Friday, February 3, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Coral Covered Explosively Viable Cannonball

Cannonball, cattle prod, lipstick knife, inert grenades and firearm components.
Cannonball: A cannonball was discovered in checked baggage at Ft Lauderdale (FLL). Nothing malicious here, just a diver who found the old projectile near a 1750-1800 era shipwreck. It was determined that the coral covered cannonball was explosively viable which triggered an evacuation of the checked baggage area and a visit from a TSA explosives specialist and a Broward County bomb tech. Cannonballs found on the ocean floor can retain their explosives and have been known to detonate on their own. The bomb tech took possession of the item for further identification, diagnostics, and safe disposal. Three flights were delayed affecting 290 passengers. Cannonballs are created to damage and destroy things, but I doubt its creators had any clue that it would destroy people’s schedules hundreds of years later.

 “Beefed” up Stun Gun: Holy cow!!! A cattle prod was discovered during the search of a carry-on bag at Baltimore (BWI) Moooving right along…

Cutting Edge Cosmetics: A lipstick knife was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Denver (DEN).

Grenades Again?: This time they were inert practice grenades packed along with seven M16 magazines and other gear at San Diego (SAN). I know, you’re probably wondering what harm an inert grenade could do. Actually, no harm at all to your well being, but it can put a kink in your scheduled due to closed checkpoints and baggage areas. Read here and here  for more information on grenades.

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also found stun guns, brass knuckles, knives, knives, and more knives, firearm components, ammunition, and expandable batons.
9 loaded guns.
Firearms: Our officers found 14 loaded firearms and 5 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 19 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 

1/27: TUL – Loaded .38 – TUL – Loaded .380
1/28: BWI – Unloaded firearm
1/29: DFW – Loaded .380 – ATL – Unloaded .22
1/30: LAS – Loaded 9mm w/ round chambered – COS – Unloaded .22 – AUS – Loaded .25 – DTW – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered – TOL – Loaded .380 – IAH – Loaded .32
1/31: MSP – Loaded 9mm
2/1: JAX – Loaded 9mm – PHX – Loaded .40 w/ round chambered
2/2: AUS – Unloaded .22 – IND – Loaded .380 – BNA – Loaded .357 – MCO – Loaded .25 – IAH – Unloaded .40

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

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. 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 double check your luggage before you get to the airport.


Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has
20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt.  

Blogger Bob Burns
 
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.



45 comments:

Anonymous said...

«Three flights were delayed affecting 290 passengers. Cannonballs are created to damage and destroy things, but I doubt its creators had any clue that it would destroy people’s schedules hundreds of years later.»

Funny how you report this incident but not the incident this week at Newark where the TSA's incompetence delayed over a dozen flights and closed a terminal for over an hour.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/02/travel/tsa-screening/index.html

Bob, if you're going to crow over the TSA's finds, how about giving equal time to the TSA's failures.

Or how about mention of the recent string of thieves amongst your employer's ranks?

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP9e3edbb58b4148f1bcf4de10d01479c1.html

Your agency is losing credibility by the minute, and no report of inert grenades or cattle prods is going to change that. How you can post some of what you write with a straight face is beyond me.

[Screenshot captured. This comment meets the terms, and failing to publish it will be met with a letter to Congress.]

Anonymous said...

Why is the gun a TSO brought into the secure area illegally never mentioned?

Is that TSO still employed by the TSA?

Jim Huggins said...

And now, the other side of TSA's Week In Review:

* CBS in Dallas reports a systematic pattern of TSA screeners targeting women passengers for "random" WBI screening.

* A TSO at JFK was arrested for stealing $5000 in cash from a passenger's jacket at a TSA checkpoint.

* A TSO at DFW is under investigation for stealing iPads from checked luggage.

* A TSO at LGA caused a bomb scare when he removed metal pipes from a suitcase and forgot to tell his co-workers about them --- leaving someone to discover them six hours later and declare an unnecessary emergency.

Care to comment on any of these stories, Bob?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the assessment that the cannonball was "viable" was made by an expert. I'll be standing by for the chemical analysis. You will be making that available, correct?

