ordinary trash bin, you should be OK with the risk of allowing these liquids on an airplane.

Ayn R. Key said...

We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device.

But the one thing you have never established is that what you write is even possible!

Come on, after two years you would realize that your bluff has been called and you are left sitting there holding worthless cards, neither showing nor folding. If this were a Las Vegas poker game the casino owner would have taken your cards from your hands and placed them on the table since all you are doing is sitting there silently "deciding" what your next move would be.

A safe to transport undetectable assembled liquid explosive doesn't exist.

A possible to assemble liquid explosive with undetectable components doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" Jim Huggins said...
Bob:

If, as you state, TSA employees are not allowed to keep items that are surrendered at the checkpoint, can you explain why TSA employees were allegedly seen
playing with toy swords shortly after such items were surrendered by a family coming home from Disney World?

September 22, 2009 7:19 AM"
---------------------------
Just because they "played" with them, if indeed they did, does not have anything to do with them keeping them which is what this Blog piece is about.

And while, it may not have been appropriate to "play" with the items, what rule exactly, were they breaking?

I realize that some of you like to jump on anything which hurts the TSA but how about staying on topic?

Anonymous said...

If the TSA was actually concerned about people being able to retain their 'contraband' that actually had value (grandpa's pocketknife, etc, etc), then there would be a procedure and process implemented at the checkpoint for reuniting that 'contraband' with those people.

Since there isn't, there isn't.

'nuf said.

Anonymous said...

So how does this fit into “See, Feel, Think, Do” if a TSO or STSO feel something is amiss, he/she can think they are doing right and take an item that is not on the prohibited list from a passenger? Or, has this idea gone the way of PASS? What will be the next flavor of the day for TSA?

Trollkiller said...

TSORon said...

Blades and tools are put into a locked container (much like the standard mail box on your street corner) until such time as they are disposed of IAW GAO directives.

Its much easier to just not bring the stuff to the checkpoint as Nico says. That way you don’t lose it, we don’t have to store it or see to its disposal, and generally everyone is much happier at the end of the day. One can insist however much they like, but the TSA is going to follow the appropriate procedures and directives no matter what wishes concerning disposal the passenger may express.


So the short answer is the TSA will just steal my property instead of honoring my request that MY property be thrown away.

Ron I know you well enough to know that you can justify, at least to yourself, anything the TSA does.

Please attempt to justify why a kitchen sink would be PROHIBITED by the TSA or show where a kitchen sink is listed as PROHIBITED on any TSA website or TSA document anywhere.

It is very difficult to abide by the rules when the TSA refuses to show them or worse breaks the law in order to enforce a secret (read nonexistent) rule.

Bob said...

Our officers cannot take a prohibited item and throw it in the trash.

You on the other hand can take it out of the checkpoint and do anything you want to with it.

So TK, if you would rather take your knife or whatever else it is you have and pitch it, simply ask to be escorted out of the checkpoint. The officer will gather your bags and the item and walk you out of the checkpoint. Once you exit the sterile area, the officer will hand you your bags and the prohibited item. As a former officer, I've seen it happen a thousand times.

It is up to you to use one of your options or simply surrender the item to us.

I don't agree with the theft analogy, because we are not making you give the item to us.

Heck, if you wanted to, you could take your knife or whatever else you have and give it to a stranger who isn't flying.

But once it is surrendered to our officers, we have set ways we have to handle the prohibited items.

Now, when it comes to illegal items such as guns, switchblades, etc., it is in the hands of law enforcement and TSA cannot offer you any options.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Bob said...

"Our officers cannot take a prohibited item and throw it in the trash."


That's just what the TSO supervisor in STL did when he removed the gel pack from my cooler and suspended it over the trashcan as he (incorrectly) informed me that gel packs were only allowed for medicine, not infants. He took it out of my bag and he dropped it in the trash.


"It is up to you to use one of your options or simply surrender the item to us.

I don't agree with the theft analogy, because we are not making you give the item to us. "

Your rules and options are contradictory, nonsensical, and hidden at the point of application. In practice, the "options" are effectively "Do You Want To Fly Today?"

I agree with the theft analogy because the choice in isn't voluntary choice--If a mugger says "gimmie your money or your life", and you give him your money, it's still a mugging.

Anonymous said...

What happens to all of our "dangerous" liquids that are confiscated? Are they properly given to HAZMAT companies to dispose of since they are probably bombs or nasty stuff?

Anonymous said...

"But once it is surrendered to our officers, we have set ways we have to handle the prohibited items."

Bob, why don't you address the gaping holes in TSA's liquids policy that its disposal protocols expose?

Isaac Newton said...

Ayn R. Key wrote:
"A safe to transport undetectable assembled liquid explosive doesn't exist.

A possible to assemble liquid explosive with undetectable components doesn't exist."

__________
Agree completely. Moreover, when you try to make the first point, they say "it wouldn't be assembled until it's past the checkpoint"; when you try to make the second point, they say, "it would already be mixed before coming to the airport."

There are now stories from Salt Lake City of TSA screeners in the gate area stopping passengers to test the bottled water that they bought AFTER the checkpoint. What new idiocy is this? You have to "surrender" any water bottles at the checkpoint and buy expensive water inside, but now TSA doesn't trust that either? Don't they "screen" the water sold by vendors in the secure area? Or is this just more job creation activity?

Trollkiller said...

Bob said...

Our officers cannot take a prohibited item and throw it in the trash.


Why not?

According to TSORon, the TSOs already throw water, Gatorade, and other "non hazardous" items in the trash. (Begs the question of if it is non hazardous then why is the TSO taking it?)

It seems to me that the only items that the TSA refuses to throw away are items that have "value" like sinks, hockey masks, blenders, scales, and tools. (note: knives are tools)

You on the other hand can take it out of the checkpoint and do anything you want to with it.

So TK, if you would rather take your knife or whatever else it is you have and pitch it, simply ask to be escorted out of the checkpoint. The officer will gather your bags and the item and walk you out of the checkpoint. Once you exit the sterile area, the officer will hand you your bags and the prohibited item. As a former officer, I've seen it happen a thousand times.

It is up to you to use one of your options or simply surrender the item to us.

I don't agree with the theft analogy, because we are not making you give the item to us.

So what you are saying is the TSA offers a Hobson's choice so therefore the theft analogy is accurate. The TSA only keeps items of value but is quite content to throw "worthless" items in the trash.

Heck, if you wanted to, you could take your knife or whatever else you have and give it to a stranger who isn't flying.

But once it is surrendered to our officers, we have set ways we have to handle the prohibited items.

Now, when it comes to illegal items such as guns, switchblades, etc., it is in the hands of law enforcement and TSA cannot offer you any options.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team


Before you feel too picked on I make the same analogy with mandated recycling programs.

Ha- My word verification is "hater".

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's what I don't get; why are so many of you still bringing prohibited items on board?

Let's say we accept all the criticisms. The policies are stupid, this is just a mugging/theft/whatever. TSA is evil, and so on and etcetera. Even accepting all that, what does that have to do with the foolishness of bringing the item to the freaking airport? You should KNOW it's going to be taken!

Now, some of you might be trying some kind of civil disobediance - and we've all forgotted a pen knife or similiar item every so often, but the sheer volume of items still being confiscated leads me to an inescapable conclusion - most of you just aren't all that bright.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Ayn R. Key said...

"We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device.

But the one thing you have never established is that what you write is even possible!

Come on, after two years you would realize that your bluff has been called and you are left sitting there holding worthless cards, neither showing nor folding. If this were a Las Vegas poker game the casino owner would have taken your cards from your hands and placed them on the table since all you are doing is sitting there silently "deciding" what your next move would be.

A safe to transport undetectable assembled liquid explosive doesn't exist.

A possible to assemble liquid explosive with undetectable components doesn't exist."

-----------------------


It amazes me that those who have no experience with explosives are quick to tell others who have experience what is an is not possible (no I do not mean TSO's have experience (though some do), I am refering to the BAO's).

However, if what you said is true, how do you or anyone explain Bojinka? As a test to Bojinka, the terrorist made a liquid explosive, compiled before hand, thus no need to pull out a "chemistry set on the plane". It was easily transported in a contact lense solution bottle, assembled on the plane in several minutes, left on a digital watch timer, and set-off on a later flight, killing one passenger.

So if you write that this is not even possible, how was it done before?

And lets not even consider the opinion of EOD,s (non-TSA) and BAO's (TSA), who KNOW it is possible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

""Standard liquid items (water, G2, sodas, etc) are tossed into a trash can and disposed of in the usual manner. Liquid items containing hazardous materials are transported to an appropriate storage area / container and later disposed of using the appropriate protocols. Liquor and other alcoholic drinks are poured down a drain and that disposal documented and witnessed. Other hazardous materials are disposed of as EPA and GAO directives mandate."

Since TSA does no testing of any kind on the liquids it confiscates, you have no way of knowing what's hazardous and what isn't.

If you're going by the labels to determine what's hazardous and what's not, you've just admitted that the liquids policies are pointless: If a bottle's being labeled "Pepsi" is proof enough that it contains only harmless soda to determine how to dispose of it, then you have no reason not to accept that same label as proof that the contents are harmless soda that should be allowed on a plane.

But since you take care of hazmats, I have some old paint cans I need to get rid of. Guess I'll bring them with me to the airport next time I fly and let you take care of 'em."


I also call it a "trash can", yet we actually have a few different places we dispose of what passenger can not take through the checkpoint. Won't go into it, but we have 4 different "trash cans" we put items into, based on what they might be, and they are handled by hazmat.

If you see everything going into one trash can, you should contact someone up high at that airport, and I do not mean an STSO, go higher.

TSORon said...

So the short answer is the TSA will just steal my property instead of honoring my request that MY property be thrown away.
----

No TK, you have several options to choose from, only one of those involves TSA having to dispose of the items. If you want them thrown away, go back out of the checkpoint and do it yourself. Or toss them before ever getting to the checkpoint, imagine how much easier that would be for everyone concerned.
----
Ron I know you well enough to know that you can justify, at least to yourself, anything the TSA does.

Please attempt to justify why a kitchen sink would be PROHIBITED by the TSA or show where a kitchen sink is listed as PROHIBITED on any TSA website or TSA document anywhere.

It is very difficult to abide by the rules when the TSA refuses to show them or worse breaks the law in order to enforce a secret (read nonexistent) rule.
----
I’m not going to speculate on the whole kitchen sink thing TK. The passenger in that case had the very same options that every other passenger has. They made a choice, and now the folks here are second guessing that choice. People here don’t have that right. Bring your own kitchen sink and let us know what happens.

Anonymous said...

If you mistakenly bring some container of fluid to the airport and are forced to turn it over, take the cap off and keep it. Then, the container of fluid cannot reasonably be reused or donated without a cap. Keeps everyone honest about it.
___________________________________
What? This is dumb! Just throw it away before you come through if you have such issues. And you won't be able to take the lid off of it once TSA comes across it because they maintain control of that item.
Very childish idea.
No one wants your liquid anyways!

Anonymous said...

I can buy lots of items on the Prohibited list in airport shops after I come thru the checkpoint.

Tell me again how TSA is protecting air travellers.
___________________________________
You are very smart. You can buy things beyond security that you can not bring in from the outside. Everything brought into the stores at the airport are brought through security.

Anonymous said...

If the TSA was actually concerned about people being able to retain their 'contraband' that actually had value (grandpa's pocketknife, etc, etc), then there would be a procedure and process implemented at the checkpoint for reuniting that 'contraband' with those people.

Since there isn't, there isn't.

'nuf said.
___________________________________

Yeah TSA wants you to be reunited with your "contraband". That is why there are mail boxes made for passengers who need to mail that item home, and they can be reunited with the item when they get home. Or they can put it in a vehicle that they came to the airport in, and they can be reunited with it when they get back to their car. Or they can run it out to someone who may be seeing them off, and they can be reunited with the item the next time that they see that loving family member or friend. You are given all these options. And yes beyond that there is nothing else that TSA can do for you. It is not the TSO's contraband, there for figure out what you want to do with it so that you can be REUNITED with it later.

Jim Huggins said...

I asked:

Can you explain why TSA employees were allegedly seen playing with toy swords shortly after such items were surrendered by a family coming home from Disney World?

