Friday, October 23, 2009

Response to “Bag Check” Cartoon

On the surface, this cartoon resonates with many passengers who’ve had to abandon their liquids or adjust their travel to adhere to TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid policy.

This cartoon compares the allowance of laptop batteries with a bottle of water. It leads the reader to believe batteries are more dangerous than the water. While that might be true, it leaves out the reasoning behind 3-1-1. The batteries may be more dangerous than a bottle of water, but they are not more dangerous than a water bottle filled with liquid explosives.

When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it. We’re developing the proper technology to allow us to expedite the screening of all liquids, but in the meantime, to screen everybody’s various types of liquids over 3.4 oz. would cause gridlock at the checkpoints.

Why is 3.4 oz. and below OK and what’s up with the baggies? To date, I think those questions were answered best in an interview with Ars Technica’s Jon Stokes. I highly suggest you read it to get the big picture of what lead to 3-1-1.

Additional information on Lithium (laptop) batteries: They’re permissible in checked and carry-on luggage when they’re in the devices they are intended for. Spare batteries are not permissible in checked baggage, but they can be transported in your carry-on luggage if they are packaged properly.

You can read more about the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) rules on traveling with batteries at the SafeTravel web page.

(Cartoon Courtesy of XKCD)

Thanks,

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

259 comments:

1 – 200 of 259   Newer›   Newest»
Jeremy said...

Forgot the title-text:

A laptop battery contains roughly the stored energy of a hand grenade, and if shorted it ... hey! You can't arrest me if I prove your rules inconsistent!

Anonymous said...

I think the sentiment behind the cartoon is that these annoying restrictions don't actually make us feel safer. In fact there have been an increasing number of these ever since 1989 -- and I was at Syracuse University and did feel the impact of Pan Am 103. Lately it simply seems we turn every attempted act -- like the shoes? C'mon! -- into some kind of general menace that we must now vigilantly guard against. Frankly, to me it seems like a lot of Candid Camera style theatre in the airports.

Eric G. said...

You said: "When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

How about a non-time-consuming test: Let the passenger DRINK SOME.

berrydewd said...

I think the comic was trying to lead the reader to laughing at a Logic Rules The Universe nerd trying to change policy by debating with a person that has no real control over that policy and instead is tasked with enforcing said policy. But, that might just be me.

Anonymous said...

The restrictions neither make use feel safer nor make us feel safer. The point about laptop batteries made in this cartoon is irrefutable, and you do nothing to argue with it. This is similar to TSA and its apologists' refusal to address the irrefutable fact that countries without mandatory shoe removal have not experienced any harm to aviation as a result of shoe bombs or other shoe-based threats, or that no such bombings took place before August of 2006 when TSA completely lost all credibility with Americans.

By the way, Bob, why do you refuse to give a yes or know answer as to whether the images posted on this blog and in airports from TSA's strip-search machines are of the same size and resolution as those seen by the operator of the machines?

Anonymous said...

Did you people read the post?!?!?!?! This is an FAA rule. The FAA is responsible for many of the things you can't bring on a plane. Go see if they have a blog and bash them.
Bob is just trying to explain the really really really really big difference between lithium-ion batteries and water.

The comic would have been funnier if it was the screener saying "Oh God not another armchair expert."

Bob said...

Nice observation Berry. Seriously...

But I wasn' trying to get in the mind of the artist, I was trying to get in the minds of those who are re-tweeting and posting it.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

KBCraig said...

The liquids rule was apparently promulgated by people who don't understand basic math. "Class, if we need X amount of liquid explosives to bring down an airliner, and each person is allowed to bring 3.4 ounces, how many conspirators are needed to total X?"

Or, there's the even easier route: "Oh, it's a quart of breast milk? Go right ahead!"

Anonymous said...

"When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it. We’re developing the proper technology to allow us to expedite the screening of all liquids, but in the meantime, to screen everybody’s various types of liquids over 3.4 oz. would cause gridlock at the checkpoints."

.......................
So using all the wisdom in the world TSA tosses the potentail explosive bottle of liquid in common trash bins exposing everyone near the checkpoint to the hazard of a bomb.

How come 2+2=7 at TSA?

Jim said...

A lot of you people must love the feeling of flying into landmarks and burning alive, you seem to have such a problem with people trying to prevent that.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that only in the US do air travelers have to take off their shoes? I have flown to many parts of the world and it is only in the USA that I am required to remove my shoes and have them screened.

PatrickD said...

"When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

How time consuming is it to ask the person to take a drink to prove that it is not really explosive?

Anonymous said...

You're linking to the interview with As Technica's Jon Stokes DOES NOT make your point. In fact, it just reinforces how silly this all is. Nice try, but I suspect there to be hundreds of comments similar to mine in this entry within a few hours.

Jim Huggins said...

PatrickD (echoing many others) writes:

How time consuming is it to ask the person to take a drink to prove that it is not really explosive?

Well ... there are other problems with that procedure. It presupposes that the container is already open ... do you really want to have to open all your sealed beverage bottles? It presupposes that the beverage is intended for you ... what if the liquid in question is breast milk, and the intended recipient isn't boarding the aircraft? It even presupposes that the liquid is intended for ingestion.

I'm as annoyed by the liquids policy as anyone ... but I agree that in the long run, we're better off finding a better way to admit all liquids without requiring someone to take a drink from each one.

Anonymous said...

Liquids were banned when it was suspected that there was a terrorist plot to use liquid explosives. Laptops batteries would be banned if there was evidence of a terrorist plot to use them to blow up a plane.

We are safe from the kind of terrorist ideas they have already tried, and now won't try again. They just keep comming up with new ideas which are not being screened.

This strikes me as not good.

Anonymous said...

The subhead under your blog title states, "Terrorists Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play A Part."

Too bad the TSA hasn't learned anything to allow it's policy to evolve. It's gotten more restrictive, but hasn't evolved for the positive.

TSORon said...

PatrickD said...
How time consuming is it to ask the person to take a drink to prove that it is not really explosive?
-------------------------
Patrick, that does not prove that it is not an explosive, only that the person is willing to drink it, whatever it is. My oldest daughter drank PineSol one day, it didn’t prove that it was dangerous, only that she was silly enough to take a swig.

carp said...

@PatrickD
> How time consuming is it to ask the
> person to take a drink to prove that it
> is not really explosive?

And if the contents are Urine? Or ink? or toothpaste? (you do NOT want to swallow toothpaste!... in case you didn't know)

I think there is a better test: None at all.

The entire rule is silly, has been demonstrated silly, and should be treated as such.

But there is no need to beat people here up about it, this is just a distraction... write your congressmen about it! Believe it or not, Washington is kinda old school, they respond to letters of all things.

Write them about 3-1-1 and how ridiculous the entire concept of having a TSA when airport security did a fine job for so many years.

Its time for some roll backs!

Anonymous said...

"A lot of you people must love the feeling of flying into landmarks and burning alive, you seem to have such a problem with people trying to prevent that."

No, we have a problem with nonsensical measures that do nothing to make anyone safer, like the liquid nonsense and the shoe carnival.

Anonymous said...

"Why is it that only in the US do air travelers have to take off their shoes? I have flown to many parts of the world and it is only in the USA that I am required to remove my shoes and have them screened."

Because TSA is run by hysterics who continue to overreact to one failed attempt that took place over seven years ago and cannot face the overwhelming evidence that their policy is a waste of time that makes no one safer.

Anonymous said...

@PatrickD: I don't know about you, but I don't have a burning desire to drink my shampoo. I mostly agree that the liquids ban is badly done, but drinking the liquids in question isn't really a solution.

Anonymous said...

@Jim People disagree with the way the TSA goes about trying to prevent that, not the general purpose.

Anonymous said...

"When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

Why, then, does TSA toss these dangerous explosives into open containers in the middle of airports?

Why, then, does TSA dispose of these dangerous explosives as if they were exactly what is indicated by their labels?

Why does TSA treat a bottle of Pepsi like soda when it's time to dispose of it, but as a dangerous explosive when it transits the checkpoint?

How does TSA screen the liquids sold past its checkpoints?

Does TSA test a random sampling if confiscated liquids to determine how many liquid explosives people are attempting to bring through checkpoints?

Why can't TSA point to a single piece of independent, peer-reviewed research to support its liquid policies?

Why does TSA continue to post inaccurate signage about the liquids policies in airports?

Why do you keep lying to us, and how stupid to you think we are?

kumar said...

TSA, you missed the point. Forget batteries, there are lots of ways to bring a bomb on a plane. Disallowing water is like amputating one finger on a prisoner hoping that he doesn't use the other NINE fingers to escape with. In other words, why even bother? It's a huge hassle and it makes me so mad every time I fly.

Anonymous said...

Jim said...
A lot of you people must love the feeling of flying into landmarks and burning alive, you seem to have such a problem with people trying to prevent that.

October 23, 2009 3:07 PM
................

I don't want to burn at the checkpoint either but TSA seems to have little concern about tossing possibly dangerous explosives into common trash.

If the bottle of liquid is safe enough to go into common trash it probably is safe enough to pass through the checkpoint.

Randall Munroe said...

> The batteries may be more dangerous than a bottle of water, but they are not more dangerous than a water bottle filled with liquid explosives.

Hey! I'm the author of that cartoon, and was delighted to see your reply. Thanks!

Certainly, a bottle of water is harmless, but I was actually assuming the water bottle was also an explosive.

Laptop batteries have relatively high energy density. The two batteries I travel with (which I've never had anyone object to, contrary to your stated policy) combine to hold roughly the same energy in a 6-oz bottle of pure nitroglycerine. This energy cannot all be released quite as rapidly, but my friends have made laptop batteries explode with enough violence to, in one test, take the top off a small tree (when nestled in a fork of the trunk).

I understand that practicality plays into the decision of what to ban, and the joke of the comic was mainly how silly it would be to explain to a security guard how you could make a bomb with the expectation that it would have a good outcome. The laptop battery is a borderline case at best.

But I really do think there are some pretty serious problems with our approach to airport security, and that the rules we've come up with are more the result of a desire to do something than out of a practical assessment of what would make us safer. Articles like this one make the point better than I could: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/airport-security

I mean, when liquids are confiscated, what happens to them? Are they destroyed with explosives, tested, or just thrown away? If they're just thrown away (or set aside until days later), what's the point of confiscating them at all? The terrorist can just try to sneak some through again the next day, since there are no consequences to failing.

Yet if you don't put on the show, I suppose the airline industry might collapse. I really don't know what the solution is, but I get frustrated dealing with restrictive security procedures whose practical intentions are simply to reassure me.

Dave said...

re: "Bob is just trying to explain the really really really really big difference between lithium-ion batteries and water. "

This is true. TSA doesn't know if a bottle of water is water or explosive. However, with the LiON battery they know (yes, it's potentially explosive)

With this uncertainty removed, the battery is of course safe to take on the plane.

Anonymous said...

The only reason Richard Reid (shoebomber)didn't blow up his plane is because he slept in the shoes overnight and drenched the fuse in sweat from doing so. What do you think will happen as soon as TSA allows people to keep their shoes on again? Those who mean to do us harm would do so using SHOES!!! Why is it so hard to comprehend that? Terrorists have abandoned these tactics because they HAD to because TSA policies forced them to try something new.

Anonymous said...

To quote a wise redditor called jingo04, "I think the point of the cartoon was more that while the guy was being logical it was likely to win him a date to the back room with a man and his rubber gloves. This highlights the perception that the TSA agents aren't reasonable people and are are actively looking for opportunities to bother people under flimsy pretexts."

Paul said...

You said, "The batteries may be more dangerous than a bottle of water, but they are not more dangerous than a water bottle filled with liquid explosives.

When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

Sounds great until one realizes that you can't tell if the batteries are really batteries without doing a time consuming test on them either.

We are allowed to take all sorts of things on the plane whose volume could reasonably conceal explosives or weapons.

What we have here is window dressing. I fully appreciate the impression by many travelers that say, "at least they are doing something." As an engineer, I can't help but note that handing everyone their horoscope would be doing something too, and every bit as effective.

The latter would give the traveler some added value that some would appreciate. The former simply costs the traveler time and (when products are confiscated) money.

Anonymous said...

But I wasn' (sic) trying to get in the mind of the artist, I was trying to get in the minds of those who are re-tweeting and posting it.

That may have been your mistake, Blogger Bob...people who use Twitter don't have brains.

Anonymous said...

"What do you think will happen as soon as TSA allows people to keep their shoes on again? Those who mean to do us harm would do so using SHOES!!! Why is it so hard to comprehend that? Terrorists have abandoned these tactics because they HAD to because TSA policies forced them to try something new."

Nonsense.

Between Reid and August 2006, the shoe carnival was not mandatory. Yet no one used a shoe bomb to harm or destroy an aircraft.

Today, in counties that do not have a shoe carnival, no planes have been brought down by people using shoe bombs.

TSA hates it when anyone brings these facts up, because they utterly demolish the rationale behind the mandatory shoe carnival. But facts are facts, and these facts show that TSA's shoe carnival is a hysterical over-reaction to an infinitesimal threat. The shoe carnival makes no one safer and wastes the time, energy, and attention of passengers and TSA employees alike.

Anonymous said...

Liquid Explosives? Are you kidding me. Because a scientist with multi-million dollar equipment and weeks of preparation time was able to make an EXTREMELY unstable explosive in a lab, doesn't mean it is in any way a legitimate threat. Do you take away chewing gum because it might be a plastic explosive?

Cindy H. said...

I travel internationally almost weekly. I have read recently that the EU countries want to have the technology by 2012 to be able to allow liquids. I hope we are on that track as well!
Until then, throw the liquids away people! I don't have time to stand behind someone who wants to talk policy with someone who didn't make the policy. Your disgust has been noted. Move along.
The men who started this whole issue where convicted recently. Maybe the TSA could get that story out again for those who think this is just a half witted idea of the government.

Curtis said...

Your policy regarding "liquid explosives" is silly in any case, since what you're trying to prevent is the production of AP on board a flight. however, everyone who understands the sniffer technology that you are using to block explosives from being brought on-board relies upon nitrogen compound signatures anyway, so the stupid terrorists could just carry AP in their pockets in the first place. There is no reason to restrict the transport of liquids in carry-on bags if AP manufacture is your concern.

Mark said...

A lot of people here are stating "Why don't they check such-and-such" and providing all sorts of reasons that the item is deadlier than a bottle of water. Right then, let's follow that logic for a bit.

Laptop batteries. Surely dangerous, given that some have the tendency to catch fire and/or explode, even without tampering. So ok. No more laptop batteries. Wherever you're going, you better have a battery on the ground, or a power cord. Heck, one step further. Anything with a battery in it. Buh-bye cell phones, iPods, et cettera.

