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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 NullSubroutine on 9/5/2012 8:58:46 PM , Rating: 2
Why would they test for one paticular type of explosive? Why would they test everybody on that paticular type of explosives? Why would they test regular folks with approved bought beverages on one paticular type of explosive?

Testing (presumably in the sterile area) is done randomly and the tests they do are also random (meaning different types of tests are done). When this specific test is used in the checkpoint it is to make sure the medically exempt liquids do not contain that specific type of explosive. However, random selects "regular folk" as well as other types of suspicious people. That's why its called random.

The general reason why this test is done is to have interaction with the passengers. Interaction with the public is a way to engage them for intelligence.

It doesn't matter if you work for the TSA, the CIA, or the Secret Service, all departments working with security have to use human intelligence to mitigate security threats. People and their behaviors are something that is watched. It isn't about profiling or anything like that, even the American public is aware of how people normally act when traveling and can sense when something is out of place.

No security in place is perfect, there are hundreds of ways that explosives, weapons, and other threats could make it on board and aircraft and threaten peoples lives. You can throw all the money you want at the problem and it won't change. The way to address the issue is to have different layers of security, so that even if one does fail, then another layer could in theory catch it. It isn't perfect, but when there are limited resources then choices have to be made.

Interacting with the public is a very cheap (fiscally) of detecting abnormal behavior that may be an indicator of someone who is a threat to the passengers and the aircraft, remember they don't have to be terrorists. There are plenty of "regular" crazy people out there.

I'm sorry but it doesn't add up. It doesn't make logical or reasonable sense, the gain is far too small (read: not there) in order to have this test conducted in the name of safety. You can tell those people aren't a threat just by looking at them. So why test them? Everything humans do happens for a reason, though we might not always understand it.

Again, its random, even low risk people are screened randomly. It is the interaction with the people that help determine what risk they are.

It's clear those TSA people aren't at fault. Belive it or not, everybody can be brainwashed to turn on their fellow man as long as it happens gradually enough, and affects only a few at once (the nazi's started with putting jews in ghetto's before deportation, removing them from the general populace and thus their impact on them). This might also be training for them. They might not actually be testing anything. After all, the possibility of a positive is negligibly small.

I am someone very concerned about personal liberty and freedom. However, I don't see the link between the Nazi's and holding a test strip above a cup for 4 seconds then placing a drop on it is evidence of a slippery slope to genocide.

Please remember, for starter, all airports (those who own the airports) can choose to have private contractors or the TSA as in charge of security. Whether contractors or TSA, neither have any authority to do anything to you. (The only people who can are actual sworn law enforcement that usually work for the local municipality of the airport, but they are regular LEOs, not TSA). They can't detain you, they can't arrest you, they can't even search you without your consent. You choose to fly on a publicly funded airline or not(airlines take federal money) and you can choose not be subjected to any screening.

If you don't want to undergo any screening private charter flights are available that to do not undergo any screening.

Far as the rest of your post. Liberty is not something that should be sacrificed for safety. However, there are threats that must be addressed. In my opinion so long as there is a choice of air travel of public with security screening or private with no screening liberty is at stake. As for the limits and types of screening it is important for the public (and the courts) to engage law makers about what they feel is legit and what is not acceptable. It is my opinion though that the TSA is not doing a good enough job explaining the processes and all it leads to are a bunch of misinformation. Instead of the public and law makers dealing with actual problems, they are often dealing with the misinformation.

RE: Not about chemicals
By ian80 on 9/5/2012 10:05:01 PM , Rating: 2
So basically - there's no evidence of wrongdoing even after passing existing barriers but what the hey, you're still a suspect. Ideally we're just here to be seen to be doing something on the massively remote chance someone somewhere may do something remotely suspicious just because of the way they look.

I know, it's cheap and hasn't actually yielded results compared to actual intelligence (even rendition and torture's more effective than this crap) but something's better than nothing - at least as long as it's random because that will stump any organised terrorist organisation. Let's just hope they don't realise their plan of drinking the lethal explosive as they pass through the Starbucks outlet they've infiltrated with operatives despite TSA screening already - JUST. WONT. WORK.

Oh, and for the love of god don't let those terrorists figure out they could bring our train, bus and car networks to their knees because god forbid the nasty men realise that in actuality muppets just like us will crucify our transport capacity by demanding anyone who gets in a car submit to a full gastro-endoscopical exam in case they drive their cars loaded with explosives into major freeways (or am I just giving them commonsensical ideas). Perhaps I'm wrong, everyone submit to an exam before they get into their cars.

But I digress, this is not nazi-esque so must be alright - consequently ignore any other connotations involved, after all it's all random and involves private companies (using airspace belonging to and in all probability funded by you).

Liberty should not be sacrificed except... for the fact that maybe we're not explaining ourselves very well but trust us it's scary out there.

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