Anonymous responded:

Just because they "played" with them, if indeed they did, does not have anything to do with them keeping them which is what this Blog piece is about.

It's not that far a reach. If this indeed happened, the TSOs in question were using abandoned property as if it was their own. That's awfully close to "keeping it", from where I sit. Your mileage may vary.

Anonymous continues:

I realize that some of you like to jump on anything which hurts the TSA but how about staying on topic?

The topic under discussion, as I see from the title at the top of the page, is "What happens to your prohibited items?". At least in one case, the answer seems to be "TSOs play with them." Sounds on-topic to me ...

(And as to my bias regarding TSA: if you read the blog, you'll note that I both criticize and defend TSA, depending on the situation.)

Anonymous said...

TO JIM HUGGINS....

the officers may have beenplaying with them on checkpoint but i guarentee they didnt get to take them home lmfao

...................................
TO TROLLKILLER YOU SAID----So what happens if you have a passenger like me that would insist that the items "surrendered" be thrown away? Would the TSA honor the request or just steal the item?...................

TROLLKILLER to make sure the officers actually throw them away just follow the officer to the giant trash bins on the checkpoint and watch them throw it away...have u seen the inside of those bins?? nothing that anyone surrenders ever is worth digging into those bins later to get out
OR you can have the officer walk you to the outside of the checkpoint and you can throw it away your self into a trashcan out there OR give it to a stranger
..................................

To the one who said take the cap off whatever liquid and keep it... if u send an open container thru the x-ray and it falls over and blows up the machine be ready to fork over at least $10,000 to fix it and be reasy to answer ALOT of question as to why you purposely destroyed gov't property

.................

Anonymous said...

From posted article: "Between 2005 and 2006, TSA confiscated 13 million prohibited items, according to a TSA spokesman. On an average month, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, takes 1,000 pounds of items from passengers."

But, but ... I thought passengers voluntarily surrendered items because the TSA never confiscates things.

Yeah, nice one.

Sandra said...

Anonymous wrote:

"Or they can run it out to someone who may be seeing them off....."

That's one of the most ignorant statements I've seen posted here.

Anonymous said...

"if u send an open container thru the x-ray and it falls over and blows up the machine be ready to fork over at least $10,000 to fix it and be reasy to answer ALOT of question as to why you purposely destroyed gov't property"

The same way TSA purposefully tries to damage citizens' harmless shoes by forcing them to be x-rayed on the belt, rather than in bins?

Anonymous said...

Sandra said...
Anonymous wrote:

"Or they can run it out to someone who may be seeing them off....."

That's one of the most ignorant statements I've seen posted here.

September 23, 2009 8:39 PM

But Sandra, they can do that. Its one of their options. You didnt know that? Sounds ignorant on your part huh?

RB said...

Anon said in part....You are very smart. You can buy things beyond security that you can not bring in from the outside. Everything brought into the stores at the airport are brought through security.

September 23, 2009 1:37 PM
.................
So everything inside the secure area has been cleared in some manner.

Tell me why then that TSA is wasting time checking peoples beverages inside the sterile area with the little paper strip test?

It has already been determined based on your report that these items are known to be safe.

Is TSA so fouled up that they don't trust their own security protocols?

Seems so!

RB said...

Sandra said...
Anonymous wrote:

"Or they can run it out to someone who may be seeing them off....."

That's one of the most ignorant statements I've seen posted here.

September 23, 2009 8:39 PM
..................
Likely a TSA employee.

Scott G. Lewis said...

Mr. gel-pak says:

Your rules and options are contradictory, nonsensical, and hidden at the point of application. In practice, the "options" are effectively "Do You Want To Fly Today?"

-----------------------

Perhaps for you, rarely for me. I do a few things ahead of time:

1) I try not to bring things I know darn well can't be brought on board. Anyone reading this blog really can't play ignorant on this. You KNOW.

2) I show up early enough anyway. I hate rushing, I hate having to guess IF the security checkpoint is backed up, I hate running to a gate to learn it was moved, and quite frankly I try to get checked in as early as possible, get a good "zone" number, relax, have a drink or bite to eat at the bar and try to make a day of travel into a day of hell.

If you show up late with 5 items you can't have, nobody is there to take your stuff, you didn't leave enough time to leave the line and dispose of them, mail them home, or run to your car... well, yeah, I guess you, Mr. Gel-pack will be handing over your items or missing your flight. To 99% of all other people, it's not a big deal.

I had a problem. ONCE. It wasn't even TSA. I was catching a flight home from Bangkok when I was stopped. They found a metal Zippo-style lighter in my carryon that I had forgotten all about (it was given to me in a bar and I don't even know why I bothered to keep it). I threw it out. The sun still set that night, I still flew home, and I haven't lived with years of agony over my decision. Come on guys, if you don't want it taken... why bring it.

Do I feel absolutely bad for the guy who brought his antique pocketknife to check in and HAD to make the flight and had NO WAY to get it back to his car without missing his flight?

Actually... NO. What security checkpoint have you been in that from the back of the line you couldn't see signage reminding you not to bring weapons.

I realize some of you guys just criticise anything on this site... but really... join reality. PS: MOST of us are glad that pocket knives can't be brought on. And yes, MOST of us outside of this site really don't get our panties ruffled over having to CHECK our shampoo or spend a buck at CVS for a bottle of Suave once we get there, or bring a small portion, or use that which the hotel provides.

Anonymous said...

A non-snarky commenter who pointed out an apparent lack of procedure or protocol for getting 'contraband' items such as grandpa's knife back got snarky commenter response of (partial qoute):
"That is why there are mail boxes made for passengers who need to mail that item home, and they can be reunited with the item when they get home."

As a frequent flyer (US only: SEA, SFO, LAX, Honolulu, SAN, PDX, ORD, LGA, JFK, Norfolk, and LAS just in the last 12 year) I have yet to see these mythical envelopes at the security lines. Ever. Are they hidden from view and brought out only when reporters and upper management visit?

I'm sure Bob would be more than happy to let us know which airports actually have this implemented, which ones don't, and why. But until then, I'll continue pre-flight inspecting my carry-ons to make sure no 'sharp pointy things' in them. Just like any passenger should, but obviously doesn't.

Thanks.

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous, I included the word "undetectable". You left it out. The word is "puffers". They make more sense than the war on water.

But please, go ahead and show me the independent peer-reviewed journals discussing the liquid explosive I described. Not the one you described, the one I described.

Trollkiller said...

TSORon said...

I’m not going to speculate on the whole kitchen sink thing TK. The passenger in that case had the very same options that every other passenger has. They made a choice, and now the folks here are second guessing that choice. People here don’t have that right. Bring your own kitchen sink and let us know what happens.


Please speculate on how a sink can be weaponized. I need a good bedtime story. ;-)

What choice do they have? They can check it, but they don't have a box so the airline won't allow it in the hold. They can mail it but they don't have a box for that either. They can attempt to track down a box but most likely they will miss their flight.

Hobson's choice is not a choice.

You know this would be different if we were just talking about stated prohibited items and not items that some idiot decided was "unusual" and therefore prohibited.

And just to clarify, when I state the TSA is stealing property I am indicting the policy makers at the TSA, not the TSOs. I understand that if you (TSOs) confiscate a knife and are told to place it in a particular bin, your (TSOs) intent is not theft.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's what I don't get; why are so many of you still bringing prohibited items on board?

Let's say we accept all the criticisms. The policies are stupid, this is just a mugging/theft/whatever. TSA is evil, and so on and etcetera. Even accepting all that, what does that have to do with the foolishness of bringing the item to the freaking airport? You should KNOW it's going to be taken!

Now, some of you might be trying some kind of civil disobediance - and we've all forgotted a pen knife or similiar item every so often, but the sheer volume of items still being confiscated leads me to an inescapable conclusion - most of you just aren't all that bright.

Cheers.


Most of the items confiscated are due to the fact that people are creatures of habit.

If someone normally carries a pocket knife they will place it in their pocket without a second thought. It has nothing to do with the passengers being bright or dull just habit.

That explains the volume of things like pocket knives.

On the other hand we do have a glaring example of stupidity and that would be the confiscation of the unusual but not dangerous items.

Can you tell me how a goalie mask, blender, bathroom scale, plastic Pirates of the Caribbean toy sword, 1 oz competition boomerang or a P-38 can opener can be used to take over a plane?

I don't mind so much that people can't take a knife on the plane or really any of the stated prohibited items, but it does bug me when some one is so dense that they forbid something that is unusual but benign because the TSO can not be bothered to think.

Challenge to the TSOs on this board, try to justify the taking of any of the above benign items.

Isaac Newton said...

Anonymous at September 23, 2009 8:24 AM said:
Okay, here's what I don't get; why are so many of you still bringing prohibited items on board?

Let's say we accept all the criticisms. The policies are stupid, this is just a mugging/theft/whatever. TSA is evil, and so on and etcetera. Even accepting all that, what does that have to do with the foolishness of bringing the item to the freaking airport? You should KNOW it's going to be taken!

Now, some of you might be trying some kind of civil disobediance - and we've all forgotted a pen knife or similiar item every so often, but the sheer volume of items still being confiscated leads me to an inescapable conclusion - most of you just aren't all that bright.

________

One reason people still bring prohibited items to the airport is that the TSA won’t tell us what’s prohibited and what’s not. Sure, liquids and guns and knives, but there’s far too much latitude for screeners to just randomly decide that something else is “prohibited.” For example, I searched the TSA website “prohibited items” page and I still can’t find “kitchen sink” anywhere. I can see that it might be difficult to carry on a kitchen sink, but I can’t see that it’s prohibited. How was the guy supposed to know?

There was an incident a few years ago where a retired teacher brought a leather bookmark to the airport inside a book inside her bag. Do you really think she said to herself, “I know this is a dangerous weapon and I should leave it at home, but I want them to confiscate it so I’ll take it with me?” No, she logically assumed that a leather bookmark is no threat to anyone, and was threatened with arrest and a $10,000 fine when she resisted “surrendering” this sentimental gift to the TSA screener.

TSA refuses, again and again, to clearly enumerate a list of prohibited items, claiming that unpredictability is somehow good. Then you lecture us that we should know exactly what’s prohibited. Most of you just aren’t all that bright.

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - "A safe to transport undetectable assembled liquid explosive doesn't exist."

I beg to differ, it has been done, and there are many stabilizing agents that can be used to transport. Just because it is detectable does not mean that it will always be caught going through. It could be well disguised or camoflaged to look like something else. All it takes is some imagination preparation and luck.

Ayn also sez - "Anonymous, I included the word "undetectable". You left it out. The word is "puffers". They make more sense than the war on water.

But please, go ahead and show me the independent peer-reviewed journals discussing the liquid explosive I described. Not the one you described, the one I described."

Your determination to rely on "peer reviewed only" narrows your information base considerably. I take most of my information from the people that have worked with explosives and it's components than someone that limits their focus. Just because someone has not done a controlled test of every specific variant or possibility does not mean that they won't work. Bojinka worked, it was a fairly simple bomb. It did not have the effect that the bomber wanted, but it still made an impact and gave another possible avenue of attack for the future. The folks that I quote here have at least 20 years of work with explosives (minimum) and will tell you tha tthere are several problems with some of the methods that are described and screened for. Stuff like synthesis and controlled enviornments giving the best yield and all that, but most of them will say that even without the controlled enviornments, a liquid explosive can be created, stabilized and transported with a fair chance of making it through. If we did not have the LAG ban in place, it would be a simple process to disguise said items and bring plenty of it on board and go boom. I for one, would like to see more technological advances to test for explosive content. I know that we have several systems being tested and evaluated. I want to see more of it and I want to see it deployed rikki tik, but that is not how it goes, we have to test it, evaluate the capabilities and costs and upkeep and consumables, then it has to be tested in a real time enviorn to ascertain what impact the checkpoint will have on the equipment... Oh you get the idea, it goes on for a while. The LAG threat is there, and until we can come up with better ways to test the stuff, I don't see a way to modify the ban at this time.

West
TSA Blog

Anonymous said...

"If we did not have the LAG ban in place, it would be a simple process to disguise said items and bring plenty of it on board and go boom."

Really, West?