Bottles of water, or any liquid for that matter. Yeah, you need your fluids, and of course paying for the stuff on the other side of the security checkpoint makes your wallet scream in agony - been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt for $35 - but let's take a step back. Yes, drinking wouldn't be an effective way of pulling this off, since hey - you're planning on blowing up an airplane. Why should you care if you poison yourself with liquid explosive. And you can just purge it later in the bathroom on the other side of the checkpoint. Even non-explosive but highly flammable fluids can be a problem... even in low quantities. Do you know how many recipes there are out there for napalm? But nobody wants to bother with checking your small amounts of liquid through, so yeah, that's out.

Shoes, or any form of clothing for that matter. You don't need to have the comical belt of TNT around your chest, all you'd need is a zip-lock bag or something thin on the inside. Shoes can be pried open and stuff inserted in them, pockets can contain non-metallic object that can cause harm, et cettera. But we're tired of checking those, so no shoes anymore. Or clothing. Everyone flies naked!

Shal I continue?

Well, your carry on luggage is ok. We've been getting that stuff scanned for years now. So we'll say you can fly with that. But the luggage must have a lock on it that only a trained security guard can unlock at your destination airport. Look at that, we just made a job for our economy. Plus, we wouldn't want someone to hijack a plane with an Anne Rice novel. God knows those things are deadly.

Ok, so right now, we're naked in the airport with our carry-on luggage firmly locked tightly. Think I'm done? Nope!

Your body has holes. Since you yourself aren't slapped onto the X-ray belt, to continue to fly you'll have to subject yourself to a full cavity search, and must have an up-to-date record of your medical files with you. Also, all high levels of body hair must be removed, because your slicked back hair could be slicked back with plastic explosive.

So let's recap: You're naked, violated, and sitting at the gate waiting for your flight. Of course, you got there early so you could get through security (Hopefully. Seriously people. 2 hour rule nowadays works wonders.) so you get bored. You want to read a book, but your books are in your now locked bag. You go to buy a magazine, or a drink, but there are no stores or restaurants. Someone working on the inside could have shipped a bottle of Pepsi, now enriched with the wonderful flavor of semtex.

I hope you all see what I'm getting at. If we go for every little idea that someone could think up, then we'll have absolutely no rights when flying. Of course, a lot of you think that we don't already, and I can relate to that. I'm American. I'm 20 years old. I'm not overly patriotic. If someone screws up, I expect it to be fixed as soon as is feasibly possible. I also have thought of all sorts of ideas that could be considered a gross breach of security and/or dangerous to the populous. I'm not evil, I just think morbid thoughts occasionally. All of you do. All of you think those little 'What If's. It's what makes us human. But if we niggle around with every single possibility, we might as well check ourselves in as luggage. We'd be clothed anyway.

Jake said...

The cartoon is indeed a bit misleading, a bunch of laptop batteries could be dangerous though.
Also, letting the passenger drink some would be less time consuming and cause less traffic then arguing with them.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The only reason Richard Reid (failed shoebomber)

There fixed it for ya!

Anonymous said...

PatrickD said....

""When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

How time consuming is it to ask the person to take a drink to prove that it is not really explosive?"

**************


So how long should someone be observed after drinking whatever it is they drank to ensure it didn't make them sick or kill them?

RB said...

Mark said...
A lot of people here are stating "Why don't they check such-and-such" and providing all sorts of reasons that the item is deadlier than a bottle of water. Right then, let's follow that logic for a bit.

..........................
How long you been working for TSA HQ?

Anonymous said...

Can you think of a single potential explosive that is safe to drink? If a customer would drink from a bottle that they are carrying I think that should excuse them from tossing it out.

Anonymous said...

Jim said...

"A lot of you people must love the feeling of flying into landmarks and burning alive, you seem to have such a problem with people trying to prevent that."

Sorry, but that was pretty much fixed by armoring and locking the cabin door. What that has to do with liquid explosives is beyond me. "Crash into building X or I'll blow up the plane?" Yeah, right....

Mark said...

RB Said:
How long you been working for TSA HQ?

I've worked for them for 0 years, 0 days, 0 minutes, and 0 second.

I do, however, work for a travel agency, in their Air Travel Services department. Basically, the guy people talk to when they decide 10 minutes is plenty of time to check in, get through security, and get to their gate in time for boarding.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Nonsense.

Between Reid and August 2006, the shoe carnival was not mandatory. Yet no one used a shoe bomb to harm or destroy an aircraft.

Today, in counties that do not have a shoe carnival, no planes have been brought down by people using shoe bombs.

TSA hates it when anyone brings these facts up, because they utterly demolish the rationale behind the mandatory shoe carnival. But facts are facts, and these facts show that TSA's shoe carnival is a hysterical over-reaction to an infinitesimal threat. The shoe carnival makes no one safer and wastes the time, energy, and attention of passengers and TSA employees alike."

To ignore a possible threat because it has not been utilized is not a good way to conduct business. The shoes are a viable threat to aviation and until we come up with a better way to test them, the removal seems to be the way the agency is going to go right now.

Same thing with liquid explosives, until we deelop a better way to test liquids en masse, we are limited to the way they are done right now. Is the system perfect in either case? No, of course not, but we are working on new tech to combat these possible threats and when there are better ways to do the screening, adjustments to the system will occur.

Until new ways to do business on a nationwide scale, we are going to have to stick to the system we have now and work on newer, better ways to screen.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

An open society will always be vulnerable to terrorist attack. After August 16, 2006 (When it became clear the liquid ban was not temporary), I decided the terrorists have won: the TSA (and other security agencies) does their work (spreading fear) for them.

Even in our post 9/11 world, terrorists attacks are still rare. The 9/11 attacks themselves probably reduced the threat of hijackings because passengers and crew will assume the worst.

The only Terrorist attack targeting planes that I know of in Canada (Successful Air India bombing in the 80's) involved a bomb in checked baggage, not carry-on.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said:

"To ignore a possible threat because it has not been utilized is not a good way to conduct business."

And yet the TSA does that every day.

laptop batteries, not screening everyone going into the "sterile" area, not screening all liquids allowed into the "sterile" area, not screening all cargo...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Can you think of a single potential explosive that is safe to drink? If a customer would drink from a bottle that they are carrying I think that should excuse them from tossing it out.

October 24, 2009 1:01 AM


*******************************

cause we all know a suicide bomber would never risk drinking something that might make them sick or kill them some time later.... oh, yeah, right.....

Anonymous said...

Why can't people just do what they're told? When we do our taxes do we ask why line 35 is subtracted from line 22? Do we argue with the judge when he makes a decision or a cop tells us not to stand in a certain place? No.

We are subjects of the government that is supposed to care of us. Whether the rules are stupid or illogical, do what you're told by authorities. The rules are for your own good.

Life will be a lot simpler if you do what you're told.

Lynn said...

@Patrick D:

How time consuming is it to ask the person to take a drink to prove that it is not really explosive?

I see where you're coming from - you're thinking of water, soda, coffee, etc.

But people also bring breast milk, insulin, prescription medications, and other things they can't drink.

That's what why we have test strips and bottled liquid scanners to test any liquid a passenger has that exceeds the 3.4 ounce limit.

And we are working with the technology industry to come up with an algorithm that will allow us to screen all liquids with existing Advanced Technology x-ray machines so the baggie and 3.4 ounce limits will go away.

Lynn
TSA Blog Team

Lynn said...

@Anonymous:

Too bad the TSA hasn't learned anything to allow it's policy to evolve. It's gotten more restrictive, but hasn't evolved for the positive.

Thanks for your comment.

I'd like point to two things that might show how we've evolved and how we've attempted to be less restrictive.

1) when intelligence reporting showed that remote control toys could be used to initiate devices in terrorist attacks, we didn't ban them. We just put out an advisory that these items could get additional screening.

and 2) we know that powders can be used in certain types of improvised explosives devices. We didn't ban them - instead we deployed kits to all airports so that if regular screening shows a need for additional screening, the officers will have a kit on hand to do it.

And we're looking forward ending the 3-1-1 liquids policy, just as soon as we have the technology in place.

Lynn
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Yes, Lynn, you did not ban remote control toys or powders, but you did ban liquids! A whole state of matter! Please explain??

To Ced said...

As a TSO I would have to agree with the cartoon (and many peoples sentiments with policy).

However, there's a correct place (and persons) to send those comments. It's nothing more then annoying to hear passengers give explanations or talk bull about whatever I am trying to inform them about.

Yeah, you're allowed to voice your opinion, if you enjoy sounding ignorant and delaying people behind you. Do you really think that someone who works on the floor has *ANY* pull when it comes to policy? Passengers have more power then me when it comes to getting things changed.

I am not exactly sure what someone expects to come from an 'argument' with me. It's not really an argument, since I can't allow prohibited items, period. If I do, it's on camera, and there's a good chance i'll lose my job.

So next time you're thinking about giving a floor-level guy crap for rules he had no part in making, ask yourself if he would be willing to forfeit his job just so you can have your orange juice.

(tip: no)

Anonymous said...

"To ignore a possible threat because it has not been utilized is not a good way to conduct business."

It would be a sensible way to conduct business that is proportionate to the actual threat shoes present (which is to say, none at all, as proven by the fact that flights in nations without a shoe carnival suffer no ill effects). By your logic, the fact that no one has tried to use a cashmere sweater to blow up a plane means cashmere sweaters should be banned.

"The shoes are a viable threat to aviation and until we come up with a better way to test them, the removal seems to be the way the agency is going to go right now."

If they're such a viable threat, why is no one using them to bring down planes in countries without a shoe carnival?

If they're such a viable threat, why did no one use them to bring down planes in the US between Reid's failed attempt and August 2006, when the carnival was optional?

Why are TSA and its apologists incapable of addressing these questions?

Anonymous said...

"And we are working with the technology industry to come up with an algorithm that will allow us to screen all liquids with existing Advanced Technology x-ray machines so the baggie and 3.4 ounce limits will go away."

Here's a technology that will do it for you: Honesty and common sense. Not only do liquids present no viable threat, Lynn, everyone knows they present no viable threat. This is one of the many reasons America hates you. You not only lie to us, you lie to us with transparent nonsense.

Say, Lynn, how about a picture of you in the virtual strip-search machines, since the images are so benign and harmless?

TSORon said...

Anonymous said...
Can you think of a single potential explosive that is safe to drink? If a customer would drink from a bottle that they are carrying I think that should excuse them from tossing it out.
-------------------------------

Anon, if they are willing to blow themselves up along with an entire plane load of innocent passengers, what makes you think that they would not be willing to take a swig of the same explosive?

TSORon said...

Anonymous said... It would be a sensible way to conduct business that is proportionate to the actual threat shoes present (which is to say, none at all, as proven by the fact that flights in nations without a shoe carnival suffer no ill effects). By your logic, the fact that no one has tried to use a cashmere sweater to blow up a plane means cashmere sweaters should be banned.
-----------------------
Because cashmere sweaters don’t explode. Nor can they be made to, all y themselves.

Anonymous also said... If they're (shoes) such a viable threat, why is no one using them to bring down planes in countries without a shoe carnival?
------------------------
Because there is very little threat towards those nations.

And Anonymous finished with...
If they're (shoes) such a viable threat, why did no one use them to bring down planes in the US between Reid's failed attempt and August 2006, when the carnival was optional?
------------------------

Because Reid failed. His plan was viable, but he was far to much an idiot to execute it without screwing it up. TSA knows this is a viable threat, even if you don’t. There are many smarter terrorists out there than Reid. My dog is one of them.

TSORon said...

Another Anonymous said….
Here's a technology that will do it for you: Honesty and common sense. Not only do liquids present no viable threat, Lynn, everyone knows they present no viable threat. This is one of the many reasons America hates you. You not only lie to us, you lie to us with transparent nonsense.
-----------------------

Lets be honest, YOU know that they present no viable threat. Well anon, there use to be a large group of people that KNEW that the world was flat. Their “knowledge” was obviously false, but that didn’t prevent them from defending their “knowledge” just as you do.

Sufficient evidence of liquid explosives has been presented in this blog for any reasonable person to acknowledge their existence and the threat to present to civilian airline security. Which of course begs the question, why are you hanging on to your proven incorrect belief’s?

Anonymous said...

Ok, I just read the linked blog explaining the reasoning. Now I think the rules are even stupider. I did not realize that binary explosives were so hard to deploy on an aircraft.

Anonymous said...

"Eric G. Said...
You said: "When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

How about a non-time-consuming test: Let the passenger DRINK SOME."

Exactly this. Why does TSA testing have to circumvent basic logic?

Anonymous said...

It's not really an argument, since I can't allow prohibited items, period. If I do, it's on camera, and there's a good chance i'll lose my job.
.................
Sounds like a win-win for the flying public.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "It would be a sensible way to conduct business that is proportionate to the actual threat shoes present (which is to say, none at all, as proven by the fact that flights in nations without a shoe carnival suffer no ill effects). By your logic, the fact that no one has tried to use a cashmere sweater to blow up a plane means cashmere sweaters should be banned."

Terrible comparison since a Cahsmere sweater is less capable of concealment. By your logic train, we should allow grenades and guns on planes because noone has been killed by one on an airplane in several years. Heck, why stop there, why not let any kind of explosives, baseball bats, machetes, anything that CAN be used to generate damage to someone else go through. Not a good policy to stop screening something because it has not been used in a while or because it's effectiveness is not 100%.


Also - "If they're such a viable threat, why is no one using them to bring down planes in countries without a shoe carnival?

If they're such a viable threat, why did no one use them to bring down planes in the US between Reid's failed attempt and August 2006, when the carnival was optional?

Why are TSA and its apologists incapable of addressing these questions?"

We address them all the time. It may have not been a consideration for the same reason that cellphone bombs weren't used in the 80s, it had not been considered. One reason that the shoes are not used here is the screening. Same for the flights coming here from other countries. As for the other countries not being hit... there could be any number of reasons, luck, the fact that threre is a higer level of awareness of the tactic, the fact that the method may not yield as many casualties as other tactics, lack of creativity, preserving the tactic until a certain time, who knows why. I DO know that the shoes are a viable threat and fairly easy to use and put together, hence the reason TSA screens them as they do.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Not only do liquids present no viable threat, Lynn, everyone knows they present no viable threat. This is one of the many reasons America hates you. You not only lie to us, you lie to us with transparent nonsense."

I hate to break this to you Anon, but the liquid threat? It's viable. I know, I know - you might not believe it, but it is there. Picatinny alone is a big enough threat to worry about, not to mention the designer explosives or more mainstream liquids.

I hear the screams and wails now, "it's toooooo unstable", but some of the liquids can be stabilized enough to transport relatively safely (please keep in mind that most that would bring these items on a plane don't care if they die, so stability levels would be lower for them than for a commercial application).

