Friday, October 21, 2011

TSA Week In Review: Loaded Guns & Landmines

Landmines Found at SLC
Landmines Found at SLC
Yes, you read the title correctly. Landmines… TSA officers found in checked baggage at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) after our Explosive Detection System alarmed. SLC Explosive Ordnance Disposal arrived on the scene and determined the mines were inert. After all was said and done, all checked bags from that area had to be rerouted to other baggage systems and four flights were delayed 19 minutes.

Unloaded firearms, firearm parts, ammunition, stun guns, brass knuckles, assorted knives of all sizes and types, a collapsible baton, fraudulent IDs, nunchucks, and yet another darn replica grenade were among items found around the nation by our officers in passenger’s carry-on bags this past week.

King Midas in Reverse traveled through Newport News Williamsburg International Airport this past Thursday with a brick of gold that had ‘$10,000,000.00’ stamped on it. The police responded and while the gold was fake, the warrant against the individual was 100% authentic. The real fugitive, and his fake gold, were taken into custody by law enforcement.

This past Wednesday, a Transportation Security Officer's search of a suspicious bag at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport's C-Pier checkpoint yielded five credit cards and an additional driver's license... all belonging to different people, none of which belonged to the passenger. TSA contacted the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, who took the individual into custody.

In another incident, a passenger at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was placed under arrest after he got a little tipsy and was heard saying he was going to bring a bomb onboard the aircraft.

It’s no secret that we find drugs and concealed cash nearly every day. We find them both during baggage checks and also during screening with advanced imaging technology (aka body scanners). We’re not looking for drugs and cash, but they show up as anomalies in the same exact places where explosives could be hidden. That’s why these finds are significant. It shows that our technology and procedures work.  Just this week at Westchester County Airport (HPN), a large mass was detected in a carry-on bag. After a bag search, a false bottom was located in the bag where over $50,000.00 of cash was bundled. Each bundle was wrapped in cellophane and a cloth that had been soaked in an unknown fragrant substance. The passenger’s ID was fraudulent and they were arrested by the Westchester County Police on state charges.

The TSA Week In Review appeared in a New York Times Editorial titled: Check-In at Dodge City. Also, a reader of the York Daily Record wrote a letter to the editor stating that they believe that “overall, the negative reviews of TSA are unwarranted.” Thanks for the kind words!

Dr. Emma Garrison-Alexander, TSA’s Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator for Information Technology, was recognized earlier this week with the United States Government Information Security Leadership Award (GISLA), presented by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)². Great job!

Our officers found 22 loaded firearms since I posted last Friday in carry-on baggage. And 1 one on a passenger! (Not counting the unloaded and replica firearms we found). Here is a rundown of the loaded weapons we kept off of airplanes this week:
  • 10-14: TSA Officer at SAT detects a loaded .22 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-15: TSA Officer at CLL detects a loaded .45 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-15: TSA Officer at MCI detects a loaded .9mm pistol.
  • 10-15: TSA Officer at ATL detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-16: TSA Officer at CLT detects a loaded .38 pistol.
  • 10-16: TSA Officer at OKC detects a loaded  9mm pistol.
  •  10-16: TSA Officer at PHX detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-17: TSA Officer at BNA detects a loaded .45 pistol. 
  • 10-17: TSA Officer at BUR detects a loaded .38 pistol. 
  • 10-17: TSA Officer at MCO detects a loaded 9mm pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-18: TSA Officer at BNA detects a loaded .380 pistol. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at LAW detects a loaded .357 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at PHX detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at PHX detects a loaded .38 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at FMN detects a loaded 9mm pistol.
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at LIT detects a loaded .380 pistol. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at SAV detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at IAD detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at TUL detects a loaded .38 pistol. 
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at LIT detects a loaded .38 pistol.
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at ATL detects a loaded 9mm pistol. 
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at MEM detects a loaded .38 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-20: One passenger at DFW took it to the extreme. In the passenger’s back pack, a duffle bag and a sleeping bag, a TSO found two unloaded pistols, (.380 & 9mm) 8 knives of varying blade lengths with seven inches being the longest blade, a saw, and three ammo magazines.   
  • 10-20: After alarming the walk through the metal detector at HSV, a passenger immediately remembered he had a loaded .22 Derringer in his pocket.  
Multiple Items Found At DFW From One Passenger
Multiple Items Found At DFW From One Passenger
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms.

Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to check your bags before you leave.

We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

85 comments:

Randy said...

Re: "We’re not looking for drugs and cash, but they show up as anomalies in the same exact places where explosives could be hidden. That’s why these finds are significant. It shows that our technology and procedures work."

Huh? Your technology is looking for explosives, but finds cash. I'd call that *not* working.

Is it illegal to hide cash in my bag?

Curious,
Randy

Dropcrate.com said...

Sure it's great that you caught the guy with $50,000 in cash but you FAILED to catch his fake ID? Did I miss something here? You scanned his bag which means that he already passed the ID checkpoint and if he didn't have the cash he could have boarded the plane. if he could bypass your system why can't a terrorist also use a fake ID? And if it's so easy to just use a fake ID then what's the point of the Watch List?

