Friday, March 30, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Gun Concealed in Hollowed Out Book

Gun in book, throwing star, knife concealed in deoderant, knives, fire crackers, expended stun grenades.

Book Starts Off with a Bang: This book must have received some poor reviews. It starts off with a bang and then it kind of hollows out and leaves you feeling empty. (See photo above)  The gun was unloaded (no cylinder) and discovered at Honolulu (HNL).

Explosive Item Discovered: Yesterday morning at Philadelphia International Airport, our Officers discovered a water bottle wrapped in black electrical tape and filled with flash powder, and three M-80 fireworks. The items were discovered in a carry-on bag. Read the blog post here. Unfortunately, due to an ongoing investigation, we are unable to share the photograph, but we hope to be able to share it in the future.

Strange Place to Keep a Knife: A pocketknife was found concealed in a deodorant cap at Milwaukee (MKE). 

More Grenades: Two expended stun grenades were discovered in a checked bag at Atlanta (ATL). Also, an inert grenade was discovered in checked baggage at Hattiesburg (PIB). The passenger at PIB stated that they thought a coworker likely put it there as a prank. I imagine the passenger in question didn’t find it very funny at all. These are totally harmless, however, read here and here  for more information on why inert items cause problems at checkpoints.

People Say the Darndest Things: Here are some more examples of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them, they can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:

·         A passenger was having their bag searched at Phoenix (PHX) when they decided to tell our Officer: “There is a bomb in my bag!”

·         A passenger at San Juan (SJU) was asked by the ticket agent if they had any flammable liquids in their bag. The passenger responded: “No, but I do have a bomb.”

·         After explaining to a passenger at (JFK) that his bag was being searched due to a cluttered image on the X-ray monitor, the passenger stated: “It’s a bomb.”

Peanut Butter Pot: This is the third time I’ve written about concealed marijuana in a jar of peanut butter. While it is a great source of protein, peanut butter is no match for our X-rays. We’re not looking for drugs, but you can imagine how suspicious a container inside a container of peanut butter looks? This time it was found at Salt Lake City (SLC).Peanut Butter Pot: This is the third time I’ve written about concealed marijuana in a jar of peanut butter. While it is a great source of protein, peanut butter is no match for our X-rays. We’re not looking for drugs, but you can imagine how suspicious a container inside a container of peanut butter looks? This time it was found at Salt Lake City (SLC).

Knife Concealed in Tissues: At LaGuardia (LGA), a knife was found tucked under a nice comfy stack of tissues in a tissue box.

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, an abundance of knives, ammunition, and batons.

7 loaded guns.
Firearms: Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

21 guns discovered. 19 were loaded.
 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. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

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.

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


81 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was an even better week for the American people:

- Screening manager, also a convicted criminal, arrested for running a prostitution business for several years in the suburban DC area. This person was also accused of singling out attractive women for Strip Search Machine screening and secondary frisking.

- Two screening clerks arrested for intoxication and illegal use of firearms in Miami. Do their guns count in your weekly total this week?

- BWI screening clerk sentenced to a long time in jail following a paedophile-related conviction.

- Your senior managers made complete fools of themselves in front of Rep. Issa's committee.

(Screen image saved)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping the humore. =)

Anonymous said...

Another Week, another list of things Not A Threat To A Plane.

Two expended stun grenades - Not a threat to a plane

Also, an inert grenade - Not a threat to a plane

People Say the Darndest Things- "such as… you know… things that go BOOM."???

marijuana in a jar of peanut butter - - Not a threat to a plane

replica firearms - Not a threat to a plane


Oh- and congratulations on finally pushing the Johnathan Corbett story (about how your nudie-scanners easily miss things) off the front page. That was close, huh? Now you don't have to worry about actually, you know, addressing the issue it raises.

Anonymous said...

I still haven't seen any indication of why an insulin pump caused such a fracas. Bob - you are avoiding this problem that falls under the ADA. Sometime soon your agency will be sued and then you will HAVE TO respect those of us with disabilities.

Anonymous said...

People say the darnest thing... When did TSA stomp on the first admendment rights of American citizens? When I took the oath of TSA I had to state I would up hold the constitution. Saying 'BOMB' at any airport in America is not illegal and a waste of a LEO'S time. Obviously saying bomb wasn't a threat if the airport still operated and planes left on time or scheduled? Finding drugs is a waste of time as they pose no threat to aviation even LEO'S get annoyned with those reports. It should be stated that airport LEO'S won't show up to court to defend TSA on these finds and the DA drops all charges. Keep up the good work TSA your management is a reflection of agency. Too bad you don't have any promotional standards throughout your agency.

Anonymous said...

Real or not real grenade? Probably hard to tell on an x-ray. Should they let it go? Real or not real >> Replica firearms? Maybe they should just let them go -- cause they LOOK like a replica. Hey maybe cops should ask before they shoot at the guy aiming at them -- is that a replica?

And the B O M B word. Alrighty then -- so let's just disregard that! Maybe we should let people just walk through the malls and yell fire. Maybe they should stand up in the library and say BOMB. Heck maybe they should just get on a plane and say bomb -- I like bombs -- nothing wrong with the word bomb. Go ahead -- see how comfortable your wife or daughter or Mom or Dad would be sitting/standing next to that person. Sure hope it doesn't cause them any stress -- it is -- after all just a word.

Grow up people! Bad people -- nut jobs -- wannabe nut jobs -- they are out there! And maybe that knife wouldn't bring down the plane. Ahh -- I'm not sure about you -- but I don't sit in the secured cockpit and neither does may family! We could be sitting next to the nut with knife.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK TSA -- I'm pretty sure that the 3000+ people that died on 9/11 wouldn't have a problem with a little inconvenience at a security checkpoint. Real or not real -- in God we trust -- let the rest of the world get security screened!!

