Friday, June 8, 2012

TSA Week in Review – Inert Detonator Discovered in Checked Bag


An inert detonator was discovered in a checked bag at Harrisburg (MDT).
Inert Detonator Discovered in Checked Bag – An inert detonator was discovered in a checked bag at Harrisburg (MDT). The individual had been at a conference where the items were given out as souvenirs. We’re all too familiar with instructors and other people in this type of business needing these types of items for their jobs, but as with all inert training items and replica’s, we don’t know they’re not real until we’ve gone through all the motions. These motions can include evacuated baggage areas and closed checkpoints which lead to delays and missed flights. People that need to travel with INERT items should plan ahead and contact their preferred shipper about mailing the training aids to their destination.

Distraction grenades, knives, loaded guns.
Co2 Distraction Grenades – These are used in Airsoft war games, and when they detonate, they make a very loud explosive sound that’s designed to distract the enemy. There are some problems when flying with these. To begin with, they look like grenades, which can cause some concern and delay. Also, compressed gas cylinders are prohibited by the FAA from air travel and I doubt passengers would appreciate a very loud explosive sound in the cabin if it happened to detonate.

These swords were discovered at Salt Lake City (SLC).
Swords Discovered In Guitar Case – I’ve heard of keeping your “axe” in a guitar case, but not your swords. These swords were discovered at Salt Lake City (SLC). The passenger didn’t know that swords were prohibited in carry-on bags.

Blades in the Strangest Places - It’s one thing to forget you had a knife or other bladed object in your bag, but when you intentionally try to sneak it past us, you could wind up being cited or even arrested by law enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where passengers tried to sneak them past our Officers.
A multi-tool knife was discovered concealed in the bottom of a thermos at Phoenix (PHX). The passenger admitted putting it there in an attempt to get it through.
A multi-tool knife was discovered bound to the inner workings of the pull handle of a bag with rubber bands at Salt Lake City (SLC).
A knife was found taped to the support inside the lining of a carry-on bag at Dulles (IAD).
A sword was found concealed inside a cane at Tampa (TPA).
A razor blade was found concealed in the sole of a shoe at Houston (IAH).
Foggy Notion - Yet another live smoke grenade was found in carry-on luggage. Not only would a smoke filled cabin cause problems, but these get extremely hot when used and can cause a fire. This time the smoke grenade was discovered at Tampa (TPA).

Body Scanner Discoveries This Week – There were a total of 12 illegal and prohibited items discovered this week with the body scanners at HOU, SFO, LAX, MKE, SFO, SAN, ATL, OMA, SNA, MOB and PBI. Among the items were a punching weapon, strike anywhere matches, drugs, drug paraphernalia, and a gentleman at Houston (HOU) had a half full bottle of whiskey stuffed in his waistband. Finding these types of items in areas where explosives could also be hidden is a testament that the technology works. And while it isn’t prohibited, a passenger wearing a chastity belt alarmed the body scanner at one of our checkpoints. I’m sure you can imagine where an undergarment such as this might be a problem at a security checkpoint. Especially if there is no key.

People Say the Darndest Things – Here is an example of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:

A passenger at Bangor (BGR) said the following to an Officer who was performing gate screening. “It’s a good thing when you searched my bag you didn’t find my revolver.”

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, ammunition, batons, and more knives than you can shake a stick at.  

4 loaded firearms.
4 loaded firearms.
22 firearms discovered. 18 were loaded.
Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

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.

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.



35 comments:

RB said...

Body Scanner Discoveries This Week – There were a total of 12 illegal and prohibited items discovered this week with the body scanners at HOU, SFO, LAX, MKE, SFO, SAN, ATL, OMA, SNA, MOB and PBI. Among the items were a punching weapon, strike anywhere matches, drugs, drug paraphernalia, and a gentleman at Houston (HOU) had a half full bottle of whiskey stuffed in his waistband.

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

I just reviewed the TSA Prohibited Iems List and do not see drugs or drug paraphernalia listed.

Is TSA continuing its illegal searches for item that are not WEI?

Anonymous said...

When you found the smoke grenades, did you also check for 5 lbs. of C4? I ask because you may remember that you missed 5 lbs. of C4 when you found the smoke grenades in that Green Beret's bag in Fayetteville, NC.

Anonymous said...

Love the axe/guitar comment.

Mike Toreno said...

