Friday, April 5, 2013

TSA Week in Review: Black Powder, Suspicious Items & More



Black Powder at ANC - After causing an alarm in checked baggage, Officers found a 3.2 ounce flask of black powder, 22 feet of fuse, a large empty CO2 cartridge, and miscellaneous ammunition in a passenger’s bag at Anchorage (ANC).
Black Powder & Fuses (ANC)
Black Powder at ANC - After causing an alarm in checked baggage, Officers found a 3.2 ounce flask of black powder, 22 feet of fuse, a large empty CO2 cartridge, and miscellaneous ammunition in a passenger’s bag at Anchorage (ANC).


 
Suspicious Items (DTW)
Suspicious Items (DTW)

Suspicious Items at DTW- A suspicious item that appeared to be an IED was detected in a carry-on bag at Detroit (DTW). It was determined that the bag contained a gel-filled wave machine, power adapter, alarm clock and stand for the wave machine all wrapped in a thick layer of newspaper and black duct tape. In the X-ray, this appeared to be an explosive, and alarms like this require bomb squad resolution.  So even if you’re packing items you know are harmless, please consider how they may look in the X-ray and pack them in a way that doesn’t make them look suspicious.  As a result of this alarm, the terminal experienced a 1-hour, 51-minute evacuation. Sixteen flights were delayed almost 23 hours, affecting 2071 passengers.



Loaded Gun in Carry-on (IND)
Loaded Gun in Carry-on (IND)
32 Firearms Discovered This Week – of the 32 firearms, 29 were loaded and eight had rounds chambered. See a complete list and more photos at the bottom of this post.

 
Inert Grenade (DFW)
Inert Grenade (DFW)
Inert Ordnance and Grenades etc. - We continue to find inert hand grenades and other weaponry on weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if an item looks like a realistic bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited - real or not. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays in checkpoint screening. I know they are cool novelty items, but you cannot bring them on a plane. Read here and here on why inert items cause problems.

  • Two inert/replica grenades were discovered this week in carry-on bags at Seattle (SEA), and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).

Stun Guns – Nine stun guns were discovered this week in carry-on bags around the nation.  Two were discovered at Palm Beach (PBI), and the others at Baltimore (BWI), Las Vegas (LAS), Atlanta (ATL), Fort Myers (RSW), Charleston (CRW), Denver (DEN), and San Francisco (SFO).


What Not to Say at an Airport – Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience many other passengers if the checkpoint or terminal has to be evacuated:

  • During additional screening at Madison (MSN), a TSA Officer asked the passenger if there were any sharp items in his bag. The passenger stated: “Yeah, grenades, I’m just joking.”
  • After a passenger at Orlando (MCO) was told that his by a ticket agent that his bag was overweight, he responded: “And that’s why your airplane is going to blow up.”
  • While a TSA Officer was searching a passenger’s bag at Minneapolis (MSP), she stated: “Be careful with my bag – it might blow up.”

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things -- to mention a few…



Firearms Discovered This Week

7 loaded firearms.
3 loaded firearms.

5 loaded firearms.

 

32 Firearms Discovered This Week – of the 32 firearms, 29 were loaded and eight had rounds chambered.
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. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $7,500.00. 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 order to provide a timely weekly update, I compile my data from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly (increase) from what I report in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear, or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will not be estimates.



If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you check out our post highlighting the dangerous, scary, and downright unusual items our officers found in 2012. The 2011 list can be found here.

Bob Burns  TSA Blog Team 
If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Men and Women of the TSA, Keep up the good work! There must be a whole lot of idiots running around out there that think they can bring such items on an airplane. For my family and myself, THANK-YOU.

Wintermute said...

So, you over-reacted to several passengers exercising their first amendment rights by making what were obviously very bad jokes.

Also, looks like ~70 loaded weapons flew this week, judging by the ~30 the were caught and knowing the ~70% failure rate.

Wintermute said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SSSS for some reason said...

So the usual 30~ish guns, some scary looking stuff in a carryon, and some scary looking stuff in a checked bag.

First, the black powder in the checked bag... was it allowed to travel? If not, why not?

Second, nothing for the AIT/WBI scanners? Too bad, all that money and nothing to justify their continued use.

Third, I am actually kind of happy you called in the bomb squad on the wave thingy. I mean it sucked for the delayed passengers and all..... but! I have a question. If that were really a bomb being carried by a real terrorist, wouldn't they have detonated the bomb as soon as the Agent started looking at it funny? I mean, are you assuming the terrorists are only going to blow up a plane and would never think to blow up a terminal?

Anonymous said...

" So even if you’re packing items you know are harmless, please consider how they may look in the X-ray and pack them in a way that doesn’t make them look suspicious."


Since I have absolutely no idea how things are going to appear on your X-ray machines, this piece of advice is completely worthless.