@SkyWayManAz said...

I do enjoy reading your posts on what is caught Bob. It is rather depressing that items banned since the 70's are routinely confiscated. I heard stories in the 80's about what was confiscated at Kansas City International when I worked there fresh out of high school. It's not something new but even more publicity sadly isn't helping eliminate it. Now yes a critic can say it is tooting your own horn but it still needs to be said.

I'm not holding my breath though on the week in review of what TSA employees have been arrested or convicted of though. The Miami Herald has a disturbing report posted online on 3/28. Two TSA employees trashed their hotel room and fired six shots from a semi automatic weapon impacting in a Barney's store nearby. I'm aware these kind of stories could easily apply to a lot of employers with a workforce as large as TSA. Wackenhut, who employed me at KCI before I went off to college, has had their reputation tarnished by the same things. I'm sure some other posters will have unkind things to say about them as well. Unfortunately it reinforces the image TSA has at the front lines of the inmates running the asylum. It would be refreshing to read how they have been removed from eployment and are example of behavior TSA will not tolerate. Hopefully they will be dismissed as it's to far over the line even for TSA but retraining seems to be the recurring mantra.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I still haven't seen any indication of why an insulin pump caused such a fracas. Bob - you are avoiding this problem that falls under the ADA. Sometime soon your agency will be sued and then you will HAVE TO respect those of us with disabilities.

March 31, 2012 12:08 AM
--------------------
Well, it still hasn't happened after 10 years... So....

chancer said...

"....KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK TSA -- I'm pretty sure that the 3000+ people that died on 9/11 wouldn't have a problem with a little inconvenience at a security checkpoint.

I had relatives there. They would be the first to be screaming about TSA.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Well, it still hasn't happened after 10 years... So....

March 31, 2012 9:38 AM

And you should know that what you've said sure sounds like a challenge. Clearly you have your head in the sand.

I can guarantee you that when TSA violates my rights, I will take names, ranks and badge numbers ON THE SPOT so I know who exactly to sue. Remember that if you violate a person's civil rights, you can be sued PERSONALLY as well as the TSA as a whole.

There are a growing number of us with disabilities who are ready to take immediate action if you violate our civil or disability rights under Federal law (which, by the way, you are not above.)

(Screen shot)

Anonymous said...

to anonymous that says BOMB is just a word... It is isn't it? You can yell fire in a mall or yell Bomb in a library. But you have to remeber the fact is Bomb was used in a private discussion to TSA not the general public. And was amy of these people arrested for saying bomb? NO! they rebooked their flight after they explained their frustration with TSA and 9 times out of 10 the airport LEO'S argree with the PAX.-Front line TSA employee.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Grow up people! Bad people -- nut jobs -- wannabe nut jobs -- they are out there! And maybe that knife wouldn't bring down the plane. Ahh -- I'm not sure about you -- but I don't sit in the secured cockpit and neither does may family! We could be sitting next to the nut with knife."

You could also be next to them at the movie theater, the grocery store or anf of a thousand other places. Why is an airplane so special?


"KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK TSA -- I'm pretty sure that the 3000+ people that died on 9/11 wouldn't have a problem with a little inconvenience at a security checkpoint."

I'm pretty sure you have no idea what each of those 3000 people believed and it's very presumptuous of you to pretend you speak for them.

Anonymous said...

How much of the contraband went through to special line?

http://www.alternet.org/rights/154676/how_the_rich_took_over_airport_secuirty/

Anonymous said...

Were any of these items intended to hijack a plane or perform a terrorist act? Doubt it. Especially not the pot, which isn't at all what TSA claims to be looking for with its invasive searches.

Anonymous said...

Dear TSA:

If there is a small baggie concealed in a jar of peanut butter, it is marijuana. It has never been a bomb. It is not a bomb. It will never be a bomb. It is marijuana. So if you are not looking for drugs, leave it alone. Is it even remotely feasible to make an effective explosive device that will fit in a rolled up zip-lock bag and is placed in the middle of clumps of peanut butter? If it is, then I will take the risk.



". Ahh -- I'm not sure about you -- but I don't sit in the secured cockpit and neither does may family! We could be sitting next to the nut with knife."

Are you serious? How do you know that a person sitting on the bus next to you isn't a nut with a knife? How do you know that your cab driver isn't a severely depressed person who plans to drive the cab off the bridge? Do you stay at home all the time, only going out when there is an assurance that everyone around has been thoroughly screened?

Sunshine All Day Long said...

My comments from yesterday have mysteriously not appeared. So, I will ask again. What about the TSA agent who is a child pornographer? Or the couple of TSA agents who are shooing guns off in hotels? What about the TSA agent who forced a mother to stand in front of a bank of mirrors and use a breast pump becuase the TSA felt her breat pump should be full of milk in order for her to carry it on the plane? These are the things I want to hear your comments on, not this ridiculous list of stuff that wouldn't have hurt anyone anyway.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "If there is a small baggie concealed in a jar of peanut butter, it is marijuana. It has never been a bomb. It is not a bomb. It will never be a bomb. It is marijuana."

On the xray, the operator can't tell exactly what is concealed in the peanut butter, and we have had other items concealed in this fashion. The proper response is to search the container and find out what is there and when it is discovered to be marijuana, we notify LEOs. Just letting an item go because of what is written on it or what label is on it, is not the way to go - if that were the case, I could simply paint a pipe bomb and put a peanut butter label on it and voila!

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

dismantled (missing the cylinder) revolver in a book - not a threat. cmon man!!! this is not "unloaded", it is not a weapon!!! pull your heads out. go back to pre-9/11 security, save the cash and the violations of our rights, and we'll stop just as many plots and capture just as many terrorists. pathetic self-licking-ice-cream-cone of an organization ...

