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!

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

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Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Robert (profile) says:

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.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.)

John Doe says:

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.

DogBreath says:

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.

Gwiz (profile) says:

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.

Violated (profile) says:


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.

hothmonster says:

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.

The Logician says:

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.

Suja (profile) says:

Re: 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

Ninja (profile) says:

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

John Doe says:

Re: 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.

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Trails (profile) says:

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.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

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!

Aerilus says:

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 ( and from what I can tell explosives can be picked up by dogs and non invasive sensors

Toddler Terror suspect #1 says:

Clearly our children are trying to kill us

The number of plastic toy weapons confiscated is astounding. I can only imagine that the young children flying these days are part of a sleeper group just testing the system to see if they can sneak on their dangerous plastic toys (which to them are real enough) and take over the nations airlines.

Also, my 6 year old had his plastic sword he bought as a souvenir confiscated by our TSA drones. The explanation given was "someone might mistake it for a real sword". Mind you, the "blade" was extra thick and looked more like a balloon than a sword, and the color was definitely off.. But hey… Maybe a really drunk or stupid passenger *might" panic.. Or likely the TSA agent knows about the child conspiracy above.

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