Skies Safer Than Ever After TSA Prevents Passenger From Boarding Flight With Cartoonish Novelty 'Bomb'

from the I-don't-want-to-say-they're-morons-but...-they're-morons dept

The skies are now that much safer [uses finger and thumb to approximate appropriately small amount] thanks to the super-serious safety efforts of the TSA. (via Amy Alkon)

Ever vigilant, intellectually adept, and multi-talented (seeing as how they can spot stuff to steal even as they have their hands down your pants), they discovered the above pictured Big Scary Terroristy Thing at Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee.

It is an “F Bomb Paperweight,” a piece of art handmade by Fred Conlon and selling for $45. Quoting from the F Bomb’s blurb:

It’s never easy dropping truth bombs in the office. But “f” bombs? Always explosive fun! Fred Conlon’s recycled steel sculpture lightens up desk-side chats and tough conversations with a delightfully abstract expletive appropriate for any situation. Handmade in Utah.

Each is one-of-a-kind and will vary slightly.

How do we know the TSA managed to confiscate such a dangerous item? Because the TSA itself posted the photo above at its blog.

A black novelty bomb was detected in a carry-on bag at Milwaukee (MKE).

Accompanying the photo of the clearly-not-a-real-bomb is the following statement:

We continue to find inert grenades and other weaponry on a weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if an item looks like a real bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays because the explosives detection professionals must resolve the alarm to determine the level of threat. Even if they are novelty items, you cannot bring them on a plane.

“Looks like a real bomb.” Yeah, about that… This looks about as real as any bomb ordered by Wile E. Coyote from ACME Products. The “fuse” appears to be recycled power lines, something no one could actually light. The TSA’s internet mouthpiece, Blogger Bob, has previously complained that bombs are hard to detect because they don’t look like their animated counterparts.

“It’s not like they’re using a cartoonish bundle of dynamite with an alarm clock strapped to it,” Bob Burns of the TSA Blog Team posted on the agency’s Web site.

He must be so relieved that someone actually walked into the Milwaukee airport with something cartoonish enough to be recognized as a bomb immediately by TSA staff — which now looks more cartoonish than the “bomb” it confiscated. (Real bombs tend to go undetected…)

Presumably, the dangerous item will be forwarded to the TSA confiscation dumping grounds where it can be sold to the highest bidder and put back into circulation. Too dangerous to put on a plane but not too dangerous to put back in the public’s hands, where it might be carried onto a bus, subway car or aerial tram. The TSA doesn’t mind if you hijack/blow up another form of mass transportation… just don’t take down an airplane.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Skies Safer Than Ever After TSA Prevents Passenger From Boarding Flight With Cartoonish Novelty 'Bomb'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Digger says:

Just how many of these (as well as other items like these) are shipped via air-mail on a weekly basis?

Poor TSA – it’s not illegal to bring non-weaponry on a plane.
There’s no law stating what you’re claiming, and I know damned well that the TSA does NOT get to write laws, thank entropy for small favors.

Pull your collective heads out of your methane air pockets (your asses you retards), and try breathing regular air for a change, you might actually be able to use those 2 brain cells before they die, and do something worthwhile, like arrest your co-worker for being the child-molester that he or she or it is.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

In this case, and it’s rare, I agree with the TSA for confiscating this item. What kind of moron tries to board a plane with anything resembling a bomb?

Kudos to the TSA. And major fail on the passenger who thought this was appropriate to carry onto a plane. Practical joke, throwing that fake bomb down the length of the plane?

YEAH, what a moronic passenger, bringing this item, fake or not.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree with you. While it’s a silly item and a little observation can tell you it’s not real, it is something that could be used to disrupt a flight, even just for a few minutes.

The traveler should have known better. It’s similar to carrying a kid’s plastic gun onto the plane. It’s clearly not a weapon, but it is also clearly going to get confiscated at the security check point.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

While it’s a silly item and a little observation can tell you it’s not real,

and therefore the security guy should not have wasted time over it.

Every minute spent dealing with a clear non-threat is a minute that could have been spent looking for real ones.

What if a real bomb got through because the security people allowed themselves to be distracted with this?

Candid Cameron says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I saw the picture before I read the article and my first thought was, “Cool paperweight. I wonder where I can get one?” Then I read the article and just had to chuckle at it.