Nadav said...

As hilarious as I find these Friday posts, I think that some of the findings are just tests for the TSA. Landmines? It really looks like someone is trying to test the TSOs.

The rest of the items are just, as usual, ignorance (the guns) and bad luck (stolen cards and license).

People should have realized by now that an airport is the last place to hide from the authorities.

Nadav

Anonymous said...

I followed the link sent in the TSA Week in Review email. There appears to be a strange formatting issue with this Blog post and the middle section (the list of found items) appears to be in a different language, perhaps Greek?? I refreshed the page and it still shows up with that middle section in a different font/language.

Anonymous said...

If, like you say, you are not looking for drugs, why are you using drug-sniffing dogs at the TSA checkpoints in Tennessee?

GSOLTSO said...

Randy sez - "Huh? Your technology is looking for explosives, but finds cash. I'd call that *not* working.

Is it illegal to hide cash in my bag?"

This is a common statement or (usually) question that I get from friends. The xray alarms on things that are anomalies - while explosives are not cash, there can be a similar type of anomaly on the xray. When the xray shows something that could be a threat, it has to be cleared - hence the finding of the cash mentioned previously.

Just to clarify, it is not illegal to have cash in your bag, although there are certain reporting requirements for carrying over $10,000 in American currency with you out of the country, see herre for more information on that :

This link is for the form - #105

http://www.fincen.gov/forms/bsa_forms/

The statute governing form #105 is located here (PDF warning):

http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/frn/pdf/cmirforms60-day.pdf

I hope this helps a bit!

West
TSA Blog team

Anonymous said...

And still not a word about the TSO who illegally brought a loaded gun past the checkpoint.

buy guaranteed twitter followers said...

@Randy

Yes its illegal to carry cash over 10.000$ unless you register it with the authorities.

Ron said...

How many passengers and crew were harmed by use of such weapons in all the years before passenger inspection in the US? There may have been a few, but I don't recall any. Perhaps the money we spend on this stuff could save more lives in other activities.

RB said...

Just to clarify, it is not illegal to have cash in your bag, although there are certain reporting requirements for carrying over $10,000 in American currency with you out of the country, see herre for more information on that :

This link is for the form - #105

http://www.fincen.gov/forms/bsa_forms/

The statute governing form #105 is located here (PDF warning):

http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/frn/pdf/cmirforms60-day.pdf

I hope this helps a bit!

West
TSA Blog team

October 21, 2011 7:33 PM
................

Exactly what is TSA's role in completion or none completion of FINCEN Form 105?


Again noticed that TSA forgot to mention the TSA employee arrested on Child Porn charges, and it is important since TSA screeners seem to think feeling up people is somehow a security function.

Bob also seems to have forgot mentioning again the TSA employee who took his firearm to work. Or is that one of the line items in this post?

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
The xray alarms on things that are anomalies - while explosives are not cash, there can be a similar type of anomaly on the xray.

And you don't see anything wrong about a perfectly safe thing causing the same "anomaly" as a very dangerous thing??

Explosives should alarm. A wad of cash should not. If a wad of cash does alarm, it's a False Positive.

False Positives are dangerous because they lull the testers (the TSA screeners) into a false sense of security- "Oh, the thing alarmed again. Probably another guy with a wad of bills in his pocket. I'll just let him go through..." There is a trick burglars use- they set of an alarm over and over until the cops don't bother to respond anymore... then they break into the house.

See False positive paradox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_positive_paradox).

The only way I see this (the TSA not doing something about the False Positives) making sense is the TSA is using its 4th Amendment-ignoring abilities to run searches for the DEA, Customs, cops, etc.

So, Bob, is it true the TSA is pimping itself out?

a. h. said...

Why is travelling with a fake gold brick a reason for arrest?

I would genuinely like to know. That brick could just easily have been my son's playtoy?

Anonymous said...

Why were police called about the fake gold bar? Last I checked, traveling with gold is not illegal.

Anonymous said...

How many of these were detected using wholw body imaging?

Stop virtually stip-searching using ionizing radiation.

Adrian said...

There's so much wrong here that it's hard to know where to start. Let's try King Midas. Bob writes:

King Midas in Reverse traveled through Newport News Williamsburg International Airport this past Thursday with a brick of gold that had ‘$10,000,000.00’ stamped on it. The police responded and while the gold was fake, the warrant against the individual was 100% authentic. The real fugitive, and his fake gold, were taken into custody by law enforcement.

The big question here is why was law enforcement involved? Are bricks prohibited items? The TSA is being a little stingy with the facts here.

And for those of you who think the end justifies the means, the would-be passenger was released the next day with the fugitive charge dismissed by court order. So it's not like the dragnet run by the TSA caught an actual bad guy.

http://www.dailypress.com/news/traffic/dp-nws-tsa-arrest-20111021,0,699068.story

So how exactly did the TSA make us all safer by hassling this guy?

Adrian said...

Potential threats detected by ID checks: 0.