Anonymous said...

What kind of 'Week in Review' can it be if it neglects to mention:

http://www.wfaa.com/news/crime/TSA-agent-arrested-at-DFW-Airport-for-stealing-iPads-138455504.html

"A Transportation Security Administration worker at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport stands accused of theft, after cops say he was found with eight iPads he'd boosted from checked luggage."

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP9e3edbb58b4148f1bcf4de10d01479c1.html

"A Transportation Security Administration agent stole $5,000 in cash from a passenger's jacket as he was going through security at John F. Kennedy International Airport, authorities said Thursday, the latest in a string of thefts that has embarrassed the agency."

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think you deliberately post on Friday, not just to review the week but also to have an excuse to delay all comments.

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about never a dull moment. It is amazing that people forget the possibilities of these things and how they can disrupt a calm day at an airport. A cannonball exploding in the cargo hold of my Bus (A320) would make for a bad day—of course we wouldn’t feel it in the air, or anything after for that matter. I am very happy that TSA is there as a deterrent. Your job is thankless because you only know if you make a mistake, rarely when you actually catch the bad guy. I know that your presence and sometimes strange to fully understand rules, do make a difference and I am proud that you are doing what you do and protecting America and all that we hold close…I do not ever want to see another 911 and have no problem going through a scanner or taking off my shoes—you must know something we don’t…kudos to you all! You may not be carrying a rifle overseas, but you are serving none the less!

Stan said...

As is the case every week, I see nothing on this list that wouldn't have been caught by a simple metal detector screening passengers and x-ray machine screening baggage.
It's like you are using this list to point out that there is no need for the invasive pat downs and nude imagine machines.

Anonymous said...

And stupidity abounds....

Anonymous said...

Bob, we would all like to see the incident reports. You can put them in PDF format. Otherwise, this is just all on the Dept. of Homeland Stasi word.

tramky said...

Wow! A cattle prod. The TSA should handout cattle prods to EVERY adult passenger going through a checkpoint. I'm sure that would 'civilize' miscreants--a planeload of adults equipped with an operating cattle prod. Sounds like a plan. And it won't damage the plane, or possibly perforate the plane's skin like a bullet might. It's not even bloody.

Mike Hollander said...

Hey Blogger Bob,

Was wondering if, since the TSA is so proud of all the guns it catches, would like to comment on the 2008 cover-up of an employee being allowed to leave screening with a LOADED firearm.

http://www.azcentral.com/12news/news/articles/2012/02/03/20120203arizona-tsa-investigation-gun-coverup.html

Why are two people who CLEARLY violated TSA policy not only still on the payroll but in even higher positions?

I thought TSA prided itself on the supposed integrity of its workforce.


[Screenshot captured. This comment meets the terms, and failing to publish it will be met with a letter to Congress.]

Anonymous said...

"A cannonball exploding in the cargo hold of my Bus (A320) would make for a bad day—of course we wouldn’t feel it in the air, or anything after for that matter."

Funny, I fly Part 25 aircraft and no one I know is concerned about such an occurence. I suspect you're not a pilot but you should be aware of the existence of overpressure panels in the Airbus line. An explosion created by a cannonball several hundred years ago might create a situation but I wouldn't worry about it much; it is unlikely that the cannonball was viable.

"I am very happy that TSA is there as a deterrent. Your job is thankless because you only know if you make a mistake, rarely when you actually catch the bad guy."

Has TSA caught any bad guys? $100B spent and not much to show for it. As you insinuated above, the threat is explosives. Strip searching senior citizens who wear back braces does not contribute and security and results in scorn for the TSA.

:I know that your presence and sometimes strange to fully understand rules, do make a difference and I am proud that you are doing what you do and protecting America and all that we hold close…I do not ever want to see another 911 and have no problem going through a scanner or taking off my shoes—you must know something we don’t…kudos to you all!"

Or, it's just a jobs program keeping up hysteria for domestic consumption.


"You may not be carrying a rifle overseas, but you are serving none the less!"