Tell us, how many other countries have liquid policies like TSA's. In countries that don't have those policies, how many liquid explosives have brought down commercial aviation flights?

I imagine this is one of those questions you'll refuse to answer, much as Bob refuses to answer yes-or-no questions about the strip-search machine images, because the answer will embarrass you.

TSO Jacob said...

If you want to know more about liquid explosives check out this site: http://science.howstuffworks.com/liquid-explosives.htm If you want to know a little more on the technical side check out: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/explosives-liquid.htm


As far as other types of dangerous items: a goalie mask, not dangerous and not restricted; a blender, blades that can be unattached from the main casing to make a knife like weapon; bathroom scale, not dangerous and not restricted; toy sword, depending on the style this can look like a real weapon and if it does it will be restricted; competition boomerang, I don’t know what the difference between a regular boomerang and competition one is but unless the boomerang has some kind of sharp edge or is made of metal you should not have any problem carrying one; P-38 can opener, not dangerous and not restricted although I can see how some TSOs in the past might have mistaken the P-38 for a member of the knife family (it is not considered a knife TSOs should double check the SOP); a leather bookmark, not dangerous and not restricted; a kitchen sink, not dangerous and not restricted and on a further note I cannot figure out how you got off on this tangent when was a kitchen sink ever taken, after reviewing the comments in the blog it sounds like the original comment was more of a cliché like when someone says “I have everything but the kitchen sink in here.”

TSO jacob said...

What kinds of trouble are other countries having with liquid explosives???

Australia

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24650187-2702,00.html?from=public_rss

Europe

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aRDzNC2DCC5Q&refer=europe

Asia

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Liquid_explosives_readily_available_paper_to_0810.html

Three different continents, but I am sure you believe that North America doesn’t have to worry.

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller said...

"Please attempt to justify why a kitchen sink would be PROHIBITED by the TSA or show where a kitchen sink is listed as PROHIBITED on any TSA website or TSA document anywhere."


None of us were there, but I suspect the kitchen sink was not allowed because of its size.

I have been at a checkpoint when a passenger wanted to bring in laundry dryer - seriously. They did not want to pay the fee to check it in. Our screening manager would not let them bring it through, and even contacted a representative of the airline, who agreed. It could only go as checked luggage.

This passenger refused to check in the dryer and left with it, I assume to bring it back to where ever he got it from.

Now if a passenger is bringing something large like a sink that would not fit in the overhead compartments nor under the seat, and they refused to check it in (maybe couldn't afford it?), and didn't have anywhere else to take it (mabye running late for the flight?), I can understand why they left it at a TSA checkpoint.

That is one possible - and rational reason, I believe - reson why this might have happened.

What do you think TK?

Anonymous said...

Sandra said...

"Anonymous wrote:

"Or they can run it out to someone who may be seeing them off....."

That's one of the most ignorant statements I've seen posted here."


How is this ignorant? I have helped passengers hand off items to people seeing them off many times. Sure, the option is not available to many people, but to suggest that its not possible for many other passengers is sort of ignorant on your part, Sandra.

For many people it is a very viable option.

Anonymous said...

That's one of the most ignorant statements I've seen posted here.
___________________________________

What are you even talking about?! How is that ignorant?!

Anonymous said...

The same way TSA purposefully tries to damage citizens' harmless shoes by forcing them to be x-rayed on the belt, rather than in bins?
___________________________________

Your right because it sure makes a difference if they are in a bin or not! Dumb!

Anonymous said...

As a frequent flyer (US only: SEA, SFO, LAX, Honolulu, SAN, PDX, ORD, LGA, JFK, Norfolk, and LAS just in the last 12 year) I have yet to see these mythical envelopes at the security lines. Ever. Are they hidden from view and brought out only when reporters and upper management visit?
___________________________________

Yeah we supply the envelopes and ........ No!
There are large metal boxes right outside of the checkpoints. It is not TSA sending things home for you. It is a company all in its own that supplies these boxes to airport checkpoints. The passenger must leave the secure area and go out and place their item in a plastic bag that is inside the box and fill out a form, then drop the item in the box. Someone from the box company comes and picks them all up and mails them to the adress that the paperwork states. Thank you, have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Trollkiller said...

"Please attempt to justify why a kitchen sink would be PROHIBITED by the TSA or show where a kitchen sink is listed as PROHIBITED on any TSA website or TSA document anywhere."


None of us were there, but I suspect the kitchen sink was not allowed because of its size.

I have been at a checkpoint when a passenger wanted to bring in laundry dryer - seriously. They did not want to pay the fee to check it in. Our screening manager would not let them bring it through, and even contacted a representative of the airline, who agreed. It could only go as checked luggage.

This passenger refused to check in the dryer and left with it, I assume to bring it back to where ever he got it from.

Now if a passenger is bringing something large like a sink that would not fit in the overhead compartments nor under the seat, and they refused to check it in (maybe couldn't afford it?), and didn't have anywhere else to take it (mabye running late for the flight?), I can understand why they left it at a TSA checkpoint.

That is one possible - and rational reason, I believe - reson why this might have happened.

What do you think TK?

September 24, 2009 12:44 PM

Why would TSA care what size an item is?

Is it part of TSA's job to regulate how large an items can be?

Seems like an airline job to me.

Bob said...

Anonymous said... Why would TSA care what size an item is? Is it part of TSA's job to regulate how large an items can be? Seems like an airline job to me. September 24, 2009 1:53 PM
-------------------------------
No, it's not our job to regulate the size of items, but if we are unable to screen the item at our checkpoint, it has to be checked as luggage or cargo, or it can't fly.

I don't know what happened with the sink or the dryer, but you have to agree that both items are not your typical carry-ons right?

You can see where a TSA Supervisor or Manager would call the airline right?

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Items that don't fit in the overheads or under the seat are not prohibited. Think of strollers--you can gate check them and they shouldn't be an issue for the nosey-parkers.

Anonymous said...

Bob said...
Anonymous said... Why would TSA care what size an item is? Is it part of TSA's job to regulate how large an items can be? Seems like an airline job to me. September 24, 2009 1:53 PM
-------------------------------
No, it's not our job to regulate the size of items, but if we are unable to screen the item at our checkpoint, it has to be checked as luggage or cargo, or it can't fly.

I don't know what happened with the sink or the dryer, but you have to agree that both items are not your typical carry-ons right?

You can see where a TSA Supervisor or Manager would call the airline right?

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

September 24, 2009 2:11 PM

....................
If the item is to large for the xray can it just be screened by a hands on methods? How do vendors get large items into the secure area?

As to calling the airline, agree 100%. It is their call if it can be accommodated on the airplane.

TSA's only job is to make sure it is not WEI or other prohibited item.

Jarvis Hill said...

I fly so infrequently I often go to the airport with items I should not have with me. I always wondered what happens to all of the things I have to surrender at the gates.

I had no idea it became federal property.

TSOWilliamReed said...

Here is my two cents! So you have a knife in your bag, oh no I forgot about it when I was fishing! Have no fear citizen you can leave it with your family waiting outside the checkpoint to see you off! But I came in by myself. Thats ok, you still have a chance. You can go back outside the checkpoint and ask someone not flying to mail it to you. I dont know about that, I might not get it back. That is also ok, you can (given you have time) head back to the airline and ask them to return your bag so you can place your knife inside of it, or you can even check another bag! Well how about I don't have time or am just too lazy to do any of that. Well then your only other option is to donate it to someone outside the checkpoint to assist them in future fishing or you can surrender it to us. Ok thanks for the help!

This is how it is and if it isnt it should be. Liquids follow the same rule along with any other item that isn't allowed past security. I have flown plenty all my life (I do live in Alaska ya know) and I have never ever had to abandon an item at a checkpoint. Why you ask? because I have always followed the rules and put all the things on the list or that could be considered on the list in my CHECKED BAGGAGE. If I have to think about wether an item can go through the checkpoint or not for longer then 5 sec, I should probably just toss it in my checked bag. Simple and Easy

Ayn R. Key said...

Hey West...

Your determination to rely on "peer reviewed only" narrows your information base considerably.



Actually it is the most important factor. Anyone can start a blog and claim anything. I could go to my blog and write about an explosive that looks and tastes and smells like water, is safe to transport already mixed, and does not trigger the explosive detectors. The problem is, that blog entry would be a work of fiction. That's why scientific journals are peer reviewed. It isn't just so that they can keep out the complete nonsense, but so that scientists can find the mistakes in each others work. That's an important point in how science works.

You think it is telling that I want peer reviewed work. No it's not. It's because I'm an engineer that I want peer reviewed work. If an engineer reads an internet article about how silly putty is useful for structurally reenforcing a bridge girder, would you want that engineer to say "well I read it so it must be true" when working on a bridge you are about to drive over? No, you'd want him to say "that looks suspicious, let's see what the analysis shows" and to NOT use the silly putty.

In the case of the TSA's war on water, you want the peer review in any way that supports the TSA but want to dispense with it in any way that doesn't support the TSA.

You never actually address the point. I don't disagree that liquid explosives exist. I don't disagree that some explosives wouldn't be detected with puffers. I don't disagree that some explosives are safe to transport. I don't disagree that some explosives are easy to assemble. You take each point separately, and use that to argue that the combined point is refued. But the combined point is essential if your war on water is supposed to make sense.

There are two explosives under discussion, and they have to have ALL of these characteristics.

1. The components are safe to transport, individually cannot be detected by explosives detection, are liquid, and can be combined easily and safely into an explosive using only facilities found on the other side of the TSA checkpoint.

2. The combined explosive is safe to transport, liquid, and cannot be detected by explosives detection.

Now for either of those two, if you want to start having an honest discussion for a change, you have to discuss ALL of the characteristics. I've already limited the discussion by listing both of those, so you cannot claim to be talking about the other one whenever you are cornered by science. There are only two explosives under discussion.

LAG threat is there, and until we can come up with better ways to test the stuff, I don't see a way to modify the ban at this time.

The LAG threat is only there if you actually have a peer reviewed scientific journal saying it is there. You do not. You never have. Your bluff has been called. You have ten high mixed cards trying to bluff my royal straight flush. The only reason you haven't been thrown from the table is because you own the table and anyone who wants to fly must play your game.

TSO Jacob said...

Hydrogen peroxide based explosives: They are safe enough for a terrorist to take a chance on, cannot be detected by pre-LGA methods, are a liquid, and can be used easily and safely enough for a terrorist to take a chance on.

Isaac Newton said...

TSO Jacob said:
What kinds of trouble are other countries having with liquid explosives???

Australia

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24650187-2702,00.html?from=public_rss

_____________
Which had nothing to do with air travel. Australia does not restrict liquids on domestic flights. At all.
____________
Europe

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aRDzNC2DCC5Q&refer=europe

__________
Which reports on a plot to attack nightclubs, bars and airPORTs. Which are all buildings on the ground. Not aircraft.
__________

Asia

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Liquid_explosives_readily_available_paper_to_0810.html

__________
Except that this story has nothing to do with Asia - it's the August 2006 report, via the Boston Globe, about the UK plot.
________________
Three different continents, but I am sure you believe that North America doesn’t have to worry.

I believe that North America, Australia, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and Antarctica do not have to worry about undetectable stable premixed liquid explosives or undetectable easy-to-mix-on-an-aircraft liquid explosives. The only one of your links relevant to that is the 2006 chicken-little story quoting the UK "expert".

Isaac Newton said...

TSO Jacob said:

Hydrogen peroxide based explosives: They are safe enough for a terrorist to take a chance on, cannot be detected by pre-LGA methods, are a liquid, and can be used easily and safely enough for a terrorist to take a chance on.
________
Pre-mixed hydrogen peroxide-based liquid explosives are notoriously unstable - they are not "safe enough for a terrorist to take a chance on."
Mixing hydrogen peroxide based liquid explosives after the checkpoint is not possible without serious chemistry lab gear and time.

Just because your management keeps telling you that there are viable liquid explosives doesn't make it true.

Ayn R. Key said...

I wrote:

1. The components are safe to transport, individually cannot be detected by explosives detection, are liquid, and can be combined easily and safely into an explosive using only facilities found on the other side of the TSA checkpoint.