Potential threats detected by removing shoes: 0.

Potential threats detected by banning liquids: 0.

Potential threats detected by whole-body imagers: 0.

Potential threats detected by screening checked baggage: at least 1.

Potential threats detected by good old fashioned metal detectors and carry-on x-ray machines (a.k.a., pre-TSA screening procedures): 22 loaded firearms plus assorted other weapons.

Adrian said...

We’re not looking for drugs and cash, but they show up as anomalies in the same exact places where explosives could be hidden. That’s why these finds are significant. It shows that our technology and procedures work.

This is faulty reasoning. The procedures and technologies are intended to find potential threats--banned items like weapons. Thus the only reasonable definition of "work" is the degree to which the procedures and technology finds these threats while minimizing false positives. (Last time you gave us data, you were still finding a relatively small percentage of the weapons going into the checkpoint, despite all the false positives.)

Finding somebody's emergency cash hidden in their waistband does not prove that you would have found a weapon. In fact, by exposing a passenger's hidden cash, you're actually making them a tiny bit less secure.

What these weekly stats actually demonstrates is that the deterrent power of your technologies and procedures is pretty weak. If the occasional drug bust and disclosed cash stash are proof that you can find items hidden on a person or in their carry-ons, then why are twenty-some passengers a week still trying to bring a loaded firearm through the checkpoint? Either they truly did forget they were carrying, or they believed they could get away with it. (Or it was undercover officers testing the TSA's effectiveness.)

Adrian said...

Just this week at Westchester County Airport (HPN), a large mass was detected in a carry-on bag. After a bag search, a false bottom was located in the bag where over $50,000.00 of cash was bundled. Each bundle was wrapped in cellophane and a cloth that had been soaked in an unknown fragrant substance. The passenger’s ID was fraudulent and they were arrested by the Westchester County Police on state charges.

This can't be the whole story, and I'm having trouble finding a corroborating news article. (My searches keep turning up the TSO indicted for his/her alleged role as part of a drug ring.)

If the passenger had fake ID, then it seems it should have been detected by the document checker. In that case, the passenger should have been handed over to law enforcement, and the TSA would have no reason to inspect the bag.

If the document checker didn't detect that the ID was fake, then, once the alarm was resolved as a large bundle of cash, the passenger should have been cleared and allowed to fly. The TSA would not have cause at this point to refer the passenger to law enforcement.

Traveling with a large bundle of cash is perfectly legal. (Yes, you have to declare more than $10k for international flights, but the TSA checkpoint is not where the declaration is made, so there's no way for the TSA to know or believe that that passenger had failed to comply.) Concealing the cash is also not a crime and, in fact, is a smart thing to do from a security perspective.

So what really happened?

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO, but it is not your agency's responsibility to enforce the financial reporting of transporting more than $10,000.

myflight said...

people need to stop with the same stupid questions. The technology TSA uses, detects anomalies on the body(this is why you are asked to remove everything from your pockets and remove belt) if the individual viewing the body images sees something not suppose to be attached to the body, then they will call for a search.

They are not targeting money or drugs, but if something is attached to the body it needs to be cleared.whether it be explosives,weapons,drugs,ect the person viewing cannot tell, they just kno something is on the body that isnt suppose to be there.

you dont like it fine, but stop repeating the same questions and statements. it gets old.

Matt said...

You guys have a lot of people upset at you judging by the posts here. Please stop patting yourselves on the back.

The TSA claims that the same procedures that find bombs coincidentally find money and drugs. So this is proof that these search techniques are affective? Anyone with a brain knows that a lot of money and drugs make it thru our airports, so does that mean that bombs make it thru equally as well given that the same detection techniques are used?

Phil said...

I'm curious - why would the police need to respond to a fake gold brick? Or for that matter, a real one?

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "And you don't see anything wrong about a perfectly safe thing causing the same "anomaly" as a very dangerous thing??"

I used the wrong term by stating "alarm". Many of the newer generation xrays have alarms systems incorporated in their software systems, but the older ones do not. I should have phraased it better with "when an xray operator sees an anomaly on the screen, it can be a very similar anomaly". Many times there are too many items in a bag to clear the bag, many times there are items in the bag that look like something they are not - that is the reason for calling a bag check on items that can not be cleared by looking at the xray screen. The bag check is to determine whether the item of interest is something "bad" or something that can go. There is no alarm process with many of the xray systems used, merely observing the image produced, and determining whther there is a threat item in the bag. During that process, some items may not be cleared and have to be checked. I hope this clarifies the process a bit better for you.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "GSOLTSO, but it is not your agency's responsibility to enforce the financial reporting of transporting more than $10,000."

I was not commenting on TSAs responsibilities with regard to large amounts of cash, simply giving the information about the requirement to declare required by the US Treasury.

The TSA.gov page containing the statement about traveling with large amounts of cash is here:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/customer/editorial_1029.shtm

The blog here did a thread about traveling with large amounts of cash back in 2009 here :

http://blog.tsa.gov/2009/04/traveling-with-large-amounts-of-cash.html

I hope those links help to clarify TSAs position on traveling with cash.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
I should have phraased it better with "when an xray operator sees an anomaly on the screen, it can be a very similar anomaly".