I hear those other screams now "the liquid testing kits would find them". Previous to the ban on liquids, they weren't tested with the liquid test strips. Therefore, about 95% of the time, we would not have found them in the first place. Also, could you imagine the lines if we were to test each individual liquid with ETD or strips, or BOTH since the substances are different? Until we get new tech deployed to the floor that can test the liquids in combination with the xrays, or newer xrays that have that capability, then this is the process we have. I know it is not perfect, but it is what we have to work with right now.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering if I can take cheese curds on an airplane. I live in Wisconsin and I want to take a couple of packages of cheese curds to relatives out of state.

To Ced said...

I hope everyone who complains here actually writes formal letters to their senators and house reps (and organizes others to do the same), otherwise you're just as incompetent at being citizens as you claim TSA to be at airport security.

I doubt the blog guy can get anything changed, and even if he forwards suggestions and complaints, one guy doing that is equal to nothing.

Take REAL action.

TobyO said...

Blogger Bob, you have the best job ever and I am jealous.

Firehed said...

"I'd like point to two things that might show how we've evolved and how we've attempted to be less restrictive.

[two examples]"

Lynn,
Is there an address where I can send an updated dictionary to the TSA? Not increasing the list of banned objects and substances is NOT "be[ing] less restrictive" - it's simply not being more restrictive. And in any case, both examples DO in fact increase restrictions, just on a case-by-case basis. Being LESS restrictive means that you have actively removed restrictions from the current list - allowing liquids, shoes, etc.

I don't deny that liquids could be a possible attack vector for someone that wants to do harm - I've taken a high school chemistry class or two. But I'm more than willing to take the chance with liquids so that I don't have to spend seven bucks on a coke from the other side of the security standpoint. Likewise, I believe that my and everyone else's time is worth more than the one in a hundred million chance that someone has attempted to make a shoe-bomb. Heck, you're doing more damage simply by putting so much sweaty foot traffic through such a congested area - it's horribly unsanitary to do, especially with all of the recent panic about H1N1.

Paint me as some sort of crazed libertarian nut-job if you want to, but merely driving to my local coffee shop is a far greater risk than any potential terror attack (see http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx - last year alone, I was 10x more likely to die in an automobile crash than in any domestic terror attack EVER). And yet somehow, I'm willing to make a 12-hour drive instead of a two-hour flight SOLELY to avoid dealing with all of the absurd restrictions that come along with flying - and I hate long drives.

I don't want carelessness - but if someone is truly intent on doing harm, they'll find a way. Wasting time time of tens of millions of people a year to try finding the one or two people that want to do harm is simply that: a waste of time. If people who want to damage our country are even making it into the airport, you've already failed (not that I agree with the policies and techniques the government is using to try and find people, but that's an entirely separate matter).

Anonymous said...

Quote/Name ANY liquid explosive which would be dangerous to a modern airliner in-flight AND simultaneously confused by ANY person with a high school education (or 1 day explosives I.D. course) with ANY sort of potable liquid.

Waiting...

Still waiting...

Suffice it to say that due to NO3 issues, ALL liquid explosives have low vapor and are not only poisonous to consume, but SMELL.

Unless you provide EVIDENCE to back-up your policies, they come across as more political pablum and security theater.

This reminds me of CNN "fact-checking" the SNL sketch. Without EVIDENCE, your policy is without merit.

Isaac Newton said...

Lynn said:

And we are working with the technology industry to come up with an algorithm that will allow us to screen all liquids with existing Advanced Technology x-ray machines so the baggie and 3.4 ounce limits will go away.

and again:

And we're looking forward ending the 3-1-1 liquids policy, just as soon as we have the technology in place.
____
Lynn, in 2006 Kip Hawley claimed that such solutions would be available "soon." Last year at about this time, Bob promised here on the blog that by "Fall 2009" the liquid restrictions could be eased due to "new technology." Here you are, in Fall 2009, promising that "someday" there will be technology to screen liquids. It doesn't really sound like there's any real progress here, just more promises and your plea for us to wait a little longer. Why should we believe that this will ever happen?

Anonymous said...

FACT: Liquids can contain explosives.
Why? I dunno, it's what TSA said.

Marshall's SO said...

Hey, Bob, how come we've not seen images of the "stick figures" that are allegedly being used on the new version of the virtual strip search?

Get so many complaints that TSA had to change technology in an attempt to try to make it more successful?

Anonymous said...

Why can't people just do what they're told? .......Do we argue with the judge when he makes a decision or a cop tells us not to stand in a certain place? No.

*****
Actually we do and we can, that's one of the jobs lawyers do.

First Officer Bernoulli said...

Hi Bob, I enjoyed your interview on Airplane Geeks, and continue to enjoy your presence in blog-space. Thankyou.

On the topic of cartoons, the Junior Flyer website has a Halloween airport security cartoon which is in appalling bad taste.

I don't know if I can post a link here, but you can get to it from the Blog link on the Junior Flyer website.

I'll try the direct link: Scanner Kookery Halloween

These guys ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Regards, Bernie.

AllEars said...

Stay afraid and scared. That is what your supposed to do. It gives justification for the constant and radical growth of government in the name of "security."

Seriously, who feels safer today than they did BEFORE airports went from being commercial enterprises to being government security checkpoints? ...if you actuall DO feel safer, then I feel pity for your mind of TV blended mush.

Security is relative. In the name of security, we will all conitue to become more and more dehumanized.

So, move along people. There's a lady in a hurry behind you--your concerns over where we are headed are irrelevant since she "does a lot of travelling" and no doubt has some sale to make.

Anonymous said...

Stay afraid and scared. That is what your supposed to do. It gives justification for the constant and radical growth of human surveillance and management in the name of "security."

Seriously, who feels safer today than they did BEFORE airports went from being private commercial enterprises to being government security checkpoints? Oh! Some of you don't remember that airports USED to be real private businesses and like most private businesses--much more accommodating and efficient.

If you actually DO feel safer, then I feel pity for your paranoid mind of TV blended mush.

Security is relative. In the name of security, we will all continue to become more and more dehumanized. Even those who are part of the "security" system become dehumanized along with everyone else.

So, move along people. There's a lady in a hurry behind you and your concerns over the rapid "securification" of every aspect of daily life is irrelevant since she "does a lot of traveling" and no doubt has another sale to make.

Don't blame TSA's floor employees. They like millions of other people are just trying to get a paycheck. Blame those who are systematically commandeering every aspect of daily life and making it unbearable in the name of "security."

Unfortunately, you will not get to talk to them. They hide like poor managers of a run down fast food operation and they do NOT write on or directly read blogs like this.

NoClu said...

Anonymous said...
"How does TSA screen the liquids sold past its checkpoints?"

Well, a few days ago in Omaha, the TSA staff watched as a worker unloaded 15 cases of 20oz. bottles of soda onto the Xray belt, ran it through, loaded it back on the cart and walked it to the shop.

Nothing more. The same workers have people voluntarily throw away their 20 oz. bottles of soda, purchased anywhere from a few feet to many miles away from the checkpoint.

Virtually useless rules made and enforced by virtually useless policy makers and low level workers.

Anonymous said...

"Terrible comparison since a Cahsmere sweater is less capable of concealment. By your logic train, we should allow grenades and guns on planes because noone has been killed by one on an airplane in several years."

Abject nonsense once again. Grenades and guns are weapons created to be dangerous. Barring them from airplanes makes sense. Cashmere sweaters, like shoes and liquids, are harmless (and we note once again that TSA cannot point to one single piece of independent, peer-reviewed research to support its claims about the "danger" liquids present).

"Heck, why stop there, why not let any kind of explosives, baseball bats, machetes, anything that CAN be used to generate damage to someone else go through."

TSA does do this -- laptop batteries, laptops themselves, the mirrors in airplane lavs, knitting needles, scissors, and many more things TSA permits could be used to cause damage to someone else.

"Not a good policy to stop screening something because it has not been used in a while or because it's effectiveness is not 100%."

It's not just that shoes haven't "been used in a while," it's that no one, anywhere, is using shoes to harm aircraft, regardless of whether or how shoes are screened.


"One reason that the shoes are not used here is the screening. Same for the flights coming here from other countries. As for the other countries not being hit... there could be any number of reasons, luck, the fact that threre is a higer level of awareness of the tactic, the fact that the method may not yield as many casualties as other tactics, lack of creativity, preserving the tactic until a certain time, who knows why. I DO know that the shoes are a viable threat and fairly easy to use and put together, hence the reason TSA screens them as they do."

Once again, nonsense. If TSA's screening deterred people from using shoes here, we'd see shoes being used elsewhere and we'd have seen shoes used here before August 2006. We've seen neither, because the record proves conclusively shoes are not a viable threat. We know it, you know it, stop lying to us.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
Another Anonymous said….
Here's a technology that will do it for you: Honesty and common sense. Not only do liquids present no viable threat, Lynn, everyone knows they present no viable threat. This is one of the many reasons America hates you. You not only lie to us, you lie to us with transparent nonsense.
-----------------------

Lets be honest, YOU know that they present no viable threat. Well anon, there use to be a large group of people that KNEW that the world was flat. Their “knowledge” was obviously false, but that didn’t prevent them from defending their “knowledge” just as you do.
.................
As TSORon correctly points out there was a large body of people who thought the world was flat.

Those people claiming the world ws flat were the Experts and Rulers in charge of things.

Oh, the Experts were wrong then.

Kinda like the expers are wrong now.

Thanks TSO Ron for proving the point of the peasants again.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said

"When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

And yet when you confiscate my bottle of gatorade you throw it in the trashcan right next to the checkpoint, rather than treating it like the unknown hazardous chemical you claim it to be.

This tells me that you don't actually think it is a hazardous chemical.

Tell me again why you throw bottles containing what you claim is an unknown hazardous in the trash can rather than treating it properly?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Why can't people just do what they're told? When we do our taxes do we ask why line 35 is subtracted from line 22? Do we argue with the judge when he makes a decision or a cop tells us not to stand in a certain place? No.

We are subjects of the government that is supposed to care of us. Whether the rules are stupid or illogical, do what you're told by authorities. The rules are for your own good.

Life will be a lot simpler if you do what you're told.

October 24, 2009 7:01 PM

................
If your a citizen of the United States then I feel very sorry for you.

You do not understand how this country works or what being a citizen means.

We are not subjects of the government.

We are citizens.

The government has no obligation to "take care of us". That is a responsibility that you are responsible for. No one else.

We the people control the government. Not the other way around!

If you don't step up and take responsibility for your citizenship then it may end up with the people just being subjects.

That will be the day that the United States ceases being a country of free peoples.

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
Anon sez - "Nonsense.

Between Reid and August 2006, the shoe carnival was not mandatory. Yet no one used a shoe bomb to harm or destroy an aircraft.

Today, in counties that do not have a shoe carnival, no planes have been brought down by people using shoe bombs.

TSA hates it when anyone brings these facts up, because they utterly demolish the rationale behind the mandatory shoe carnival. But facts are facts, and these facts show that TSA's shoe carnival is a hysterical over-reaction to an infinitesimal threat. The shoe carnival makes no one safer and wastes the time, energy, and attention of passengers and TSA employees alike."

To ignore a possible threat because it has not been utilized is not a good way to conduct business. The shoes are a viable threat to aviation and until we come up with a better way to test them, the removal seems to be the way the agency is going to go right now.

....................
Ok GSOLTSO please explain why TSA will not secure the sterile areas of airports even after knowing a handgun was introduced into the secure area by a trusted worker, gun runners in Miami introduced multiple weapons into the secure area and lately drug runners introduced 322 or so suitcases into the so called sterile area and those bags flew unscreened with who knows what payload to airports in the United States.

You clearly say it is foolish to ignore a possible threat but not only is TSA ignoring a possible threat they are ignoring a known threat, and one that clearly could jeapordize an aircraft and the passengers embarked on that aircraft.

To my way of thinking that should subject the TSA Rule Makers to criminal charges.

So is it just foolish to ignore a know threat or something much greater?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
We are subjects of the government that is supposed to care of us. Whether the rules are stupid or illogical, do what you're told by authorities. The rules are for your own good.

*********
So explain to me why the American Revolution happened? Seems like a lot of people thought the rules of the government we were subjects of were stupid and illogical.

Anonymous said...

This cartoon is about the pointlessness of trying to discuss perfectly logical things with TSOs. It is spot on.

Anonymous said...

To the TSO who tells us not to discuss the rules with him. Could you please inform us how we can effectively discuss and change these silly rules? Who should we contact??

It seems the TSA is above any discussion. You are even going ahead with using WBI as a form of primary screening after a strong vote against it in congress!!

Dan S. said...

Anonymous (October 23, 2009 6:03 PM) wrote:
The only reason Richard Reid (shoebomber)didn't blow up his plane is because he slept in the shoes overnight and drenched the fuse in sweat from doing so. What do you think will happen as soon as TSA allows people to keep their shoes on again? Those who mean to do us harm would do so using SHOES!!!

What most people fail to realize about Richard Reid, is that he was a barely functioning schizophrenic who has a documented history of mental problems, including delusional behavior.

What most people don't know about Reid's "explosive" shoes include: PETN, the primary explosive in Reid's shoes does not explode when ignited; like C4, it burns.

If Reid's supposed detonation method, a small amount of TATP, had exploded (which was just as likely to happen when he put his shoes on that morning, as if/when he could ignite his "fuse"), it would have likely left him without a foot, and could, if placed against the fuselage, perhaps have damaged the skin of the aircraft. (The explosive quantity attributed to Reid -- 100g/3.5oz -- is the combined amount from both shoes, which would not have likely exploded simultaneously.)

However, unlike in the movies, small holes in pressurized aircraft do not cause hurricane-like decompression or pop fuselages like balloons.

Here's a video of 20g of TATP exploding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv_FI0KCLQs note: the cinderblock is placed so that the explosive is atop the weakest portion in the weakest orientation.

Here's a video of what claims to be 50g of PETN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbPeaBb0QT0 notice that it damages the masonry and mortar of the wall, but does not destroy the bricks.

The "definitive" evidence that Reid was linked to Al Qaeda was supplied by Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, a man who has, tenuously, been linked to Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, who claimed that Reid was part of a plot to bomb airlines using shoe-borne explosives, which also targeted AA 587 (which was brought down by mechanical/structural failure of the vertical stab). In exchange for his "information" on Reid and the whereabouts of Kalid Sheik Mohammed and Osama Bin Laden (all of which turned out to be false), Jabarah was promised his freedom, though he is currently serving a life sentence for purportedly violating his plea agreement. Jabarah's family has stated that he has a long history of mental instability.

Ayn R. Key said...

Since liquids are bad, from now on I'm bringing frozen liquids instead. Since it is now solid it is no longer a threat to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Why are liquids thrown in the trash all together when they are assumed to be Hazmat?