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
"On the xray, the operator can't tell exactly what is concealed in the peanut butter, and we have had other items concealed in this fashion. The proper response is to search the container and find out what is there and when it is discovered to be marijuana, we notify LEOs. Just letting an item go because of what is written on it or what label is on it, is not the way to go - if that were the case, I could simply paint a pipe bomb and put a peanut butter label on it and voila!"

You are being ridiculous here. A small baggie in a peanut butter jar looks different than a pipe bomb even in an X-ray. Even if the baggie contained explosives it isn't big enough to do any real damage. It's not a threat.

Anonymous said...

Bloggers,

What type & scope of counternarcotics training do TSOs receive? Are they trained to know what common illegal drugs look like and where people might try to smuggle them on airplane flights?

Or, do they simply rely on their own personal knowledge?

Given the stakes and impacts on a person's career, even for a false arrest, I would think that your officers would be trained on some sort of level.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
dismantled (missing the cylinder) revolver in a book - not a threat. cmon man!!! this is not "unloaded", it is not a weapon!!! pull your heads out. go back to pre-9/11 security, save the cash and the violations of our rights, and we'll stop just as many plots and capture just as many terrorists. pathetic self-licking-ice-cream-cone of an organization ..."

You are assuming that anybody that would want to do damage would be working alone. If they let things go through because "it was unloaded, it's just bullets, it's just a cylinder" guess what? you just let a complete gun go through. Use some logic folks.

Keep up the good work TSA.

Anonymous said...

One very simple question....

On the TSA home page under "Week In Review", the numbers provided by the TSA for 3-23-12 through 3-29-12 state:

"0 artfully CONCEALED prohibited items found at checkpoints"

Yet, not only does the picture provided on the TSA home page BY THE TSA show a CONCEALED handgun in a hollowed out book BUT the TSA states"

"Find of the Week: Gun CONCEALED in Hollowed Out Book"

and the article for this week's "TSA week in review" states:

"TSA Week in Review: Gun CONCEALED in Hollowed Out Book"

Care to comment on what's wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

It amazes me the uproar over inspecting an "open chambered" gun hidden in a book, "tube-filled" peanut butter jar. How is that an abuse of civil rights? It obviously is an attempt to conceal something. If it is not inspected the truth is unknown. If it looks like a duck and walks like a dog...hmmm, something doesn't add up... THANKS FOR DOING YOUR JOB TSA!

Anonymous said...

This may be my new favorite blog - it's hilarious haha

Anonymous said...

I got caught trying to bring a dangerous weapon on board my flight over the weekend. It was a small 8oz sealed jar of honey that I had accidentally left in my carry-on baggage. Luckily, I didn't have the foresight to split it into 3 containers, or I could have brought it on board and been a major threat to the plane.

Lets face it, the liquids rule is completely arbitrary and completely useless. The only purpose it serves is to anger people. Even in this post of dangerous things caught, there is no mention of any dangerous liquids.

I would much rather have people on board with knives than have government agents rifling through my personal belongings and arbitrarily discarding my toiletries and trip souvenirs for no reason, with no benefit.

Anonymous said...

"On the xray, the operator can't tell exactly what is concealed in the peanut butter, and we have had other items concealed in this fashion. The proper response is to search the container and find out what is there and when it is discovered to be marijuana, we notify LEOs. Just letting an item go because of what is written on it or what label is on it, is not the way to go - if that were the case, I could simply paint a pipe bomb and put a peanut butter label on it and voila!"

1. Is it seriously your claim that a small plastic baggie sitting inside a container of peanut butter could possibly be mistaken for a pipe bomb?

2.Let's assume it could be. Now let's apply that logic to my encounter with a TSA officer. The officer wants to check my bag. I don't know if the officer is a real officer or an impersonator. He could be working for a Mexican cartel and planning to use me as a drug mule. He could be a space alien who wants to implant a tracking device on my bag.

What's that you say? Both of these scenarios are incredibly unlikely and have never, ever happened before, but who cares? We're using TSA logic, where the most important thing is that there is some remote possibility of anything ever happening, we MUST verify that it is not happening. So I guess you won't have any problem with me verifying your officers' immigration status. I guess there won't be any problem with me performing a quick genitalia check (don't worry! we can do it in private if you prefer!) to make sure that they are a human being. Isn't that right?

3. Can you please identify the legal principle that requires that you inform law enforcement when you do find small amounts of marijuana?

4. I stand by my claim: if you find a small plastic baggie concealed in a jar of peanut butter, it is not a bomb. It has never been a bomb. It will never be a bomb.

5. Have you EVER found any kind of explosives concealed in a peanut butter jar?

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
Just letting an item go because of what is written on it or what label is on it, is not the way to go - if that were the case, I could simply paint a pipe bomb and put a peanut butter label on it and voila!

And a terrorist can pour their 20 ounces of Evul Liquids into several 3.4 ounce bottles, stuff them in a baggie, "and voila".

OR they can put it in a "contact lens cleaner" bottle (or similar 'medical liquid' bottle) "and voila".

OR they can pay $100 and get put on the Trusted-Taveler-Pre-Check-people-who-don't-need-to-be-screened-as-well program, "and voila".

OR they can get a job at a concession stand behind the checkpoint, and slip something into the next delivery they wheel past the TSA. "and voila".

OR they can simply bribe a TSA employee. "and voila".

What was your point again??

Anonymous said...

That makes since West. You guys should focus on why’s for this blog instead of end results. Even if something goes wrong, post about what you guys learned and what you’re going to do to fix it. I think you guys would earn a lot more respect that way. Yes I said earned.