Fine. I still think that translates into 'Our screeners are [I'll be nice and rephrase what I originally put here] insufficiently trained', but- Whatever.

That raises the question of WHY the TSA is using detection technologies that... don't really detect things. I mean, metal detectors detect metal. Explosive sniffers detect explosives. Full body scanners... detect dollar bills in people's pockets. What's the point?

And, that raises another question- WHY is the TSA involving other agencies? It doesn't matter WHAT the 'anomaly' is, unless it poses a threat to air safety (that is what your mission is, Right?) It's none of your business why I have $10,000 in my pocket- it's not a threat to air safety, get out of my way and let me board my plane!!

1amwendy said...

Guns cannot take down aircraft as long as the cockpit door is secured. I for one would rather have guns on airplanes than stand for the current TSA assaults on travelers. And as for knives... Really?

If I am quite willing to eat lunch at a restaurant that seats 200 or so patrons, some of which may very well have CCW licenses,and not freak out for my safety I am quite willing to do the same on an airplane.

Anonymous said...

"King Midas in Reverse traveled through Newport News Williamsburg International Airport this past Thursday with a brick of gold that had ‘$10,000,000.00’ stamped on it. The police responded and...the gold was fake."

This makes no sense. Why would you call the police on someone who has a fake brick of gold with $10,000,000.00 stamped on it?

That's not a rhetorical question. I would like an answer.

Anonymous said...

Hey West . . . http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/customer/editorial_1029 (the link you provided) goes to "page not found"

Can you provide the correct link?

How is the out-of-country travel curreency reporting requirement relevent for a flight out of HPN? They don't have international flights.

tramky said...

It is quite clear that the TSA is a primary investigator for virtually EVERY agency of the Federal government, and makes determinations of possible violations of laws & regulations associated with EVERY agency of the Federal government as well as for EVERY state government and municipality. It does this by blatant violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. This is the plain, raw fact of the TSA's existence and raison d'etre.

And we need to remember that this was the gift to the nation by George W. Bush.

Carl said...

Randy:
"Huh? Your technology is looking for explosives, but finds cash. I'd call that *not* working.

Is it illegal to hide cash in my bag?
"

First off, If it is finding cash and drugs, which logic would tell you would be more difficult to discover than weapons or explosive material.

Second, for as long as I can remember, it has always been illegal to ship or transport cash. You can have personal cash on your person but I still believe there is a limit.

Anyone know the limit??

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob says:
"We’re not looking for drugs and cash, but they show up as anomalies in the same exact places where explosives could be hidden. That’s why these finds are significant. It shows that our technology and procedures work."

No it doesn't. Since you have no numbers for how many items go though the checkpoint without being detected this is useless information. All is says is your detection rate is greater than zero. It might be 1% or it might be 99%, there is no way to tell from just a list of items you did find.

Allow an independent test and you might have something worth reporting.

Anonymous said...

Once again this appears to be a lose lose situation for TSA. I can guarantee that if this story read 'TSA Officer misses gun on x-ray' every single one of you would be completely up in arms. However, since this story is about TSA doing something right you are still up in arms. Good job TSA - keep up the good work. You can't please everyone.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Hey West . . . http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/customer/editorial_1029 (the link you provided) goes to "page not found"

Can you provide the correct link?"

Sorry, try this one, it goes straight to the second section beginning with the question about traveling with cash.

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/customer/editorial_1029.shtm#2

Hope that helps a bit better!

West
TSA Blog Team

Steve said...

And yet, TSA somehow just missed a loaded handgun out of LAX. All these supposed safeguards and still this. http://laist.com/2011/10/23/tsa_missed_a_loaded_handgun_on_flig.php

RB said...

First off, If it is finding cash and drugs, which logic would tell you would be more difficult to discover than weapons or explosive material.

Second, for as long as I can remember, it has always been illegal to ship or transport cash. You can have personal cash on your person but I still believe there is a limit.

Anyone know the limit??

October 23, 2011 7:36 AM
................
There is no limit to the amount of cash one can carry.

If you are entering or leaving the United States a person must declare if they are carrying more than $10,000 cash or cash instruments by filing FINCEM Form 105. You can read the instructions on this form as they are on the reverse. The link to the form was posted by the Blog Team in an earlier post.

Anonymous said...

"Second, for as long as I can remember, it has always been illegal to ship or transport cash. You can have personal cash on your person but I still believe there is a limit."

There is no limit. You are completely and utterly incorrect. If one is taking more than $10,000 in cash outside of the US, one must declare that to customs. However, TSA has no role in this process, and thus no business asking anyone, ever, about any cash they may be carrying. Right, West?

Anonymous said...

1amWendy...if you were in a restaurant and someone started waving around a gun, you would have the option to duck and/or run. If you are on a plane, there are no options...

GSOLTSO said...