It really seems like you know most liquids are harmless, but are putting on a show!

I have an idea, let's call this strange phenomenon of otherwise intelligent security people doing boneheaded things for show but still defending them tooth and claw "Security Theatre" !

Anonymous said...

No one loves you guys and no one ever will quit your jobs

RB said...

Since the Blog seems to be in a bit of a lull would someone on the blog team address the naure of the pat down a person gets if the WBI is refused?

Please address why the most invasive form of pat down TSA uses is used when it clearly is limited to cases were all other methods have been used to clear an alarm.

Why is a person treated like this just because they refuse screening by the WBI?

Is the how TSA claims a 98% acceptance of the WBI?

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Quote/Name ANY liquid explosive which would be dangerous to a modern airliner in-flight AND simultaneously confused by ANY person with a high school education (or 1 day explosives I.D. course) with ANY sort of potable liquid.

Waiting...

Still waiting..."

Well, if the container is sealed, and no testing is done, then just about any liquid explosive would come through - especially if the container is not see through (and even if it is in some cases). See, the problem lies not in the fact that we are unable to detect any of the liquid explosives, it lies in the fact that without the current testing and procedures, it would likely take about 5 hours to get through screening. With the previous screening protocols, we would not have caught much of anything as far as liquids go - because we didn't test them. Now we have a limited amount of liquids allowed and more ways of testing them, and the protocols to test them across the board. Things are not going to change until we get a better way to test LAG. This is a technical failing at the moment, but we are working towards new stuff to put out there to combat this threat. Something to keep in mind, any new tech has to undergo more intense scrutiny now because it has to be able to stand up to the everyday usage, the checkpoint enviornment, and the thousands of people working around them. We all know aboout the puffers, GREAT technology, it had problems with sustainability in the checkpoint and maintenance issues. Hence one of the reasons we dont just rush every new tech right out to the floor.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez -"Abject nonsense once again. Grenades and guns are weapons created to be dangerous. Barring them from airplanes makes sense. Cashmere sweaters, like shoes and liquids, are harmless (and we note once again that TSA cannot point to one single piece of independent, peer-reviewed research to support its claims about the "danger" liquids present).

Shoes are a viable threat, the only reason Reid did not succeed was bad planning and even worse luck (or depending on your point of view, base stupidity or ignorance, I have heard it described each of the above ways). Again, I will post here that peer reviewed process is available to any scientist that wishes to take advantage of it, if you are able to prove that your theories about shoes and liquids, by all means please do so. I personally would listen to you, read your information and adjust accordingly. Until some independent scientist does this, it is NOT (repeat NOT) going to be released into the public by the organization. You are asking the agency that is tasked with preventing bad things from getting on airplanes and other forms of transportation to release all of the specifics on how to make a bomb out of a shoe, or a bottle of cola.... To the general public... so that any chucklehead with 15 minutes of fame in mind can make said bomb... Pure genius, I have to say that would be pure genius.

Now back to reality - it would be gross negligence for the agency to release this info, or allow the scientists or BAOs or anyone else that works for the agency to release this information to the public. It would essentially amount to a "how to bomb stuff better" manual for anyone out there with ill intent. Not to mention the odd curious high schooler or college kid that saw this on the news last night and "blooey" there goes the dorn room is they are unlucky, and the dorm restroom if they are lucky.


"TSA does do this -- laptop batteries, laptops themselves, the mirrors in airplane lavs, knitting needles, scissors, and many more things TSA permits could be used to cause damage to someone else."

I agree that several items we alow to go are dangerous in the right hands. I on the other hand am merely a TSO and do not make policy. I am certain that the allowance of these items goes back to the balance between security and customer service as blogged about previously here - http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2009/09/combining-security-convenience.html .



"It's not just that shoes haven't "been used in a while," it's that no one, anywhere, is using shoes to harm aircraft, regardless of whether or how shoes are screened."

Again, the lack of use is not a good reason to stop screening for something. It is a commonly used tactic to lull the opponent into a false sense of security, and then use it later when things have changed to your benefit.


"Once again, nonsense. If TSA's screening deterred people from using shoes here, we'd see shoes being used elsewhere and we'd have seen shoes used here before August 2006. We've seen neither, because the record proves conclusively shoes are not a viable threat. We know it, you know it, stop lying to us."

That is one way of looking at it, it is also irresponsible. The method is a proven threat. The lack of use is not an indicator as to the fact that it is not a viable threat. A gun is not a viable threat until someone or something acts upon it to make it the threat.

I am not lying to you, I am presenting you with the facts, and my opinions. Do with them what you wish.

West
TSA BLog Team

Joe Huffman said...

By this time I think everyone knows what the acronym TSA stands for. It's just that being a government agency they got the letters exactly backward.

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "Ok GSOLTSO please explain why TSA will not secure the sterile areas of airports even after knowing a handgun was introduced into the secure area by a trusted worker, gun runners in Miami introduced multiple weapons into the secure area and lately drug runners introduced 322 or so suitcases into the so called sterile area and those bags flew unscreened with who knows what payload to airports in the United States.

You clearly say it is foolish to ignore a possible threat but not only is TSA ignoring a possible threat they are ignoring a known threat, and one that clearly could jeapordize an aircraft and the passengers embarked on that aircraft.

To my way of thinking that should subject the TSA Rule Makers to criminal charges.

So is it just foolish to ignore a know threat or something much greater?"

I can only give you what I have, and what the agency gives to us and you publicly. At this time, the organization uses access rosters, background checks, and security pads (along with some other methods) to control access to the sterile area. These rosters (and other measures) have been determined to be consistent with good security practices based on industry standards (other secured locations, and similiar locations to the checkpoint). Is this perfect? Nope, but at this time, this is the standard for the agency. It might change in the future, it may stay the same (sorry, I don't have my crystal ball handy or I would make a prediction), but this is a standard practice at many (before you start saying the protocols are different at this location or another place, note I said many, not all) secured locations.

This practice is consistent with the access rosters I used at several locations while dealing with Nuclear Weaponry in the Army. I can honestly say that the security around them was better (come on, we almost all had guns, and most of us had more than one!), but the access protocols were the same - soldier A showed up, was matched to an access roster by his/her ID card and allowed to enter. Soldiers are open to the same temptations as the rest of the world, some are the best our country has to offer, and some are not. Same with TSA, the airlines, the baggage handlers, the concourse workers, the air crews, the aircraft maintenance crews, the LEOs, the FAMs, and any other people that have access - all of them are tempted and subject to the same decision sets as anyone else and some of them will be found wanting.

Let me end this by saying I have no problem with everyone screening (including myself) when they enter or leave, I think it is a good idea in theory, but practical application is another animal altogether.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

WOW... how did we get to laptop bombs to some internet loon giving the "WE THE PEOPLE" speech.

I need to buy some stock in the tin foil hat industry.

On a side note, I thought the cartoon was funny.

AJT said...

I know these types of restrictions seem annoying, but they are not in place for no reason. If something were to happen to a plane in the future that involved a liquid explosive, we would question why the government did not think about the use of liquid explosives before. The system is not perfect and yes, it does take more time. The point is to keep us safe. I am more than willing to put up with a little annoyance to keep me safe. I think in relation to what could happen if there is a liquid explosive we can all buy our carry on beverages after we have made it through security.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
FACT: Liquids can contain explosives.
Why? I dunno, it's what TSA said.

October 26, 2009 5:36 AM

Think outside the box. I'm sure they meant liquids CAN be explosives. /yawn

Anonymous said...

Oh, the Experts were wrong then.

Kinda like the expers are wrong now.

Thanks TSO Ron for proving the point of the peasants again.

October 26, 2009 11:13 AM

oh no no no... you're not getting off that easy. It's you who think you are security "experts." its you claiming that liquid explosives dont present a threat. It's you who think you know whats best in the name of convienence... i mean security...

Saad N said...

Quote ''How about a non-time-consuming test: Let the passenger DRINK SOME.''

you sure got a point.

people sure have a good point here that if liquids are not allowed then why is laptop batteries allowed? for some reason they take away`all the 1.5V batteries and don't take away phone or laptop.
Recently i flew from new york to Atlanta and they took my gel , and one more incident happened with me i passed the security scanner with having my wallet in my pocket, i don't get the idea of whole thing.

Now they are not being that strict because I am from Dubai and I was a FOB before, now studing college in buffalo for 3 years i have pretty much changed my self , like the religion, the culture here, how to speak well, westernized clothing and other stuff so i guess these are the they are not going through everything i have as it was i flew the first time. ha,

Scott G. Lewis said...

The odd thing is - virtually the same group of people who complain that the liquid ban makes no common sense are commenting how we should just let people drink their liquids to prove they are safe.

Why is 3-1-1 devoid of common sense yet you keep acting as if all liquids are water, juice and soft drinks? And then there's Carp. Do we really want to worry about his take on airport security when he thinks it's feasible someone might NEED to bring URINE on a plane?

I don't know much of anything about bringing down a plane, but wouldn't a bit of hydrochloric acid in one container mixed with bleach from another be enough of a threat to take out a few passengers? At least, that's what 5 seconds on wikipedia told me.

Come on guys... let's not say that liquids have NO THREAT.

Mike Machenry said...

This is, in my opinion, an incredibly weak reply. As the author states here:

"The batteries may be more dangerous than a bottle of water, but they are not more dangerous than a water bottle filled with liquid explosives."

The comic is *not* pointing out that water is harmless. I feel this is a deliberate misinterpretation which is very easily refuted. You've interpreted your own straw-man argument here. That line is a complete cheap shot and not at all addressing the comic's critique.

More to the point, the comic does not say that there are no explosives more dangerous than a lithium-ion battery. It says that you are clearly worried about explosives (indicated by the fact that you confiscate water which might be an explosive) and you do not confiscate laptop batteries, which can also explode, very readily. Laptop batters contain more energy than a modern hand grenade and I'm sure you confiscate them.

I'm not trying to advocate for laptop battery confiscation and this response isn't even about advocating for allowing water on planes. Really what I find annoying is that you've tried belittle the argument by deliberately misinterpreting rather than have to admit that security rules are, in fact, not perfect.

Anonymous said...

I think the TSA has missed the point: why would you even comment on this comic strip?

Bob, if you're a part of the TSA, how about opening a few more lines when there are 400 people about to miss their flight instead of reading webcomics and responding to them?

Thanks!

hrbrmstr said...

I have never packaged my spare MacBook Pro battery "properly" and you've never stopped me. I have made over 30 flights this year alone and not once.

You've missed (stupidly forgotten to be removed by me) many dangerous items every flight.

It's theatre. Plain and simple theatre.

And, if the story of the mom being separated from her son (blogged last week) is true, no amount of security is worth torturing innocent Americans.

Anonymous said...

Remember why we do this in the first place? Terrorists, right?

The London and Madrid terrorist attacks took place on a train(and a buss).

I took the train from London a few weeks ago, don't remember having to give my water up. Or taking my shoes off. Or having my bag checked. Or emptying my pockets.

To recap:
There has been 1 FAILED shoe-bombing, and 2 SUCCESSFUL train bombings.

Brian said...

Ok GSOLTSO please explain why TSA will not secure the sterile areas of airports even after knowing a handgun was introduced into the secure area by a trusted worker, gun runners in Miami introduced multiple weapons into the secure area and lately drug runners introduced 322 or so suitcases into the so called sterile area and those bags flew unscreened with who knows what payload to airports in the United States.

Interesting, what is this in reference to? Could you provide a link to the story you reference? I haven't heard anything about this but it's pretty hard to keep up with everything.

Bob said...

In Response to Randall Munroe's Comment posted on 10/23 5:25 PM
--------------------------------

Randall,

Thanks for writing. Sorry for my delayed response, but I had family in town and had to entertain.

First off, I’ve seen a few blog posts that read “TSA Vs. XKCD.” I just wanted you to know that was never my intention. I just wanted to take a stab at explaining why batteries and liquids were different and why I thought the cartoon was resonating with the flying public. I actually think your comics are pretty funny. Especially the one poking fun at Family Circus.

I just wanted to touch on a few things from your comment.

Lithium batteries can cause fires if they short out and can "explode" if engulfed in a fire. It’s a mechanical explosion when the case ruptures, but it doesn’t have nitroglycerin equivalency. You might find this interesting as well. (scroll to the bottom for FAA research)

I’ve seen many videos of lithium-ion batteries catching on fire, and if one would catch fire on a plane it would cause havoc, but the liquids we’re trying to stop can cause this type of catastrophic destruction and down a plane.

You mentioned how practicality comes in to play when deciding what to ban. You are correct. In fact, practicality and convenience came into play when designing the 3-1-1 policy. At first, all liquids were banned. This wasn’t sustainable long term. A team of scientists used the intel at hand to determine how much liquids could be allowed on planes by a passenger so that we could balance security with convenience. Hence 3-1-1… TSA is now working on technology that will bring an end to it – so that liquids could be screened along with everything else in your bag – and no little plastic baggie. The day that technology allows liquid to stay in your bags, our HQ will look like a vintage victory parade. Tickertape will be streaming out of our windows and bands will be marching around the building.

You asked what happens to liquids after they’re abandoned at the checkpoint. Well, the ones that are identifiable as hazmat are logged in an FAA hazmat log book and stored and disposed of according to FAA policies and procedures. Those that are not marked, are placed in the trash. Why you ask? Why place them in the trash if they were too dangerous to go on the plane? This goes back to convenience. We have test strips that would allow us to test all liquids, but I’m sure you could imagine the line that would ensue if we did this. Without testing all liquids, we have no way of knowing if you have bottle of water or hazmat, so it’s placed in the trash and disposed of.

You have to keep in mind that these procedures were put in place to get us by until the proper technology is deployed. They were never intended to be a permanent fix.

In your closing, you mentioned if we didn’t put on “the show” the industry would collapse. While you are correct that passengers do like to feel safe and reassured, it is hardly a show. I wish it were... The world is a scary place and we’re doing our best with what we have to keep everybody safe.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Adam said...

The government should leave airport security up to the airports themselves. That way, when we don't like the airport security procedures at one airport, we'll choose another. Currently, I'm not afraid of liquid or shoe bombs, and the security checkpoints are needlessly slow because of these checks. I also have to pay for checked luggage to avoid having my liquids thrown out at security. The current policies are not good policies.

fretlessjazz said...

"How about a non-time-consuming test: Let the passenger DRINK SOME."

I don't imagine drinking my shampoo or aftershave would be terribly wise.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"No one loves you guys and no one ever will quit your jobs."


My mommy loves me!! But because of your lack of love for me, I'm in a deep funk today...

Anonymous said...

"They just keep comming up with new ideas"

Who? The imaginary terrorists or the government parasites?

Anonymous said...