2. The combined explosive is safe to transport, liquid, and cannot be detected by explosives detection.

--------

TSO Jacob wrote:

Hydrogen peroxide based explosives: They are safe enough for a terrorist to take a chance on, cannot be detected by pre-LGA methods, are a liquid, and can be used easily and safely enough for a terrorist to take a chance on.

--------

If mixed before the checkpoint, what part of "safe to transport" did you not understand? If mixed after the checkpoint, what part of "combined easily and safely ... using only facilities found on the other side of the checkpoint" did you not understand?

This is why I ask for an article from a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Peer-review by scientists would catch such elementary errors.

Bill said...

Issac Newton said:
"Mixing hydrogen peroxide based liquid explosives after the checkpoint is not possible without serious chemistry lab gear and time."

One would need a serious chemistry set to manufacture TATP. This is not the case for all peroxide based explosives.

Explosives engineer Sidney Alford demonstrated how this can be done without the need for such a set, as well as the damage it would cause to an aircraft:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7536167.stm

TSO Jacob said...

The peroxide based explosives are safe enough for a terrorist to use. This means that the general person who does want to injure themselves or anyone else will not walk around with this stuff. But, the terrorist whose mind is set to kill will not mind taking the risk of carrying this stuff onto a plane. All these explosives need is a booster to start the explosive reaction thus they can be easily mixed. By limiting the size of the containers of liquid that passenger bring the ability of the terrorists to use this method to take down an aircraft is greatly reduced.

P.S. Great find Bill, I’ve seen that video before.

TSOWilliamReed said...

LAG threat is there, and until we can come up with better ways to test the stuff, I don't see a way to modify the ban at this time.

The LAG threat is only there if you actually have a peer reviewed scientific journal saying it is there. You do not. You never have. Your bluff has been called. You have ten high mixed cards trying to bluff my royal straight flush. The only reason you haven't been thrown from the table is because you own the table and anyone who wants to fly must play your game.

--------------

Actually the threat is there and the scientific research has been done and is still being done. However, the information is covered by the privacy information act and is considered SSI. If you wanted the information you would have to go to court and a judge would require a need to know basis in order to see that information. Other then that the only way to see that information is to become an employee of DHS with SSI clearance. You could always check out the cnn video of the dreaded "tang" bomb which could have easily been transported through a checkpoint or the video link above is also a good one. Anyone who has ever taken chemistry 101 knows how easy it is to mix two completey harmless chemicals and get a very violent reaction.

Isaac Newton said...

Bill said:
Explosives engineer Sidney Alford demonstrated how this can be done without the need for such a set, as well as the damage it would cause to an aircraft:
____________
Explosives engineer Sidney Alford is a consultant to the UK government, selling them equipment to detect liquids - that is, he has a very strong financial interest in convincing people that such threats are real. What he "demonstrated" has, unfortunately, no more credibility than any piece of Hollywood special effects. He showed that, well, SOMETHING could blow something else up. He didn't show that it was a mixture of two liquids, nor did he show how it was manufactured.

Why is it that the only proof that TSA (and its counterpart in the UK) can offer is Sidney Alford? Why has no other chemist replicated his work? (Hint: that's how peer-reviewed science is done.)

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - "Actually it is the most important factor. Anyone can start a blog and claim anything. I could go to my blog and write about an explosive that looks and tastes and smells like water, is safe to transport already mixed, and does not trigger the explosive detectors. The problem is, that blog entry would be a work of fiction. That's why scientific journals are peer reviewed. It isn't just so that they can keep out the complete nonsense, but so that scientists can find the mistakes in each others work. That's an important point in how science works."

Agreed.

Ayn sez - "In the case of the TSA's war on water, you want the peer review in any way that supports the TSA but want to dispense with it in any way that doesn't support the TSA."

I disagree, if you can post peer review that counters all possibilities of liquid explosives, I would love to review it.

Ayn sez - "There are two explosives under discussion, and they have to have ALL of these characteristics.

1. The components are safe to transport, individually cannot be detected by explosives detection, are liquid, and can be combined easily and safely into an explosive using only facilities found on the other side of the TSA checkpoint.

2. The combined explosive is safe to transport, liquid, and cannot be detected by explosives detection."

These exact combinations may not exist, but by limiting it to two perfect examples, you are doing a disservice. There are several possible liquid explosive combos that can be stabilized and transported. With imagination they can be camoflaged and (without the LAG ban) transported through. If there were no screening on LAG, then you could mix up the boom, put it into a regular drink bottle and boom. You keep indicating the perfect example above, but LAG are not limited to the perfect example you are indicating. That is the point I am trying to make. I am certain that you will agree with me that if we can find a technology that tests for boom on either a chemical or density or molecular level, then by all means deploy that sucker and let everyone take what they want with them. At this point, that is not a fiscally reasonable request, and it may not be technologically possible to deploy based on the checkpoint enviornment.


Continued in part two!
West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Response to Ayn also sez (continued) - "The LAG threat is only there if you actually have a peer reviewed scientific journal saying it is there. You do not. You never have. Your bluff has been called. You have ten high mixed cards trying to bluff my royal straight flush. The only reason you haven't been thrown from the table is because you own the table and anyone who wants to fly must play your game."

wow, I like the poker analogy, nice! I will counter this with information from 4 different people that have worked in explosives disposal and ordinance control for a minimum of 20 years (that is the new guy with just 20). All of them are credible, have been certified by either the US Armed Forces EOD, or by a local EOD team here, and all of them say that without the current ban, a liquid based bomb could be transported with a minimum of effort. One even went so far as to say that it would take the imagination of a 4 year old to secret this type of bomb on a plane. I could quote you Dr. Sidney Alford here, but if I recall you may have dismissed him earlier on (if I am mistaken in that, I apologize and will link you the video of the tang bomb he made (at the range) and blew the side of an airplane out). Every time you wait on scientific or peer review to show up, you ignore what can be done in (concievably) any backyard with a little effort and ingenuity. Again, I do not discount peer review, I have a great deal of respect for it, but it is not the end all be all of what is out there. I knew this older man out at my Grandmothers (he passed away many years ago), he used to mix up dynamite and nitro cellulose type stuff to blow stumps out of the fields. He had never seen a book outside of the 4th grade and could barely
read the ingredients on his own shelf, but he could send a 275 lb stump clear across an acre field. I listen to the people that work with the stuff on a regular basis, some of them elbow deep trying to defuse things, some with the stand back and blow up the things that blow up tyoe jobs. Then there are our BAOs here, both of which say there is a credible threat from liquid bombs, mostly from premixed and stabilized types. That was all a reallllllly long way of saying I think you are wrong to limit your knowledge base by not taking into account the opinions of those that design, disarm and destroy what you are talking about.

West
TSA Blog

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Really, West?

Tell us, how many other countries have liquid policies like TSA's. In countries that don't have those policies, how many liquid explosives have brought down commercial aviation flights?

I imagine this is one of those questions you'll refuse to answer, much as Bob refuses to answer yes-or-no questions about the strip-search machine images, because the answer will embarrass you."

I have several answers for you Anon!

This is a current link detailing that Russia thinks LAG is a serious threat -
http://news.russiannewsroom.com/details.aspx?item=9022

KAL flight 858 was brought down (partially they also used some C-4) with PLX, or picatinny liquid explosive. This is an older flight, but the process was simple and without the liquid ban in place now, would be simple to use.

PAL flight 434 (1994) was Ramzi Youssefs bomb. It was made of liquid nitro and soaked into cotton to stabilize it inside a contact lens solution. Interesting side note, Youssef hid some componenets in his shoes, and smuggled them on board that way - a good reason to warrant further scrutiny of shoes.

Nitromethane can be converted into a slurry or gel type of consistency with a simple thickening agent and some time, insert into a toothpast tube and (again without the current ban) voila boom in a tube.

TATP is commonly referred to as "bathtub explosives" because it is relatively easy to mix at home with common ingredients.

These are viable threats that are easily disguised and fairly stable, and if not stable, fairly easy to stabilize for a short trip (especially if you are on your way to blow up a plane with you on it! If I fail, who do I have to answer to?).

I noted that Great Britain is working on a new liquid testing procedure and it will be interesting to see what they are rolling out. I hope it is something that will open up the ability to tweak or even (for all intents and purposes) end the LAG ban.

I will not speak for what happens in other countries, as I normally point out - this is a viable threat, it is fairly easy and without the ban or better testing methods, we open ourselves up to a PROVEN threat.

Was that a direct enough response for you anon?

West
TSA Blog

Ayn R. Key said...

West sez...
I disagree, if you can post peer review that counters all possibilities of liquid explosives, I would love to review it.

So you will agree that the war on water is nonsense only if I can prove a negative? That's not the way science works. You made the claim, you support it. It's my job to see if your claim makes sense.

These exact combinations may not exist, but by limiting it to two perfect examples, you are doing a disservice.

It's those two exact combinations that are the entire basis on the war on water. By not asserting that either of those two combinations are true you are doing a disservice to the TSA. By enforcing the rule on water while not asserting that either of those two combinations are true you are doing a disservice to the flying public.

The whole war on water is predicated on those two "exact" combinations. Without either of those two combinations you are admitting that your war on water has no basis.

There are several possible liquid explosive combos that can be stabilized and transported.

And undetectable?

At this point, that is not a fiscally reasonable request, and it may not be technologically possible to deploy based on the checkpoint enviornment.

Take all the money being spent on pedophile technology (mmw) and spend it on explosive detection instead.

could quote you Dr. Sidney Alford here, but if I recall you may have dismissed him earlier on (if I am mistaken in that, I apologize and will link you the video of the tang bomb he made (at the range) and blew the side of an airplane out). Every time you wait on scientific or peer review to show up, you ignore what can be done in (concievably) any backyard with a little effort and ingenuity.

I didn't discount Dr. Sidney Alford. What has he published in a peer reviewed journal?

Every time you wait on scientific or peer review to show up, you ignore what can be done in (concievably) any backyard with a little effort and ingenuity. Again, I do not discount peer review, I have a great deal of respect for it, but it is not the end all be all of what is out there. I knew this older man out at my Grandmothers (he passed away many years ago), he used to mix up dynamite and nitro cellulose type stuff to blow stumps out of the fields.And a scientist could easily publish a peer-reviewed article about the processes used by this individual. But for all his explosive knowledge, the one thing you aren't telling me is that he mixes one of the two "exact combination" explosives that are the basis of the war on water.

Then there are our BAOs here, both of which say there is a credible threat from liquid bombs, mostly from premixed and stabilized types.

Great. Tell them to publish and I will believe them. Until then I will believe they are paid to say there is a credible threat and that is why they say there is a credible threat. Seriously, if the facts are on their side you can shut me up by having them publish and referencing the peer reviewed scientific journal in which they published. You will have me admit that you are right if they publish. It's not hard. And from when I used to work for a government agency that did science, it's quite possible to get releases that allow publishing.

Anonymous said...

One of the last columns written by Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Dave Barry examined people standing in a line at the airport and being required to show their boarding pass and identification at the front of the line. He wrote that if a head of lettuce was standing in the line it would know enough to have it's boarding pass and picture ID, which read head of lettuce, available to show, but, there would also be those who would have all of that neatly tucked away in pockets or purses, way down at the bottom, and would not start retrieving those items until they reached the front of this long, long line.
These comments and the every day behaviour of passengers remind me of Mr. Barry's column.
If the six people in line in front of you had to remove their shoes and have them x-rayed, what earthly cause would make you think that you do not?
If liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces are not permitted past the checkpoint why would you think that your liquid for any reason whatsoever is different?
You know you are not a bad guy.
I do not.
Unless you have a picture of every possible killer who could ever concievably try to come through my checkpoint, and are willing to stand still while I compare your face to each one of those pictures, dont ask me, "Do I look like a terrorist?".
Passengers have gotten irate with me because I would not allow them to bring sheet metal bending tools, framing hammers, remote control cars with fuel in the tank,and more other off the wall, dangerous in the right hands, items through my checkpoint as carry-ons then I have space to list.
Blogger Bob was merely showing where "surrendered" items ended up.
I know you all prefer to say confiscated.
However,if we as TSA are so dumb and you are so smart why do you bring things to the checkpoint that you value highly knowing that we are going to take them? If we are so dumb and you are so smart why do you expect us the dumb ones to provide you the smart ones with the means and materials to return these items to you at a later time?
It is not rather an item is needed or not, nor really rather it is dangerous or hazardous or not. It is a matter of since you had a fairly good idea that you were going through a security checkpoint at the airport why didn't you make arrangements to keep TSA from confiscating items which were important to you?