Hahaha, Bob, you used the phrase "go through the motions correctly although you didn't understand what it meant:

go through the motions

verb

to do something out of obligation rather than desire, without devoting any significant effort

http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/go-through-the-motions

That's all the TSA has done since it started - gone through the motions. Too bad it pays 50,000 people and spends $8 billion per year doing it.

Anonymous said...

One event of the week that you failed to mention was the spanking your boss got on Capitol Hill. I would appreciate any comment you might want to share concerning that event. It would seem that more and more Americans are becoming fed up with the rude, aggorant attitude of your TSOs.

Anonymous said...

>> Finding these types of items in areas
>> where explosives could also be hidden
>> is a testament that the technology works.

Mr. Burns, please stop repeating this lie. Do you truly believe what you write?

Here's an analogy in terms you might better understand: Suppose you have an outfielder who over the course of a baseball season made fifteen spectacular catches, robbing the batter of a home run each time. You'd say he's a darned good fielder, right? Well, what if I next told you that he also made 90 errors on routine plays. Would you change your mind?

Without knowing how many prohibited items may have been missed, your claims are scientifically meaningless.

But since when did your organization ever use any scientific method to back up its policies?

[Screenshot taken.]

Anonymous said...

"Finding these types of items in areas where explosives could also be hidden is a testament that the technology works."

Bob, stop repeating this fallacy. Repeating the lie every week doesn't make it any more true.

Imagine the following: Suppose I have a so-called scanning machine that is programmed to alarm on every fourth passenger, regardless of what the passenger is carrying. And suppose that one of every 100 passengers is carrying drugs. If I scan 10,000 passengers, the machine will alarm on 2,500 of them, and around 25 of those will be found to be carrying drugs.

I then proclaim the machine a success, since it found hidden items on 25 passengers.

This is EXACTLY what you are proclaiming about AIT.

Do you ever stop to think about what you write? Or do you simply copy the above statement from some blurb text file every time you write your weekly TSA police log?

(Screenshot taken.)

Anonymous said...

So...out of the millions of passengers who go through airports, you found 12 things with your illegal cancer machines...none of which are a threat to a plane? And THAT'S what you choose to highlight to justify your agency's exist.

I believe this is what is referred to by the internet as an "epic fail."

Adrian said...

Matches are not allowed?

When returning home from a trip, our checked baggage was selected for hand screening at the ticket counter. The screener found a box of matches my wife picked up as a souvenir from a fancy restaurant. The screener explained that we could not put matches in checked baggage and that we should simply carry the matches onboard.

I found this surprising, and I asked for clarification several times. I even held up the matches as I went through the security checkpoint and asked if I could carry them onboard, and the answer was "of course".

Anonymous said...

Far from being a "testament that the technology works," this post only gives reason to question what we're getting for the billion dollars the TSA has spent on scanners.

Last week, millions of passengers played their obligatory shoeless walk-on roles in TSA Security Theatre productions around the country. But Bob proudly reports that, among all those millions of passengers screened, the scanners found a total of twelve "illegal and prohibited items." The "punching weapon" might have posed a threat to aviation comparable to, say, a laptop computer thrown at a member of the flight crew. But the matches, drugs, drug paraphernalia, and whiskey bottle were false positives. They may have violated the law and the War on Liquids, but not even Bob would presume to claim they posed any threat to aviation.

All the other "catches" (including the chastity belt) were metallic objects that could have been detected with the technology in place before the TSA existed.

This minuscule number of false positives spun into "catches" is apparently the best Bob can come up with to back up his continuing insistence that "the technology works." But the only thing this "testament" proves is that the scanners are the TSA's latest fraudulent boondoggle. They waste a billion dollars of taxpayer money at a time of deficits, recession, and persistent high unemployment. And they unnecessarily expose passengers to an unknown risk from radiation exposure, while also unnecessarily subjecting them to known humiliation and the risk of theft or loss of their property. Just because this technology enriches Michael Chertoff doesn't make it good security.

Sorry Bob. Every one of these weekly posts undermines your assertion that the "enhancements" the TSA has made to airport screening since 9/11 provide any better security.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the scanners are good for one thing and that is finding drugs. In all of the body scanner discoveries, I've counted only two things that would be a threat to a person, but not the plane. They are the punching weapon this week and the tactical spike earlier.

The whiskey is not a threat. It could have been divided up into 3.4 oz bottles and easily fit into a quart bag. That would have been allowed even though it's the same volume as in the larger container. It just doesn't make any sense that several small containers of a liquid are allowed but not one large container containing that same volume.

Jerome Solanum said...

"when you intentionally try to sneak it past us, you could wind up being cited or even arrested by law enforcement."