"A team of scientists used the intel at hand to determine how much liquids could be allowed on planes by a passenger so that we could balance security with convenience. Hence 3-1-1…"

Then release the analysis these scientists did. Submit their work to an appropriate journal where other scientists not employed by TSA can review their work and determine whether there's any sense behind the policy.

"You asked what happens to liquids after they’re abandoned at the checkpoint. Well, the ones that are identifiable as hazmat are logged in an FAA hazmat log book and stored and disposed of according to FAA policies and procedures. Those that are not marked, are placed in the trash. Why you ask? Why place them in the trash if they were too dangerous to go on the plane? This goes back to convenience."

So TSA can't be bothered to check whether any liquid explosives are, in fact, being stopped at checkpoints, but wants us to take its word that there's a threat. And then you take these potentially harmful liquids and dispose of them as if they weren't potentially harmful because it's more convenient for you?

Next time the TSA brain trust is wondering why America hates TSA, remember that it's your own fault. Not just for the lies and the stupidity, but for the pathetically transparent lies and stupidity.

We don't like you.

We don't trust you.

"We have test strips that would allow us to test all liquids, but I’m sure you could imagine the line that would ensue if we did this. Without testing all liquids, we have no way of knowing if you have bottle of water or hazmat, so it’s placed in the trash and disposed of."

Why not test a sample of confiscated liquids? Or are you afraid that creating data would prove that the 3.4-1-1 policy (please don't lie and call it 3-1-1 when you yourself have admitted the amount is 3.4, Bob, even though TSA policy is to post inaccurate signage ABOUT this nonsensical policy) is a joke and a fraud?

Anonymous said...

"I know these types of restrictions seem annoying, but they are not in place for no reason."

The only reason they're in place is because TSA policy is set by hysterics.

Anonymous said...

"Again, the lack of use is not a good reason to stop screening for something. It is a commonly used tactic to lull the opponent into a false sense of security, and then use it later when things have changed to your benefit."

West, you keep ignoring the point: The lack of a shoe carnival in other countries is, by TSA's and your reasoning, a change to shoe-bombers' benefit. And no one is using shoes to blow up airplanes in countries without a shoe carnival. This is an incontrovertible fact, and it's one you're not willing to admit to.


"That is one way of looking at it, it is also irresponsible."

No, West, it's a completely accurate way of looking at it. Shoe screening doesn't matter because no one's trying to blow up planes with shoes. We know this for a fact because we now have three years' and counting's worth of comparative data that show no one is using shoes to blow up airplanes anywhere, regardless of whether or not there's a shoe carnival in airports.

"The method is a proven threat."

No, West, it's not. The one time it was tried it didn't work. No one has tried to use it anywhere else since then, regardless of whether there's a shoe carnival.

"The lack of use is not an indicator as to the fact that it is not a viable threat. A gun is not a viable threat until someone or something acts upon it to make it the threat."

Abject nonsense once again. A gun is dangerous because it's a weapon. Shoes are not dangerous and they are not weapons. And the record proves it: If TSA's shoe carnival was a deterrent to shoe bombings, we'd see shoe bombings in countries that don't have a shoe carnival and we'd have seen shoe bombings between Reid and the mandatory shoe carnival in August 2006.

You know it, I know it, stop lying to us.

Brian K. said...

"The batteries may be more dangerous than a bottle of water, but they are not more dangerous than a water bottle filled with liquid explosives." —Blogger Bob (TSA)

How about batteries filled with liquid explosives?

Many batteries get through without testing. But even if testing, one could have a small component within the battery to actually power a laptop for a short while; while maintaining a significant portion of the volume for liquid explosive. Furthermore, the basic internal structure of the battery as seen by x-ray machines could be maintained with the liquid explosive too. So visual inspection externally, visual inspection with x-ray, and testing in a laptop/voltmeter would prove largely (if not entirely) useless.

Anonymous said...

RB said...


"If your a citizen of the United States then I feel very sorry for you.

You do not understand how this country works or what being a citizen means.

We are not subjects of the government.

We are citizens.

The government has no obligation to "take care of us". That is a responsibility that you are responsible for. No one else.

We the people control the government. Not the other way around!

If you don't step up and take responsibility for your citizenship then it may end up with the people just being subjects.

That will be the day that the United States ceases being a country of free peoples."


*************************

You left much out, and I wonder why.

You are correct in saying we are not subjects of our government; we are citizens.

However, you fail to mention we are our government. Both citizens and government, and that is vastly difference from what you said.

We do not control the government; again, we ARE the government.

Just as our military is comprised of citizen-soldiers, our government is comprised of CIVIL servants.

I would argue that when one takes a view as you have, that our governemnt and the citizens are 2 separate entities, then our way of life has failed.


I am sure that you would be more happy living in a dictatorship where beliefs such as yours rule. Because in an actual democracy you do not always get what you want, sometimes you never get what you want. That is the cost of living in a democracy, a cost you do not seem to understand, and a cost you do not want to pay.

Do I agree with everything our government does? Of course not. But would I agrue - like you have - that if things I do not agree with don't change, then we no longer live in a democracy? No, I wouldn't be so arrogant.

You also seem to mistake happiness with willingness and want. They are not the same. It is entirely possible that many people are not happy with TSA policy, but agree with that policy.

If you haven't figured it out yet, people often do what they often do not want because they believe they are being responsible. It's what being an adult is all about.

I am not saying all TSA policy is correct. But don't make the argument that the citizens of this country are separate from the government of this country. The citizens are the government, and the government generally does what its told (however, many who do not think things through fail to realize this, as they may not like a policy/law so they say the government has gone rogue if its not changed - are you one of these people?).

Anonymous said...

The sheer fact that TSA employs a blogger Bob is a slap in the face.

Stop wasting our tax money!

Sandra said...

"The world is a scary place and we’re doing our best with what we have to keep everybody safe."

Get over yourself, Bob.

Tim said...

It seems that just asking people to take a drink of whatever beverage they are bringing onto the plane wouldn't be asking too much. Have them pour it in the cap and drink from that so you know they drank it. Most people are only going to be bringing 1 maybe 2 bottles on the plane anyways.

However, if someone stepped up with a bandoleer of Gatorade it might be worth taking them aside.

Sandra said...

Comments from the blog team to the article in the WaPo on the request for a probe into DHS's privacy office will be accepted ASAP.

Please note the concerns expressed about WBI:

"While acknowledging the new policy in the report would have been helpful, if the Chief
Privacy Officer were satisfying her statutory duty to assure that new technologies do not erode
the privacy protections of American citizens, the new policy would not have been implemented
in the first place. Due to its extremely invasive nature, the whole body imaging technology is
almost by definition a new technology that erodes the privacy protections of American citizens. Implementing such technology for every traveler that passes through an airport security checkpoint regardless of suspicion is exactly the type of action that the Chief Privacy Officer should be preventing in satisfaction of her statutory obligations."

jseliger said...

To translate:

"Our policy is irrational, but we're sticking to it anyway in the interests of security theater."

Anonymous said...

This was helpful, thank you for attempting to communicate why you do things.

Your first response only got me more incensed, because you meant well but missed the point of the cartoon. You missed both its actual take on the situational comedy of reasoning with TSA on policy, and the underlying message that laptop batteries are dangerous yet you don't regulate those.

However, your followup response on laptop batteries made a lot of sense. I'm sure you guys are attempting to do the right job and obviously think about this more than any of us. The mistrust you hear is obviously something very deep-seeded, of any type of authority. We are prideful and tend to get a little irrational when things feel demeaning.

But, I for one, have said pretty much only negative things about the TSA up until this very moment. So, at least count one person who you are having a positive impact on by attempting to honestly communicate.

- NH

Anonymous said...

Over 7500 handgun murders a year in the US.

Zero shoe bomb murders in the world ever.

Anonymous said...

The Drink Test and the Sniff Test would be faster and cheaper than argument and confiscation; also more suitable to a free country.

Sure the Drink test doesn't solve every problem, only some of them; still better than the TSA is doing.

Michael Wales said...

I'm not here to argue whether the rules are right or wrong, logical or illogical.

I just want to congratulate the TSA for actually listening to people's complaints (or in this case, satire) and addressing them.

Can anyone else name a government agency willing to comment and expound on an online comic? I think not.

Matt said...

What happened to the promise to lift the size restriction by Fall of 2009. I don't have a calendar handy, but...

When will the silliness end?

How about less time defending yourselves from cartoons and more time working on ways to avoid slowing down millions of people trying to generate economic growth in this country in a time when it needs it the most.

RB said...

Let me end this by saying I have no problem with everyone screening (including myself) when they enter or leave, I think it is a good idea in theory, but practical application is another animal altogether.

West
TSA Blog Team

October 26, 2009 7:15 PM

...................
So your willing to bet an airplane load of people that an access roster will keep some employee in the aviation industry from introducing WEI.

West, I understand that at your level you cannot make significant changes to policy.

I also understand that TSA senior leadership has failed to safeguard the flying public.

The proof is clearly evident based on the several events I and others have mentioned over the past months.

A few of which are listed below:

http://tinyurl.com/yktztw3

"An airport employee and his roommate were arrested Thursday on suspicion of concealing and smuggling a gun onto a flight bound for Phoenix to avoid security screening procedures, FBI officials said in press release."

http://tinyurl.com/yg8fwcg

"Agents confiscated 14 guns and 8 pounds of marijuana that had been smuggled aboard a Delta flight to San Juan in March 2007. Two of the four suspects arrested in that case had worked for Comair. Court records show they smuggled a 20-pound package of marijuana aboard a flight to Puerto Rico twice a month."

And then we have a couple of TSA's finest;

http://tinyurl.com/yzc2s25

http://tinyurl.com/ylnnpcr

and then more recently:

http://tinyurl.com/ykqf3ap

Airline Employees Helped Smuggle Drugs From Puerto Rico to Miami and New York

I am sure there are many more.

Some like the handgun that flew out of DFW to Japan a few weeks ago and missed by TSA screeners.

Oh, and did I see something in the last couple of days of two knifes making it onboard in carry-on baggage, and again out of DFW.

I think we need something a little better than access rosters.

Why not require all airport workers to pass through WBI's? I can see no reason for resistance since as TSA claims the images are safe enough to be viewed by young children.

Oh, and did I read right that some airports in Florida does require 100% screening of airport workers?

Must be both possible and feasible if that is the case!

David (Dragon) Fiedler said...

If the TSA personnel at security checks had the same intelligence and ability to see things in their proper perspective as the people running this blog, nobody in their right mind would have anything to complain about.

Emma said...

'Now back to reality - it would be gross negligence for the agency to release this info, or allow the scientists or BAOs or anyone else that works for the agency to release this information to the public. It would essentially amount to a "how to bomb stuff better" manual for anyone out there with ill intent. Not to mention the odd curious high schooler or college kid that saw this on the news last night and "blooey" there goes the dorn room is they are unlucky, and the dorm restroom if they are lucky."

The "how to bomb stuff better" manual has already been released. Its called the internet. It has the instructions and information needed to construct anything from a pipe bomb to a nuclear bomb. Saying that you're protecting the public by not releasing anything is ridiculous. Its already out there, and we just get frustrated and trust you even less when you refuse to release any kind of evidence that would give credence to your reasons.

Emma said...

"Without testing all liquids, we have no way of knowing if you have bottle of water or hazmat, so it’s placed in the trash and disposed of."

I work in a research lab. Today I found an unlabeled jar filled with an unknown clear liquid. It was on a shelf with other jars labeled ethyl acetate, so that's probably what it was, but that's not a safe assumption to make.

This does NOT mean that I can assume it is not harmful and put it in the regular trash. If I did so I would be fired on the spot because that is an incredibly dangerous procedure.

Instead I did two really simple tests, determined that it actually was ethyl acetate and it was put in our regulated ethyl acetate solvent waste container. Later I'll filter, clean, and distill the solvent so I can re-use it.

My point is you're dealing with what you have already designated as potentially harmful substances. If you have potentially harmful substances, you CANNOT in any setting consider that it is okay to put it into the regular trash.

What you have done is say "We are going to confiscate all your liquids because it is potentially hazardous." Okay, fine, I'll hand them over. Then you say "Well this stuff's probably fine, stick it in the trash." Either designate it as hazardous and deal with it properly as potentially hazardous material, or designate it as not potentially hazardous. The current policy is hypocritical. IF the liquids are, as you say, potentially hazardous, it is monumentally irresponsible to dispose of them incorrectly.

John Cromartie said...

Schneier had a post about how "the BBC has a video demonstration of a 16-ounce bottle of liquid blowing a hole in the side of a plane."

If 16 ounces is all it takes, then that's just 6 3 oz. containers. You can fit quite a few 3 oz. bottles in a quart bag. If screeners will confiscate 16 oz. worth of bottles in one bag, then you can just split the payload between two conspirators who are ostensibly following the rules. A bomb like this could then just be assembled in the lavatory. And since liquids are simply confiscated and thrown away, a terrorist could try this as many times as he likes until he is successful. A tiny bottle bomb could even be set off in the screening area accidentally by a screener tossing it in the trash. Worse would be a 3 oz. biological agent.

The no-liquids policy is security theatre. Why can't we admit that and move on to implementing real vigilance instead?

Zac said...

Great post, loved the comic

TSOWilliamReed said...

Wow what a post, has anybody read all the comments here? Stop and read all these comments and think about it. Half these comments are security is not good enough and the other half is security needs to be less. If security took in for every single little detail (like Mark stated up top) your rights WOULD be taken away and you and everyone else would not be allowed anything on the plane really. If we slack off to the old rules another plane will be rammed into a monument (happened once with those rules it will happen again). So what do we do? Tell me what we can do to make everyone happy and safe without taking away all your rights or putting everyone to sleep medically during their entire flight? Tell me how I can stop people from hiding razor blades, knives, drugs, and explosives inside the soles of their shoes. Half the shoes in the world have to be removed anyways because of steel shanks in the sole. Liquids can NOT be tested properly and fast enough to make up for the amount of traffic. 2 Million people every day that would at least bring 5-6 bottles with them through security each day. That is 10 million bottles of liquid screeners would have to test on top of all the other security you have to go through. Please find me some technology that can do that in the amount of time it would take to allow planes to fly on time that day.

RB said...

TSOWilliamReed said...

Wow what a post, has anybody read all the comments here? Stop and read all these comments and think about it. Tell me how I can stop people from hiding razor blades, knives, drugs, and explosives inside the soles of their shoes.


TSO Reed, tell me what risk do drugs pose to an aircraft and what part of WEI do drugs represent?

Just wondering. You seem to be specifically searching for things exceeding the limited Administrative Search that TSA is authorized to conduct.

Anonymous said...

TSOWilliamReed said:
That is 10 million bottles of liquid screeners would have to test on top of all the other security you have to go through. Please find me some technology that can do that in the amount of time it would take to allow planes to fly on time that day.