RB said...

Was that a direct enough response for you anon?

West
TSA Blog

September 25, 2009 1:18 PM

...................
West, how many ounces of liquid could 5 people working together bring through the checkpoint in their Kippie bag?

If a single or dual component explosive is a reality aren't we already facing the highest risk now by complying with TSA liquid rules?

Anonymous said...

It may be against policy for TSA employees to keep confiscated items, but there is a strong consensus that it happens quite regularly (the $.69 anecdote notwithstanding--what a salient number). This is because there is no recording of most confiscations, and therefore no way to do any accounting. Any given officer is FIRST an autonomous being acting in his own interests, THEN a security employee somewhere down the priority list. These two should be, but aren't necessarily, related. If they didn't think they could get away with stuff, we'd never have crime. What upsets most people is lack of accountability. This dubious process invites abuse.

I'm guessing that most commenters that are upset with the TSA have had something seemingly harmless but valuable confiscated, while the other side consists of those who haven't had something valuable taken, or had it taken so long ago that they forget the feeling. The latter group should know that most people don't travel by air often enough to be hyper-aware of the rules. The fact that the volume of confiscations has not declined suggests this.

There needs to be (1) some concrete method of assuring people that officers aren't abusing their authority for the thrill or for profit, and (2) a system for people to reclaim their seized property, within some reasonable timeframe, at reasonable cost. Otherwise the process just appears to be arbitrary and a free-for-all, rather than a genuine safety measure.

Anonymous said...

"If the six people in line in front of you had to remove their shoes and have them x-rayed, what earthly cause would make you think that you do not?"

Who's saying they don't have to? What we're saying is that the facts of the matter clearly indicate that the shoe carnival is pointless.

Of course, TSA employees, airport emlpoyees, and airline employees in uniform don't have to take their shoes off. So any airport has hundreds of dangerous, unscreened shoes in the sterile area anyway.

"If liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces are not permitted past the checkpoint why would you think that your liquid for any reason whatsoever is different?"

TSA itself tells us that liquids carried by flight attendants and crews are different, since they aren't subject to the 3.4-1-1 policy. Oh, and there are plenty of liquids sold past the checkpoints in sizes well above 3.4 ounces. So TSA is only saying that some liquids carried by some people aren't permitted, but the same liquids carried by other people are permitted. Oh, and whatever liquids TSA DOESN'T allow past checkpoints aren't tested to see if they're hazardous, and are poured down the drain or disposed of as is they were harmless, if the label on them says they're harmless. So TSA knows that the liquids it confiscates are harmless and treats them as such when it comes to disposal, but won't let you carry these harmless liquids on planes.

Gee, no wonder America hates TSA.

TSOG said...

To Ayn -

Here it is: Call your local bomb squad. Ask if they'll show you something. Learn something new, something not top secret. Understand the LGA ban. I strongly suggest giving that a shot, it would be a huge eye opener for you.

I've seen so many high quality responses to you on this blog. It's amazing how nothing will ever satisfy you.

Let me try - and if not for you, for others, who may be more receptive to the gist of what's being said by me and others in an attempt to inform.

Until all bags and passengers can somehow be tested quickly and succesfully for explosives (i.e. technology), the LGA restrictions will remain in effect.
You've said that a viable liquid explosive must be undetectable by current screening techniques (part of your peer review requirement)- so, if I get this straight, you think that the best idea is for TSA to allow all LGAs and for us to test every single container...

That leaves us with a 4 hour line or hiring a lot more officers... I can't imagine that's what you had in mind.

I agree with West completely - until you can come up with a peer review of your own, stating that stable liquid explosives aren't a threat, then your argument just doesn't hold water (oops, didn't mean that, it just happened).
The burden of proof is not on TSA - this isn't some new scientific breakthough, liquid explosives have been around. The proof is in the pudding - you've been given links, you can Google, there is way too much data and historical reference to Liquid, Gel, and Aerosol explosives for you to keep headbutting the issue.

I'd be interested in hearing what you think should be done instead?

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - "So you will agree that the war on water is nonsense only if I can prove a negative? That's not the way science works. You made the claim, you support it. It's my job to see if your claim makes sense."

I never said that, I will take any credible source of information and use it to create a better understanding of the whole. If you are such a scientist, then why have you not published peer review on this particular subject? You seem to have a decent knowledge base in the subject matter, why not do it yourself, publish and then present it to the journals? I promise you I would go buy a copy and read it to learn from it.

Ayn sez - "It's those two exact combinations that are the entire basis on the war on water. By not asserting that either of those two combinations are true you are doing a disservice to the TSA. By enforcing the rule on water while not asserting that either of those two combinations are true you are doing a disservice to the flying public.

The whole war on water is predicated on those two "exact" combinations. Without either of those two combinations you are admitting that your war on water has no basis."

The LAG ban is not based on two specific elements. It is based on a threat possibility that takes into account many different possibilities. The two combinations you mention are not the basis, merely part of the reasoning. I mentioned earlier that you could have the slurry mixed up and in a tube of toothpaste, without the current ban in place it would never be tested except maybe once in a great while. The argument is not for a specific situation, it is about the whole, to narrow it to the two situations you indicate is not taking into account the normal process minus the ban.

Ayn sez - "And undetectable?"

Yes, by the pre-ban screening methods, not detectable at all.

Ayn sez - "Take all the money being spent on pedophile technology (mmw) and spend it on explosive detection instead."

It is only pedophile technology for those that think like a pedophile. To the rest of us it is a tool that helps take some of the hands on searching out of the equation and allows the screening to be completed. It also provides the chance for people with medical implants, metal implants and pace makers, etc to process through with less time, and less hands on screening.

Ayn also sez - "I didn't discount Dr. Sidney Alford. What has he published in a peer reviewed journal?"

I can not find a link to anything like that at this time other than the ones I have posted here before.

Cont in part two -

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Part two of "Ayn sez"

Ayn sez - "And a scientist could easily publish a peer-reviewed article about the processes used by this individual. But for all his explosive knowledge, the one thing you aren't telling me is that he mixes one of the two "exact combination" explosives that are the basis of the war on water."

Again, the LAG ban is not about specific elements, but the whole threat. Think about it, if someone brings a water bottle in that is a bit off in color what would they say? "I just mixed in a packet of flavoring for it, I hate water but the Doc tells me to drink more of it" . If the ban were not in place, then the bottle would more than likely have never recieved any scrutiny other than "oh yeah, I have some of those in my lunch box, here you go and have a nice day". If the liquid were one of the peroxide based liquids, then the previous testing tech would not have caught it.

Finally Ayn sez - "Great. Tell them to publish and I will believe them. Until then I will believe they are paid to say there is a credible threat and that is why they say there is a credible threat. Seriously, if the facts are on their side you can shut me up by having them publish and referencing the peer reviewed scientific journal in which they published. You will have me admit that you are right if they publish. It's not hard. And from when I used to work for a government agency that did science, it's quite possible to get releases that allow publishing."

You are kidding right? Have the guys we pay to try and help us prevent people from blowing up airplanes, publish the way to blow up an airplane most effectively? This was a joke I hope. Independent sources can do whatever they feel there is a need to prove or disprove. I would just about guarantee that DHS would never grant a waiver for a BAO to publish his findings on this works, this doesn't work in a peer review type setting. The reason would be that the specific steps and methods would have to be published for review right? If you do that it becomes public information, thus available to any joe terror that can use google. So then Joe Terror takes the steps used in the findings, builds a better mousetrap and bingo a bird blown up. Can you imagine the poop storm that would ensue after that got out? holy crap they would string the author, the people that approved it and the rest of the top brass on a rope on the mall in DC, and flog them endlessly! It just does not make sense from a security standpoint to have the people you employ to train your workforce on bombs publishing how to make, mix or in any way describe the process in a public setting. I again will ask you to post links to peer reviewed publications indicating the impossibility of using liquids in bombing a plane, I would love to read them.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "West, how many ounces of liquid could 5 people working together bring through the checkpoint in their Kippie bag?

If a single or dual component explosive is a reality aren't we already facing the highest risk now by complying with TSA liquid rules?"

I never said the process was perfect! There are other layers of security designed to catch these types of people. The other items needed to create the firing process may be caught during routine screening. There are many things that would have to go right in order for the type of plot you are describing to work. That being said, I have always been a big fan of the all or nothing system. I understand the medical needs rules and such, but if all items are banned, and any medical exceptions are tested, then it is safer for all involved. If you are going to let all LAG go, then test every single LAG that comes through (down side to this at this time is extended lines and longer wait times, MUCH longer wait times). There is always room for improvement in the process (anyone that says different is not being realistic), and it should be comtinually evolving based on new threats, while protecting from the old threats as well. Until we get some better technology to test LAG, then the current process is the best way to go at this time.


West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

How come it is that everyone complains about what the TSA does but the first time that somthing happens who are you going to blame? Why dont we as the public just give TSA a month off and we call all just get on the plane and not worry about security? Sounds like a good plan to me huh...... TSA has to treat everyone the same they dont know who is a threat and who is not right?

Ayn R. Key said...

TSOG...

THAT'S NOT THE WAY SCIENCE WORSK! If you have a claim it is your duty to support it. Nobody can prove a negative and relying on my inability to prove a negative reveals you have no proof for your positive assertion that the liquid explosives that are the basis of the war on water actually exist.

Can you prove to me Unicorns don't exist? Just because you've never seen one doesn't mean they don't exist. Just because nobody's ever seen one doesn't mean they don't exist. It's possible that we just haven't looked in the right place yet and they do exist.

That's not how science works. If you want to support something scientifically, you need to provide proof for positive assertions. Saying "it hasn't been shown to be false so it's true" is a cop-out, because the correct scientific statement is "it has been shown to be true so it's not false."

Nobody can prove a negative. Nobody. Not a single person.

Is the entire basis of the War on Water the fact that nobody can prove a negative? That is an admission that there is no factual and scientific basis of the war on water.

I don't need to show you a peer review saying there are no liquid explosives of the type I described. You need to show me a peer review saying there are.

You need to show it, not me. That's how svience works.

Anonymous said...

"The burden of proof is not on TSA"

Of course it is. TSA is the agency asking us to accept this policy, and that has repeatedly proven completely unable to cite a single piece of independent, peer-reviewed research that supports its policies. Everyone knows the 3.4-1-1 policy is absurd, and everyone knows TSA is lying to us, and that is another reason America hates TSA.

RB said...

TSOG said...
To Ayn -

Here it is: Call your local bomb squad. Ask if they'll show you something. Learn something new, something not top secret. Understand the LGA ban. I strongly suggest giving that a shot, it would be a huge eye opener for you.

I've seen so many high quality responses to you on this blog. It's amazing how nothing will ever satisfy you.

Let me try - and if not for you, for others, who may be more receptive to the gist of what's being said by me and others in an attempt to inform.

Until all bags and passengers can somehow be tested quickly and succesfully for explosives (i.e. technology), the LGA restrictions will remain in effect
................
TSOG, lets say I agree 100% with you, that multiple kinds of weapons can be secreted on a persons body, possessions or clothing and in their LGA's.

If all of that is true then why does TSA only screen passengers?

Aren't the liquids, clothing and body of airport workers just as likely to be used as a means to introduce a weapon?

Would not screening all airport workers explain to some degree what was going on in Puerto Rico?

I'll tell you what TSOG, Bob and all you other TSA employees.

You start screening everyone who enters the secure area each and every time they enter to the exact same standards that I and all other travelers are subjected to and I will stop complaining about TSA screening for LGA's or having to taking off my shoes. No waivers, exemptions or other excuses.

TSA does want to ensure that no weapons or other contraband is introduced into the secure area, right?

Or is TSA just an expensive show wasting taxpayer monies?

How about it TSA?

(Word verification=crook)

Sandra said...