It also left me wondering what percentage of people, upon seeing that image for the first time, think to themselves “paperweight” versus “bomb”. If the higher percentage see it as the former rather than the latter, then it makes these TSA folks look even worse than they already do. Their training seems very questionable as a result, which in turn hurts what little credibility they had left.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re:

Did you forget your sarc mark? I can only hope this wasn’t a serious comment, but in the spirit of your remark, I’ll respond to the less-likely and worst-case scenario that you really meant what you said.

1. Obviously a toy bomb, even at a glance. (Even if TSA suspected something as stupid as a spy vs. spy scenario of disguising a real bomb as a toy bomb, they have several options for testing that hypothesis that don’t involve theft.)

2. As for a “practical joke”, at worst that would result in some startled people and the prankster’s arrest. Now we’re back in the realm of actual “pre-crime” responses to “but what if s/he” fantasies.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Really? It’s a goddamn toy and it’s obvious it is a toy from the picture. I’ll assume you couldn’t see the picture so you are forgiven for your bullshit this time.

It’s people like you that are screwing this world. Are you afraid of gun shaped cookies? Do representations of guns from kids using their hands send chills down your spine?

Digger says:

Re: Re:


It’s not a bomb, it doesn’t even LOOK like a bomb to anyone with more than 3 brain cells.

You’re not helping here.

STEEL cable, STEEL ball bearing, STEEL nut all welded together is patently not a bomb, does not even remotely resemble a bomb, wouldn’t look like a bomb on an x-ray scanner.

No TSA agent alive should be granted kudos, they’re all a bunch of child mollesting scum bags. Don’t try and play nice with them, they’ll think you want to “play” with them.

Hell, a bolo looks more like a bomb than this does, what with natural fiber coming out of 3 ball structures, it looks more like 3 bombs than this does a single bomb.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“What kind of moron tries to board a plane with anything resembling a bomb?”

This attitude pisses me off. The only reason anyone should be wary of carrying an obvious non-bomb onto a plane is because of the possibility of a stupid over-reaction like this. You should direct your ‘moron’ insults at the people that have allowed things to get so stupid.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, because they couldn’t scan this for explosive residue like they do for CPAP machines and other goods.

I was travelling from Chicago to Detroit and thought for sure that the World’s Largest Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar in my carry on was going to raise some alarm or suspicion. Nope.

Besides, doesn’t this let terrorists know to bring aboard devices that look like a bomb?

scotts13 (profile) says:

Hate to say it, but...

I can’t really fault the TSA on this one topic; I can’t even disagree with their logic. To you and I, it’s a joke – but note the metal pressure chamber, which could contain anything, and the fibrous “fuse”. You couldn’t know for sure it wasn’t functional unless you tried to light it. Similarly, I’m quite sure they don’t allow the non-firing replica firearms you can easily buy – it just takes too long to positively determine these things ARE harmless replicas.

TasMot (profile) says:

Re: Hate to say it, but...

I’m sorry, but you are so wrong with that statement. Even from the picture, the “fuse” is a steel cable. It will not burn. And please, there is a separate “explosives” detection capability. I have been frequently routed there for testing because my computer briefcase is full of wires. This “device” could very easily be tested and a determination made that it is non-explosive. There is no possible way this obvious toy could be concealing an explosive. A real terrorist would be better off filling 6 of those little 3 ounce shampoo bottles with nitro-glycerin (and “moo” in line while it goes through the scanner in a separate 1 gallon zip lock bag), than trying to blow up a plane with this obvious toy.

As a former frequent flyer having wasted hours of my time being “security” screened, this is an absolutely stupid move on the part of the TSA. They should be giving that screener more training, not boasting about discovering an ACME bomb toy.

The TSA seems to keep missing the point. They are supposed to be stopping threats. Not preventing obvious toys from being on the plane. Go ahead, screen it for explosives, it only takes a couple of seconds. But what a waste of time and money to take away what is obviously a non-explosive souvenir. AND, then to brag about it like they saved the world. WHAT A FARCE.

Pyrosf (profile) says:

Its a Subject

The government has proven their lack of common sense time and time again. You can not have child porn, even when you are the child (but only if you’re a boy) who took the photo of yourself or when its a cartoon drawing. Walmart photo workers report mothers who take baby photos, cops arrest the mother instead of using common sense.