Just run the bottles through the x-ray machine. It seems to work for items sold in the stores located in the "Sterile Area". Oh, I forgot, it is all just for show! The TSA wants things both ways. The water sold in stores located in the Sterile Area are not tested, yet allowed. So why not give the same consideration to passenger's water. Once again I forgot, its all about money and the huge fallout you would hear if you did not allow the vendor's water through. Just give up and agree that it is one big joke!

Anonymous said...

"So why not give the same consideration to passenger's water."

They save that for disposal time, when these dangerous, explosive liquids are treated according to what's on their labels. Apparently TSA trash bins are magic trash bins, that turn your secret explosive into harmless shampoo or Pepsi.

Anonymous said...

All you wiseacres are quick to pop off about TSA throwing your liquids away. Boy would I love to see the way this blog would lite up if TSA started testing each and every liquid. Now that I think of it, TSA should start testing all liquids. You know why? Because that is what it would take to make people stop bringing them.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
TSOWilliamReed said:
That is 10 million bottles of liquid screeners would have to test on top of all the other security you have to go through. Please find me some technology that can do that in the amount of time it would take to allow planes to fly on time that day.

Just run the bottles through the x-ray machine. It seems to work for items sold in the stores located in the "Sterile Area". Oh, I forgot, it is all just for show! The TSA wants things both ways. The water sold in stores located in the Sterile Area are not tested, yet allowed. So why not give the same consideration to passenger's water. Once again I forgot, its all about money and the huge fallout you would hear if you did not allow the vendor's water through. Just give up and agree that it is one big joke!

October 28, 2009 12:31 PM
................

Good points.

I was clearing security at DFW. A vendor's employee had 15-20 cases of beverages on a cart.

Went right around security with neither the person or the contents on the cart being screened in any manner.

Of course at DFW handguns and hunting knives can clear security also.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
All you wiseacres are quick to pop off about TSA throwing your liquids away. Boy would I love to see the way this blog would lite up if TSA started testing each and every liquid. Now that I think of it, TSA should start testing all liquids. You know why? Because that is what it would take to make people stop bringing them.

October 28, 2009 1:00 PM
.................
How does TSA test and control all of the liquids that vendors have for sale in the sterile area?

How about the high alcohol content bottles in the airport bars?

How about caustic cleaning agents that housekeeping uses?

Box cutters and such that workers on the flight line have?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said....

Over 7500 handgun murders a year in the US.

Zero shoe bomb murders in the world ever.

October 27, 2009 9:28 PM

******************



Before 9/11 how many planes were hijacked and flown into buildings. It only takes once.

Anonymous said...

TSOWilliamReed said...

... Tell me what we can do to make everyone happy and safe without taking away all your rights or putting everyone to sleep medically during their entire flight?


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

There is not anything you can do to make everyone happy and safe. It is an impossible task to just make everyone 'safe', even if you didn't worry about trampling rights.


Farcical policies like banning non-weapons or traces of antiseptics are what result from attempting to do the impossible.


Safety-wise we'd save more lives if we spent TSA's 6B$/year on ambulances, fire trucks, first-aid training for schoolchildren, or just about any emergency preparedness purpose.
TSA isn't going to make us 'safe' and the damage it does while it attempts to do so is pure waste.

Matthew said...

If you want water on the flight, you can just empty the bottle of water in the toilets (or wherever) and take it through empty and fill it up at a water fountain beyond security.

That has worked at many airports worldwide that I've been to.

And remember that the hassles of airport security do have some advantages like making high speed rail or the bus more attractive than they would otherwise be - which is at least a win for the environment.

Anonymous said...

How does one turn electrical energy into explosive energy? A resistance heater in a pressure vessel: mythbusters water heater rocket

Anonymous said...

Careful, they might stop letting us bring laptops on planes. :)

My question is, what happens if multiple people bring in a 3oz bottle of liquid explosive or if one person has multiple 3oz bottles of the same substance? Can't they theoretically combine it to get a larger quantity?

Also, on a recent flight the lady in front of me had 12" knitting needles. Those can do way more damage to a human being than my Swiss Army knife which I can't bring onto a plane.

Furthermore, I actually did bring that knife onto a plane after forgetting it was in the mesh outer pocket of backpack in plain view of those performing the screening. I guess they were too busy using X-ray to use their eyes.

These rules are obviously created to keep us all in a state of terror and have an excuse to pick on "persons of interest."

Anonymous said...

Recent incident at an a airport.

It was a quiet day with not much traffic at a small airport. Two individuals walked up to the security checkpoint. Me, followed by another man, about my age. He was of Middle Eastern descent.

The guy checking IDs let me through without a problem The man behind me handed him his ID.

"Mohammed, huh? TSA officer [waving another guard over], we have another one over here!" These were the security guard's exact words.

I fail to see how there was anything random about this check. Can you call this anything other than racial profiling?

Naa said...

"If you want water on the flight, you can just empty the bottle of water in the toilets (or wherever) and take it through empty and fill it up at a water fountain beyond security."

I was wondering about that, I haven't flown in 8 years and know the rules have changed so in preparation of my upcoming flight I've been reading through the TSA website to get information so going through the security checkpoint will run smoothly.

One of my questions was water... I'm traveling with 2 children and am a single mother. I'm just a secretary so my budget is tight and I don't want to spend $3+ dollars to get a bottle of water after the checkpoint. So I was wondering if I could take through an empty bottle so we could fill it up in a water fountain but I couldn't find my answer on the website, nor is there a number to call if you have additional questions. Just an email which I'm sure gets thousands a day.

Is there someplace I can call withe questions I have about my trip?

NoClu said...

TSOWilliamReed Said...
" If we slack off to the old rules another plane will be rammed into a monument (happened once with those rules it will happen again)."

Your rules haven't changed the game played since that day. The hardening of cockpit doors, refusal to comply with hijackers and willingness to disrupt the environment (manuvers/passenger interference/Fed Air Marshals) have changed the game.

The hijackers on that day complied with the rules of the day, and would have almost complied with the rules of today.

NoClu said...

TSO WR said...

"Tell me how I can stop people from hiding razor blades, knives, drugs, and explosives inside the soles of their shoes."

Don't worry about the drugs, it's outside of your purview and likely distracts you from your actual mission.

Knives and razor blades don't pose a threat to the flight deck.

How does looking at shoes via xray tell you if there are explosives in them.... oh yea, it doesn't. xray doesn't identify explosives in shoes any better than it identifies explosives molded to fit inside of a laptop, battery charger, camera, or other similarly dense product that you allow on board regularly.

Anonymous said...

I was travelling with my 6-month old baby, my wife and my 55-year old Mom. As we proceeded through the security at Long Island McArthur Airport, my Mom was asked to step aside for pat-search. She doesn't understand english so i stood there to translate for her as she went through the drill. Once that was done, we all moved to a nearby seat to assemble all our stuff back from the x-ray bins, put our shoes on and so on. After 5-minutes or so, a security officer came running towards us - my Mom needs to be screened again, he declared. When asked for the reason, he had no answer at first, just that she needed to be screened again. As i started to get angry and demanded explanation, it came out that the lady who was doing the screening had forgotten to pat my Mom's arm-pits - something that was noted by her supervisor who was standing and observing. The supervisor, it seemed, was smart enough to notice such a 'massive blunder' and had initiated quick corrective measure.

I am generally appreciative of the job that TSA guys are doing but this was the moment when i really want to kick the guy, use a mouthful and what not. As i stood there, angry, worried, confrontational and feeling humilated and demanded to see the supervisor, it was explained to me that supervosr was the one who had asked for the second screening. The pat-search (again) was over in a little over a minute - the lady was apologetic and all that, but it had ruined my vacation not mention, the remainder of the day.

A 55-year old lady, travelling with her grandson, screened by X-ray and pat-screened by an officer must surely be hiding something under her arm-pits to warrant another round of pat-screening. The procedures needs to be followed at all costs. These procedures and actions are definitely making our airports more secure.

TSA's problem is not so much as the lack of technology as the lack of common sense. And no technology can make up for it.

Ranger11 said...

RB said...
The water sold in stores located in the Sterile Area are not tested, yet allowed. So why not give the same consideration to passenger's water. Once again I forgot, its all about money and the huge fallout you would hear if you did not allow the vendor's water through. Just give up and agree that it is one big joke!
------------------------------------------------------------------ You know, you right about the politics and money and the fallout that can be caused by the ports losing vendors and commerce.. The airports need to make money. They do not want to inconvenience the vendors if they do not have to. The vendors are considered trusted because they have all passed a background check and therefore are, as the rest of the airport staff....safe. Do I think this is the best way to do business and keep the airport safe? No...But, one of the things that we as inspectors do is to inspect these vendors and the products that they bring in. It would be great if we could send everything through the checkpoint to be screened so that everyone could see that it is done, it’s just not feasible. At our airport, all vendor items go through inspection and screening. We have a private security company that mans the doors at our loading docks, and they are responsible for screening the items that are coming in to the airport for vendor use. As an inspector, one of my duties is to ensure that they do proper screening as required by the airports security program and that it meets the requirements in the regulations. Nothing comes into our airport that is not screened. One of the issues is that the general public doesn’t see these items being inspected/screened, so they only see that an employee is bringing a case of water through the checkpoint and as far as they know, it has not been screened. I can promise you…in my airport it has. I can’t speak for all airports, but I do know that each and every airport has inspectors that do what I and my colleagues do at our airport. So I can say that just seeing a case of a product going around the checkpoint does not indicate that there hasn’t been an inspection or some form of screening.

jruschme said...

I recently flew from Kansas City (MCI) to Newark and had to wait at the security check behind the crew of my flight. Interestingly, almost every crew member carried a 32oz bottle of water though, in at least one case, the liquid in the botle was clearly not pure water (I assume it was iced tea). At no time were any of the crew members asked about their bottles or forced to surrender them.

In this case, I can almost accept the argument of "Oh, but we can trust the crew", except that they had to got through the rest of the checks that everyone else did, including removing their shoes.

So, if we can't trust the crew not to have a bomb or weapon on their person or carry-on bag, then why can we trust them with 10x the amount of liquid that every other passenger is allowed to carry?

Dunstan said...

Matthew said...
"And remember that the hassles of airport security do have some advantages like making high speed rail or the bus more attractive than they would otherwise be - which is at least a win for the environment."

Amtrak is actively advertising with slogans like:
"Take off your shoes only when YOU want to".
It seems other government travel entities are poking fun at TSA's less popular policies. With this blog recently going after cartoons and a Panic Attack prone woman, it looks to me as though they are "circling the wagons" or just in a state of paranoia and denial.

Anonymous said...

The no-liquids policy is security theatre. Why can't we admit that and move on to implementing real vigilance instead?

October 28, 2009 8:21 AM

I'd like to hear your idea sir. What do you suggest? Or are you just blathering with no substance?

RB said...

Ranger11 said...
RB said...
The water sold in stores located in the Sterile Area are not tested, yet allowed. So why not give the same consideration to passenger's water
.................
Ranger, you have given me credit for something I did not say.

However, sounds like your a TSI.

If so do you have powers of arrest?

Another thread talked about about an airport employee who failed to follow directions of a TSI and ended up in some trouble.

Are TSI's Law Enforcement Officers?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The no-liquids policy is security theatre. Why can't we admit that and move on to implementing real vigilance instead?

October 28, 2009 8:21 AM

I'd like to hear your idea sir. What do you suggest? Or are you just blathering with no substance?

October 28, 2009 9:28 PM


If liquids are truly a threat then I should think anyone bringing in liquids should have the same restrictions as the next person.

A person flying should not be treated differently than a person who works at an airport if liquids are really dangerous and they both have the means to introduce a weapon.

A very simple concept that TSA ignores.

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to be a time-consuming process. I have flown from airports in Japan several times and they have a process for screening liquid, which is very efficient and only takes about two seconds. You put your bottle in a scanner, it scans and indicates a green light if it's ok. You can then take it through the security checkpoint. It's simple, easy, and efficient.

I'm sure it's costly but wouldn't it be worth it to save the sanity and money of the people who are getting their bottles confiscated?

Right after these rules came into effect, I flew without knowing about them and ended up spending nearly $50 to ship several hundred dollars worth of products to myself, so they wouldn't be thrown away. Fortunately for me, I had a friend waiting on the other side of the security checkpoint, so I could give the stuff to him.

Anonymous said...

"A person flying should not be treated differently than a person who works at an airport if liquids are really dangerous and they both have the means to introduce a weapon."

Other than crew, NOBODY is allowed to bring liquids into the sterile area at my airport. Airport employees do not bring personal liquids through. Liquids for the businesses are all screened and inspected. Crew are able to bring what they want, for obvious reasons. If a crew member wanted to take down a plane, they wouldn't need explosives.
As for the question as to why crew still get their bags screened, it's to make sure they aren't bringing any weapons through the checkpoint. If activity did happen on the plane, the FAM, FFDO, or verified LEO should be the only ones with weapons, for the crews safety, and the safety of everyone else on board. Crew are also only required to remove their shoes, if they have metal in them.

The person who had the question about the water bottles. Yes, empty water bottles are allowed through the checkpoint.

Anonymous said...

"How does looking at shoes via xray tell you if there are explosives in them.... oh yea, it doesn't. xray doesn't identify explosives in shoes any better than it identifies explosives molded to fit inside of a laptop, battery charger, camera, or other similarly dense product that you allow on board regularly."

If I can tell if someone has their socks stuffed in their shoes, that is buried under clothes in their suitcase, then I'm certain I can tell if there are explosives in your shoes. Especially since I've been tested numerous times with this method, and I've caught it every time.

Anonymous said...

Putting all the liquids in the same trash can. I'll explain why that's dumb.

The TSA, like the military, is always fighting the last war. A smart terrorist isn't going to fly a plane into a building, he's going to attack the checkpoint itself.

He'll have one water bottle full of bleach, and one full of ammonia. He'll open them before throwing them in the general throw away area for the water bottles. The checkpoint is now being attacked by chlorine gas.

If you don't think the water bottles are dangerous, don't steal them from the passengers. If you do think the water bottles are dangerous, treat them like they're dangerous.

Ranger11 said...