Isaac Newton wrote:

"Explosives engineer Sidney Alford is a consultant to the UK government, selling them equipment to detect liquids - that is, he has a very strong financial interest in convincing people that such threats are real. What he "demonstrated" has, unfortunately, no more credibility than any piece of Hollywood special effects. He showed that, well, SOMETHING could blow something else up. He didn't show that it was a mixture of two liquids, nor did he show how it was manufactured.

Why is it that the only proof that TSA (and its counterpart in the UK) can offer is Sidney Alford? Why has no other chemist replicated his work? (Hint: that's how peer-reviewed science is done.)"

EXACTLY!! I've been trying to point out for a long while that Alford is paid by the UK (as well as, I believe, the US), so, of course, his demonstration is going to show what those governments want us to believe.

Bill said...

Issac Newton said:

"Why is it that the only proof that TSA (and its counterpart in the UK) can offer is Sidney Alford? Why has no other chemist replicated his work? (Hint: that's how peer-reviewed science is done.)"

Sidney Alford is not the only scientist who has demonstrated the effects of liquid explosives. Government scientists also tested the feasability of the explosives the liquid bomb plotters planned to use. In fact they tested the explosives before the ban was put in place. The restrictions in place are not based on some made-up movie plot. There is a video available of the government's test here:

http://mfile.akamai.com/25703/wmv/tsagov.download.akamai.com/25703/htdocs/assets/wmv/liquidexplosive_wide.asx

I am well aware how peer-reviewed science is done. I ask you now why no other chemist has disproved his work? The lack of peer-reviewed work does as much to prove that the threat is real as it does proving that it is not.

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
RB sez - "West, how many ounces of liquid could 5 people working together bring through the checkpoint in their Kippie bag?

If a single or dual component explosive is a reality aren't we already facing the highest risk now by complying with TSA liquid rules?"

I never said the process was perfect! There are other layers of security designed to catch these types of people. The other items needed to create the firing process may be caught during routine screening.
......................
So something else besides the LGA is needed for the firing process?

Doesn't this need discredit the reasoning that you have been using to support the LGA restrictions?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
How come it is that everyone complains about what the TSA does but the first time that somthing happens who are you going to blame? Why dont we as the public just give TSA a month off and we call all just get on the plane and not worry about security? Sounds like a good plan to me huh...... TSA has to treat everyone the same they dont know who is a threat and who is not right?

September 26, 2009 12:48 PM
..................
Sounds like a good plan to me.

What TSA is doing at the airports has little positive impact on safety.

Giving them a few weeks off would prove that point.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Scott G. Lewis said...

Mr. gel-pak says:

Your rules and options are contradictory, nonsensical, and hidden at the point of application. In practice, the "options" are effectively "Do You Want To Fly Today?"

-----------------------

Perhaps for you, rarely for me. I do a few things ahead of time:

1) I try not to bring things I know darn well can't be brought on board. Anyone reading this blog really can't play ignorant on this. You KNOW.

2) I show up early enough anyway. I hate rushing, I hate having to guess IF the security checkpoint is backed up, I hate running to a gate to learn it was moved, and quite frankly I try to get checked in as early as possible, get a good "zone" number, relax, have a drink or bite to eat at the bar and try to make a day of travel into a day of hell.

If you show up late with 5 items you can't have, nobody is there to take your stuff, you didn't leave enough time to leave the line and dispose of them, mail them home, or run to your car... well, yeah, I guess you, Mr. Gel-pack will be handing over your items or missing your flight. To 99% of all other people, it's not a big deal.

##############

Scott, no one KNOWS.

I read up on the "rules" before I packed the gel-pack with my wife's breast milk. Maybe you are missing the part about how gel-packs are permitted for medical items, or that breast milk is in the same category as medicine. In any case, the STL TSO supervisor was working off of different rules, or made them up, or was a bad apple. He physically removed the gel-pack from my cooler, and told me I couldn't fly with it. I said I thought it was OK for breast milk, he said that was just for medicine, not infants, and he wiggled it over the trash can. Maybe I had the option of carrying it back out to some fed-ex office while abandoning my wife and two kids in the airport in the last hour before flying, but a Hobson's choice is no choice.

Contrary to Bob's statement: "Our officers cannot take a prohibited item and throw it in the trash", this mistaken TSO did indeed take it and did indeed drop in in the trash.

I tried to follow the darn rules, and ran into a poorly trained TSO who's mistake ultimately caused 13 oz of breast milk to spoil and my wife to cry as we poured it down the drain. If the darn SSI rules were available at the checkpoint, I could have had option to show the TSO the rule before he took my property.

Here's a question for you to try to answer by doing research on TSA: Can a breast pumping mom fly solo with a gallon of irreplaceable frozen breast milk? No one KNOWS the answer well enough to guarantee it. After our experience, my wife doesn't trust the TSA.

TSORon said...

Trollkiller said:
What choice do they have? They can check it, but they don't have a box so the airline won't allow it in the hold. They can mail it but they don't have a box for that either. They can attempt to track down a box but most likely they will miss their flight.

Hobson's choice is not a choice.
-------------
Hobson would know better than to assume that they can bring something like that through security. Hobson would also have been prepared to find another way of getting something like that to their destination that did not include bringing a kitchen sink on board an aircraft. One buy’s a passenger ticket, not cargo passage.

--------------

You know this would be different if we were just talking about stated prohibited items and not items that some idiot decided was "unusual" and therefore prohibited.

And just to clarify, when I state the TSA is stealing property I am indicting the policy makers at the TSA, not the TSOs. I understand that if you (TSOs) confiscate a knife and are told to place it in a particular bin, your (TSOs) intent is not theft.
--------------

Using the same analogy you use then why not be allowed to bring ones motorcycle on board an aircraft, or their bathtub, or a roll of carpet. Sorry TK, something’s need to find another way to get there.

As for the knives, passengers are told that they may not have these things in their carry-on luggage. Signs, announcements, news articles, more signs, blogs, web sites, more news articles, etc. Yet we still get more than a ton of them a day. If after all of that they still bring their pocket knife, wedding cake cutter, power saw, kitchen knives, etc, to the checkpoint then wouldn’t you agree that they deserve very few choices? And they DO get choices, just not one’s that they like. Tough. Should have left the thing at home.

RB said...

TSORon said...
Trollkiller said:
What choice do they have? They can check it, but they don't have a box so the airline won't allow it in the hold. They can mail it but they don't have a box for that either. They can attempt to track down a box but most likely they will miss their flight.

Hobson's choice is not a choice.
-------------
Hobson would know better than to assume that they can bring something like that through security. Hobson would also have been prepared to find another way of getting something like that to their destination that did not include bringing a kitchen sink on board an aircraft. One buy’s a passenger ticket, not cargo passage.

--------------

You know this would be different if we were just talking about stated prohibited items and not items that some idiot decided was "unusual" and therefore prohibited.

And just to clarify, when I state the TSA is stealing property I am indicting the policy makers at the TSA, not the TSOs. I understand that if you (TSOs) confiscate a knife and are told to place it in a particular bin, your (TSOs) intent is not theft.
--------------

Using the same analogy you use then why not be allowed to bring ones motorcycle on board an aircraft, or their bathtub, or a roll of carpet. Sorry TK, something’s need to find another way to get there.

As for the knives, passengers are told that they may not have these things in their carry-on luggage. Signs, announcements, news articles, more signs, blogs, web sites, more news articles, etc. Yet we still get more than a ton of them a day. If after all of that they still bring their pocket knife, wedding cake cutter, power saw, kitchen knives, etc, to the checkpoint then wouldn’t you agree that they deserve very few choices? And they DO get choices, just not one’s that they like. Tough. Should have left the thing at home.

September 30, 2009 10:19 AM
.................
So explain why I can carry onboard the airplane a pair of scissors with a blade measured from the
fulcrum (blade length measured from the hinge) of 4 inches or less but my Old Timer pocket knife with a blade length of just under 2 inches is not permitted? Fully extended is less than four inches counting the handle.

TSO Jacob said...

Mr. Gel-pack, like many people, you are trying to claim a Hobson’s choice where there is not one. You had the option of leaving your capable wife to tend to your kids so that you could check a bag, or Fed-ex a package, or leave the item in a car, or with another person. YOU DECIDED to leave the gel-pack behind. By the way, if that had been me I would have gotten a cup of ice at a restaurant after the checkpoint or on the plane. If you had put a little thought into your predicament you would not have lost anything but the two dollars it takes to buy a new gel-pack.

Jim Huggins said...

TSO Jacob writes:

Mr. Gel-pack, like many people, you are trying to claim a Hobson’s choice where there is not one. You had the option of leaving your capable wife to tend to your kids so that you could check a bag, or Fed-ex a package, or leave the item in a car, or with another person. YOU DECIDED to leave the gel-pack behind. By the way, if that had been me I would have gotten a cup of ice at a restaurant after the checkpoint or on the plane. If you had put a little thought into your predicament you would not have lost anything but the two dollars it takes to buy a new gel-pack.

Jacob, obviously you're new to this blog.

Mr. Gel-Pack has stated any number of times that his gel-pack was confiscated, not "voluntarily surrendered". The TSO on duty didn't know the rules and confiscated the gel pack. The supervisor who was called over didn't know the rules, either, and permitted the confiscation. Mr. Gel-Pack wasn't given all the numerous options that you cite.

Secondly ... why are you blaming Mr. Gel-Pack for not MacGyvering a solution to the problem inside the sterile area? If the TSOs on duty had done there job correctly, there would be no need to find a workaround.

Stop trying to blame the victim here.

GSOLTSO said...

Ayn sez - "Can you prove to me Unicorns don't exist? Just because you've never seen one doesn't mean they don't exist. Just because nobody's ever seen one doesn't mean they don't exist. It's possible that we just haven't looked in the right place yet and they do exist.

That's not how science works. If you want to support something scientifically, you need to provide proof for positive assertions. Saying "it hasn't been shown to be false so it's true" is a cop-out, because the correct scientific statement is "it has been shown to be true so it's not false."

Nobody can prove a negative. Nobody. Not a single person.

Is the entire basis of the War on Water the fact that nobody can prove a negative? That is an admission that there is no factual and scientific basis of the war on water.

I don't need to show you a peer review saying there are no liquid explosives of the type I described. You need to show me a peer review saying there are.

You need to show it, not me. That's how svience works."

Hey, unicorns do exist, they are just not very populous. There is also a Narwhale that still kicks around out there too... But I digest, er, digress.

Many tests have been conducted by scientist For the government, by the government, and by individual EOD type industries. I keep explaining to you that the situation you keep describing is probably not going to exist. That does not matter one iota.

The testing prior to the LAG ban, would probably not have caught anyone taking a container of liquid explosive. The tech would not detect all types of liquid explosives, and we did not have the testing methods that we currently do.

The basis of the LAG ban is the fact that liquid explosives could be used to blow a plane up. Without the current standards, it would be fairly simple to bring in boom and take down a plane.

You keep reverting to science, I like science, it helps us to eradicate things that hurts us (illnesses), create things to make our lives easier (just about anything you can think of) and it helps us to understand what happens if you take element a and mix it with element b. That only problem is, you keep indicating a perfect situation that may or may not exist. If it does exist, then even if we test the substance it won't matter. If it doesn't exist and we stop testing LAG then it goes through without getting tested then it still made it through. You are putting up a situation that simply does not matter. With the old screening methods it does not matter whether it would be detectable or not.

I can just about guarantee that the government is not going to release (into a peer review format) the information it relies on in reference to liquid explosives. It would require them to (here we go again) publish the ingredients down to the exact amounts, the process of production (step by step) and the yield expectations based on many tests. This would then become public knowledge available to not only Joe Terror (I really should trademark that and make some money off of it), it would be available to every teenager and college kid with a wild hair. It would be completely irresponsible, and could lead to legal problems down the road.

I would love to read some scientific publications that indicate that using a LAG source is not feasible. It could prove interesting, and I would love the chance to give it to our BAOs to get their opinion. Please list some locations that I can find this information.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "So something else besides the LGA is needed for the firing process?

Doesn't this need discredit the reasoning that you have been using to support the LGA restrictions?"

Not at all. LAG ban restricts the capability to bring a viable explosive source onto the plane. Even the best designer explosives have to have some sort of a firing chain to get it going. It could be something as simple as a match, or something as complex as a timer assembly including an industrial detonator. There are also some explosives that could be hit with a hard object to create an explosion, it just depends on the sensitivity of the mixture.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

If TSA procedures bother you so much then take a train. I find it amusing to be here in Iraq affording you the opportunity to be able to complain in true American fashion. Get a clue folks, TSA has been around for over five years now and I am sure its not the first time you have flown since then.