The TSA is simply the logical extreme, if it looks like a cartoon fake bomb, it must be a real bomb. If it looks like a real bomb, well, we have no idea what a real bomb looks like because they have no idea what a real bomb looks like.

I cant wait till they make a picture of a bomb illegal on the grounds that it could be a bomb.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The classic cartoon bomb this looks like is actually how early hand grenades looked.

Also, there were explosive cannon balls. If you take a minute to research you will find that in the civil war they used cannon balls filled with gunpowder and stopped with a fuse. Idea was to time it with the fuse. Did not work all that well, but that is not really the point.

Even knowing all that about very outdated weapons though, this toy is obviously not an explosive. It was just made to jokingly resemble one.

Argonel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

IIRC just a couple years ago someone was killed by one of these civil war mortar shells when it exploded while he was messing with it. Just because they didn’t go off when they were fired or in the last 140 years doesn’t mean it is actually safe.

That being said the thugs in the TSA really need to spiff up their wardrobe it would be more entertaining to talk about them if they actually wore jackboots.

Anonymous Coward says:

absolutely fucking ridiculous!! i would have thought that if someone had the intention of really getting an explosive device on to a plane (or any other public transport, come to that) they would put a lot of effort into concealment, thereby doing as much as possible to thwart both the TSA and the x-ray machines.
i would have thought though that whoever intended doing something like this, they would have been the subject of another security force having them on their list. surely, with all the ‘invasion of privacy’ and the ‘shoot first, ask after’ attitude of the security forces, someone would have an idea of who was going to try what? they wouldn’t just decide the day before flying that they were going to become a terrorist and do a bad thing, would they?

lfroen (profile) says:

I'm not a TSA fun, but this thing looks real

While there’re plenty of examples of TSA incompetence, this is not one of them. The policy of “nothing that _looks_like_a_bomb_ is allowed” makes sense. And yes, this thing is looking like a bomb.

Whoever brought it to the plane is idiot looking for attention. So – he’s got it.

Now, it’s unclear whether this thing was in luggage or taken in a hand bag. In most places in the world, you can’t take such stuff with you – but you can _declare_ and put it to the luggage. Same as a real weapons.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: I'm not a TSA fun, but this thing looks real

The policy of “nothing that looks_like_a_bomb is allowed” makes sense

Putting that right next to their statement that real bombs don’t look like cartoon bombs, seizing this cartoon bomb does not make much sense.

Since there was once a bomb that looked like shoes, should we stop allowing shoes? They make you take them off and they scan them (not sure how helpful that is), but they don’t reject them from the plane.

What about suitcase bombs? Holy crap! People take suitcases onto planes all the time – better stop that.

Some things I can remember that terrorist attackes have used as bomb casings:
– Baby carriage
– Dolls / stuffed animals
– Laptops
– Pregnant women (heck, people for that matter)

If you stop allowing anything that “looks like a bomb”, you have a serious issue because terrorist bombs are designed specifically to look like EVERYTHING EXCEPT A BOMB.

JMT says:

Re: I'm not a TSA fun, but this thing looks real

“The policy of “nothing that looks_like_a_bomb is allowed” makes sense.”

So tell me, when was the last time a plane was hijacked or blown up by something that looked like a bomb? This policy is security theater at it’s finest. It’s ‘doing something’, but not actually making anyone safer.

Ed says:

It looks a lot more like a bomb than a tennis shoe does.

Oh yeah, we just about had a plane taken down because of an airplane.

Any sane person should understand that if looks like a bomb, acts like a bomb, or smells like one, then it shouldn’t be on a plane.

The TSA pulls real guns out of luggage daily, an indication of the idiots who are flying.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh yeah, we just about had a plane taken down because of an airplane.

Assuming you meant tennis shoe, that doesn’t help your position. As mentioned above, no bomb anyone has tried to use to blow up a plane has “looked like a bomb”. And the next one won’t either. It also won’t show up as a big solid white lump on x-ray like this one would, because that kind of thing attracts attention.

ThatFatMan (profile) says:

I get that it looks like a bomb. Great. And rules are rules, whether we agree with them or not.

My issue here is that they should not have confiscated it. They could have easily pulled the passenger aside, checked it to be sure it wasn’t actually dangerous and then given the passenger two options:

1. Return the clearly, checked, non-bomb to the passengers’ checked baggage where it can be safely stowed and inaccessible during the flight.