Anonymous said...

Please fix off topic comments page - no way to read beyond 200.

Sarkari Naukri said...

I do take pleasure in understanding your posts on what is caught Bob. It is rather disheartening that items disqualified since the 70's are routinely confiscate. I heard stories in the 80's about what was confiscated at Kansas City International when I worked there fresh out of high school. It's not something new but even more publicity sadly isn't helping eliminate it. Now yes a critic can say it is tooting your own horn but it still needs to be said.

I'm not asset my breath though on the week in review of what TSA workers have been arrested or convicted of though. The Miami Herald has a disturbing report posted online on 3/28. Two TSA employees trashed their hotel room and fired six shots from a semi automatic weapon impacting in a Barney's store nearby. I'm aware these kind of story could easily apply to a lot of employers with a workforce as large as TSA. Wackenhut, who employed me at KCI before I went off to college, has had their reputation tarnished by the same things. I'm sure some other posters will have unkind things to say about them as well. Unfortunately it reinforces the image TSA has at the front lines of the inmate running the refuge. It would be uplifting to read how they have been removed from employment and are example of behavior TSA will not tolerate. with any luck they will be dismiss as it's to far over the line even for TSA but retraining seems to be the recurring mantra.

TSm said...

Quoted:
"KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK TSA -- I'm pretty sure that the 3000+ people that died on 9/11 wouldn't have a problem with a little inconvenience at a security checkpoint."

I'm pretty sure you have no idea what each of those 3000 people believed and it's very presumptuous of you to pretend you speak for them.

April 1, 2012 10:11 AM
--------------------
Actually, when the families of 9/11 victims travel through our checkpoints, they have handed out thank you notes to our screeners for the screening process. So, yeah, I guess they are speaking for themselves in that case, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Well, it still hasn't happened after 10 years... So....

March 31, 2012 9:38 AM

And you should know that what you've said sure sounds like a challenge. Clearly you have your head in the sand.

I can guarantee you that when TSA violates my rights, I will take names, ranks and badge numbers ON THE SPOT so I know who exactly to sue. Remember that if you violate a person's civil rights, you can be sued PERSONALLY as well as the TSA as a whole.

There are a growing number of us with disabilities who are ready to take immediate action if you violate our civil or disability rights under Federal law (which, by the way, you are not above.)

(Screen shot)

April 1, 2012 1:08 AM
--------------------
I woundln't hold my breath on that law suit. As I said, hasn't happened yet.
Lots of PR - sure.
Modification to procedures - sure. (more like mollification if you ask me - look it up.)

Gilbert said...

Marijuana in a jar of peanut butter. Two birds, one stone.

Anonymous said...

And yet another problem caused by the TSA shutting down an airport because of a forgotten kids science project.

http://www.webpronews.com/students-science-project-shuts-down-dallas-airport-2012-04

TSA, why do you hate science?

RB said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2124997/TSA-screener-JFK-hurled-hot-coffee-American-Airlines-pilot-told-stop-swearing.html


TSA screener at JFK 'hurled hot coffee at American Airlines pilot who told her to stop swearing'

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

Another quality TSA employee showing the world why TSA was a very bad idea and should be disbanded.

Anonymous said...

RE: "....KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK TSA"

The comment should have ended with "It is great theater. It is a shame that you are doing absolutely nothing to make us safer, and you are trampling all over the constitution and rights of citizens."

Utah Concealed Carry said...

Why do you separate loaded and round chambered, in my opinion, a gun isn't loaded unless it can fire. Therefore unless there is a round in the chamber it is unloaded. Though the ATF doesn't understand how guns work, I can't expect TSA to.

Jfish said...

I have some skills in x-ray and color immerging I am a cadidate for the TSA/TSO openning in my city ( Lexington Ky)
I am yet awaiting the day to put my skills to work coupling with the force that TSA has to train a
cadidate like my self.
In so many words I think highly of this work of TSA/TSO we should, had this in place years ago.Go head on do your part in keeping us safe. I back you all the way.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2124997/TSA-screener-JFK-hurled-hot-coffee-American-Airlines-pilot-told-stop-swearing.html

I'm betting she had over 3 oz. of coffee in that cup -- a weapon used by a TSA agent on a passenger? C'mon.

Anonymous said...

Any comments on the TSA employee who attacked a pilot when he asked he to act professionally while on duty? Let me guess, she'll receive extra training...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2124997/TSA-screener-JFK-hurled-hot-coffee-American-Airlines-pilot-told-stop-swearing.html

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Even if the baggie contained explosives it isn't big enough to do any real damage. It's not a threat."

Even small amounts of explosives are dangerous in the right situation. Transporting explosives is against the regulations.

Another Anon sez - "THANKS FOR DOING YOUR JOB TSA!"

You are welcome, and thanks for the kind words! We try our best.

Another Anon sez - "1. Is it seriously your claim that a small plastic baggie sitting inside a container of peanut butter could possibly be mistaken for a pipe bomb?"

No

And - "4. I stand by my claim: if you find a small plastic baggie concealed in a jar of peanut butter, it is not a bomb. It has never been a bomb. It will never be a bomb."

I am unable to predict the future, due to that limitation, I hope TSA will continue to clear things like this (and I do not see a change to the SOP on clearing items like this anytime soon) because it could be something that is a threat.

And - "5. Have you EVER found any kind of explosives concealed in a peanut butter jar?"

No.

Another Anon sez - "What was your point again??"

That allowing items to go through without proper screening based simply on their label or outward appearance is not smart.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "TSA, why do you hate science?"