Steve sez - "And yet, TSA somehow just missed a loaded handgun out of LAX. All these supposed safeguards and still this. http://laist.com/2011/10/23/tsa_missed_a_loaded_handgun "

According to the stories I read, the bag was checked not carry on (thus inaccesible to the passenger). If the bag did not alarm on one of the screening machines in the baggage room, there is no reason to go inside the bag. Guns are allowed in checked baggage as long as they are declared properly to the airline and packaged for transport. You can find the rules for traveling with firearms here:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1666.shtm

This is pretty much a non-story with the exception of how careless the owner appeared to be.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

I'm confused as how some of this relates to aviation security. It's not illegal to carry a fake gold brick or $50,000 in cash. The cash would be a customs issue and not a TSA issue. If the person was travelling domestically, then there is no issue here. If the people here didn't have fake id's/warrants, what would have happened? If there were no issues like that, and the TSA caused them to miss flights, would there be any recourse against the TSA? It seems to me like the TSA is being used to go around the 4th amendment here.

How many of these items were found by the new scanners? How many were found with the traditional x-ray machines and metal detectors that were around pre-9/11?

Anonymous said...

Carl said...
"First off, If it is finding cash and drugs, which logic would tell you would be more difficult to discover than weapons or explosive material."

Weapons yes, but a simple metal detector does a pretty good job of that as well.

Explosives no, they are very hard to find if the person carrying them has made an effort to hide them. They don't have a fixed shape and can be molded to make them hard to spot.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"1amWendy...if you were in a restaurant and someone started waving around a gun, you would have the option to duck and/or run. If you are on a plane, there are no options..."

Unless you can outrun a bullet you don't have much of an option in a restaurant either. Unfortunately, there are real life examples of this.

Jim Huggins said...

Of course, as long as we're looking at last week in TSA news, we should probably talk about the inappropriate note a TSA screener left in a passenger's checked luggage ...

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much a non-story with the exception of how careless the owner appeared to be.

As much of a story as these Friday blog posts...

RB said...

And SEX Toys and inappropriate notes from TSA employees.

http://boingboing.net/2011/10/24/tsa-goes-through-womans-luggage-finds-sex-toy-leaves-pervy-note.html

TSA goes through woman's luggage, finds sex toy, leaves pervy note
By Xeni Jardin at 7:26 am Monday, Oct 24

If I was going to brag about the finds I would certainly avoid incidents like above or missing guns like TSA did at LAX:

Oct 24, 2011
TSA misses loaded gun in bag at LAX

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/10/tsa-misses-loaded-gun-in-bag-at-lax/1?loc=interstitialskip


Perhaps TSA should try making its workforce more professional before making any such unfounded claims.

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
Steve sez - "And yet, TSA somehow just missed a loaded handgun out of LAX. All these supposed safeguards and still this. http://laist.com/2011/10/23/tsa_missed_a_loaded_handgun "

According to the stories I read, the bag was checked not carry on (thus inaccesible to the passenger). If the bag did not alarm on one of the screening machines in the baggage room, there is no reason to go inside the bag. Guns are allowed in checked baggage as long as they are declared properly to the airline and packaged for transport. You can find the rules for traveling with firearms here:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1666.shtm

This is pretty much a non-story with the exception of how careless the owner appeared to be.

West
TSA Blog Team

October 24, 2011 11:19 AM

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

So are you telling us that TSA Checked Baggage Scanners don't alert on weapons all of the time?

If this is the case you just gave away some valuable intel.

Anonymous said...

How many tsa agents were arrested last week?

GSOLTSO said...

Rb sez - "So are you telling us that TSA Checked Baggage Scanners don't alert on weapons all of the time?

If this is the case you just gave away some valuable intel."

No giving away of intel at all, many (if not most) of the baggage screening areas operate with EDS type of xray systems. Weapons such as firearms, knives, axes and other similar weaponry need interaction with someone to be a danger to the passengers. These items in checked baggage do not pose the same threat that they would in the cabin area of the plane, so screening for them is not the same. This item is on the allowed to go list in checked baggage.

And what is up with my links this week, the link for the traveling with firearms page is here:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/
assistant/editorial_1666.shtm

For a basic explanation on the systems used in many airports, see this link:

http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/
eds.shtm

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Read the entire thread trying to see if TSA explained why a gold bar (fake or not) in baggage is cause for involving the police.

Still no explanation given.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you didn't mention the "personal" item found in a checked bag:

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/10/the-tsa-is-awkward.html

RB said...

No giving away of intel at all, many (if not most) of the baggage screening areas operate with EDS type of xray systems. Weapons such as firearms, knives, axes and other similar weaponry need interaction with someone to be a danger to the passengers. These items in checked baggage do not pose the same threat that they would in the cabin area of the plane, so screening for them is not the same. This item is on the allowed to go list in checked baggage.

