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The TSA Posts Its 'Top Good Catches Of 2011' List, Not One Of Which Is An Actual Terrorist

from the because-one-time-that-guy-tried-to-ignite-a-cupcake-with-a-lightsaber dept

Everyone loves a good "Best of..." list and with 2011 having just wrapped up, pretty much every site on the web has a few posted. Bruce Schneier points us in the direction of The TSA Blog, which has posted its own self-congratulatory list, "The Top 10 Good Catches of 2011."

"Good" is very much a sliding scale when you're a government agency that combines the incompetent brusqueness of classic security theater with the thoroughness of an overenthusiastic gynecological exam.

So, what sort of "epic gets" made the TSA's list? Well, there's a variety of weapons, ranging from normal loaded handguns in carry-on bags to something called a "Tactical Spike" to throwing knives to a taser disguised as a cellphone. There's also a science project, some wildlife, inert landmines, some chunks of C4 explosive and a flare gun. There's a lot of items that sound dangerous, but Bruce Schneier points out what's missing from the TSA's collection:
That's right; not a single terrorist on the list. Mostly forgetful, and entirely innocent, people. Note that they fail to point out that the firearms and knives would have been just as easily caught by pre-9/11 screening procedures. And that the C4 -- their #1 "good catch" -- was on the return flight; they missed it the first time. So only 1 for 2 on that one.
So, the TSA looks as though it had its gloved hands full during 2011, especially when you consider all the non-terrorist, non-weaponry that was seized in the name of safety over the past year. In addition to those incredibly threatening cupcakes, our favorite theatre troupe saved us from being killed to death by the following items:
TSA confiscates a butter knife from an airline pilot. TSA confiscates a teenage girl's purse with an embroidered handgun design. TSA confiscates a 4-inch plastic rifle from a GI Joe action doll on the grounds that it's a "replica weapon." TSA confiscates a liquid-filled baby rattle from airline pilot's infant daughter. TSA confiscates a plastic "Star Wars" lightsaber from a toddler.
With the list of threatening objects covering everything from actual guns with actual bullets to fake guns that can only be fired by those possessing ultra-tiny hands and the requisite "kung fu grip," it seems like it will only be a matter of time before we're asked to board the flight naked with our clothing and belongings being shipped to our destination on a bulletproof, bombproof supertrain. It also looks as though our children, previously thought to be "the future," are apparently now the "new face of terrorism."

Congratulations, Blogger Bob and the rest of the TSA crew! Here's hoping 2012 brings an even better list, one where inert plutonium sits side-by-side with purloined KFC sporks and back issues of Guns & Ammo in the 50-gallon trash container 15 feet away from the checkpoint. Safe!


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    But Tim, thanks to the TSA not a single baby has committed an act of terrorism! And don't forget, the TSA did a good job when they kicked a baby terrorist and their mother off the plane because the baby kept on saying 'bye bye plane'! Obviously the baby was intending to detonate some explosives in their diaper once the plane took off!

     

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  2.  
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    Robert (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 9:50am

    Security Theatre

    Too bad they don't serve popcorn and soda at the airports.

    The really sad part is this Theatre has a horrible show and only a few have stopped going to see it. I guess it isn't bad enough for the masses to find some alternatives.

    I wish they'd create two lines, the pre and post 9/11 lines. For those who support the "security" sold to them, they can be patt-down and enjoy their comfort on the plane, believing it to be safer than the other line. The other line is normal people who don't feel the need to have their civil liberties violated for a false sense of security.

    The odds of a successful attack will be the same for both planes.

     

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  3.  
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    John Doe, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 9:50am

    Glad they protect us from the pilots

    I noticed that in a couple instances they confiscated stuff from pilots. I am glad they are looking out for rogue pilots. Lord knows what they could do with a butter knife. Without that butter knife it would be impossible for a pilot to perform a terrorist act, like say, flying a plane into a building.

     

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  4.  
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    Violated (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 9:57am

    Tourism

    I am not surprised when even here in the UK the people arrested under terrorism laws are so not terrorists. Like those tourist arrested simply by taking some photos near a nuclear power plant. Then at the risk of a disruptive public protest the Police arrest key members under terrorism laws simply to detain them until the protest is over.

    So these days everyone is a terrorist simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 9:58am

    "it seems like it will only be a matter of time before we're asked to board the flight naked with our clothing and belongings being shipped to our destination on a bulletproof, bombproof supertrain."