We don't. This was a case of an undidentified item and the area near it being cleared out for the safety of all. I do not have many details about the incident, but this sounds like a typical area clearing/evacuation associated with objects that are unidentified/unattended - and are unable to be cleared visually.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"I am unable to predict the future, due to that limitation, I hope TSA will continue to clear things like this (and I do not see a change to the SOP on clearing items like this anytime soon) because it could be something that is a threat. "
**********************************************
I am also unable to predict the future. Due to that limitation, I hope TSA will start to check all bus passengers to make sure that they are not Martian invaders.

I hope TSA will carefully inspect all coffee served on Amtrak trains to make sure that it is not laced with cyanide.

I hope that TSA will ensure that all pillows on airplanes are securely sewed down so that no one can smother me as a sleep.

West-- you seem like an intelligent enough person. Can you not see the absolute absurdity of your approach in this situation?

Anonymous said...

TSA should limit their screeners' to coffee cups to hold no more than 3 ounces of hot liquid.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
Another Anon sez - "What was your point again??"

That allowing items to go through without proper screening based simply on their label or outward appearance is not smart.


Yet the TSA does it all the time, as shown by those examples.

Thus, you have proven the TSA is not smart.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "West-- you seem like an intelligent enough person. Can you not see the absolute absurdity of your approach in this situation?"

If by approach, you mean clearing an unidentified object/material artfully concealed in a jar of peanut butter to be absurd, then I guess we will simply have to disagree. I will give you that more often than not, it will be something like illegal drugs or something valuable that someone wishes to transport safely, however, to not clear that item to make certain it is not something dangerous would be wrong in many ways.

P.S. Thank you for the kind words!

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

The peanut butter jar appears to be equal to or less than 1 quart in size. Let's say there are no drugs in there, why isn't that container allowed? If he had put the peanut butter into 3.4 oz containers and placed them in a 1 quart bag, it would have been allowed. The overall container that the peanut butter would have been in would be 1 quart or less. Why should the container matter? If it's a baggie or a jar, the amount of material is still limited to one quart. It doesn't make any sense.

I really would like an answer from the TSA on this question. A quart of material is still a quart, no matter what container it is in. There is nothing stopping someone from combining their liquids and gels after leaving the checkpoint.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
"That allowing items to go through without proper screening based simply on their label or outward appearance is not smart."

How about by size, is that smart? Apparently allowing items through based on size is OK since 3oz of liquid is fine but 3.5oz is not.

Why do you worry about people assembling the parts of a gun after security, but ignore people combining containers of liquid.

At least make an attempt at consistency.

Anonymous said...

"If by approach, you mean clearing an unidentified object/material artfully concealed in a jar of peanut butter to be absurd, then I guess we will simply have to disagree. I will give you that more often than not, it will be something like illegal drugs or something valuable that someone wishes to transport safely, however, to not clear that item to make certain it is not something dangerous would be wrong in many ways."
****************************************************

West-
First, I want to thank you for discussing these matters in a relatively measured and adult tone. It would be nice if we could have more people like you who can have a civil disagreement without injecting a dose of immature humor (see: "things that go BOOM!")

That being said, I'd really, really like you to give some thought to the question I've been trying to ask you in this thread: Is there any other context that you would apply the logic that you are applying to airplanes? You insist that it is necessary to clear all suspicious objects because they could be a threat. (Please let me know if I am misstating your argument.) Is this a principle that you are willing to apply in other areas of life? If so, how is what you are talking about not a police state? If not, what makes an airplane so different than a bus, a taxi, a theater, a public street, etc. etc. that you would be willing to apply police state logic?

I'd also appreciate an answer to point 3 of my post of April 2:
"3. Can you please identify the legal principle that requires that you inform law enforcement when you do find small amounts of marijuana?"

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "First, I want to thank you for discussing these matters in a relatively measured and adult tone. It would be nice if we could have more people like you who can have a civil disagreement without injecting a dose of immature humor (see: "things that go BOOM!")"

Thank you for the kind words, however, I rather like the level of humor here, it provides some break from the stuffy feel that most sites have - I even make a few attempts at humor myself from time to time. The point of this site is to communicate, and many times using humor gets the message across to more people than some dry commentary would. I wish we could get away with more humor in our posts.

Anon sez - "Is there any other context that you would apply the logic that you are applying to airplanes?"

Of course, any time you are in a quality control situation you would apply the same logic. In many security environs you apply the same logic that is in evidence here at TSA. I come from a physical security background, so my idea of security is vastly different than many folks out there. I understand that the situation should dictate the level of security, and this is the case for airline security as well - the Head Shed determines the policy, the TSOs on the front line implement those determinations. Currently TSA operates pretty much under a one size fits all paradigm - there are good and bad points about this. Just like most folks that work at any job - most TSOs have policies they agree with, and disagree with - and in most cases it is for the same reasons, either they do not have all the information used to reach that decision, or they personally disagree with the final decision based on their own experiences.

And also sez - "3. Can you please identify the legal principle that requires that you inform law enforcement when you do find small amounts of marijuana?"

I do not have a specific USC or regulation that I can provide for that particular information, but the training and leadership coaching here at TSA has always been the exact same message for me - Do not look specifically for anything that is not a threat, however if you happen to find what appears to be illegal substances while looking for a threat item, stop and notify the LEOs. That is the same policy that has been posted here at the blog and has been consistent during my time here at TSA.

West
TSA Blog Team

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "The peanut butter jar appears to be equal to or less than 1 quart in size. Let's say there are no drugs in there, why isn't that container allowed?"