I apologize to you RB for misquoting you. To answer your question, I am a TSI, and we do not have the power to arrest. Our mission is compliance enforcement. In a nutshell, as an inspector, we are tasked with ensuring compliance with Federal Regulations by all entities and individuals who conduct commerce, utilize for the purpose of domestic and international travel, for any purpose, most forms of public transportation. We have Surface, Aviation, and Aviation Cargo Inspectors to cover all these forms of transportation.
While an overwhelming number of inspectors are both former law enforcement and military, (I am both) our main goal is to achieve compliance with the entities we regulate. Within the airport itself that consists of every entity in or on airport property and their employees, i.e., air carriers, vendors, airport employees, contracted employees, and federal and state employees doing business, or traveling through the port. We achieve compliance through civil and criminal sanctions. If necessary to act upon a criminal violation, we would team with our AFSD-LE or law enforcement partners to assist in our investigation. I guess you could say that you might be in a bit of hot water if you were in violation of a regulation and a TSI were to discover that fact. Then, depending on the circumstance, severity, and mitigating factors, you would be facing some type of civil or criminal action. For an airport employee that could range from a warning notice to that employee and to their employer, to a fine to both the employee and their employer, and termination of the employee. Hopefully, there is a way to achieve compliance through counseling and outreach. It doesn’t always work out that way, but ultimately, we just want everyone to follow the rules and be in compliance.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "West, you keep ignoring the point: The lack of a shoe carnival in other countries is, by TSA's and your reasoning, a change to shoe-bombers' benefit. And no one is using shoes to blow up airplanes in countries without a shoe carnival. This is an incontrovertible fact, and it's one you're not willing to admit to."

I have never ignored it, I have admitted that there has been no known use of the method since Reid, and I have also offered you an explanation of why that is not a good reason to ignore a threat that has been proven.

And - "No, West, it's a completely accurate way of looking at it. Shoe screening doesn't matter because no one's trying to blow up planes with shoes. We know this for a fact because we now have three years' and counting's worth of comparative data that show no one is using shoes to blow up airplanes anywhere, regardless of whether or not there's a shoe carnival in airports."

Again, not a reason to ignore a threat vector that is simple and relatively inexpensive.... Unless we are talking about some Bruno's, have you seen what a pair of those cost?

And - "No, West, it's not. The one time it was tried it didn't work. No one has tried to use it anywhere else since then, regardless of whether there's a shoe carnival."

Again, the ONLY reason it didn't work is because the fuse was wet. Nice try, but had the fuse been dry, this would have been a nice little bang, with a yield of at least a couple of passengers injured or probably killed (and himself), at most a hole in the plane and catastrophic failure.

And - "Abject nonsense once again. A gun is dangerous because it's a weapon. Shoes are not dangerous and they are not weapons. And the record proves it: If TSA's shoe carnival was a deterrent to shoe bombings, we'd see shoe bombings in countries that don't have a shoe carnival and we'd have seen shoe bombings between Reid and the mandatory shoe carnival in August 2006.

You know it, I know it, stop lying to us."

Again, a gun is an inanimate object unless acted upon from an outside source. It IS designed as a weapon and in the right hands it is (and in the wrong hands it is even more dangerous), however it requires outside intervention to function as a weapon. I was merely pointing out that the logic you were using was not sound, not that guns can't be dangerous. I will give you this statement "SHOES are not dangerous", that is a completely truthful statement, just like "SHOES with explosives and a fuse in them ARE dangerous".

You are using an unsound circle of thought for this : A is true because of B, B is true because of C so C must equal A right? Wrong. Just because there have not been incidents of shoes being used recently does not mean that they are not a viable threat, it simply means they have not been used recently.

No lies here, facts and opinions. I have the facts, you keep presenting opinions.

West
TSA Blog Team

Luis said...

Just because someone wants to check you out (aka search you) doesn’t mean they want to violate your rights. Just because someone says that you have to submit to a search does not mean that you have to be a bad guy in order to get checked. Just because you think a laptop battery might be more dangerous than a liquid explosive does not mean you are right. I have defended my country in battle and I know that the U.S.A. is full of people who have no idea what dangers exist in this world.

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "West, I understand that at your level you cannot make significant changes to policy."

Holy Cheeze Whiz Batman, RB and I agree 100% on something! That being said, I am glad you realize I am not a policy generating HQ guru. I post here offer opinions and write stuff for the blog team and generally answer questions. I CAN apply the SOP consistently everytime I am at work (which I do), I apply common sense and I do my best to generate that in my coworkers as well. As for policy, I can only offer that which I am given (and allowed to diseminate publicly). I will tell you that access rosters and badge operated doors are a way of life in most government areas. They are industry accepted standards for places that are even more susceptible than the civilian air traffic. If we are going to address the fact that the public interpretation of norms and mores have changed to where access rosters and badge operated doors are not good enough, then it will have to come down from the top. In all honesty, I would suggest that you begin a petition to your senator, congressperson, or other elected officals about this subject if you feel that strongly about it. I can just about guarantee that Bob has read your comments, and others higher up in HQ have read your comments. I actually understand your concerns, and the best information I can give you is to use the elected officals near you to push for reform.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Emma sez - "The "how to bomb stuff better" manual has already been released. Its called the internet. It has the instructions and information needed to construct anything from a pipe bomb to a nuclear bomb. Saying that you're protecting the public by not releasing anything is ridiculous. Its already out there, and we just get frustrated and trust you even less when you refuse to release any kind of evidence that would give credence to your reasons."

Ahhhh, but the Acme Nuke page was taken down last week... But serious, roughly 60% of the pages out there give you basics on how to do something like a pipe bomb, and then don't give you all the little pointers neede to prevent you from blowing yourself up while making it - that is just awesome, the internet, helping Darwin Award candidates accelerate their arrival to the banquet for 15 years now. The others may have it right, but are not US GOVERNMENT pages. I understand that you have some info available, but most people arent going to put the right stuff together based on the Anarchists cookbook. It doesn't make us look less trustworthy, it makes us look responsible.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

TSA's problem is not so much as the lack of technology as the lack of common sense. And no technology can make up for it.

October 28, 2009 6:17 PM

As much as I feel bad about your experience with your mother and everything, theres a problem with the solution you seek. If TSA uses "common sense" to screen harmless everyday passengers, we are essentially telling the same group of terrorists that executed 9/11 how to appear "harmless" and therefore go through less security screening. If you dont think thats how terrorists are thinking in terms of getting onboard planes with their bombs then you are gravely mistaken.
I do wish TSO's were better at communicating with passengers about whats going on during the screening process. Some things that they keep secret dont need to be kept on the down low.

mike said...

This is a good discussion here.We seem to be taking flying to lightly these days.Surely its worth all the hassle and lateness as long as we get to where we want to get to in one piece.

Ed said...

Change is always difficult. it's understandable that people are annoyed by the long lines and the difficult security checks. But I'd rather show up an hour earlier and go through that then have someone hijack my plane trip. plus, TSA has gotten more and more efficient at moving those lines along.

RB said...

I would suggest that you begin a petition to your senator, congressperson, or other elected officals about this subject if you feel that strongly about it. I can just about guarantee that Bob has read your comments, and others higher up in HQ have read your comments. I actually understand your concerns, and the best information I can give you is to use the elected officals near you to push for reform.

West
TSA Blog Team

October 29, 2009 7:21 PM
..................
West, when TA was created they were given a very unique authority to create rules that require no public comment period, oversight by other agencies or even Congress.

If TSA thinks securing the sterile areas of airports is needed they have all the authority today to make the required changes.

It is this lack of acting on a known security lapse that places TSA leadership in a very dangerous position.

They know the sterile area has had numerous security breaches yet have done nothing substantial to secure the sterile area.

In my opinion that leaves those responsible for policy open to many legal charges if something bad happens and the cause was from a sterile area.

I hope nothing happens but if it does and it was enabled by the slack control of the sterile areas I will demand maximum prison time for all TSA Senior Leadership.

They will only have themselves to blame.

RB said...

#2

Bob, Blog Team, TSA Legal Staff, TSA Office of Public Privacy, why are people who refuse screening by WBI being subjected to the most invasive "Enhanced Pat Down" that TSA is authorized to use?
It is clearly published on the TSA web pages for traveler consumption that a person will not be screened by "Enhanced Pat Down" until all available methods have been exhausted to clear an alarm.
So the first requirement for "Enhanced Pat Down" is for an alarm to exist. Is TSA trying to claim that refusing the WBI is an alarm? If so wouldn't people at airports without WBI's need the exact same screening?
Why is TSA discriminating against those people who will not embraced being publicly STRIP SEARCHED?
It seems that TSA wants to hide behind its cloak of secrecy and not address this apparent abuse of the traveling public.

Anonymous said...

Why was my post delete-o-metered? Am I not allowed to flirt with cartoon authors (while maintaining completely kindergarden-safe language)?

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes:

Other than crew, NOBODY is allowed to bring liquids into the sterile area at my airport. Crew are able to bring what they want, for obvious reasons. If a crew member wanted to take down a plane, they wouldn't need explosives.

and then writes:

As for the question as to why crew still get their bags screened, it's to make sure they aren't bringing any weapons through the checkpoint.

Isn't this an obvious contradiction? You trust the crew enough not to screen their liquids for explosives, but not enough so that you have to screen their luggage for weapons?

Anonymous said...

mike said...
This is a good discussion here.We seem to be taking flying to lightly these days.Surely its worth all the hassle and lateness as long as we get to where we want to get to in one piece.

October 29, 2009 8:51 PM


Ed said...
Change is always difficult. it's understandable that people are annoyed by the long lines and the difficult security checks. But I'd rather show up an hour earlier and go through that then have someone hijack my plane trip. plus, TSA has gotten more and more efficient at moving those lines along.

October 30, 2009 12:15 AM

___________________________________

Hmmm. Looks like a few TSOs may be trying to swing the posting trend to make the blog look more favorable to the TSA by posing as the general public.

Unfortunately, their signatures are linking to questionable sites that call to mind their credibility.

Anonymous said...

Blogger GSOLTSO said...

They are industry accepted standards for places that are even more susceptible than the civilian air traffic.

And yet these places that are "more susceptible" don't make you remove your shoes or surrender your liquids..

RB said...

Ed said...
Change is always difficult. it's understandable that people are annoyed by the long lines and the difficult security checks. But I'd rather show up an hour earlier and go through that then have someone hijack my plane trip. plus, TSA has gotten more and more efficient at moving those lines along.

October 30, 2009 12:15 AM

.............
So ED was your post made just to plug your website?

Cockpit doors are locked. How can anyone hijack an airplane?

TSA efficiency could improve greatly if certain procedures that do little or nothing to improve security were dropped.

I would like to see a panel of industry experts not beholding to TSA review all procedures TSA uses and determine which ones move security forward and those which do not improve security.

TSA's answer of trust us is just not good enough.

Phil said...

In response to an anonymous comment:

"No, West, it's a completely accurate way of looking at it. Shoe screening doesn't matter because no one's trying to blow up planes with shoes. We know this for a fact because we now have three years' and counting's worth of comparative data that show no one is using shoes to blow up airplanes anywhere, regardless of whether or not there's a shoe carnival in airports."

TSA blogger GSOLTSO West wrote:

"Again, not a reason to ignore a threat vector that is simple and relatively inexpensive.... Unless we are talking about some Bruno's, have you seen what a pair of those cost?"

West, what's the reason for ignoring the threat vectors that are armpits, rectums, mouths, pants pockets, and all the other places that someone could hide anything that fits in the sole of a shoe?

Also, surely you'll admit that there is great cost to the cumulative time lost due to removal and X-raying of every single pair of shoes worn by commercial airline passengers.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

"As much as I feel bad about your experience with your mother and everything, theres a problem with the solution you seek."

I am not seeking any solution. I didn't file any complaints either, and am sure there are much worse tales where complaints are not filed either. I was only lamenting at a lack of common-sense and indeed, if common sense, presence of mind and all were not needed, we had rather have robots do the work than robot-like humans who are not only prone to more errors but also cost me much more tax-dollars.

Just to reiterate on my issue with the TSA - I had no problem with the fact that my Mom, a 55-year old lady, was already through X-ray screening and the secondary pat-search screening. As much as the pat-search was an ugly spectacle and as much as i believe that old and aged people deserve better, that was not a problem. The problem was a 'third screening' after we had already already been through all the security stuff and were busy getting ready for the journey ahead. And that too because the officer doing the pat-search had 'missed out patting the arm-pits' and an overzealous supervisor decided to make an example out of the erring officer. This borders on being ridiculous even if one were to take out the inconvenience, the frustration and the overall loss of any sense of dignity whatsoever. If i were the suprevisor, i would simply make a point to my officer "Hey, you missed out patting that lady's arm-pit. Let that not happen again" instead of sending someone running to catch her and bring her back for one more round of pat-screening.

As for "If TSA uses "common sense" to screen harmless everyday passengers, we are essentially telling the same group of terrorists that executed 9/11 how to appear "harmless" and therefore go through less security screening.", you have either misunderstood or misquoted the context of my "common sense" reference. I did not advocate that anyone appearing harmless should go through less security - that would be ridiculous. But i do think that if someone has already completed the security drill and if you have as much as forgotten to pat the person's armpit or hair or such areas and they have already left, you shouldn't go running after them. Especially, if the person is an old lady with grey hairs and is travelling with her 6-month old grandson. That's common sense. No terrorist is gonna plot an attack assuming he is gonna be pat-screened and the officer will forget to check certain areas of his body which are part of the standard procedure.

I am sure many others have similar experiences where what was lacking was a mere common sense - nothing more. It was only a 5-minute ordeal but it was enough to cause damage at so many places.

Finally, if we have compromised on our basic human values - respect and dignity included, terrorists have already won.

Anonymous said...

"I have never ignored it, I have admitted that there has been no known use of the method since Reid, and I have also offered you an explanation of why that is not a good reason to ignore a threat that has been proven."

No, West, you haven't. You've offered wild speculation with no basis in fact that ignores the incontrovertible fact that no one since Reid has ever tried to harm an aircraft with a shoe-based delivery vehicle anywhere in the world, regardless of what screening protocol is or is not used.

"Again, not a reason to ignore a threat vector that is simple and relatively inexpensive."

So simple and inexpensive that no one anywhere has ever tried to use it since Reid!

"Again, the ONLY reason it didn't work is because the fuse was wet. Nice try, but had the fuse been dry, this would have been a nice little bang, with a yield of at least a couple of passengers injured or probably killed (and himself), at most a hole in the plane and catastrophic failure."

So?

It didn't happen. And since then, no one anywhere in the world has tried to use shoes to harm aircraft, regardless of screening protocols. And yet TSA persists in its shoe carnival in an ongoing hysterical overreaction to a risk that is infinitesimal at best.


"Again, a gun is an inanimate object unless acted upon from an outside source. It IS designed as a weapon and in the right hands it is (and in the wrong hands it is even more dangerous), however it requires outside intervention to function as a weapon."

Which is a very long-winded way for you to tapdance around the incontrovertible fact that guns are weapons and shoes are not.

"I will give you this statement "SHOES are not dangerous", that is a completely truthful statement, just like "SHOES with explosives and a fuse in them ARE dangerous".

