TSA's Instagram Account Full Of Confiscated Weapons Photos Only Looks Like 'Safety'
from the appearances-still-preferred-to-results dept
News of the TSA’s new Instagram account has been pinballing around the net. It’s a violent hipster’s dream, filled with heavily-filtered photos of confiscated weapons. One might be tempted to buy into the TSA’s unspoken narrative that all these confiscations are making flying safer, but Cory Doctorow points out where that thought process hits a logical dead end.
The TSA has launched an Instagram account, showing all the “dangerous items” they
stealconfiscate from air travellers. The message is clear: we are keeping you safe from in-flight danger.
But what they don’t show is all the grand-jury indictments for conspiracy to commit air terrorism that they secured after catching people with these items — even the people who were packing guns.
That’s because no one — not the TSA, not the DAs, not the DHS — believe that anyone who tries to board a plane with a dangerous item is actually planning on doing anything bad with them. After all, as New York State chief judge Sol Wachtler said (quoting Tom Wolfe), “a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’ if that’s what you wanted.” So if there was any question about someone thinking of hurting a plane, you’d expect to see indictments.
This is undeniable. If attempting to carry a weapon onboard is evidence of a true threat, we’d expect to see more would-be fliers headed off to prison, or at least arraigned on terrorism charges. But that’s simply not happening. Instead, the weapons are confiscated and they face, at most, a felony charge for attempting to board a plane with a weapon.
This sort of thinking falls right in line with the TSA’s liquids policy. Prohibited liquids are tossed into nearby trash receptacles, giving lie to the reasoning that the questionable liquid could be some sort of explosive. Throwing away potential bomb components a few feet from a frequently-crowded TSA checkpoint right on the concourse seems incredibly irresponsible if you truly believe the fluid is dangerous. The fact that this happens several times a day in hundreds of airports across the US proves that not even the TSA agents believe the confiscated liquids pose a threat.
The TSA agent Doctorow spoke with about these seizures said he didn’t believe the people who’d had their weapons confiscated posed a threat. But he did come up with a rather novel theory as to why these confiscations took place.
“But,” he said, “maybe someone who did want to crash the plane might take the bad thing away from them and attack it.”
Doctorow responded that this scenario seemed way too far-fetched to mesh with reality.
“That doesn’t sound like a very reliable plan,” I said. “If you were a terrorist and that was your plan, you’d have to spend a lot of time in the air waiting for someone to open his laptop bag and show you that he forgot to take his handgun out of it before he boarded.”
Based on recent history with would be terrorists, it’s more likely the smuggled weapon would be used by passengers against the terrorists, rather than the other way around. This new Instagram account is just the TSA soft-selling its brand of “safety,” but the implied narrative doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.