Well, not really. It's a civil service job that's security theater. Please don't inflate it to what it's not.

(scrrenshot captured)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: I am very happy that TSA is there as a deterrent.

How's that Kool-Aid tasting? The only thing the TSA is "deterring" is pleasure travel. They are definitely creating their own set of problems when it comes to airports - like the string of failures noted above by Jim Huggins. But if you believe they're actually stopping "terrorists," you're mistaken.

Anonymous said...

"Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. "

And each one of those layers is rendered completely useless by the unbelievably huge security holes created by the TSA.

All you had to do was mimic the Israelis. It's not as though you had to pioneer airline security.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"All you had to do was mimic the Israelis. It's not as though you had to pioneer airline security."

It's not quite that simple - the US airline system has to deal with a much larger and more diverse group of people. It's a more difficult problem.

Anonymous said...

«All you had to do was mimic the Israelis. It's not as though you had to pioneer airline security.»

Many aspects of Israeli airport security would not be Constitutional here in the US.

Not that this has ever stopped the TSA.

KWT said...

Great, I am glad that the TSA is so efficient in keeping this stuff off of airplanes.

Would you care to comment on how efficient that the TSA has been in stealing stuff from airline passengers. I hear that you are particularly good at lifting iPads at DFW and cash at JFK.

Anonymous said...

The one thing I've noticed about these reports is that almost all of the prohibited items found are discovered by the traditional metal detector and x-ray machines. The rare ones that are caught with the AIT scanners seem to be drugs and those don't pose a threat to the plane. The AIT scanners seem like a waste of money. I've read that they likely wouldn't have detected the bomb used by the underwear bomber.

Lately there have been multiple reports of theft by TSA screeners. Some of these thieves had been stealing for months without being caught. It seems like the greatest threat at the airport is getting stuff stolen by the TSA. I'm not worried that terrorists are going to take over a plane with a knife or hide explosives in water bottles & cupcakes.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: Some of these thieves had been stealing for months without being caught.

Years.

Pujol Salazar admitted that she and her husband had taken items stolen from luggage and sold them on Craigslist for the last three years.

We're supposed to believe that in the three years that TSA employee Michael Pujol had been stealing from passengers and selling the items on Craigslist via his wife, no other TSA employee noticed the thefts and turned them in?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Lately there have been multiple reports of theft by TSA screeners. Some of these thieves had been stealing for months without being caught. It seems like the greatest threat at the airport is getting stuff stolen by the TSA. I'm not worried that terrorists are going to take over a plane with a knife or hide explosives in water bottles & cupcakes."

Not a surprise really. The TSA protects airplanes, not passengers. They don't really care if your stuff gets damaged or stolen and put no effort into protecting it.

Ayn R. Key said...

Don't forget the agent who found $5,000.

TSA Agent Caught Stealing $5,000 from Passenger at JFK Airport

Curtis the gullible said...

Hey, Curtis! Cannonball = Inert metal. Post this - I double dare you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"...I am very happy that TSA is there as a deterrent."


You might want to re-think the deterent value of TSA after checking out this WFTV report on how the TSA SPOT program missed 17 known terrorists traveling within the US by air.

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/9-investigates-major-security-failure-central-flor/nHSFn/


It is a fiction to say that the TSA protects the American public. As has been mentioned previously, the TSA is a bloated beauracracy, intent only on preserving its administrative and budgetary power, at the expense of Safety, the US Constitution, and our pocketbooks.

Anonymous said...

This stealing is nothing new.Your politicians and chief executive officers of major corporations have been stealing for decades before getting caught.If there is corruption at the top you can be certain that it will be corruption at the bottom levels of government too.Its a lot of things that are being done in secret that we are not made aware of.
We are living in a culture of greed and corruption

rwilymz said...

[[The bomb tech took possession of the item for further identification, diagnostics, and safe disposal.]]

That sounds suspiciously like the line from Silverado where Brian Dennehy tells Kevin Kline "We're gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first-class hangin'."


Tell me who, besides The Taliban and TSA, proudly reports that it "disposes" of archeological artifacts?