Anonymous said...

I have to shake my head at the number of people who are still trying to fool security. I doubt that many of the offenders who are flying have never heard or seen or read any reports about delays,discoveries in luggage, etc.You know most things are caught. The rest of us who are trying to get on with it pay for this stupidity in time, missed connections, and increased cost for extra security.

Anonymous said...

Again, no findings whatsoever with the uber-expensive, invasive, slow and completely untested full body naked scanners.

It is now significantly easier to take a gun into an airport (no metal detectors, and easily defeated machines, added to 70% baseline failure rate...).

Susan Richart said...

To the anonymous poster who responded with his usual snark to my comment about pre-check being for the 1% only, please read this:

http://tinyurl.com/chgquoq

screen shot

RB said...

What happened to the article discussing the Court Ordered Comment Period as required by federal regulation, a regulation TSA failed to comply with, that was posted for a short time on April 4th?

Anonymous said...

You know most things are caught.

Actually, they aren't. Even the TSA themselves have been forced to admit that they have at best a 30% success rate.

The TSA has missed loaded guns, knives of all configurations, and many MANY dummy bomb used for testing.

Don't believe me? Maybe you'll believe this guy.

"We've had a series of reports actually going back several years from the inspector general, from the General Accounting Office, and our own TSA Office of Inspection, where they do, as you describe, covert testing. And unfortunately, [undercover testers] have been very successful over the years."

Who said this? John Pistole. Head of the TSA.

That's right. Even the head of the agency itself admits they are doing a terrible job. So terrible in fact, that they refuse to release the actual numbers on just how much they fail.

If they caught a significant amount of items during testing, they'd brag about it. They'd crow about it!

But they don't. And the silence is deafening.

So when you say, "they know most things are caught", people here are going to laugh. Most things caught? Not even close!

Anonymous said...

Bobby--

I'm still waiting to hear the TSA's response to its decision to ignore its own policies and allow TSOs to play doctor. In the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m12mLXgO1A , a TSO clearly denies Sai his medical liquids, and states that he thinks that Sai is "gaming the system".

The TSA personnel-- and yes, they ARE TSA personnel, because the TSA bears ultimate responsibility for hiring contractors-- are clearly heard saying that they don't believe that the liquids are medically necessary. They eventually demand documentation that they are, according to the TSA special needs policy memo, prohibited from requesting. They also violate the ADA by confiscating his medical liquids in violation of government policy.

So I'm left with a couple of main questions, Bobby:

Is it the TSA's position that its personnel are more qualified than licensed medical professionals to determine a passenger's medical needs?

If so, what medical training are TSA personnel provided, and what are the examination standards when determining a passenger's "real" medical needs?

Finally, what documents should I request via FOIA to find the updated policy allowing TSOs and other TSA personnel to demand medical documentation, in contravention of the TSA special needs memo?

I'd appreciate a quick response to these questions, Bobby. From you or any of your Blogging Team buddies. Responses in the comments section or a blog post would be just fine.

(Submitted at approximately 9:10 central time, 6 April 2013)

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"You know most things are caught."

Actually, there's an approximate failure rate of 70%, so no, most things are NOT caught.

Anonymous said...

As to TSA finding "powder":

http://www.theindychannel.com/news/confrontation-with-tsa-agent-leaves-grandpa-s-ashes-on-floor

The TSA agent spilled crematorium ashes on the floor and laughed.

You firing that agent?

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Did you (or another TSA employee) delete or hide a post from 4/4/13 about the public comment period for "AIT" scanners?

If so, that is very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Wow! How's this for news?

After almost two years of delays, the TSA has finally decided to follow the order of a Federal judge and allow public comment about body scanners.

I'm sure it was just an oversight that Bob forgot to mention where we can all comment, so here it is: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;dct=PS;D=TSA-2013-0004

Anonymous said...

Ouch!

It comes out in hearings about the sequestration that the TSA has an astounding number of people holding "administrative" level jobs.

How many? Over 27%!!

Almost a third of TSA's workforce is supervisors.

Says Rep. John Mica (R. -Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee:

“The whole program has been hijacked by bureaucrats"

"the massive agency grades its performance at D-."

"They [The TSA] have failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years."

“It’s an agency that is always one step out of step."

“The whole thing is a complete fiasco,” Mica said.

In case you don't know, Rep. John Mica is chairman of the House Transportation Committee. He wrote< the bill authoring the TSA. And even he thinks it should be dismantled.

“They need to get out of the screening business and back into security. Most of the screening they do should be abandoned,” Mica said.

Anonymous said...

Where did the public comment post go, Curtis?

Jim Huggins said...

Bob, you write: So even if you’re packing items you know are harmless, please consider how they may look in the X-ray and pack them in a way that doesn’t make them look suspicious.

