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TSA Says Screening Drinks Purchased Inside Airport Terminal Is Nothing New

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the what-do-you-got-there dept.

Security 427

First time accepted submitter lcam writes in with a story about a video that has started a new round of condemnation against the TSA over the testing of drinks. "The video, posted on YouTube on Monday and featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Tuesday night, has already garnered almost 125,000 hits and nearly 900 comments from angry travelers. It shows two TSA officers swabbing bottles of water, a carton of coconut water and a cup of coffee, among other liquids. '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,' YouTube user danno02 says in the video's description. '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).' The TSA insisted Tuesday that its policy of checking liquids beyond the security gate has been in place for five years now. TSA agents will randomly patrol the gates using a test strip and dropper containing a non-toxic solution, it said."

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427 comments

Explosive (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243089)

What about the explosive diaerara you get from eating the junk they have in the terminal?

Re:Explosive (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243107)

They test that, too.

Re:Explosive (3, Insightful)

Lisias (447563) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243237)

Always bring some Vaseline to the Airports bathroom. I was told that some TSA agents do a very rough fingerjob.

Re:Explosive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243591)

They used their fingers on you? You got lucky then.

So why can't they swab bottles 3oz (5, Insightful)

puterguy (642044) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243097)

Why not use this "technology" to resume allowing people to carry liquids >3oz in carry-ons?
Perhaps limit the number of such bottles to save time but if they can swab drinks bought in the security zone, they can swab our drinks while we wait to be nakey-scanned...

Re:So why can't they swab bottles 3oz (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243681)

"Get your stinkin' paws outta my Coke! You damn dirty ape!" (Say that to a black TSA agent, and you'll probably make the national news when they charge you with "hate speech".) Oh what a fun non-free country we are.

BTW who's testing the hundreds-of-pounds of food and drink being loaded by outside convenience companies into the airplane? What a perfect way for a terrorist to land a job, get cleared, and then sneak several pounds of liquid explosive onboard.

Excuse me while I bend over.
The TSA say they need to check my cavity.
Whatever it takes for safety, eh?

Re:So why can't they swab bottles 3oz (4, Insightful)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243775)

I'd suggest it's because one must always add to the security theatre. They took away the >3 oz carry-ons to make you feel safe so long as they were around to take such things and afraid should they leave. Now that you're accustomed to that, they have to add a new unnecessary procedure to remind you how necessary they are. Most importantly: they must be seen doing it and therefore mere restrictions are inadequate. Alternatively, John Pistole had already been watching too many episodes of Burn Notice, when Janet Napolitano, who remembers back to an early era of television, turned him onto MacGuyver. It quickly became apparent to him just how dangerous things you can buy at a convenience store can be.

I'll say it again.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243103)

Fuck the TSA

Re:I'll say it again.. (5, Informative)

ark1 (873448) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243127)

Just remember, any liquid you may discharge in the process is subject to additional screening.

Re:I'll say it again.. (5, Funny)

Lisias (447563) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243291)

Couple got caught in the airport's bathroom on a blowjob.

"Ma'ham, please open your mouth. We have orders to test every liquid for explosives..."

Re:I'll say it again.. (2)

kpainter (901021) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243347)

Couple got caught in the airport's bathroom on a blowjob.

Former Senator Larry Craig?

Re:I'll say it again.. (1)

dontbemad (2683011) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243673)

I'm glad this was modded +5 Informative. There is nothing funny about forced sexual encounters with TSA officials. Especially ones that cause you to climax, thus adding to your inconvenience and time wasted.

Re:I'll say it again.. (3, Insightful)

dbryson (2401) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243207)

I second this, FUCK THE TSA!

Re:I'll say it again.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243421)

Why would you say "FUCK THE TSA!"? Unless, like me, you don't use their services, your using them as a terrorist/criminal activity preventative measure is strictly voluntary. If you don't like what they do, don't use them.

You might think you don't have a choice, since if you fly commercial, you MUST let them check inside your asshole, etc. but that's where you're mistaken. You see, you don't have to fly. Unless your job is stewardess or airline pilot, air marshal, etc., you cannot be required to get on an airplane. As long as people keep putting up with their shit, they'll keep doing it. When the American people, en masse tell the government and their jack-booted thugs that we will not accept their constant and flagrant violations of our basic rights, immunities, and human dignity, they'll stop.

The reason this hasn't happened yet is you've used the wrong communications method. You've told them with words, but they believe that if you say "we're not going to take this anymore" but you keep walking through airport security to get onto airplanes, it's obvious you WILL IN POINT OF FACT TAKE IT, so your words are obviously mistaken, incorrect, inaccurate, or even an outright lie. You need to tell them by not getting on aircraft anymore. Then they'll understand that you mean it. Until then, deal.