Once again guys, you're so utterly and cluelessly bound by your rulebook of one-size-fits-none rules that you can't see straight. This example fits into the 2% where you MIGHT have had a point if you just let it be, but you overplayed it into thoughtless, brainless overreaction.

Did the thought of sending it to a marine salvage outfit for storage until it could be examined by someone who knows what he's doing and rendering the ball inert IF it was still viable not cross your minds? Can you do ANYthing besides knee-jerk reflexiveness?

Sadly, I'm used to you being autocratic ninnies; all bad governments tend in that direction. Autocratic ninnies prone to wanton, gratuitous destruction ... that takes a special kind of bad government.

Anonymous said...

"All you had to do was mimic the Israelis. It's not as though you had to pioneer airline security."

I'm sure the American public would love to have their cars stopped and searched by armed guards on the way in to the airport, then be interrogated for hours while agents go through every file on your camera and laptop, and finally be strip searched in a dingy underground room.

Americans don't know how good they have it.

Moises Green / Ideas de Negocio said...

I'm sure that would 'civilize' miscreants--a planeload of adults equipped with an operating cattle prod.

Anonymous said...

My goodness I never realized that so many people are caught trying to bring guns onto airplanes. How many of these terrorists were arrested and charged?

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" Anonymous said...
"All you had to do was mimic the Israelis. It's not as though you had to pioneer airline security."

I'm sure the American public would love to have their cars stopped and searched by armed guards on the way in to the airport, then be interrogated for hours while agents go through every file on your camera and laptop, and finally be strip searched in a dingy underground room.

Americans don't know how good they have it.

February 7, 2012 2:26 PM"
-----------------
And you forgot to add how they dump the entire contents on your bags out (on a table if you are lucky) and then tell you to pack it back up yourself, oh, and hurry up about it.

Americans have a very large sense of entitlement as oft demonstrated by these blog posts.

Anonymous said...

[[I'm sure the American public would love to have their cars stopped and searched by armed guards on the way in to the airport]]

Have you been to a US military base - in the US - in the last 10 years? Goes on there just as often as it goes on at Ben Gurion.

[[...then be interrogated for hours while agents go through every file on your camera and laptop, and finally be strip searched in a dingy underground room.]]

Ditto TSA.

[[Americans don't know how good they have it.]]

And you don't know what you're talking about. The horror scenes you're trying desperately to describe do in fact happen per Isreali-style security, but it is reserved for those who flag suspicion at the counter where the security agent asks the innocuous questions, "Good afternoon. Flying to Athens, I see. What are you going to do there?" "Will you be going to the Coliseum?" "Have you ever had their baklava?"

Because, see, people up to no good don't have answers for those; people simply trying to go to Athens, regardless of their tourist or dining plans will have answers for those, even if it is "I haven't decided", and "the Coliseum is in Rome, I'm going to Athens", and "I don't like filo dough and nuts".

Suspicious people will fumble around for words because their intentions at the destination are beyond the range of whatever plans they have. These people are sent to a specific line to be asked more questions, and if they keep failing the psych profiling then and only then are they taken to the dingy underground room where they and their belongings are given the twice-over.

Those who pass the psych profiling are allowed merrily on their way. Israeli-style security flags very very very few people, and the vast majority won't even know they've been through it; OUR "security" flags everyone and it's so labor-intensive in handling non-threats as if they WERE threats that any terrorist or other ne'er-do-well intent on taking down a plane would only have to push 5 people through in order to virtually guarantee that there'd be a 3-man team left intact to do their dirty work.

rwilymz
http://dblyelloline.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

"And you forgot to add how they dump the entire contents on your bags out (on a table if you are lucky) and then tell you to pack it back up yourself, oh, and hurry up about it."

No. Stand up for your rights.

TSOs are responsible for repacking your bag. Insist that they do so and do so carefully. Feel free to call the TSM or TSOL if you're not satisfied.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, another 'good(?)' catch for your week in review:

TSA refuses to screen woman because they have no female staff to do it.

http://consumerist.com/2012/02/sorry-you-need-to-get-screened-before-your-flight-but-the-tsa-has-no-females-working-right-now.html

8675309 said...