Blogger Bob - I've got a question for you about this part above I quoted. I'm not trying to do anything bad, but I didn't know it was illegal by the TSA. Can you tell me what the penalty is for having a knife at the airport? Is it a TSA penalty, or a local police penalty?

Anonymous said...

"I’m sure you can imagine where an undergarment such as this might be a problem at a security checkpoint."

No I can not imagine why anyone's innocuous personal undergarments should present a problem at a security checkpoint. On the other hand the bombs that have been put in underwear have or would have gone right through TSA with no objections? I am confused.

"Especially if there is no key."

Oh right. If you attempt to circumvent TSA molestation you are a threat that must be at a minimum publicly humiliated. Thanks for explicitly making that clear.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in seeing these additional metrics for week ending June 7:

How many false positive scanner alarms required a pat down of the passenger for resolution, but yielded no "illegal and prohibited items" that could be reported here as a "testament"? Specifically, things like sanitary napkins, incompletely emptied pockets, or folds or seams in clothing that triggered the scanner's alarm algorithm.

You'd think Pistole's his leadership team would consider this information useful. It could determine how much time screeners are wasting on false alarms, and help Chertoff refine his scanner's algorithms. Alternatively, it could quantify the increase in intrusive harassment of the enemy (i.e., passengers), which is how the TSA seems to define "security."

How many "illegal and prohibited items" (including those that actually were a danger to aviation) did the scanners miss? That could reflect inadequacies in the scanners, or inadequacies in the TSA employees who operate them (e.g., were they distracted, sleeping, or overwhelmed with false alarms?). Unfortunately, that number is not something the TSA could collect even if they wanted to.

It's clear that the scanners have a cost, apparently around $150,000 per machine. It's also clear that the scanners have risks: The known risk of loss or theft of property when passengers are separated from their "divested" valuables and distracted, during a screening procedure that does not allow them to retain adequate control over their property. And the unknown risk of radiation exposure.

It's much less clear that the scanners provide a benefit. Twelve false positives that merit reporting as "illegal and prohibited items" (a fairly typical weekly total) out of millions of screened passengers doesn't sound like we're getting much benefit for the cost and risk. The unknown number of unreported intrusive pat downs to resolve "unproductive" false alarms doesn't sound like a benefit either.

The TSA want us to believe their claims that the scanners provide effective protection against terrorist threats. But the weekly evidence Bob provides to back up those claims severely weakens them. It shows that the TSA regularly catches a very small number of guns (22 out of millions of passengers this week) and other metallic objects that old-fashioned metal detectors and x-rays could easily find. It also shows that the scanners can detect many items that, while technically "illegal" or "prohibited." pose no threat to aviation. And even then, only 12 of these false positives are worth reporting out of millions of screened passengers.

We can thus draw two conclusions from these weekly posts:

1. The threat to aviation is much less than the TSA and DHS bureaucracy would have us believe. A security system similar to what existed before 9/11, with a much smaller TSA providing standards, oversight, and accountability, should be sufficient to meet that threat in a cost-effective fashion.

2. The scanners are worse than useless, since the TSA can provide no actual evidence of effectiveness in exchange for their high cost and risks to passengers. (A minuscule number of "reportable false positives" is not evidence of effectiveness.)

I don't think that's what Bob intends to convey with these posts. But that's how I read the numbers in them.

Wintermute said...

" And while it isn’t prohibited, a passenger wearing a chastity belt alarmed the body scanner at one of our checkpoints. I’m sure you can imagine where an undergarment such as this might be a problem at a security checkpoint. Especially if there is no key. "

Ummm... You DO know what a chastity belt is for, don't you? Having the key readily available to the person wearing this particular type of undergarment sorta defeats the purpose. And why would having the key even matter, unless the TSA planned to perform a strip search. Which begs the question: How, exactly, did the TSA clear this passenger?

Anonymous said...

"I've got a question for you about this part above I quoted. I'm not trying to do anything bad, but I didn't know it was illegal by the TSA. Can you tell me what the penalty is for having a knife at the airport? Is it a TSA penalty, or a local police penalty?"

There is no penalty. Blogger Bob is a liar.

Anonymous said...

In the 40 years preceding the establishment of TSA and the screening that they do 21 American air carrier flights were hijacked. In the 12 years preceding the establisment of TSA five of those occurred and all were domestic flights and all were hijacked with the intention of using the aircraft as a missile.