RB said...

TSO Jacob said...
Mr. Gel-pack, like many people, you are trying to claim a Hobson’s choice where there is not one. You had the option of leaving your capable wife to tend to your kids so that you could check a bag, or Fed-ex a package, or leave the item in a car, or with another person. YOU DECIDED to leave the gel-pack behind. By the way, if that had been me I would have gotten a cup of ice at a restaurant after the checkpoint or on the plane. If you had put a little thought into your predicament you would not have lost anything but the two dollars it takes to buy a new gel-pack.

October 2, 2009 8:26 AM
......................
Jacob, why did the TSA supervisor not follow the rules? A gel pack is permitted in the case Mr Gel Pack has written about.

To many cases of TSA employees not following stated rules, not knowing their job or just taking retalitory actions because they can continue to happen.

In this case the gel pack was confiscated since the TSA employee put the item in the trash relieving Mr Gel Pak of any other options.

The simple fact of the matter is that TSA needs to clean house.

Discharge those employees who abuse travelers, plug the holes that continue to allow airport workers to steal from travelers and to finally require that everyone who enters the secure area of an airport is screened to the same exact standard as every other person.

Up2Late said...

Wow, I am a little shocked at what some of these blogs say. The one on the liquid ban......yes, individually items are harmless but if you need three harmless items in combination to make an explosive, what would stop three individuals from having one each and then boarding the plane with all they need? It is a simple conclusion...if you allow a gun with no ammo and ammo with no gun all you need is for each person to carry one allowable item and you have what you need to cause harm. This also applies to the liquid ban. If you allow the individual items and only ban them in a combination system you are not solving a problem. As for the small knife comment......well we all know that just about anything can be a weapon. People have been hurt and in some cases killed by something as simple as a pencil.

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
RB sez - "So something else besides the LGA is needed for the firing process?

Doesn't this need discredit the reasoning that you have been using to support the LGA restrictions?"

Not at all. LAG ban restricts the capability to bring a viable explosive source onto the plane. Even the best designer explosives have to have some sort of a firing chain to get it going. It could be something as simple as a match, or something as complex as a timer assembly including an industrial detonator. There are also some explosives that could be hit with a hard object to create an explosion, it just depends on the sensitivity of the mixture.

West
TSA Blog Team

October 3, 2009 12:25 PM

.................
All the initiators in the world don't matter if your have nothing to inititiate.

My point is that using resources to look for the small, by itself harmless components is wasteful. Look for the larger explosive components.

We all agree that TSA manpower has limits so use what resources you have available to mitigate risk. Removing the explosive components from the problem is as good as finding both the explosive and the initiators.

The likelyhood of there being any IED at any airport on any given day is only a small fraction of a percent.

Ayn R. Key said...

GSOLTSO sez -
I keep explaining to you that the situation you keep describing is probably not going to exist.

Since the situation I keep describing is the basis of the war on water, and you say the situation does not exist, then you admit that the War on Water has no basis.

Thank you very much for playing.

I can just about guarantee that the government is not going to release (into a peer review format) the information it relies on in reference to liquid explosives.

Because, as we all know, they can't.

Thank you very much for playing.

Does your boss know that you just told everyone the whole 3.4-1-1 rule has no scientific basis?

Anonymous said...

To whoever said:
"Yeah TSA wants you to be reunited with your "contraband". That is why there are mail boxes made for passengers who need to mail that item home, and they can be reunited with the item when they get home. Or they can put it in a vehicle that they came to the airport in, and they can be reunited with it when they get back to their car. Or they can run it out to someone who may be seeing them off, and they can be reunited with the item the next time that they see that loving family member or friend. You are given all these options. And yes beyond that there is nothing else that TSA can do for you. It is not the TSO's contraband, there for figure out what you want to do with it so that you can be REUNITED with it later."

-------------

First off, I haven't seen a mail station with supplies for mailing the item home in MONTHS. Sure IAH has a mail station, but no supplies in it. So how the HECK is someone to mail it home??

As for running it out to the car?!?! With what airports are charging for daily parking, who are you kidding? I take a cab, so that option is out!

Mr. Gel-pack said...

@ TSO Jacob said...

Mr. Gel-pack, like many people, you are trying to claim a Hobson’s choice where there is not one. You had the option of leaving your capable wife to tend to your kids so that you could check a bag, or Fed-ex a package, or leave the item in a car, or with another person. YOU DECIDED to leave the gel-pack behind. By the way, if that had been me I would have gotten a cup of ice at a restaurant after the checkpoint or on the plane. If you had put a little thought into your predicament you would not have lost anything but the two dollars it takes to buy a new gel-pack.

#############

Traveling with kids is hard, and TSA's inconsistent interpretation and application of the nonsensical (4" scissors but not 1" penknives?) and shadowy rules, makes it harder. Breast milk is good for a while unrefrigerated, and we thought we'd be OK for the trip, but a wait for repairs and a couple other travel delays took too long.

Certainly we could have done more to protect my wife's breast milk, but I would not have had to do an additional travel task if it wasn't for TSA's mistake.

The mis-trained STL TSO supervisor didn't know the rules and made up and enforced one that ended up costing us more than just a minor inconvenience.

Your management is incompetent, and shows no signs of improving.

Anonymous said...

Ice packs are considered in the LGA prohibited items. It is liquid, if the ice pack is larger than 3.4 ounces, it cant fly. If you buy an ice pack that is smaller than 3.4 then you can keep it. If you would just follow the rules, you will be fine. Don't you have to follow the rules of your job, yet you don't want TSA officers to follow their rules.

from Los Angeles said...

Why does TSA not send the 'pocketknife from your grandfather' to Lost and Found?

I feel like this would at least give the passenger a window of opportunity to retrieve their item before it is left unclaimed and disposed of.

The item is prohibited from passing the screening station. Understood. However, couldn't I turn the item into the Airport Lost and Found and make a report later? Is this another feasible option to the ones listed?

Jr Deputy Accountant said...

My fake bullet belt (a "replica weapon") taken from the Richmond airport was TOTALLY a threat to national security, guys.

I watched him put it in the garbage can but sometimes, sometimes, I have the thought that... what if... that little TSA guy with the goofy stache made off with my pink fake bullet belt (they were PLASTIC bullets, come on, people) and parades around his Richmond apartment in it?

Cute. Real cute, TSA.

Point being, we can complain all we want about "procedure", I've definitely become a better passenger knowing what I'm in for. Don't fight it, people.

Personally some of the nicest folks I've met are TSA people in airports around the country. The policies may still be a bit backwards but the people are just trying to get by like the rest of us.

The TSA as a whole? now THAT might be a problem... whatever.

Anonymous said...

the fact is when you get stopped with a prohibited items you messed up not tsa. "I all ways speed in this school zone officer" I hate the amount of stuff we get everday. there is no fines or any thing to help detur people.

Anonymous said...

The TSA cannot donate perfume or drinks or use them in any way.

The reason the TSA takes these items from passengers is because they are potentially not what they appear to be. There is nothing dangerous about taking Gatorade on a plane. The TSA takes Gatorade from passengers because it may be something else that is harmful. If the TSA then gives this "Gatorade" to someone else, the TSA is suddenly assuming it is NOT something harmful, that in fact it is real Gatorade.

Therefore, the TSA would be knowingly taking away real Gatorade from the passenger, and not a potentially harmful liquid. And why would the TSA take away real, harmless Gatorade? Capice?

Can't have it both ways. . .It's either Gatorade or a potential bomb.

FrankM1150 said...

I would like to add a 5th option. I forgot to leave treasured pocket knife at home, none of the discussed options available, so I went to an airport merchant asked for the mgr. and asked if he would keep it until I returned. He was must happy to. When I returned I stopped by and sure enough he gave me my knife with a big smile. I hope this helps someone when they are left with no other option

Trey said...

Why is 3.4 ounces safe...but 4 ounces is not?

Anonymous said...

1) Take the item to the ticket counter and check it in your baggage or a box provided by the airport.
2) Many airports have a US Postal Service or other shipping services area where boxes, stamps and envelopes can be bought so you can ship your items home.

If either of these are true, you might want to tell your staff about it; Everytime ( kept a knife on me (yes my own fault), they simply take it- They don’t even offer any other alternatives. This is literally the first time I’ve ever heard of it.

Winston said...

I have often wondered what happened to the tons of items seized by the TSA at airport checkpoints. However, that is the lesser of my concerns. My concern is more about security on the flight.

These are not ordinary times. As unreasonably as it sometimes seem with some of the items seized, and the question about what is done about seized items, I will willingly surrender and have others surrender items for the safety of the flight.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of the flying public will rather suffer some inconvenience and even the loss of some personal property to ensure the safety of any flight. Any other concern is secondary to that primary concern.

Any effort to donate seized items to some charitable organization is laudable but only as long as the seized items are ensured to be safe.

However, in cases where officers prove to be dishonest, it calls into question not only their integrity but their full and diligent effort in ensuring that all measures are taken to meet the primary concern of flight safety. They would have failed not only in honesty but to secure the flying public. That week link in the chain of security should be removed immediately.

Anonymous said...

I flew out of Seattle Airport today, and had a small bottle of Mayo/mustard confiscated because they considered mayo a liquid. This was purchased at a Fruit Stand made by fellow farming folks, now if they can't sell their goods and Homeland Security is threated by mayo, we really do have problems

Anonymous said...

I personally find the TSA ban on pocket knives to be outrageous. I am not taking about getting on a plane with a Rambo knife, I am talking about a 2-3 inch pocket knife.

Fountain pens, laptops, casts, canes, a stick, rolled or any number of thousands of other items that can be used as weapons more potent than a flipping Swiss Army Knife.

A-King said...

I go through customs 5 times a year and I carry a weapon through successfully every time.

It is handled quite often by security then handed back to me with out fail.

My keys are attached to it, supposed to how it looks to the guards, attached to the keys.

It is 5 inches long and its width is 1.2 cm and weights at a guess between 70 to 100 grams and made from solid metal.

In the wrong hands can cause a lot of damage.

It is called a kubatan and used by some security forces for wrist and pressure point locks and holds to restrain people. It will easily break the knuckles of someone punching out and has the ability to knock you out very easily also.

Anonymous said...

When i read how costly new measures to enhance security is being spent by major corportaion wanting in with TSA. I wonder why they avoid small bussiness who can offer a more cost effective system for half the $$$$ spent by deciding figures only to find out later it it better money spent for the results if they had chosen the smaller choice first.

Shannon said...

@ TSO Jacob and the Anonymous that said ice packs are prohibited so it was Gel Packs fault.

HEre is the link to TSA policy on breast milk and traveling with infants http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/formula.shtm

Particularly
"Breast milk is in the same category as liquid medications"

"You are allowed to bring gel or liquid-filled teethers"

I do believe that says gel, or am I wrong?

Aside from the fact that breast milk is considered liquid medicine and the TSO told Mr Gel pack that ice packs can only be with medicine not babies I just looked at the prohibited list and do not see gel ice packs on there anywhere. I can see IF they are considered a liquid over 3.4oz (and the pack was partially melted and not frozen solid) but it has already been established that breast milk trumps the size limit by being a "medicine"

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

Borsia said...

When it comes to bringing a drink onto a plane why not just require that they take a drink of it.
Almost every component of a liquid explosive is toxic to humans.
I would be perfectly willing to take a sip of any drink I might be carrying.

It would also help if the airports had decent security for our bags after we check them.
Over the years my biggest problems have been theft from my checked bags.
As we are told that we can bring fewer things on board and to check more items the problem is that anything small of any value disappears.

Collab said...

