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Travelers, brace yourselves for the latest indignity

Thinking about flying?  Well, in addition to "enhanced" searches and the risk that your privates may be photographed and stored by Transportation Safety Administration screeners, travelers now have one more woe to add to their litany of complaints.

According to the Daily Mail TSA agents at the Columbus, Ohio Airport have been subjecting travelers to random seizures/inspections of their drinks at the gate to "check for explosives".  

Of course, these drinks all were presumably were sold by the airport vendors, as any drink-size liquid containers are supposed to be seized by the bag screeners at the security checkpoint -- a policy that has been in place since 2006.  So at first blush it's somewhat unclear exactly why the TSA agents felt it necessary to screen passengers' Starbucks and soft drinks.

The incident has been leaked onto YouTube (of course):



Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst, told the Daily Mail, "They're worried someone could bring an ingredient past security and then mix it with a drink that turns into something else - a poison or something else."

TSA drink screening
Airport screeners test passenger's Starbucks coffee to make sure he isn't a terrorist.
[Image Source: YouTube]

In June, the U.S. reportedly thwarted an attempt to blow up an airliner by a Yemen-trained, Norwegian citizen who was a member of the militant fundamentalist Islamic group al Qaeda.  Despite the potential terrorist's plot failing, national security officials are reportedly alarmed about the fact that his spotless record and lack of inclusion on no-fly lists could have allowed him to escape scrutiny, were it not for the tips.

In a statement the TSA confirmed it might now be seizing people's drinks as a precautionary measure, commenting, "TSA employs multiple layers of security throughout the airport where passengers may be randomly selected for additional screening.  One measure may include testing liquids that are in a passenger's possession."

I
Is that a coconut water or a bomb?  Let's find out. [Image Source: YouTube]

TSA agents "examine" the beverages using a special security screen, which appears to involve taking a small dropper or swab sample of the beverage, then testing it on a slide with some sort of reagent mix.

Some say that the policy goes to far, though.  The person who captured the incident on video told the Daily Mail:

I couldn't help but notice the two TSA women that were 'testing' any and all liquids that people had in their hands.  Now remember that this is inside the terminal, well beyond the security check and purchased inside the terminal ... just people waiting to get on the plane. 

My wife and son came back from a coffee shop just around the corner, then we were approached. I asked them what they were doing. One of the TSA ladies said that they were checking for explosive chemicals (as we are drinking them). I said 'really..inside the terminal? You have got to be kidding me.'

I asked them if they wanted to swab us all. She responded with something like, yes sometimes we need to do that. I then asked if she wanted a urine sample.

The TSA is way out of control. I understand that my ranting to one of these $11.00 per hour TSA goons probably does nothing, but you have to say something. Whats next...perhaps the TSA will come to your home prior to your drive to the airport? The police state of the U.S. is OUT OF CONTROL!

Indeed, as the list of indignities grows at a pace proportional to the would-be terrorists' increasingly imaginative plots, one has to wonder where the line must be drawn.

Sources: YouTube, Daily Mail



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Math and science in policy decisions
By deathwombat on 9/5/2012 1:24:23 PM , Rating: 2
The response to a threat should be proportional to the likelihood of a threat. It's a fact there are people who want to bring down our airplanes. It's also a fact that your airplane is far more likely to crash due to pilot error (or fatigue, or intoxication), ground crew error, mechanical failure, inclement weather, or error by the pilot of a different airplane. I expect the TSA to be at least as vigilant in their scrutiny of the likely threats as they are in their scrutiny of the unlikely threats.

They might hit the lottery some day and find something dangerous in someone's drink, and that will justify the millions of man hours that were devoted to searching people's drinks up to that point, right? And if they don't, at least they can say that they made every reasonable (and unreasonable) effort to protect the passengers from each other, while pilots continue to be forced to fly on four hours' sleep.

Call me crazy, but maybe we should use statistics and research to decide which threats to focus on, instead of irrational fear.




RE: Math and science in policy decisions
By Motoman on 9/5/2012 1:37:50 PM , Rating: 2
Facts don't get people voted into office. Irrational fear does.


By geddarkstorm on 9/5/2012 2:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
America: the land of the cowards or the "land of the brave"?

From what I've seen of the comments in this thread alone, it's hard to tell which one is the case anymore...

There was a time were we would have flagrantly defied our opponents on principle by not putting such draconian "security" into place -- where we would have said "America will not give in". But instead, we have cowed to their threats.

The original TSA procedures were all well and good, but now? Even back in the days before 2001, the chance of a plane being downed by human effort was almost unheard of versus mechanical failure, inadequate maintenance, faulty parts, extreme weather, or pilot error.


By hartleyb on 9/5/2012 2:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
I agree the security should be in line with the threat, and if you believe you are safe from terrorist by the measures taken by the TSA, you are living in a dream world. You can make a number of devices that look like cloth, will not test positive for explosives, and can be activated by a cell switch so small that it can be a botton or snap. Also we could get into internal devices that can be swallowed or implanted under the skin that have enough explosive to take out four or five planes. The funny thing is most of this technology is widely available via the net, or at your local electronics store. So far we have been lucky becuase most terrorist seem to think on a limited scale relativly speaking. As far as testing drink I have to agree that this has nothing to do with security. Go to a casino, and do something minor like start taking pictures of a slot machine, and see how fast you find yourself in a office explaining your actions, or if you are even dumber, walk through the front door with a concealed gun, and see how far you get...they have been using technology the FEDS should have been using for years. The best security is the security you don't see, but know is present.


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