The best explanation I can give you is that Peanut Butter is determined as a paste/gel substance. According to my training and time here, liquids, gels, aerosols, pastes, essentially anything that oozes of it's own volition, can be spread like the peanut butter, or flows like water (and the requisite all aerosols over 3.4 oz) can't go unless it is 3.4 oz (for our European readers, that is roughly 100ml) or less in size.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
"According to my training and time here, liquids, gels, aerosols, pastes, essentially anything that oozes of it's own volition, can be spread like the peanut butter, or flows like water (and the requisite all aerosols over 3.4 oz) can't go unless it is 3.4 oz (for our European readers, that is roughly 100ml) or less in size."

You avoided the main point of the question. How is one large container more dangerous than multiple small containers with the same quantity of material? I know we will never get an actual answer to this because it's impossible to defend.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...

...It would be nice if we could have more people like you who can have a civil disagreement without injecting a dose of immature humor

Have you read some of Bob's blog posts?

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "GSOLTSO said...

...It would be nice if we could have more people like you who can have a civil disagreement without injecting a dose of immature humor

Have you read some of Bob's blog posts?"

I actually was quoting what someone else said, and then indicated that I like the level of humor on the blog as is. I have read most of Bob's posts (I am sure I have missed a couple of them from time to time), and think they are just fine. When he is posting about certain subjects, he has some humor injected into the posts - when he is posting about others, he does not. I like the way we post things here, it keeps this blog from being another bland or dry blog in a sea of them.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

it keeps this blog from being another bland or dry blog in a sea of them.

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

When the "discussion" is one sided, it is demonstrates a lack of respect for the traveling public. Until those responsible for the blog consistently engage posters by answering questions,the blog will never fulfill its potential

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
"The best explanation I can give you is that Peanut Butter is determined as a paste/gel substance."

If a jar of peanut butter by itself is not allowed, then what was the point in searching inside it? The entire jar should have just been taken, there was no reason to dig inside it.

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
Anon sez - "The peanut butter jar appears to be equal to or less than 1 quart in size. Let's say there are no drugs in there, why isn't that container allowed?"

The best explanation I can give you is that Peanut Butter is determined as a paste/gel substance. According to my training and time here, liquids, gels, aerosols, pastes, essentially anything that oozes of it's own volition, can be spread like the peanut butter, or flows like water (and the requisite all aerosols over 3.4 oz) can't go unless it is 3.4 oz (for our European readers, that is roughly 100ml) or less in size.

West
TSA Blog Team

April 6, 2012 5:03 AM
.................
Why are as many 3.4 oz containers of peanut butter that will fit in a one quart platic bag safe when the total of those 3.4 oz containers moved into one container not safe?

Can TSA demonstrate the science behind this?

While on the science of TSA restricitons demonstrate a one part liquid explosive that can be safely carried or a two part (or more) liquid explosive that can be mixed onboard an airplane with only the items avialble on the aircraft to aide in the mixing. That means no way to control the temperature.

Anonymous said...

Hey GSOLTSO...I know why peanut butter and mayo is banned. Although I'm not sure if I would call them a liquid or gel. I'm just curious why the container matters. I have a 16 oz container of peanut butter on my counter. I can't take that as is through security. I can even fit it into a quart size baggie. However, if I can take the contents of that jar and put it into 3.4 oz containers and place them in the baggie, I can take them through security. It's the same amount of peanut butter, just in different containers. A quart is a quart, no matter if it's a jar or a baggie.

I think the TSA could get some good PR if they loosened up the liquid restrictions and other things like shoe removal. People would be happy they could carry a bottle of water through security instead of paying $3 for the same bottle past security. I could tke that same bottle of water and put it in 3.4 oz containers and take that water through security. Somehow if it's in a half-liter bottle, then it's somehow more dangerous. It doesn't make sense.

RB said...

I do not have a specific USC or regulation that I can provide for that particular information, but the training and leadership coaching here at TSA has always been the exact same message for me - Do not look specifically for anything that is not a threat, however if you happen to find what appears to be illegal substances while looking for a threat item, stop and notify the LEOs. That is the same policy that has been posted here at the blog and has been consistent during my time here at TSA.

West
TSA Blog Team
..................
And no one questions the trainers on the points of legal orders?

Is this concept the same that led to the Bierfeldt incident, an incident in which TSA was clearly in the wrong?

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "If a jar of peanut butter by itself is not allowed, then what was the point in searching inside it? The entire jar should have just been taken, there was no reason to dig inside it."

Because there was an object inside that was unidentified and could have possibly been a threat item. If it were something dangerous like explosives, it would have to be responded to in a different manner.

RB sez - "Why are as many 3.4 oz containers of peanut butter that will fit in a one quart platic bag safe when the total of those 3.4 oz containers moved into one container not safe?

Can TSA demonstrate the science behind this?

While on the science of TSA restricitons demonstrate a one part liquid explosive that can be safely carried or a two part (or more) liquid explosive that can be mixed onboard an airplane with only the items avialble on the aircraft to aide in the mixing. That means no way to control the temperature."

The only response I can actually give you on those questions can be found here : http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/08/talk-to-tsa-response-are-liquids-really.html

Sorry, but that is the best answer I have RB.

RB also sez - "Is this concept the same that led to the Bierfeldt incident, an incident in which TSA was clearly in the wrong?"

I can't speak as to what lead to the Bierfeldt incident.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
Because there was an object inside that was unidentified and could have possibly been a threat item. If it were something dangerous like explosives, it would have to be responded to in a different manner.

..........

But the theory behind not allowing the peanut butter in the first place is that it is a threat item. Do you not see the hypocrisy/inconsistency here? Peanut butter in a 16 oz jar is not allowed because it is a threat, yet when it is seized, it is not treated as a threat, correct?

RB said...

RB also sez - "Is this concept the same that led to the Bierfeldt incident, an incident in which TSA was clearly in the wrong?"

I can't speak as to what lead to the Bierfeldt incident.

West
TSA Blog Team

April 6, 2012 1:03 PM
................
Poppycock.