All you had to do was mimic the Israelis. It's not as though you had to pioneer airline security."

I'm sure the American public would love to have their cars stopped and searched by armed guards on the way in to the airport, then be interrogated for hours while agents go through every file on your camera and laptop, and finally be strip searched in a dingy underground room.

Americans don't know how good they have it.

...not to mention that Israel has one major airport and the USA has hundreds. If you think the cost of homeland security is too high now, just try and implement their type of security here. And forget the business travelers, nobody in the USA wants an additional 8 hours (round trip) added to their travel time to clear "Israel style security".

8675309 said...

[Screenshot captured. This comment meets the terms, and failing to publish it will be met with a letter to Congress.]

Actually it doesn't. Since your comment had nothing to do with the article, it should have been moved to the "off topic" thread, or not posted at all.

Anonymous said...

"Americans have a very large sense of entitlement as oft demonstrated by these blog posts."

No, Americans have inalienable rights provided by the Creator and guaranteed by the Constitution.

The question is why you don't stand up for your own rights?

Bob - Why was this post rejected? It completely complies with the AUP and refers to the very basis of our American civilization.

Anonymous said...

"A Transportation Security Administration agent stole $5,000 in cash from a passenger's jacket as he was going through security at John F. Kennedy International Airport, authorities said Thursday, the latest in a string of thefts that has embarrassed the agency."

There must be some kind of mistake. The TSO caught stealing must have had a background check. As such, the TSO could have presented no security threat. Since criminal activity can be used to compromise a person in any number of ways, by TSA logic it is impossible that this person is a thief.

I have suggested to Congress that DSS or DCIS randomly sample TSA employees - particularly TSOs - who have undergone background checks and perform a QA check.

I suspect the results will be amazing. Anyone care to guess how many, for instance, non-citizens we'll find?

Anonymous said...

"...not to mention that Israel has one major airport and the USA has hundreds. "

And presumably hundreds times more screeners - although not nearly as well trained.

No one suggested that we screen with the same number of people as Israel just that we screen that effectively.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"No one suggested that we screen with the same number of people as Israel just that we screen that effectively."

The more people needed the harder it is to hire and train qualified people.

It isn't necessarily easy to scale a small operation into a huge operation.

Anonymous said...

"[Screenshot captured. This comment meets the terms, and failing to publish it will be met with a letter to Congress.]"
-------------
I love this whole "Screenshot" and "Letter to Congress" business!
1. Do you really think Congress cares that your blog post wasn't posted?
2. Do you really think they care about your issue at all?
3. Do you really think they even care about you?

Anonymous said...

"[Screenshot captured. This comment meets the terms, and failing to publish it will be met with a letter to Congress.]"
-------------
I love this whole "Screenshot" and "Letter to Congress" business!
1. Do you really think Congress cares that your blog post wasn't posted?
2. Do you really think they care about your issue at all?
3. Do you really think they even care about you?"

I do it because it irritates you.

Anonymous said...

To all the Constitutionalists out there I suggest you read the Homeland Securtiy Act of 2002 and see what it says. You may be very surprised as to how it pertains to the Constitution and the agencies it created.

Anonymous said...

"To all the Constitutionalists out there I suggest you read the Homeland Securtiy Act of 2002 and see what it says. You may be very surprised as to how it pertains to the Constitution and the agencies it created."

I helped draft it. What's your point?

Anonymous said...

Cannonballs do not explode. They have no powder of any kind. They are just a solid chunk of metal designed to do physical damage. TSA.gov has been watching too many movies if they think cannonballs can do damage and if they think they can use that as an excuse to fool the unthinking masses.

If that cannonball posed any kind of explosive threat then it surely wasn't a cannonball from the 1700s. But my guess is that TSA's incompetence prevailed here and just assumed it was explosive.

DS Bowskill said...

I'm confused. A cannonball is not an explosive shell. It's just a lump of metal.

It cannot be "explosively viable" as it doesn't contain any explosive.