International hijackings have continued at their pre 2001 levels, however in the same time period 0 intended hijackers have made it past screening.

That seems pretty effective to me.

Anonymous said...

obviosly,these critics have no clue what TSO's go through each and every day to ensure the saftey of the american public.they can fly the no security airline with their children and see how safe they feel.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

In the 40 years preceding the establishment of TSA and the screening that they do 21 American air carrier flights were hijacked. In the 12 years preceding the establisment of TSA five of those occurred and all were domestic flights and all were hijacked with the intention of using the aircraft as a missile.

International hijackings have continued at their pre 2001 levels, however in the same time period 0 intended hijackers have made it past screening.

That seems pretty effective to me.

June 14, 2012 6:05 PM

___________________________________

Not one single part of this post is factually correct.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"In the 40 years preceding the establishment of TSA and the screening that they do 21 American air carrier flights were hijacked. In the 12 years preceding the establisment of TSA five of those occurred and all were domestic flights and all were hijacked with the intention of using the aircraft as a missile.

"International hijackings have continued at their pre 2001 levels, however in the same time period 0 intended hijackers have made it past screening.

"That seems pretty effective to me."

Correlation does not imply causation. I quit smoking in 2001. There have been no domestic hijackings since I quit smoking. Maybe it's because I quit smoking that there have been no domestic hijackings? Sounds like nonsense, because it is. A 70% failure rate proves that the TSA's existence has no bearing on domestic hijackings. Two things have prevented further hijackings: hardened cockpit doors and passenger awareness. And even those probably wouldn't stop a determined hijacker.

There's a possible third thing that may contribute to the lack of domestic hijackings. The terrorists have, in a very important way, won. The "papers please" mentality was mocked during the cold war, but is defended rigorously by the TSA and our rights are violated every time we fly. So yeah, maybe the TSA has, in a way, been responsible for the lack of domestic hijackings. Just not in the way you claim.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a lot of vitriol over an agency trying their best to increase traveler safety. I personally have no issues at all with whatever searches may take place. Life is too short to worry about some loser trying to use my life to prove a point. The cost of freedom is steep. No one would argue that there's room for improvement, but I DO feel safer with the checks that are in place. I would have to question the agenda of those individuals who continue to post their opposition to the TSA and the agency's mission. Those folks are free to renounce their citizenship and move to any country they feel might give them more "freedom". Oh wait...there are none.

TSM said...

Anonymous said...
"I've got a question for you about this part above I quoted. I'm not trying to do anything bad, but I didn't know it was illegal by the TSA. Can you tell me what the penalty is for having a knife at the airport? Is it a TSA penalty, or a local police penalty?"

There is no penalty. Blogger Bob is a liar.

June 13, 2012 7:38 PM

----------
Wrong (yet another self desribed expert chimes in!)

Depending on the size of the knife and local laws, a passenger could be subject to local law enforcement penalties such as arrest or fines.

In addition, again depending on size, whether the item was artfully concealed, etc, could subject a person to TSA administrative penalties up to in the area of $10,000.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Why is the Instructor from PHL not terminated for accepting the bribes?

At least, it only mentioned "former" instructor. Which could mean that the person accepting the bribes is still on the job.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"but I DO feel safer with the checks that are in place."

Why? The TSA is not protecting you. A determined terrorist will have no problems getting past them. They are a toothless tiger. They look dangerous but are totally ineffective.

kimm said...

"....Anonymous said...
obviosly,these critics have no clue what TSO's go through each and every day to ensure the saftey of the american public.they can fly the no security airline with their children and see how safe they feel..."

Spoken like the true sheeple that will still be crowing about safety when all our rights are gone and we are in a total police state "for our own safety".

Do you do out on the street? Do you go to the mall? Do you go grocery shopping? You must be terrified to leave your house. After all, no one goes through a security check, before they pass you at any one of those places.

JoJo said...

Some of the other commenters here have said some interesting things. I've decided to bold certain words to show the truth.

"Anonymous said...
obviosly,these critics have no clue what TSO's go through each and every day to ensure the saftey of the american public.they can fly the no security airline with their children and see how safe they feel."

"Anonymous said...
...I personally have no issues at all with whatever searches may take place. Life is too short to worry about some loser trying to use my life to prove a point. The cost of freedom is steep. No one would argue that there's room for improvement, but I DO feel safer with the checks that are in place..."