    Then the TSA can have an even longer list of things they confiscated to save our lives.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 9:59am

    TSA confiscates a 4-inch plastic rifle from a GI Joe action doll on the grounds that it's a "replica weapon."

    Sure, they got the gun but they still let Cobra Commander on the plane. Way to go no-fly lists!

     

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  7.  
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    hothmonster, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:11am

    TSA really should take a page out of the FBI's playbook and start staging and then preventing terrorists plots. They could just have a TSA agent in their most important looking available uniform approach people at the ticket counter and ask them to carry a bag through to their plane. Stuff bag with illegal substances and maybe some fake ids and BAM instant terrorist prevented. Of course this assumes the TSA would be able to stop the person they just set up but I imagine even they would have a 20% success rate with this.

     

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  8.  
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    The Logician (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:14am

    It would seem that we have long passed the point that the TSA has demonstrated quite clearly its own incompetence and lack of regard for the general populace. I do not believe it serves any constructive purpose in its current state. Its boasts about accomplishing, in reality, nothing, prove that. However, as long as the irrational emotions of greed and desire for power dominate those who hold office, it is unlikely that things will change without significant—and possibly violent—upheaval.

     

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  9.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    I've been to the US recently and there was a lighter in my hand bag (I forgot it there, I work with chemistry and use it to light the stuff in the laboratory or fireworks depending on the occasion).

    Found out about the lighter after I had gone past NY security and enjoyed a cramped economic class flight. Amusing ;)

    TSA: "WTF are they good for?" since 09/11/2001

     

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  10.  
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    John Doe, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    Re:

    I accidentally flew with a Leathermen tool for maybe two trips (4 flights total). It was turned up on it side wedged against the edge of my suitcase. I thought the tool was gone until I found it in my suitcase. Seems their x-ray machine should have picked that up. Glad it didn't as I would probably still be in Guantanamo trying to explain to them that I didn't realize it was there.

     

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  11.  
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    Suja (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    Its boasts about accomplishing, in reality, nothing, prove that.


    most people care nothing for the facts i've seen so many cases where baseless boasting and chest thumping is more than enough to convince people that someone (or something) is some either good for them, better than them or whatever the needed propaganda might be

    greedy people would be less successful in their dealings if more people could see a puddle for what it is, shallow & transparent

     

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  12.  
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    Suja (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re:

    not saying that it's the people's fault this happened but i've been pretty amazed how vigorously some will actually defend some of the TSA's failings

     

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  13.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re:

    Bah, admit it, we are both dangerous terrorists. The thing is, we probably don't look Arabian. So it's all good. "Please sir, proceed with your rocket launcher to the boarding area."

     

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  14.  
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    DogBreath, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    thanks to the TSA not a single baby has committed an act of terrorism!

    Yea, but that is only because they were following the proper procedure:

    TSA Instructions for Screening: Infant Travelers

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    What are you saying about Guns & Ammo and KFC sporks, Mike?! Are those the implements of terrorists now?

     

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  16.  
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    Someantimalwareguy (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re:

    I accidentally flew with a Leathermen tool ...
    Lol, I got a small kit of jeweler's screwdrivers confiscated once. I guess they though I might try and fix something on the flight...

     

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  17.  
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    hothmonster, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re:

    I think a lot of it has to do with this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle

     

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  18.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Re: Glad they protect us from the pilots

    No such a thing. Pilots only announce what's happening and talk to the towers and other pilots. Everybody knows auto-pilots do the job nowadays.

    Ah the millennium bug...

     

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  19.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re:

    I had a home-built cellphone charger in an Altoids tin. Wire everywhere, a red LED on the outside and a 9-volt battery on the inside. They had an absolute conniption. I was bumped 3 rungs on their food chain, demonstrating what it was and why I had it before I simply told them to F* off and threw it away.

     

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  20.  
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    Trails (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:53am

    Re: Glad they protect us from the pilots

    God forbid the captain somehow take control of the aircraft!

     

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  21.  
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    Trails (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    He was wearing the tea cozy thinger, they only have helmeted cobra commander on the list.

     

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  22.  
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    DogBreath, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:01am

    Re: Glad they protect us from the pilots

    Wait until SOPA/PROTECT IP passes, then TSA will confiscate the pilots iPads (you know, the ones with all the navigational charts on them), because they can be used to "facilitate copyright infringement".