The Bierfeldt incident was directly caused by a TSA Management Directive that exceeded the scope of TSA's authority to inspect for WEI.

That's what happens when front line employees don't question the trainers or the SOP.

Anonymous said...

Back on April 2, 2012, at 12:22 PM, I asked you about the type and scope of training TSO's receive to be able to identify common illegal drugs. I was hoping you would have not ignored my question.

The reason I ask is because I had a job as a city building inspector during my college & early working days. I would generally have access to the insides of apartments and single-family houses in order to conduct building code inspections.

We were specifically told to be on the look-out for illegal drugs which we might encounter during these inspections. They didn't want us to make a big deal about it or to even let on that we had seen the drugs. But, they did want us to report what we had seen.

The city & county police were very interested in us helping them because we could go places they couldn't go and see things they couldn't see.

Although not reqired, the local police trainers held lunch-time training sessions every once in a while where they brought in samples of illegal drugs, showed us powerpoint slides of what they looked like, and told us where we were likely to find them during the course of our inspections. They said they wanted to make sure we knew what to look for because they didn't want to conduct a raid and not find anything.

This appeared as a sound approach to make sure we augmented law enforcement without people finding out we were doing this. I'll ask again if the TSA does the same type of thing. I don't think it's a smart thing to rely on your officers' personal experience or what they may have seen on TV or in the movies.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

oterGSOLTSO said..."Because there was an object inside that was unidentified and could have possibly been a threat item. If it were something dangerous like explosives, it would have to be responded to in a different manner.


Is this an admission from the TSA that the thousands upon thousands of items that are confiscated and discarded with no further inspection daily, have been correctly identified as non threat items? Are they then taken simply to inconvenience travelers or is it meant to remind us of your petty abuses of power? Please explain.

Anonymous said...

As far as the coffee incident - I guess you guys didn't read the line "...... before trying to grab the ID tags of screener El to get her name......"
Reagardless of why the pilot attempted to grab her tags, at the point that he reached for her, he was committing assault. I would have made sure it was hot, black, and scalding and went for his eyes!

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
"Because there was an object inside that was unidentified and could have possibly been a threat item. If it were something dangerous like explosives, it would have to be responded to in a different manner."

But containers with more than 3oz of liquid are also considered possible threat items by the TSA and they just go in the garbage, Once again, your policies aren't consistent.

Anonymous said...

"KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK TSA -- I'm pretty sure that the 3000+ people that died on 9/11 wouldn't have a problem with a little inconvenience at a security checkpoint. Real or not real -- in God we trust -- let the rest of the world get security screened!!"

Sorry, I know someone who was horribly injured on 9/11 at the Pentagon who thinks the TSA is the most unconstitional afront to the Republic since its foundation.

Please don't speak for others to bolster your federal job.

Anonymous said...

"...3.4 oz (for our European readers, that is roughly 100ml) or less in size. "

Actually, it's that size for all readers.

The 3/1/1 policy was generated by a Special Advisor to the President who has no technical background. It's a total PR response to the largely non-existent threat.

The question I have is that years later and 10s of billions of dollars spent and our "crack" TSA workforce still can't tell bottled water from an explosive? Ridiculous.

TSORon said...

Anonymous said...
[[Bloggers,

What type & scope of counternarcotics training do TSOs receive? Are they trained to know what common illegal drugs look like and where people might try to smuggle them on airplane flights?

Or, do they simply rely on their own personal knowledge?

Given the stakes and impacts on a person's career, even for a false arrest, I would think that your officers would be trained on some sort of level.]]

Honestly Anon, we are given no formal training on this subject. Nor should we receive such (IMO), we are not law enforcement officers and therefore have no legal authority to arrest anyone other than the authority granted the average citizen. The law enforcement officers we call when we find something we are not trained to deal with on the other hand, do have this training. So while we may find it, we know to call the professionals in this area. A “false arrest” would only be a concern for the arresting officer and his agency, not that of the TSA.

I personally have a great deal of training and experience in the area you have concerns with, but I neither use that training as a TSO nor do I ever want to. Many TSO’s have similar experience to mine, many are former law enforcement officers, former military police, or come from similar backgrounds. It’s not our job to investigate these things, so we don’t.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Peanut butter in a 16 oz jar is not allowed because it is a threat, yet when it is seized, it is not treated as a threat, correct?"

Peanut Butter surrendered to the TSOs at the checkpoint are disposed of according to policy, just like the other surrendered LAG items.

RB sez - "
Poppycock.

The Bierfeldt incident was directly caused by a TSA Management Directive that exceeded the scope of TSA's authority to inspect for WEI."

Again, I can't comment on what led to the Bierfeldt incident, I was not there.

Anon sez - "I asked you about the type and scope of training TSO's receive to be able to identify common illegal drugs. I was hoping you would have not ignored my question."

I have not had specific training from TSA on illicit drugs or anything like that. We are told that if we have suspicions about something to contact the STSO (who will then contact the LEO) and have someone that has had that type of training to assess the items and determine where to go from there.

Anon sez - "Actually, it's that size for all readers."

Correct, it was merely an indicator to our European readers in case they were unfamiliar with the conversion.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"We were specifically told to be on the look-out for illegal drugs which we might encounter during these inspections. They didn't want us to make a big deal about it or to even let on that we had seen the drugs. But, they did want us to report what we had seen."

That is a huge admission. The fact that you were specifically alerted to look out for drugs by LE means that the results of those searches are likely to be excluded. I only hope that if you are questioned under oath, that you will tell the truth. The screener history of being honest under oath is not good.

JoJo said...