And yet, no one anywhere has tried to harm an aircraft with shoes with explosives and a fuse in them since Reid, regardless of screening protocol.

"You are using an unsound circle of thought for this : A is true because of B, B is true because of C so C must equal A right? Wrong. Just because there have not been incidents of shoes being used recently does not mean that they are not a viable threat, it simply means they have not been used recently."

No, West. Reid was almost eight years ago. No attempts have taken place anywhere else since then. I know you like to get yourself all worked up trying to explain this away, but it is an incontrovertible fact that no one anywhere has tried to use a shoe bomb to harm a flight since then, and that screening has nothing to do with this because there's no real threat to deter. It would be much simpler for you to admit this fact, instead of lying again and again and again about it.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Why was my post delete-o-metered? Am I not allowed to flirt with cartoon authors (while maintaining completely kindergarden-safe language)?

October 30, 2009 9:31 AM
............
Simple answer.

TSA does not believe in the United States Constitution or the provision for Free Speech.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bob and TSA,

Care to comment on the article saying that terahertz waves like those used in your MMW virtual-strip-search machines destroy DNA in some cells?

http://tinyurl.com/yha2xqc

Not only are you stripping us of our dignity and violating our privacy, but you may be destroying our cells and giving us cancer.

So much for MMW being "entirely safe" and totally noncontroversial from a safety standpoint.

Perhaps you should add a large pictograph warning sign near the strip search machines explaining this risk. You can start with the universal cancer-risk sign ( http://tinyurl.com/yzjg4uc ) and the universal radiation-warning sign, and then you can add a skull-and-crossbones for those who might not immediately get it.

We should not have to "voluntarily" subject ourselves to unnecessary potentially-dangerous radiation exposure in order to exercise our liberties and travel by commercial air.

From the article:


Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they've found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That's a jaw dropping conclusion.

And it also explains why the evidence has been so hard to garner. Ordinary resonant effects are not powerful enough to do do this kind of damage but nonlinear resonances can. These nonlinear instabilities are much less likely to form which explains why the character of THz genotoxic
effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic, say the team.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"Liquids for the businesses are all screened and inspected."

How do you screen/inspect the liquids?

Is this screening method effective?

If so, is it used at the checkpoints too? If not, why?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said:

"Liquids for the businesses are all screened and inspected."

How do you screen/inspect the liquids?

Is this screening method effective?

If so, is it used at the checkpoints too? If not, why?

October 30, 2009 2:11 PM
................
Good questions.

So it seems we have TSA claiming that they do have the technology to screen all the liquids of commercial concerns but do not have the technoloy to screen the liquids of citizens who pay a security tax to the government when purchasing a ticket to fly.

Perhaps the wrong people are being taxed for TSA services.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a detailed response to this person's concerns: http://www.hlswatch.com/2009/10/15/. Specifically, is there a right to refuse a search? Are TSA agents properly trained for a full-body pat-down?

GSOLTSO said...

Phil sez - "West, what's the reason for ignoring the threat vectors that are armpits, rectums, mouths, pants pockets, and all the other places that someone could hide anything that fits in the sole of a shoe?

Also, surely you'll admit that there is great cost to the cumulative time lost due to removal and X-raying of every single pair of shoes worn by commercial airline passengers."

Phil, I have been over that before, I have nothing on that other than the best tech we have that screens some of the areas you mention is WBI. It allows the entire outside of a person to be screened without placing hands on them. Internal screening is just not possible at this time. Again, I would love to have a machine that screens and alerts only on threat items, but that is not a reality at this time and the best we can do is follow the screening protocols we have.

The shoe screening for most people (some have trouble removing them, and require additional time) is not much more time consuming than taking the laptop out of a bag. I would venture to say that based on my personal observations, roughly 60% of the people coming through have their shoes off before they even get to the tables in front of the xray. I understand that it is an inconvenience, I do it when I fly. However it removes the chance of that method being used against aircraft.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"It's not just that shoes haven't "been used in a while," it's that no one, anywhere, is using shoes to harm aircraft, regardless of whether or how shoes are screened."

TSA: Again, the lack of use is not a good reason to stop screening for something. It is a commonly used tactic to lull the opponent into a false sense of security, and then use it later when things have changed to your benefit.


That assumes you only have one shadowy adversary (Al'queda I guess), and that no copy-cats are going to ruin the plan.

Terrorism was rare before the 9/11 attacks, and has been rare after the 9/11 attacks.

I avoided saying it in my post that didn't get past the censors, but you should investigate whether or not the security measures kill more people than they save. You can do this by studying the number of passenger deaths per million before and after the measures were put in place. Be sure to include deaths that occur in airports (in the "sterile area", not just on airplanes.

Dan Dubli said...

This cartoon is hilarious. I went through the same ordeal at Detroit Metro Airport. thanks for posting this.

Bob Hanssen said...

Anonymous said (October 30, 2009 10:28 AM):

Hmmm. Looks like a few TSOs may be trying to swing the posting trend to make the blog look more favorable to the TSA by posing as the general public.

Unfortunately, their signatures are linking to questionable sites that call to mind their credibility.

******************
It's pretty obvious that this is occurring. Many "different" posters use the same (usually bad) sentence structure and incorrect use of common words. Many "different" posters keep misspelling the same words.

With so many self-proclaimed law enforcement and security "professionals" at the TSA and on this blog, one would think they would do a better job concealing their multiple identities.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blog Mods,

"He'll have one water bottle full of bleach, and one full of ammonia. He'll open them before throwing them in the general throw away area for the water bottles. The checkpoint is now being attacked by chlorine gas."

Thank you for posting things like this so that perhaps someone who didn't already know this basic chemistry lesson now would. Sort of like the guy who was encouraging people to bring their haz-mat to the checkpoint for free disposal, not every little thing has to be posted.

Your comment policy should be updated to take into consideration the spreading of anarchistic ideas or this blog may end up being used against you.

Anonymous said...

Jim:

If you read the rest of my post, it explains why we screen crew bags.

You wrote:

Isn't this an obvious contradiction? You trust the crew enough not to screen their liquids for explosives, but not enough so that you have to screen their luggage for weapons?

We screen their luggage for weapons, because if something were to happen on the plane, and a crew member had a weapon, though their intentions may be good, to defend the plane would put themselves and passengers in danger. THAT is why only authorized personnel such as FAMS, and FFDO's are the only ones allowed to bring any type of weapon on board. They have the proper training to handle such situations.
We aren't worried about crew bringing explosives though, for obvious reasons. If crew wanted to do harm to the plane, they wouldn't need explosives.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"Liquids for the businesses are all screened and inspected."

How do you screen/inspect the liquids?

Is this screening method effective?

If so, is it used at the checkpoints too? If not, why?


At my airport we have special checkpoints set up just for vendors. We use the large x-rays that are used for screening checked luggage to screen all their liquids. There is also additional searches and inspections done on the cargo trucks bringing the products in, before the liquids even reach the vendor checkpoints.
The reason this technology is not used for passenger screening, is because the size of the machines. If we were to fill every checkpoint with these x-ray machines we would have less than half the ammount of x-rays we do now, thus creating an even longer wait time than there is now, and a whole lot less space for passengers and TSA alike.

Anonymous said...

"Again, the ONLY reason it didn't work is because the fuse was wet. Nice try, but had the fuse been dry, this would have been a nice little bang, with a yield of at least a couple of passengers injured or probably killed (and himself), at most a hole in the plane and catastrophic failure."

"So?"

Wow! What a heartless response!

I find the whole shoe bomb discussion silly. HE GOT THE EXPLOSIVES ONTO THE PLANE!!! And that's NOT good enough for you?!? I dismiss your idea that "no one has tried it again, so let's let them by NOT screening shoes". There are enough holes in security. Let's not open one that has been plugged.

Now as for the liquids...

Anonymous said...

"Also, surely you'll admit that there is great cost to the cumulative time lost due to removal and X-raying of every single pair of shoes worn by commercial airline passengers."

Yeah, about 30 seconds from when I walk through the metal dector to when I gather my items and go to my plane, if I get everything right. Now if the rest of my trip was this quick, flying might be fun again...

Anonymous said...

Anon said… ”Reid was almost eight years ago. No attempts have taken place anywhere else since then… it is an incontrovertible fact that no one anywhere has tried to use a shoe bomb to harm a flight since then, and that screening has nothing to do with this because there's no real threat to deter.”

It is also an incontrovertible fact that no one has tried to drop a nuclear device from a plane on to another country since the U.S.A. bombed Japan. Does this mean that nuclear controls have nothing to do with this because there is no real threat to deter?

Anonymous said...

Eric G. said...
You said: "When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it."

How about a non-time-consuming test: Let the passenger DRINK SOME.

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

A suicide bomber isn't going to care if they have to drink dubiously poisonous liquid explosives to get on the airplane.

Mekhong Kurt said...

Bob, I mostly just wanted to make a general comment after being reminded by a couple of articles I just read online about TSA's blog (and complimenting it). Since there's not a "general comments" section inlinked to a particular entry, I'm sticking this here, the top of your current entries.

I occasionally read this blog, and is it ever a breath of fresh air. Though I'm American, I live abroad, but when I do travel there (as I will be in 2-3 weeks), I check the blog for any late developments.

The precious limited interaction I've had with TSA officers has been great. Oh, one guy was having a bad day, but another officer called him on it, and he immediately apologized and added that the previous five passengers immediately before me had all hollered at him before they even got to him. His job was to check computers, at least in part, so he was inside the check area, not right at the entrance, which I guess is why the other officer, who had done the initial screening then routed me to have my computer checked, told him to calm down. I was impressed by the professionalism of BOTH officers, in a way especially the guy who initially hassled me: he readily apologized, explained what was going on -- and walked me to my aircraft. What more could I ask for? Nice guy. (That was at LAX, if it matters, back in 2004.)

You have a good writing style, too -- I'm a writer, and used to teach writing in university, so I always appreciate someone who wields a skillful pen! So to speak, that is . . .

jruschme said...

Okay... I think I'm almost getting the logic here...

We can basically trust the crew not to bring in dangerous liquids because, well, they are the crew and could much more easily cause havoc with the plane itself. They have to have their bags screened for weapons, though, because, in the event of an incident, we don't want Flight Attendant Smith or Captain Jones pulling out a gun and either shooting the wrong person or having it taken by the bad guys. (Sounds a bit like a gun control argument.)

As for the average traveller, we can't trust that a bottle of water really contains water. Testing of every liquid is impractical/impossible and the "drink it" test won't work for many liquids and probably wouldn't bother a suicide bomber, anyway.

Liquids available in the safe zone are apparently screened/inspected. Likely, though, this is more of a trusted supply chain augmented with some kind of random checks.

This leaves one question- disposal at the checkpoint. The issue, as others have pointed out, is that the policy assumes a hazard, but the actual disposal method assumes that such as hazard does not exist. Personally, I'm surprised that there hasn't already been an incident with the inadvertent mixing of disposed liquids; not necessarily the chlorine/ammonia scenario someone posited, but perhaps more of a Diet Coke/Mentos one.

RB said...

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10128.pdf

Seems while TSA is out using every PAO trick to convince people that TSA does no wrong the GAO once again sees TSA in a different light.

per the GAO report in part,

"According to TSA officials, the strategic plan and its underlying strategy for the Passenger Screening Program were developed using risk information, such as threat information. However, the strategic plan and its underlying strategy do not reflect some of the key risk management principles set forth in DHS’s National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), such as conducting a risk assessment based on the three elements of risk—threat, vulnerability, and consequence—and developing a cost-benefit analysis and performance measures."

What this means is that TSA has rolled out various things without doing their required homework.

Puffers, WBI Strip Search Machines and even Gate Gropes and other itmes have not been properly implemented by TSA.

Is it any wonder why people who fly find TSA so lacking?

Mark said...

Anonymous said...
Hmmm. Looks like a few TSOs may be trying to swing the posting trend to make the blog look more favorable to the TSA by posing as the general public.

Unfortunately, their signatures are linking to questionable sites that call to mind their credibility.


Be that as it may (No more blackheads dot com? Seriously now...) What Ed said is pretty true. I remember the lines for security being as long as the lines for checking baggage in, and taking just about as long to move through. Nowadays when I fly (and in recent months, I've flown pretty frequently) I'm usually at the ID-check portion of the process in 1 to 2 minutes, if that. If anything, I just feel rushed when I'm getting my X-ray'd stuff off the belt, 'cause I tend to have a lot of separate items in there. Maybe a little side-spot to scoot over to so you can get all your personal effects on while not blocking the way for others would be an improvement.

Jared Bartimus said...

I am pretty sure this has been posted before but I will get into a little more detail.

Laptop batteries (as an example) from manufacturers usually have a 6 or 9 cell option. What is to stop someone from using the 9 cell case, putting only 6 working cells in it and then filling the 3 others with their choice of explosive?

Also, how much of a difference in appearance is there on a scanner between the contents of a lithium polymer battery and a plastic explosive?

Finally, There are many other substances that can be used to cause significant damage to a plane. I know the security personnel cannot eliminate all of them even if they fully searched every individual who was on the plane (surgically implanted explosives maybe?).

Sooner or later someone is going to fill what looks like a camera lens (they have some big ones and many photographers will only take them as carry on due to their value) with pressurized oxyhydrogen gas.

Anonymous said...

As if you ppl weren't paying attention as usual. TSA does not make the rules they just enforce them. Write your congressman if you want something changed. Why beat up the ppl that have to enforce the rules instead of the ones making the rules.

Isaac Newton said...

Lynn said:

And we are working with the technology industry to come up with an algorithm that will allow us to screen all liquids with existing Advanced Technology x-ray machines so the baggie and 3.4 ounce limits will go away.
__
Lynn, do you know what an algorithm is, or is it just meant to sound scientific?

Still waiting for an answer as to why this technology is always a year away. Last year at about this time, Bob promised here on the blog that by "Fall 2009" the liquid restrictions could be eased due to "new technology."

As others have pointed out, technology to screen liquids has been deployed in other countries for some time, so why it is so hard for TSA to do?

Anonymous said...

I believe the technology is there to screen liquids, but for buisnesses i believe it is a different process than for passengers. why? i dont know, maybe buisnesses have their products screened at a time when no passangers are their, if there is technology to scree mass amounts of liquids it should be used in the checkpoint as well

HIFU said...

sometime you have to take a grain of salt with some of this stuff. thanks for the rebuttal.

Craig said...

(snip)
"When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it. We’re developing the proper technology to allow us to expedite the screening of all liquids, but in the meantime, to screen everybody’s various types of liquids over 3.4 oz. would cause gridlock at the checkpoints."
(snip)


Unless you are Britney Spears in which case you can take your Big Gulp right through...

http://www.tmz.com/2009/11/03/britney-spears-tsa-security-drink-soda-video/

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