I can only conclude these people like to feel safe as they said nothing of actually being safe. And that's what the TSA is counting on. That last one, with its "the cost of freedom is steep" line reminds me of something someone once said. "A police state is a small price to pay for freedom." So, I guess the price of freedom is... having your freedoms taken away. Makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Good catch on the inert detonator! It could have been used with an imaginary explosive to do absolutely no damage to a real aircraft.

Anonymous said...

"Wrong (yet another self desribed expert chimes in!)"

ScreenerRon, you are *the* "self described" expert. Note that there should be a hypen between the two words and that the poster did not describe himself as an expert but can we get you to tell us more about flying isn't a right? That was my favorite. More factual errors than the number of words in the paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering. Flying out of a small regional airport with maybe 20 passengers on a flight, I am wondering why would TSA have to cut a lock off a suitcase when only maybe 20 travelers are on the flight. Seems like someone could have gotten on the PA system at the airport and asked Would the traveler going to Dallas please come to the TSA screening area to remove your TSA approved lock. We at TSA can't find ours? It happens over and over and our luggage starts an international journey unlocked. Thanks TSA, you take the security OUT of my travel.

Slydog537 said...

Don't like TSA! don't fly! simple as that! Thanks!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
In the 40 years preceding the establishment of TSA and the screening that they do 21 American air carrier flights were hijacked. In the 12 years preceding the establisment of TSA five of those occurred and all were domestic flights and all were hijacked with the intention of using the aircraft as a missile.

International hijackings have continued at their pre 2001 levels, however in the same time period 0 intended hijackers have made it past screening.

That seems pretty effective to me.
______________________

I think it was proven in the sky over Pennsyvania that hijackings are over. There have also been plenty of incidents recently in which passengers subdued people behaving badly aboard aircraft, futher proving that it's the traveling public (not TSA) that keeps air travel safe.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"Wow, a lot of vitriol over an agency trying their best to increase traveler safety."

What vitriol? I see people disagreeing with the TSA's policies. I see nothing even remotely approaching vitriol. As for trying to increase safety, the facts speak for themselves, and I have stated them elsewhere ;)

"I personally have no issues at all with whatever searches may take place."

There is, however, the question of constitutionality, whether anyone has a problem with them or not.

"The cost of freedom is steep."

The cost of freedom is to give up freedom? This makes no sense.

"No one would argue that there's room for improvement, but I DO feel safer with the checks that are in place."

I, and many others, would argue that they do nothing to actually make you safer.

"I would have to question the agenda of those individuals who continue to post their opposition to the TSA and the agency's mission."

What question would you have? Are you saying we're all terrorists? I have no agenda other than to uphold the oath I took to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

"Those folks are free to renounce their citizenship and move to any country they feel might give them more "freedom"."

Have you looked into how difficult renouncing your citizenship actually is? I've read cases of people renouncing their citizenship only to be told by the State Department, basically, "You can't do that." I suspect it's so the IRS can still tax their foreign incomes, but, regardless of the reason, this is not as easy as you make it sound. There is also, for some strange reason (and according to Wikipedia), a fee of $450 for renouncing your citizenship. I'd site sources specific cases, but I stumbled across them researching something else and don't recall them at the moment. I'm sure I could find a few cases if someone insists.

"Oh wait...there are none."

Depends on how you define "freedom." For instance, in the Heritage Foundation's 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, the USA comes in 10th. (herritage.org) It's even worse in the Reporters Without Borders' 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index. (rsf.org) The USA comes in at 47. The Personal Freedom sub-index of the 2011 Legatum Prosperity Index has the USA at 12. (prosperity.com)

It appears that, regardless of how you look at it, there are other nations more "free" than the USA. New Zealand ranks highly in most lists. Obtaining citizenship there appears to be fairly difficult, though.

Anonymous said...

Strike-anywhere matches in checked baggage have been implicated in several in-air fires in the past, including speculation that they may have caused a disaster aboard one Saudia Arabian Airlines flight in the early 80s that experienced a fire in a pressurized cargo container that led to the death after landing of all on board.

Last I read strike anywhere matches are absolutely prohibited, whereas paper matches have been allowed on carryon because they are much less susceptible to friction ignition.

Anonymous said...

The chastity belt was hot! It was probably a man wearing the device. The CB-6000 is a tremendously popular device right now. In fact it was nominated for an AVN award this year. I'm sure his wife or girlfriend (or some other female keyholder) made him go through to tease the hell out of him. I bet he got teh adventure of a lifetime from the TSA.

Mike said...

This is disturbing at best, as we travel a great deal. just imagine that being in overhead luggage. SMH.. Thanks for the information.
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