Prohibited Items! KBCraig said (above)... "It is a curious dictionary indeed that would describe this 'voluntary surrender' as 'voluntary'". My son just came home for a visit from Alaska and I sent him off this morning with a tool that he said he needed to do his job. It was an Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool. This tool is often demonstrated as being harmless to the hand on TV. He called from Alaska to tell me the tool had been confiscated by TSA. He had only a carry on and this tool was in the box. I should be able to get an item like this back from a TSA claim booth. It should only become 'voluntary surrender' if owner or designee does not claim it in an alotted time frame. TSA and air travel are an odorous mix. An encounter like this is like getting mugged on your vacation! I resent TSA's practices and intrusion into our travel lives ... they are likely going to grow into something resembling crude storm troopers taking over the country and making it ever so gradualy into a facist-militarized machine. All at tax-payer expense while telling us how safe they are making us! BS.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why they can't just tag your items confiscated and you can pick them up when you return! Also, I don't understand confiscating my lipstick that was in my purse!

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate the fact that this blog is written and the explanation given. Here's a question: the author notes that an individual bottle of liquid (bound for the trash) is not dangerous and that's why it's okay to be put in the trash with all of the other bottles. So if this one bottle isn't dangerous, why can't the passenger keep it?


Another problem: By the time you go through security, you've already checked your bags a long time ago. And what if you aren't checking any bags, because the airline charges $25 a pop each way? So you just have a small carry-on and yet the only bottles of shampoo and such you can bring are those tiny travel sizes that are only suitable for a weekend.

I think the airlines are taking advantage of the fact that people aren't able to take full-size items in a carry-on.

I think the fact that liquids and other stuff (my friend had expensive facial scrub confiscated) is confiscated is ridiculous. Forget the state proposal for the stuff to be donated to homeless shelters: let's just stop confiscating it.

There's also the option of being able to take, say, two normal-sized containers on board.

Also an airport scam how you can't bring water on the plane: you can only buy it for four bucks once you go through security.

Grrrr! Not keen on flying anymore.

Anonymous said...

Glad that I read this Blog. I have NEVER been offered any options by the TSA Agents. Possibly a deficiency in their training program. I plan to ask the next time I forget that I am carrying a dangerous jar of Peanut Butter and see what response I get.

Ellys-Proud-Granny said...

Today is my first time visiting this blog. All I was looking for was a way to get confiscated items from my local airport donated to my homeless ministry. Needless to say I was shocked to see the hateful banter between adults and basically calling eachother dishonest liers. Thank you TSA for attempting to keep our skies safe for us. I am not affiliated in any way with TSA but get a grip people 99% of the public know the rules have changed. Be adults, stop whining, follow the rules and do the right thing then there wont be any problems. I also feel terrible about the man that his grandfathers pocket knife was confiscated but has no one watched the news since 9/11? Our lives and the immortal security we felt is gone. I for one appreciate someone caring that I am safe. *** okay so the main reason I stopped by is to help out my homeless ministry with the donation of confiscated items*** ANY IDEAS?

Anonymous said...

What about the Constitutional Right of the Citizen to be protected from seizure of property with out just compensation. Regardless of the item, Americans are Protected by the guaranties(cksp)of the Constitution. The Constitution does not empower the Federal Government, it restricts it from abusing the people.

Anonymous said...

I mistakenly forgot to move some food liquids & fruit jelly from my carry on to my check on luggage before I went to the airport. I had no problem with them taking them because I know about the rule concerning liquid and it was my fault for forgetting even though it was the first time that I forgot. But they removed shopping bags from my luggage and I was begging them that not all of that was liquid. To please please give back my coffee mug that it wasnt liquid. I had a coffee mug souvenir in there wrapped in paper to keep it from breaking. He insisted it was all liquid and would not unwrap all the items. He kept my coffee mug. How is that ok? Its not. A empty coffee mug is not dangerous as far as I know.

kieu choe said...

What about the Constitutional Right of the Citizen to be protected from seizure of property with out just compensation. Regardless of the item, Americans are Protected by the guaranties(cksp)of the Constitution. The Constitution does not empower the Federal Government, it restricts it from abusing the people.

beptucaocap said...


""We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device. That combination means explosives, detonator and other components to have a fully assembled bomb. Take one component away and you have a collection of harmless items. Of course we don't want liquid explosives anywhere near us but without the other components, they're not causing catastrophic damage."

Anonymous said...

Want to know why some of us end up at a checkpoint with a prohibited item? The definition of "liquid" is not clear and varies from airport to airport. An expensive cream I bought while on a trip was counted as a "liquid" even though it was solid enough that if you held it upside down with the cap off, it would not pour out of the jar. The TSA website says liquids, gels and aerosols. Luckily, I was able to have my husband go and have the airline give us our luggage back to add it. And tonight I'm wondering whether or not Delta will ever find my 2 day old suitcase and the things inside....that I would still have if they had been in my carry on. By the way, does no one find it strange that I can't take a sealed bottle of water on the plane, but I can open it and put that water in 3oz bottles and fill a quart size ziplock bag with those bottles, effectively bringing the same amount of liquid on the plane?

And then there is the other scenario.....people that have to jump on a last minute flight because of an emergency and either pack in a hurry, missing something or maybe they have items left in their bag from their last non plane trip.

Anonymous said...

Hey Blogger Bob, my 6 inch metal machinists ruler was confiscated by TSA. Where did that go, hmmm?

Tomo said...

TSA inconsistencies ABOUND!

Seriously... how are liquids more dangerous than laptop batteries? With just 1 laptop battery (bearing in mind that you can bring more than 1 laptop per person), you can overvolt them and breach the cells creating a sizeable explosion.

But somehow, we're worried about hydrogen peroxide based liquid explosives that aren't actually liquid but solid, and must be mixed below freezing?

Because... that is the only example cited of a liquid based explosive. Toothpaste is not a liquid.

Also, if hydrogen peroxide is the problem, why not simply ban SEALED materials, and require that all liquids and containers be tested for explosive agents?

I'm done with the TSA, you guys are bad at your jobs. Some of you guys can't even keep the rules straight in the COMMENT thread, let alone at the actual airport.

Googling how we can get rid of the TSA reveals some pretty interesting results.

"People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both." Benjamin Franklin

Wilhelm said...

How about people just check the stuff that they don't want to give up? Sometimes the common sense approach is so much easier

Anonymous said...

Well give me a break.....a small jar of jelly???? Really???

Anonymous said...

Consider for once that government employees, including TSA workers, work for us, the taxpayers. Most people who are forced to surrender items have carried them unintentionally. Very few people arrive at the airport with sufficient time to locate the post office, mail to item home, go through screening again, and still catch their flight. Today I was forced to surrender a pair of scissors that I have had at the bottom of my briefcase for years and that had previously gone through airport security at least two dozen times before. Would it really be that hard for the TSA, as a PUBLIC SERVICE, to offer a box, on site, for people to mail their items home? For a standard fee we could retain our possessions and still catch our flight. The TSA would then assume responsibility for their mailing, not a great inconvenience for them. I would think that the TSA would be more concerned of the negative impression they have with the American public. But, hey, they're union, what do they care.

David said...

Its a common sense. Why would I bring knife if I know that item is prohibited.

Anonymous said...

An active duty Marine friend has, for years, carried a damaged, non-serviceable push-pull pin as a key fob. It was from the aircraft with which he first went to Iraq. He has traveled all over the country on civilian aircraft for years with no problem whatsoever. Probably because it was a push pull pin and did not exceed the ' 7 inch tool rule', it was about 4 inches. Today, after already going through security at a departing airport (with no problem as usual) his intermediate stop airport decided it was a kubaton, and as such a weapon. He tried to explain what is really was and the TSA screener, obviously a weapons expert, held fast that it was a weapon and could not be taken on the aircraft. The Marine NCO did not have time to use the 'options' mentioned in this post. The TSA took control of the 'weapon', and then threw away his toothpaste. Odd that if it was indeed a weapon and not a tool the airport police were not notified, as required by your rules. Also odd that the TSA screener did not put this illegal item in any 'locked box' for disposal but instead put it in her pocket. I am sure you will come up with some answer for this, and may even come up with the 'just because a person is active duty military doesn't mean they can't be a bad guy' justification. But please remember that same line applies to your TSA employees. And in the end who has sacrificed more to the security of our country?

Anonymous said...

To get through the check point I had to surrender my tiny Swiss Army knife with a nail file, scissors, tweezers, tooth pic, and 1 inch blade. But, I go into a resturant for breakfast and Im given an eight inch metal knife to cut my food.

just saying

Unknown said...

Why not take the offending item and issue a voucher. Then, providing the passenger is returning, he can just turn in his voucher when he gets back and have the item returned.

Anonymous said...

They took my flashlight today! A Redline 5620, because of its "sharp" (???) edge. I'll sit here now while you lecture me on why I was foolish to bring along such an obviously dangerous item.

Anonymous said...

While on an Alaskan cruise, I purchased 4 REPLICA "bullets" (each made of 99% pure silver), at an Anchorage jewelry store. They were to be given to my sons back home. They were placed inside individual velvet-lined jewelry bags. I paid $35 for each one. Not wanting them to be 'stolen' out of my checked luggage, as has happened to some of my jewelry before, I placed them in my carry-on with all other jewelry and expensive items purchased dueling our two week trip. I was able to bring them into Canada through customs. But when we attempted to fly back to Texas, and after the Airport Police in Vancouver cleared them as NOT being live ammunition, the TSA reps still wouldn't allow me to keep them. I was given the "options" as described and previously defended in this blog. However, I was also informed the silver replica bullets would also NOT be allowed to be placed in my checked luggage.....and, they could not guarantee they could be mailed or shipped because they were still considered "bullets". I volunatarily provided my credit card information along with my home address, hoping they items would be allowed to be cleared for mailing or shipping but, I was reminded there were 'no guarantees' they items would make it back to me.
I strongly believe this was a 'legal theft' of my personal property. These items posed no harm to anyone. They were valuable and in no way did I voluntarily surrender them. I was forced to by TSA if I wanted to board the airplane to return home. I was allowed to bring the items into the airport but not leave with them. I want my silver returned to me! What can I do now?

Steve Wiideman said...

I wonder how difficult it would be to create square rubber boxes where items can be secured by TSA for the traveler to take to the gate.

When boarding, gate attendants simply take the big square carrier as they would any overflow carry-on item. Whatever's in the carrier is locked and secured and can only be opened by TSA, for which there is always one sitting on a stool on your way out of the airport.

Just a thought to speed things up, cause less drama, and to be considerate of those carrying very expensive items they don't want to lose who are in a hurry to make their flight.

Dent said...

I fly so infrequently I often go to the airport with items I should not have with me. I always wondered what happens to all of the things I have to surrender at the gates.

I had no idea it became federal property.

Rattlesnake said...

Yea they do

Anonymous said...

I came back from Africa on 11/02/14 and my port of entry was Atlanta airport. I had a herbal fairly dried and shredded vegetable, just for one time use and it was seized by TSA, according to (TSA)the man, he said I brought in disease to the country, however this particular vegetable is for my stomach upset, which was the reason I took it with me, but he did not agree with me my explanation. They also took the Knorr chicken cube packets that I bought for personal use. I went through the list of prohibited food items in Atlanta airport and could not find anywhere it is listed that Maggi, knorr cubes are prohibited. I had to connect to another flight so, I let go without questioning why. He screened my U.S passport for more than 25minutes that I had to beg him to let me go so that I don't miss my next flight. The TSA at the Atlanta airport violated my privacy, I regret not capturing the search in video however, I believed there will be camera every where. All my stuff was turned upside down, even though the x-ray machine pinpointed the vegetable and nothing in the hand luggage but clothes, the TSA still opened every thing at the hand luggage. At one point I start suspecting if someone had snicked in something in my luggage and reported me. I was surprise how he handed me my passport, when I begged that I had to connect another flight, because 5-6 passengers were screened, while I was still undergoing thorough screening just for one cup of shredded vegetable and 5 packs of knorr cube. I will appreciate if my seized items can be handed back to me.

cara bermain sbobet said...

"We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device. That combination means explosives, detonator and other components to have a fully assembled bomb. Take one component away and you have a collection of harmless items. Of course we don't want liquid explosives anywhere near us but without the other components, they're not causing catastrophic damage."

still got our liquid too...
such a nonsense :(

Anonymous said...

These danger must be eliminated immediately. Just throw all of them into a metal trash can and melt when it is full.

punk jewelry for men said...

I guess in TSA parlance if a mugger threatened to hurt me if I didn't give him my wallet that would be the same as voluntary surrender not confiscation.