And what is up with my links this week, the link for the traveling with firearms page is here:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/
assistant/editorial_1666.shtm

For a basic explanation on the systems used in many airports, see this link:

http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/
eds.shtm

West
TSA Blog Team

October 24, 2011 6:39 PM
..............
OK, think I have it, TSA scanners do not alert on weapons in checked baggage. Got it!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention finding the personal item that a woman had in her checked luggage:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/woman-finds-sexual-note-in-luggage_n_1029382.html

Are you proud of yourself for that one, Blogger Bob?

Is she *required* to get her freak on, because she's being ordered to do so by a TSA agent?

Are you going to comment on this incident at all?

Naw... I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said:
"No giving away of intel at all, many (if not most) of the baggage screening areas operate with EDS type of xray systems. Weapons such as firearms, knives, axes and other similar weaponry need interaction with someone to be a danger to the passengers. These items in checked baggage do not pose the same threat that they would in the cabin area of the plane, so screening for them is not the same. This item is on the allowed to go list in checked baggage."

So explain why firearms in checked bags must be declared? They are, as you say, pose a threat.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
""1amWendy...if you were in a restaurant and someone started waving around a gun, you would have the option to duck and/or run. If you are on a plane, there are no options..."

Unless other passengers are armed. Jerry Pournelle said that a well armed society is a polite society. He's correct. Those qualified to carry concealed firearms on the ground should be allowed to carry them on aircraft.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO? Blogger Bob? Anyone from TSA? What again is illegal with a fake gold bar stating that it is worth a trillion dollars? Or a real gold bar stating that is worth 1k? Or monopoly money? What is the danger to the airplane? Does that make someone a terrorist?

The person detained by TSA with the fake gold was released which is not mentioned in your post. I am curious though as to why TSA thought to call the police for a fake gold bar?

Anonymous said...

Money is not an explosive.
Money is not a firearm.
Money is not a weapon.

All TSO's: Which amount of cash is illegal for me to carry through a TSA checkpoint to a domestic flight: $19900 in $100 bills or $19900 in $20 bills? Please justify your answer quoting CFR's, with a CC: to Administrator Pistole.

And yes, I have flown domestically with $10K+ of my own money on my person. Routinely. Cash makes buying collectible vehicles so much easier.

Paul said...

You can take more than $10,000 in cash on board a plane, you just have to declare it that's all. Why anyone in this day and age carries that much cash however is beyond me, I feel uneasy with a few hundred in my pocket just in case I loose it.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
If the bag did not alarm on one of the screening machines in the baggage room, there is no reason to go inside the bag.

...unless you wanna tell a passenger to "Get your freak on, girl".

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/10/24/sexy-toy-discovery-leads-to-note-from-tsa-screener-woman-claims/

RB said...

Still waiting for an explanation of just why TSA screeners call police when they thought they found a gold bar.

TSA, what threat to aviation did the gold bar, real or not, present?

Anonymous said...

Paul said:
"You can take more than $10,000 in cash on board a plane, you just have to declare it that's all. Why anyone in this day and age carries that much cash however is beyond me, I feel uneasy with a few hundred in my pocket just in case I loose it."

This is true if the flight is leaving or entering the US. If it's a domestic flight, there is no limit and Paul is incorrect.

a .h said...

still wondering why TSA has been responded to all queries raised in the comments, except for the gold bar. i still don't know why it was reason for arresting someone! i really would genuinely like to know the answer without meaning to be condescending.

Anonymous said...

"You can take more than $10,000 in cash on board a plane, you just have to declare it that's all."

No, you don't, unless you're leaving the country, and then you must declare it to Customs, an agency which TSA is not.

Anonymous said...

Good-bye Second and Fourth Amendments :(

Anonymous said...

""1amWendy...if you were in a restaurant and someone started waving around a gun, you would have the option to duck and/or run. If you are on a plane, there are no options..."

"Unless other passengers are armed. Jerry Pournelle said that a well armed society is a polite society. He's correct. Those qualified to carry concealed firearms on the ground should be allowed to carry them on aircraft."

First off, every state has different regulations as to who is "qualified" to carry a concealed weapon so carrying one from one state to another via air shouldn't be an option. And secondly even if no one actually gets shot, there is the potential for everyone dying when the plane goes down as a result of bullet holes?

Anonymous said...

From the daily press article on the gold bar:

"Jessica Wharton, a Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport spokeswoman said TSA searched the man's bag and called the airport's public safety officers who ran his name in a database. When the name came back with a wanted status, the officers turned him over to the Newport News magistrate's office. She had no additional information."

Heh. So the ID check is just for show. If you seem weird to the screeners, they actually check your ID against a bigger database than their no fly list and can then use it to catch warrant offenders.

Security theater.

Anonymous said...

Answer everyon's questions. Why is carrying a gold bar - fake or not - illegal and warrant arrest? You boasted about catching this "criminal" now TELL US WHY! Tell us oh mighty Geheime Staatspolizei.

RB said...

Bob, are you, the rest of TSA, and the TSA Blog Team going to ignore the many people asking the same question?

Why was finding a gold bar, real or not, reason to call police? What threat to aviation did that item represent?

Sure seems like a clear violation of the Bierrfeldt Agreement.

