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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."

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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RE: Not about chemicals
By geddarkstorm on 9/5/2012 2:31:25 PM , Rating: 5
Given that it is fairly easy to create explosives from household cleaning products (that are likely located at airports by the vendors themselves, along with other staff), it is not inconceivable that a maniac might try to assemble one after they've passed the gate, concealed in regular containers.

Mocyd, you are forgetting what we are even talking about. No one is going to be hiding liquids in containers; those are screened at the security gates. The liquids under discussion here were BOUGHT by the people at the vendors inside the terminal (vendors do not sell household cleaning agents, or anything of the type needed to make explosives). There's no household cleaning agents, there's no explosives, there's no personally brought liquids beyond the 3 ounces allowed and already screened for explosives or explosive combination potential by the TSA at the gate.

The commercial airlines didn't fail to look at security aspects that lead to 9/11; they were not aspects of security in anyone's mind at the time. It wasn't as if someone knew and then it wasn't done. The entire culture was naive.

But there comes a point of diminishing returns, where the invasion of privacy far outweighs any damage that could be done through exploiting that privacy. Not only is this current drink swabbing irrational, redundant to the extreme, and unnecessary (nothing liquid a passenger is drinking that made it into an airport could explode a plane; if it was a liquid explosive, it would kill/harm that person to drink, would give off tell tail chemical scents which would be immediately detected, and what would be the source of ignition?), but it distracts from legitimate security concerns. Why are those TSA officers not paying attention to the real security points they need to be evaluating?

We live in a day where a person will gun down several people and shoot themselves in the head after they're done. There's no telling what a crazy person might try next, let alone a terrorist.

No, we don't. We don't live in a day where suddenly that is a thing. It has -always- been a thing. Are we cowards, who live our lives trembling in fear over what "might be done", or are we the land of the brave?

Argument from Probability ("that something could happen means it will happen") is a logical fallacy, by the way.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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