I'm not a security expert; when I pack my bags, I have no idea how my bags will look on an X-ray. How am I supposed to pack my bags, then?

Anonymous said...

I think it is soooooooo stupid for "officials" or the media to point out the a particular gun was ["Loaded or Loaded & had a round chambered"] - DUH, the gun doesn't work W/O ammunition. If you notice, they never say "The knife was sharpened and came to a point at the end", or "after the crash it was discovered the car had fuel in the tank and the keys were in the ignition"! Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!!!

Anonymous said...

"Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by the author.
April 5, 2013 at 9:21 PM"


How is that possible here?

Also, I would like to see the blog entry about the public comment period on AIT/whole body imagers. Will a new blog entry about that be posted soon?

Elblanco said...

Anonymous said...
Bobby--

(Submitted at approximately 9:10 central time, 6 April 2013)

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

If only there was a way for the doctor to help the tsa know when a liquid is medically needed. like some white thing made of tree pulp with ink on it, the ink would be letters that say that the person needs this stuff for medical reasons. That way the tsa can know a doctor really gave this liquid to this person. But really, they just need to trust us, no person has ever lied to any other person, in the entire history of our planet right?

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...
"Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by the author.
April 5, 2013 at 9:21 PM"

How is that possible here?


If you're logged into Blogger, and your comment has actually been posted (and not still held), you can delete it.

Rich said...

I think he goes by Bob, not Bobby. I assume that was just a mistake on Anonymous's part and not some form of disrespect.

Susan Richart said...

Anonymous:

"Also, I would like to see the blog entry about the public comment period on AIT/whole body imagers. Will a new blog entry about that be posted soon?

April 8, 2013 at 10:03 AM"

Here it is:

http://tinyurl.com/cy2sgsx

screen shot

Anonymous said...

Jim Huggins said...
Bob, you write: So even if you’re packing items you know are harmless, please consider how they may look in the X-ray and pack them in a way that doesn’t make them look suspicious.

I'm not a security expert; when I pack my bags, I have no idea how my bags will look on an X-ray. How am I supposed to pack my bags, then?

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

This is a good point. How are we supposed to know what things look like in the x-ray machine? Obviously replica grenades and bunch of rad flares bundled together with wires and a clock are bad idea. The person with the strange item this week probably didn't think the harmless item they were packing would cause so much trouble.

I see you offered pet tips last week. You should offer packing tips this week. My wife and I always used to get the inspection notices in our bags. There was obviously something that looked suspicious in our bags. We don't tend to get them lately though.

Will Beames said...

All you TSA haters are comical. All spouting the same nonsense.
Even if TSA only catches 30 percent...do you at least agree that that amount isbetter than 0% or can you come up with an argument to that as well.
Maybe the machines work very well....as a deterrent.

You all must have a lot of free time.

RB said...

I transitted a DFW TSA checkpoint recently. Behind the screening lanes was an area seperated by a low wall, about three feet high. Inside the area a couple of computer screens. Sitting there doing nothing was five TSA employees made up of LTSO and STSO's. I walked by the area again about an hour later and the group had grown with the addition of a person in street clothes. TSA needs to put its lazy workers to useful duties or just fire them altogether.

Anonymous said...

Will Beames said...
Even if TSA only catches 30 percent...do you at least agree that that amount isbetter than 0%


Yes, catching 30% is better than catching 0%.

...of course, that ASSUMES that pre-911 security caught 0%. Care to post a cite on that? Or is it a huge strawman?

Maybe the machines work very well....as a deterrent.

I have a rock you might be interested in. Keeps tigers away...

Wintermute said...

Will Beames April 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM

"Even if the TSA only catches 30 percent...do you at least agree that that amount isbetter than 0% or can you come up with an argument to that as well."

The TSApologists are fond of saying that the TSA has to be right all of the time, but the terrorists just once. The failure rate shows the TSA is NOT right all of the time... not even close.

"Maybe the machines work very well....as a deterrent."

Correlation does not imply causation. "Maybe" is not part of a logical argument. Either the machines are acting as a deterrent, or they.aren't. I have yet to see any proof more compelling than "I have an anti-tiger rock. Since getting it, I have not been attacked by tigers.


"You all must have a lot of free time."

Irrelevant, unless it's meant as an insult. In which case, you've violated stated comment guidelines.

Anonymous said...

Elblanco said:

If only there was a way for the doctor to help the tsa know when a liquid is medically needed. like some white thing made of tree pulp with ink on it, the ink would be letters that say that the person needs this stuff for medical reasons. That way the tsa can know a doctor really gave this liquid to this person. But really, they just need to trust us, no person has ever lied to any other person, in the entire history of our planet right?

----

An interesting point, but completely invalid. The TSA's policy is NOT TO REQUIRE prescriptions. It's all in the TSA's special needs memo, which has been in force as TSA policy for over SIX YEARS now.