Wondering why TSA does not honor its agreements and promises?

"TSA Fixes Search Policy After ACLU Sues

New Directives Address Inappropriate Searches Like The One Ron Paul Campaign Treasurer Endured

Following a lawsuit filed by American Civil Liberties Union, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has revised its policies governing airline passenger screening to make clear that TSA agents are authorized to conduct searches related to safeguarding flight safety, not to engage in general law enforcement. Calling the policy changes a victory for civil liberties, the ACLU has moved to drop its lawsuit, originally filed in June on behalf of a traveler who was illegally detained and harassed by TSA agents at the airport after they discovered he was carrying approximately $4,700 in cash."


http://www.aclunc.org/issues/technology/blog/tsa_fixes_search_policy_after_aclu_sues.shtml

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"First off, every state has different regulations as to who is "qualified" to carry a concealed weapon so carrying one from one state to another via air shouldn't be an option. And secondly even if no one actually gets shot, there is the potential for everyone dying when the plane goes down as a result of bullet holes?"

Yes, I'd be happy to allow this policy only between states that have reciprocity. Strange that this isn't an issue for armed pilots and air marshalls though, isn't it?

I am an engineer well versed in aircraft structures. The probability of "everyone dying" as the result of a bullet hole is vanishingly small. What do you think the armed pilots and air marshalls carry - squirt guns?

FrankFunkyToe said...

Even after policy change and the embarrassing lawsuit (which was sadly dropped when TSA changed their policy. It should have been seen through to the end so that TSA would be held by law), TSA still flags money and valuable items (bricks of gold) as suspicious, and contacts the police. Even finding multiple IDs and credit cards in someone's bag is not related to safeguarding airline safety. yet the police are called. TSA disregards their own policies, and violates the traveling public's privacy.

And stop calling them agents. They are not agents, people.

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "OK, think I have it, TSA scanners do not alert on weapons in checked baggage. Got it!"

Actually, EDS machines do not always alarm on firearms would be a little better statement.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "You forgot to mention finding the personal item that a woman had in her checked luggage"

See the blog post about it here -
http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/10/inappropriate-note-author-identified.html

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "So explain why firearms in checked bags must be declared? They are, as you say, pose a threat."

Firearms can always present a threat whether they are used by someone knowingly, or unknowingly. I believe the declaration is required by the FAA, but the airlines may also have additional requirements for transporting firearms. This is so the airlines can make certain that all firearms being transported are packaged properly, unloaded so there is no chance of the weapon discharging.

If you wish to read more on how to travel with a firearm (Legally!), please visit this page:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/
airtravel/assistant/
editorial_1666.shtm

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "All TSO's: Which amount of cash is illegal for me to carry through a TSA checkpoint to a domestic flight: $19900 in $100 bills or $19900 in $20 bills? Please justify your answer quoting CFR's, with a CC: to Administrator Pistole.

And yes, I have flown domestically with $10K+ of my own money on my person. Routinely. Cash makes buying collectible vehicles so much easier."

There is no amount that is considered illegal to travel with (to my knowledge). The only thing that I know of is the requirement to report monetary instruments equalling more than $10,000 on Customs form 4790 (that is required by the US Treasury) - IF you are departing the country. Otherwise, it is not illegal to travel with cash.

For more complete information on the requirements and what is covered for declaration, please visit here:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/
airtravel/assistant/
editorial_1848.shtm

Thanks!

West
TSA Blog Team

Roger said...

So there was no reason to stop the guy with the fake gold bar? Still haven't received an explanation.

RB said...

There is no amount that is considered illegal to travel with (to my knowledge). The only thing that I know of is the requirement to report monetary instruments equalling more than $10,000 on Customs form 4790 (that is required by the US Treasury) - IF you are departing the country. Otherwise, it is not illegal to travel with cash.

For more complete information on the requirements and what is covered for declaration, please visit here:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/
airtravel/assistant/
editorial_1848.shtm

Thanks!

West
TSA Blog Team

I believe that the form you mentioned is obsolete and was replaced with FINCEN Form 105. Might want to check on that.

So why was the person with a gold bar, real or fake, referred to police?

GSOLTSO said...

Rb sez - "I believe that the form you mentioned is obsolete and was replaced with FINCEN Form 105. Might want to check on that."

You are correct, here is a copy of said form (pdf warning):

http://www.fincen.gov/forms/files/fin105_cmir.pdf

Thank you for pointing that out to me RB.

West
TSA Blog Team

a. h. said...

why don`t you just come out and say that the tsa was in the wrong to arrest a person with a fake gold bar...

is it really that hard...

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
Rb sez - "I believe that the form you mentioned is obsolete and was replaced with FINCEN Form 105. Might want to check on that."

You are correct, here is a copy of said form (pdf warning):

http://www.fincen.gov/forms/files/fin105_cmir.pdf

Thank you for pointing that out to me RB.

West
TSA Blog Team

October 30, 2011 3:59 PM
.............
You neglected to answer why a person with a gold bar, real or not, was referred to police.

Question to hard for TSA?