"Anonymous said...
As far as the coffee incident - I guess you guys didn't read the line "...... before trying to grab the ID tags of screener El to get her name......"
Reagardless of why the pilot attempted to grab her tags, at the point that he reached for her, he was committing assault. I would have made sure it was hot, black, and scalding and went for his eyes!"

---

Quite pathetic, really. You would deserve the same punishment (and if you're serious and not an internet tough guy which I am assuming is probably the case, you eventually will).

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Peanut butter in a 16 oz jar is not allowed because it is a threat, yet when it is seized, it is not treated as a threat, correct?"

Peanut Butter surrendered to the TSOs at the checkpoint are disposed of according to policy, just like the other surrendered LAG items.

.......

Just so we're all clear here, you're saying it is policy to open up a potential threat item, e.g., a jar of peanut butter confiscated by the screener, to search for non-threats, e.g., leafy organic substances?

Anonymous said...

"Anon sez - "Actually, it's that size for all readers."

Correct, it was merely an indicator to our European readers in case they were unfamiliar with the conversion."

Thanks, West. I'm sure millions were informed.

That really wasn't the point of the post you excerpted though, was it? With billions spent, why can't the TSA identify harmful liquids from water, peanut butter or mayonnaise? Personally, I think it's a mixture of vast organization incompetence combined with the idea that confiscating material from your fellow American citizens makes TSA "the man" (a description a TSA used to describe himself on this blog a couple of weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Questions for TSORon, who posted on April 7, 2012, at 4:05 PM.

Sir,

I'm a bit confused by your response. Clearly, TSOs must have some idea what narcotics look like or they wouldn't call a law enforcement officer to the checkpoint in the first place. My concern is that they have some sort of training to be able to tell the difference between marijuana and oregano or between powered cocaine and regular table sugar.

Given your extensive knowledge of illegal drugs per your response, why wouldn't you want to use that knowledge to train others and put it to good use to keep drug users off airplanes? I sure don't want a pot-head sitting next to me.

Thanks for keeping us safe.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - ""We were specifically told to be on the look-out for illegal drugs which we might encounter during these inspections. They didn't want us to make a big deal about it or to even let on that we had seen the drugs. But, they did want us to report what we had seen."

That is a huge admission. The fact that you were specifically alerted to look out for drugs by LE means that the results of those searches are likely to be excluded. I only hope that if you are questioned under oath, that you will tell the truth. The screener history of being honest under oath is not good."

That was a comment by someone that indicates they were a building inspector, not a TSO.

Anon sez - "Just so we're all clear here, you're saying it is policy to open up a potential threat item, e.g., a jar of peanut butter confiscated by the screener, to search for non-threats, e.g., leafy organic substances?"

No. The item will be opened to clear for something that could be a threat, such as unidentified items/substances in the middle of a hollow spot in the middle of a peanut butter jar.

Anon sez - "Thanks, West. I'm sure millions were informed."

Awesome! =)

Anon also sez - "That really wasn't the point of the post you excerpted though, was it? With billions spent, why can't the TSA identify harmful liquids from water, peanut butter or mayonnaise? Personally, I think it's a mixture of vast organization incompetence combined with the idea that confiscating material from your fellow American citizens makes TSA "the man" (a description a TSA used to describe himself on this blog a couple of weeks ago."

There is a technological limitation on some of the machines we use (unable to tell what is mayo/what is not mayo).

Currently the regulations on LAG indicate that all of the items you mention are not allowed to procede in carry on bags in larger than 3.4 ozs or 100 ml sizes in a 1 quart resealable plastic baggie.

I can't speak for others that work for TSA, but I do not confiscate things (per SOP), and if I were to confiscate something, it would not, in turn make me "the man" - quite the contrary, it would simply be part of the job. TSA offers options on most prohibited items when they are encountered in the checkpoint - you can take the item back out of the checkpoint and consume/use/dispose of it yourself, you can take it back to your vehicle if you have one there, at some checkpoints you can mail the object back to yourself, you can give the item to a family member or friend outside of the checkpoint, you can (in some cases) take the item back out and try to put it in your checked luggage, or as an option - you can voluntarily surrender the item to TSA for disposal. Some items are handled differently, like threat items (Weapons, Explosives and incendiaries), and can require LEO interaction.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...

No. The item will be opened to clear for something that could be a threat, such as unidentified items/substances in the middle of a hollow spot in the middle of a peanut butter jar.

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

But the jar of peanut butter is ALREADY deemed a threat, and is not allowed past the checkpoint. So, why would they investigate further, rather than throw the whole thing in the trash, as a full jar of peanut butter would have been?

You're between a rock and a hard place here. Either they are looking specifically for drugs, or peanut butter is not actually a threat. Or both. I'm leaning toward both.

Promotional Products said...

I'm not sure why so many people are giving the TSA agents on hard time on here. They're following guidelines that have been laid out for them by the federal government. They can't choose to let one thing slide and not another.

Granted, like any system, there is going to be flaws, but they're just trying to keep everyone safe. If something did slip by, they would receive the brunt of criticism.

My .02 Cents.

-Matt

Anonymous said...

The only reason why TSA searches are even allowed to be conducted at all, is because the good old 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to allow the federal government to circumvent the US Constitution regarding illegal search and seizure relating to screening at airports and this is only to be used to search for explosives or weapons. How could anyone be convicted of a crime if the evidence (drugs hidden in PB) was obtained in an illegal search falling outside the scope of the TSA's authority?

Anonymous said...

@Matt - your sad argument is one reason why this country is in such trouble...

Automated Machines said...

A lot of strong opinions here. I have not flown since 9/11, so have not experienced some of the things others have in going through the screenings.

I do have concerns with some of the reports highlighted here about some of the abuses exhibited by TSO agents. More training will not result in behavioral changes. That can only come through moral change.