    Even if the pilot is listening to some song he paid for from iTunes, they might accidentally broadcast a tiny portion of it over the PA system while talking to the passengers, and produce a public performance without paying the appropriate copyright licensing fee, thus breaking the law.

     

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  23.  
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    Trails (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:06am

    Laugh, you naive fool!

    You may mock sporks but that's cause you've never seen a trained assassin in action with a spork.

    I've been sporked. After spending 2 months learning to walk again, mocking the potency of the spork is something that leaves me trembling. I still wake up screaming, remembering the blood.

    Further there's a recent rise in sporkings in high schools as teenaged gangster hooligans who listen to rap music learn the lethality and easy concealment of these flatware killers.

    We need to do the following right now in order to save America:
    - Come down hard on KFC for supplying these lethal objects to our children.
    - I heard Rockstar Games is coming out with a new GTA, called Grand Theft Auto: Liberty Sporkings. We must organize a negative PR campaign to get them to cancel this spork-murder-training-simulator, somebody call Jack Thomson.
    - We must ensure our flights are properly protected from Spork-armed Terrorist (the emerging faction Al-Sporkaeda is particularly notorious). I suggest focusing on sporks to the exclusion of all other weapons (with the exception of the dreaded colostomy bags, which should be squeezed and then gently probed with a jagged piece of metal).
    - Ensure that our police have spork-resistant body armor. This armor is made from a lightweight space age material called "tissue paper, wet". We need to invest heavily in this for our fighting men and women too.
    - I would strongly encourage Congress to pass federal legislation ensuring all people convicted of carrying a concealed spork or spork-related violence be sentenced to minimum mandatory sentences of 12 years hard time in a max security federal penitentiary

    We must enact these changes now, for the children, or else the terrorists win.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Larry, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:08am

    Re:

    TSA took lighters off the list over 2 years ago. Light em if you got em.

     

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  25.  
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    DogBreath, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    sporks

    I'm sure some TSA management type misheard Santa Claus say, "You'll scoop your eye out, kid" instead of, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid", from the movie "A Christmas Story". So sporks are now deadly weapons along with the all-powerful melon ballers, as they could take an eye out too.

     

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  26.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    Re: Security Theatre

    The security, and the TSA, really make me angry and as a result I fly as little as I can possibly get away with. I used to fly a lot, and enjoyed it, but those days are long gone.

    I really wish they would do as you suggest. I, and many people I know, would fly a great deal more.

    Only one additional security measure is needed to stop 9/11 style attacks: remove the passageway between the cockpit and the rest of the plane entirely.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That sounds awesoem, I want blueprints

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Squid Lips, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Tourism

    The "west" is already a conglomerate of police states. If the revolution was going to happen, it would have already.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    Re: Laugh, you naive fool!

    I can tell you're serious because you invoked Jack Thompson.

    This man means business.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    What are you saying about Guns & Ammo and KFC sporks, Tim?! Are those the implements of terrorists now?

    FTFY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:48am

    It's in the nature of bureaucracies to grow randomly and expand beyond their original intent. So instead of catching terrorists, you know, the nuts that might want to blow a plane up in the air, they catch GI Joe weaponry instead.

    You'd think they'd work harder at coming up with something resembling a real terrorist, though, than a pilot with a butter knife. Then again, the GI Joe got to fly and not get put on the no fly list so maybe they're mellowing as time goes by.

    Oh, and if I wanted to blow up a plane these days the last person I'd want to get on board with the stuff to do that is someone Arabic looking. I think more a handsome blond Nordic male or drop dead gorgeous blonde Nordic female with plenty of cleavage. Just think of all the distractions the woman would be to the mostly male scanning folk and what she'd get away with!

     

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  32.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Security Theatre

    Only one additional security measure is needed to stop 9/11 style attacks: remove the passageway between the cockpit and the rest of the plane entirely.

    The mental picture this conjured up was of a cockpit completely severed from the rest of the plane. Safe? Yes. Flight-worthy? Perhaps not so much.

    (and then I pressed "funny" because it was, although through no fault of your own...)

    (I have gone on to press "insightful" and hope that it cancels my previous action out.)

     

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  33.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Re:

    But Tim, thanks to the TSA not a single baby has committed an act of terrorism!