If you'd like to read the memo, it's available at

http://web.archive.org/web/20120915100322/http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/special_needs_memo.pdf

The memo used to be available on the TSA's website, but shortly after the scandal broke, the TSA took it down. Pure coincidence, I'm sure.

The memo makes it very clear that passengers are NOT REQUIRED to bring prescriptions and supporting documentation.

Or you can just check the TSA's updated medically necessary liquids page at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/medically-necessary-liquids

Again: nowhere is it stated that passengers are required to have prescriptions for their liquids. They are merely required to declare the liquids and allow them to be subjected to additional screening.

So, Elblanco, the questions still remain. Why did the TSA violate its own policies? Why do TSOs feel that they are somehow more qualified than medical professionals to assess the needs of disabled passengers? What medical training do TSOs receive? What are the assessment criteria that these TSOs follow when deciding whether a medical need is legitimate or not?

If the TSA wants to require a prescription, then they shouldn't have a policy that specifically DOESN'T REQUIRE it, Elblanco. If policy is NOT to require a prescription, then requiring a prescription is violating policy-- simple logic.

But really, we need to just let the TSOs do whatever they want, because TSOs have never overstepped their authority, abused their position, or improperly denied somebody their medical necessities in the history of the TSA, right?

Bobby still hasn't answered my questions, and I doubt he will. He can't properly claim that procedures were followed (it's obvious that they weren't), and he can't point to an actual violation of policy committed by the passenger (because no such violation exists). So it doesn't fall into the Blogger Bob standard response scheme of "An investigation has revealed that nothing wrong occurred." Which means Bobby is going to ignore it and pretend it never happened, as is typical on this blog.

Submitted 10 April, at approximately 6:10 AM.

Elblanco said...

So what if they don't require it? just bring the paper that says you need it. It would make everyone's lives easier. How hard is it to just had them a piece of paper and say "hey i need this liquid for medical reasons, here's my perscription/drs note." Or is that too much to ask because freedom?

There is literally nothing keeping you from bringing your perscription form with you when you travel. You can shout that the tsa doesn't require it all you want, doesn't change the fact that bringing a piece of paper,that you already have, with you, is the farthest thing from an inconvenience as you can possibly get.

Wintermute said...

Elblanco said...
So what if they don't require it? just bring the paper that says you need it. It would make everyone's lives easier. How hard is it to just had them a piece of paper and say "hey i need this liquid for medical reasons, here's my perscription/drs note." Or is that too much to ask because freedom?

Yes, it is too much to ask. First, it's not required, per TSA guidelines. Second, if it WERE required, I'm fairly certain that would create HIPPA compliance issues. Third, we're a supposedly free nation. Fourth, if the items are so dangerous, then why are they thrown in a trash bin right there at the checkpoint?

Elblanco said...

Wintermute

Yes, it is too much to ask. First, it's not required, per TSA guidelines. Second, if it WERE required, I'm fairly certain that would create HIPPA compliance issues. Third, we're a supposedly free nation. Fourth, if the items are so dangerous, then why are they thrown in a trash bin right there at the checkpoint?


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

So, because this is a free country, you shouldn't have to take about 15 seconds of your time to show someone a perscription that you should have on you anyway? THIS is why people have trouble at TSA check points, you make mountains out of mole hills for no reason. I'm surprised that people like you don't complain about them wanting to see your ID! Just keep your mouth shut and it takes like 90 seconds to get through security. If you know that you aren't a threat to the flight, just make it easier on the TSA and let them do their job, I doubt they like it any more than you do.

Wintermute said...

Elblanco said...

"So, because this is a free country, you shouldn't have to take about 15 seconds of your time to show someone a perscription that you should have on you anyway? THIS is why people have trouble at TSA check points, you make mountains out of mole hills for no reason."

First, it IS a mountain when my government restricts my rights. Second, ever heard of HIPPA? It is none of the (generally) non-educated TSA agents' business WHAT my medical needs may or may not be. TSA even AGREES with that, as per their memo. So, why do YOU have an issue with it. Third, it's the TSA agents not following the memo causing the problems at checkpoints. If they'd allow the medically necessary items like they're supposed to, things would run MUCH smoother.

"I'm surprised that people like you don't complain about them wanting to see your ID!"

You're new here, aren't you? ID doesn't matter. It does nothing for security, slows the process down, and leads to a "papers please" mentality.

"Just keep your mouth shut and it takes like 90 seconds to get through security."

I will not surrender my first amendment rights as well, just to make your life more convenient.

"If you know that you aren't a threat to the flight, just make it easier on the TSA and let them do their job, I doubt they like it any more than you do."

"Just following orders" is not a defense for the TSA agents out there violating our rights on a daily basis. By doing their jobs, they're violating our rights. People like you make it that much easier when they come for the next one they want to take away.