2. Allow the passenger to have the item boxed and shipped, at his own expense, to his final destination or home.

Either way, the passenger gets to keep his item. I think it’s a fair compromise, one that might even help the TSA earn a bit of an image of being more than just government thugs.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re:

checked it to be sure it wasn’t actually dangerous

The only way to really do that would be destructive, like drilling holes into it or perhaps blowing it up.

The passenger doesn’t get options because by law, this is what he presented himself to the security with to board the plane. You don’t get to try to bring a bunch of things in and then send the ones that don’t make it some other way. You are suppose to show up at the security check point with everything already taken care of.

Basically, you don’t get to back out of security, for very obvious reasons.

TasMot (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

YOU ARE WRONG. I have been detained many times while an “explosives” test was performed on my briefcase because it had so many computer wires in it. Explosives leave a detectable trace. They could have just tested the artwork and let it go, had him check it, or let him mail it to himself. If he were really a terrorist, he could just blow up the screening area with as many people in it as an airplane carries.

This was a TRAVESTY. A huge mockery of even the security theater that used to be so entertaining.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s not even backing out of security, he literally passed the security check, even if it was fairly roundabout. There’s a huge difference between “you’re allowed to have that item at your destination, but you can’t bring it there this way”, and “you’re no longer allowed to have that item, give it to me!”. Pray tell, which one does an obviously fake device belong in?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“You are suppose to show up at the security check point with everything already taken care of.”

But this isn’t always possible. I could easily see myself taking that object on a plane without thinking there would be an issue, because it doesn’t look anything like a real bomb would be expected to look.

But then, I’ve been burned by TSA edge cases enough times now that I don’t take any luggage at all when I have to fly anymore. No carry-on and no checked baggage. I ship everything ahead using a parcel service instead. There’s no telling what a random TSA agent will find objectionable.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

like drilling holes into it or perhaps blowing it up

Oh yeah, sounds like a nice strategy.

TSA goon: spots a bomb shaped cookie that is incidentally an actual bomb Seems like it’s some explosive!
TSA goon 2: We must test it to check if it really is a bomb! grabs drill

Breaking news: “Airport bombed in terror attack”

I’m not even addressing the rest of your inane comment.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

Re: Re: Re:

Or they could have a dog sniff it. It’s probably not gonna do much if it’s in an airtight container, is it? (I don’t know much about explosives, but I figure they need about the same stuff as fire) Also, the screening process is based on your consent, expressed or implied. If you refuse or withdraw consent, screening ends. They can hold you until the police arrive, but there’s no such charge as “decided to not get screened”. You won’t be allowed on the plane for safety reasons, but you’re allowed to back out of security at any time.
Oh, and it’s perfectly reasonable to send a non-illegal, but non-dangerous weapon via mail to your destination. With all of the ridiculous rules of the TSA, how can you be prepared for everything.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“It’s probably not gonna do much if it’s in an airtight container, is it? (I don’t know much about explosives, but I figure they need about the same stuff as fire)”

Yes, they do — however most explosives contain the oxidizer as part of the explosive mix itself, so don’t need access to air to do their thing.

Also, most “airtight” containers aren’t actually airtight enough to prevent a dog from being able to detect the scent of the contents anyway.

“You won’t be allowed on the plane for safety reasons, but you’re allowed to back out of security at any time.”

No, you really aren’t. Once the screening process has begun, you can’t legally decide to abort it. If you refuse to cooperate past that point, you can be arrested and levied an $11,000 fine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Conventions, anyone?

Anyone who’s ever been to a convention where people cosplay know that any ‘weapon’ a person brings to the convention gets analyzed by security – to whatever degree – and then it somehow gets marked so that other security guards know whether the item is fake or real. They don’t call in bomb squads when someone brings in a couple of obviously fake grenades, or detain people indefinitely for a blunt sword or a fake rifle.

the ultra-important-and-totally-qualified-for-the-job (/sarc) TSA agents could learn a thing or two

Anonymous Coward says:

So how do they get these to purchasers?

So, if these are _so dangerous_ once purchased from the manufacturer, how do they get them to the buyer? Does the buyer have to drive to personally pick it up? Surely, these things aren’t allowed in a UPS/FEDEX/OTHER carriers cargo! And DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT OVERNIGHT SHIPPING since it would surely travel in an AIRPLANE!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...