    Sure, but if the TSA ever starts to be proactive, there'll be abortion clinics on the concourse.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    minty boost.

    I do not presume to know that was what he used, but lookup minty boost on adafruit.com

    Minty Boost is also open source.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Re:

    An issue of Guns and Ammo has a minumum of 250 gun replicas per issue, many more during expanded holiday issues and such.

    And sporks? Well, there's an explanation for that down below.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Anonymous, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    sounds about right

    I has a Disney princess cup confiscated because it contained a tiny liquid globe, under 3 ounces in the plastic cup. Nice to see that they are catching the bad guys.

    And the cup was not for me! :-)

     

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  37.  
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    I-Blz, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re:

    So they let in blue KKK members, but not guys with mirrors taped to their faces? Wai2gogaiz.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 12:21pm

    Hey, they're still doing better than the MPAA and ICE because at least they have comments enabled on their for their ridiculous posts.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    Terrorists have stopped flying.

    Terrorists have too much dignity to be forced into a naked scan, so they refuse to fly, see the TSA is working great.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Glad they protect us from the pilots

    Without that butter knife it would be impossible for a pilot to perform a terrorist act, like say, flying a plane into a building.

    What is even funnier about the TSA confiscating "dangerous" items from flight crews is the fact that they deputize and authorize them to carry firearms on flights anyways.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Flight_Deck_Officer

     

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  41.  
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    Someantimalwareguy (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re:

    TSA took lighters off the list over 2 years ago. Light em if you got em.
    Unless you fly out of Hancock in Syracuse - they eat the things it seems and then leave their TSA Seizure napkin in your baggage...

     

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  42.  
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    DogBreath, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Glad they protect us from the pilots

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Security Theatre

    Re: two lines

    They would never do that, because they don't care about the airplane passengers. All they care about is the airplane itself. Airplanes cost money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: Security Theatre

    Well, it sounds good in theory... but are you going to explain to the flight crew that they get no meal or bathroom breaks on those transoceanic flights?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    ah yes, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:23pm

    the TSA: they can stop a platic toy gun from getting an inch but cant stop a guy with weed.

     

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  46.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Security Theatre

    I think if you press "funny" twice the second press cancels the first. Ditto insightful and report.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 5:00pm

    A few years ago they confiscated my father's nail clippers. (This type.)

    I'm not quite sure what terrorist act they thought an overweight, out-of-shape 80-year-old man was going to do with a pair of nail clippers. Maybe threaten to use his ninja skills to manicure the crew to death?

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Security Theatre

    Haven't you heard? The rights of a few pale in comparison to some greater good yadda yadda. We all have to make sacrifices and all that. (Never mind that this few happens to be the individuals in charge of running the whole gig in the first place, but this shouldn't be surprising. Look at the SOPA debate; the nerds who understand the Internet are considered minority.)

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 9:12pm

    Our tax dollars at work...I have that hopey changey feeling all over

     

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  50.  
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    Aerilus, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 10:17pm

    to be fair

    to be fair number three on the list was 1200 firearms discovered in 2011 at tsa checkpoints. last time I checked though firearms had metal in them and would show up with a metal detector. the c4 they found was less than an ounce but it looks like that could do some damage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoVrXDDpvF4) and from what I can tell explosives can be picked up by dogs and non invasive sensors

     

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  51.  
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    Dr Evil, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 11:18pm

    TSA Security Theater :-) :-(

    @hothmonster - ah, but there HAVE been cases where the TSA has snuck fake weapons, etc into bags with the intent to test their own people and systems - they were not detected OR retrieved, much to the concern of the people who discovered the fakes later and the TSA execs who had some 'splaining to do.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:17am

    TSA Top 10 Good Catches of 2011

    ... 'cos that's how we roll, bitches !!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 4:29am

    Re: Re:

    Never Knew. It was in 2009 so I guess it was in the list, wasn't it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It actually wasn't Minty Boost, but this was 5 years ago. Minty Boost is an advancement over what I built (honestly can't remember where I got the plans) and is a phenomenal way to learn the basics of homebrew hardware projects.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Loyal Stricklin, Jul 16th, 2012 @ 7:30am

    airport security

    Thank you, for your web sight.
    I am so frustrated with TSA.
    The United States today, is not the wonderful country I grew up with and trusted. We have grown into a totalitarian state run by big business. Our freedoms are being eroded, one by one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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