TSORon said...

a. h. said...
[[why don`t you just come out and say that the tsa was in the wrong to arrest a person with a fake gold bar...
is it really that hard...]]

a.h., TSA didn’t arrest the guy, we have no authority to do that. We are not Law Enforcement Officers and have no more authority to arrest someone than you do. The decision to arrest this character was made by a Law Enforcement Officer,

The post reads: “The police responded and while the gold was fake, the warrant against the individual was 100% authentic. The real fugitive, and his fake gold, were taken into custody by law enforcement.”

Is it really that hard? Sadly it seems it is.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
a.h., TSA didn’t arrest the guy, we have no authority to do that. We are not Law Enforcement Officers and have no more authority to arrest someone than you do. The decision to arrest this character was made by a Law Enforcement Officer,
The post reads: “The police responded and while the gold was fake, the warrant against the individual was 100% authentic. The real fugitive, and his fake gold, were taken into custody by law enforcement.”

This still doesn't explain why the police were called. Someone called them just because of the gold bar. The TSA didn't know about the warrant. How often are the police called in when nothing illegal has happened?

RB said...

Ron said...
a. h. said...
[[why don`t you just come out and say that the tsa was in the wrong to arrest a person with a fake gold bar...
is it really that hard...]]

a.h., TSA didn’t arrest the guy, we have no authority to do that. We are not Law Enforcement Officers and have no more authority to arrest someone than you do. The decision to arrest this character was made by a Law Enforcement Officer,

The post reads: “The police responded and while the gold was fake, the warrant against the individual was 100% authentic. The real fugitive, and his fake gold, were taken into custody by law enforcement.”

Is it really that hard? Sadly it seems it is.

October 31, 2011 9:36 PM
........................
Why did TSA involve LEO's because a person had a bar of gold, real or fake?

What threat to civil aviation does a gold bar, real or fake, represent?

TSORon said...

RB said...
[[Why did TSA involve LEO's because a person had a bar of gold, real or fake?

What threat to civil aviation does a gold bar, real or fake, represent?]]
My guess would be because its suspicious for someone to travel with a brick (of whatever) of that size in their carry-on bag. LEO’s become involved in suspicious situations all the time RB/BD, it’s their job. Nothing wrong with a TSO or even their supervisor calling the LEO’s because of a suspicion now is there. It’s also their job to investigate suspicious people and circumstances. Or are you saying that TSA employee’s do not have the same right as you do so call the police when they see something suspicious?

Anonymous said...

"Nothing wrong with a TSO or even their supervisor calling the LEO’s because of a suspicion now is there. It’s also their job to investigate suspicious people and circumstances. Or are you saying that TSA employee’s do not have the same right as you do so call the police when they see something suspicious?"

I find this comment suspicious. Would it be appropriate for me to call LE to investigate you, Ron?

Also, TSOs are trained to "investigate" suspicious situations? I'd love to see the curriculum that does this training but doesn't allow them to recognize Federally issued identification.

Chad Baker said...

I'd love to know how frequently you catch passengers with genuine intent to smuggle or transport firearms. By the sounds of it the firearms or weapons are usually found in stowaway luggage as a result of passengers forgetting to declare them to the authorities.

Obviously the cases of smuggled cash and fake id is also a serious concern.

tramky said...

Hmmm, inert landmines--nothing to do with airline security. Fake hand grenades--nothing to do with airline safety or security. Paper products (cash of any amount)--nothing to do with airline security or safety. Unloaded handguns--a highly-designed paperweight, nothing to do with airline safety.

Most of this crap has nothing to do with the security & safety of anything at an airport, so why is this fear-mongering being put to the American public by TSA.

The 'hidden cash' is most troubling. What does a passenger with $50,000 in a carryon have to do with anything? Is it illegal to have cash? I think I'll start 'hiding' a stack of $1 bills--maybe 200 of them--in a small carryon bag when I fly, to create an 'anomaly'. I'd LOVE to be questioned by a TSA agent about it.

We want a record of how many passengers questioned or double-screened or otherwise delayed by TSA actually MISS their scheduled flight--you know, the flight that is displayed prominently--with its departure time--on the boarding pass that MUST be shown to TSA agents. There is little doubt that TSA will delay and detain 'troublesome' passengers or those with a 'wrong attitude' until it is too late for them to make their flight. TSA knows that passengers will lose their money from the airlines that do not--stupidly and with no justification--offer to refund airfares due to delays caused by TSA, and that charge hundreds of dollars for missed flights and rescheduling (change fees).

Again, everyone must know that your Constitutional rights do NOT exist at airports, and the TSA is the investigatory arm of EVERY law enforcement & regulatory agency in the Federal government; EVERY one of them. Then there are the state & local laws that TSA enforces--all of them.

There should be a large sign over every TSA checkpoint that reads: "Abandon all rights, ye who enter here." Or "By entering this checkpoint understand that you will be rendered defenseless and your personal property may be stolen under duress."

brian said...

Hahahh fantastic story of the man who has a brick of fake gold with 10 millions printed over!!

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