If you think you have to get on airplanes for your job, just tell your boss that flying on aircraft is against your religion. If they discipline or fire you, sue them for violation of your right to practice your religion. If there's no religion you can name that has this prohibition, make one up. It doesn't matter, since all religions are made up bullshit anyway, including ones that have been around for thousands of years, and the age of a lie should not make it somehow magically more valid than any other, newer one. Just as Judaism isn't viewed by Christians as more valid than their lies, by virtue of being older, just as Mormons don't regard Christianity as any more valid than their belief system on account of it's being older than their cult.

So as you can plainly see, you do in fact have a choice, and you exercise that choice to use the TSA, and give expressed or at least implied permission for them to stick their noses in your business, their fingers in your orifices, etc.

So "FUCK THE TSA!"? No, fuck you.

Signed... the FUCKING TSA.

Have a pleasant flight.

Re:I'll say it again.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243573)

-1, retard.

Re:I'll say it again.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243431)

Fuck the TSA

Welcome to the Soviet States of America.

Re:I'll say it again.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243817)

Oh, HELL, NO!

You're as liable as not to catch something particularly NASTY as a result. Let 'em go fuck themselves.

non-toxic? (5, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243129)

Is the strip and solution really non-toxic? Will TSA provide independent test lab results to prove it? (unlike the poorly tested backscatter x-ray machines)?

If they have a reliable test to determine if a liquid is hazardous or not, then how about letting me bring liquids through the checkpoints?

TSA security theater story of the day:

On a recent flight from IAD, just before the flight started boarding, the gate agent announced "Please have your ID available for inspection, TSA will be conduction random ID checks and baggage searches upon boarding". And sure enough, as we boarded, there was a TSA guy with his magic flashlight, randomly checking ID's for validity, and farther into the jetway was a pair of TSA agents randomly searching luggage.

What's the point of a random check if it's announced when passengers can choose not to participate? If I were a bad guy with a fake ID or something bad in my luggage, I'd go home and try again a different day with a different fake ID.

Re:non-toxic? (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243205)

What's the point of a random check if it's announced when passengers can choose not to participate? If I were a bad guy with a fake ID or something bad in my luggage, I'd go home and try again a different day with a different fake ID.

He'd be recorded as a no-show. If someone got ambitious and went through airport video (or a computer program did so), they just might notice that the bad guy left after hearing about the random check.

Having said that, I don't see the point, unless they're trying to catch people who repeatedly break the law, like smugglers. Or to put up a show.

Re:non-toxic? (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243301)

What's the point of a random check if it's announced when passengers can choose not to participate? If I were a bad guy with a fake ID or something bad in my luggage, I'd go home and try again a different day with a different fake ID.

He'd be recorded as a no-show. If someone got ambitious and went through airport video (or a computer program did so), they just might notice that the bad guy left after hearing about the random check.

Having said that, I don't see the point, unless they're trying to catch people who repeatedly break the law, like smugglers. Or to put up a show.

If he has a fake ID, he'll just use a different one the next time.

But being a no-show is not enough to get you on a no-fly or scrutiny list - I've canceled flights a number of times even a short time before departure and have never had any trouble getting back through security the next time I flew. This was both with full-fare unrestricted tickets and restricted discount tickets.

Re:non-toxic? (-1, Flamebait)

Larryish (1215510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243457)

So is it o.k. for us to wait outside the airport, follow the TSA agents home, and then beat their heads in?

I am just asking because TSA employment seems to be a lot of former welfare recipients, and in disposing of them we would actually be benefiting society as a whole.

Re:non-toxic? (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243679)

As long as we are in the business of putting down people we dont agree with, can we start with you? A human being is not a liability, except to those that wish to have more then they need. You are suggesting we KILL HUMANS, sentient lights in the dark universe, because its 'expensive' to not let them rot in the gutter.

Re:non-toxic? (0)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243695)

So is it o.k. for us to wait outside the airport, follow the TSA agents home, and then beat their heads in?

I am just asking because TSA employment seems to be a lot of former welfare recipients, and in disposing of them we would actually be benefiting society as a whole.

There's no reason to take your frustrations out on TSA agents. They are just doing a job, if you don't like the job they do, then get your government to get rid of the job, there's no need for personal attacks against the agents. I feel the same way about parking enforcement officers, I detest what they do, but I hold no animosity against the individual officers. If they write me a ticket that I feel is invalid, I protest it in court, not by yelling at the officer as she writes the ticket that her job requires her to write.

If a former welfare recipient got a job as a TSA agent, that sounds like a great thing, I'd rather pay them to do useless work than pay them to sit at home and do nothing. Though if the government really wants to create a make-work program, I wish they'd bring back the CCC and rebuild our park system.

Re:non-toxic? (2, Insightful)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243773)

Ya know, most of the time, the TSOs really aren't to blame....
Yes, some of them (less than 50%, although probably close to 50%) do steal shit from your checked baggage and carry on.
But really, it isn't the TSO's fault that they work for an organization as dumb as a pile of dogshit. It's a well paying job for people unwilling or unable (usually unwilling) to get an education of any kind, even if EVERYONE FUCKING HATES THEM.

What are you gonna do? You have a girlfriend and two kids, and you're just too dumb to get a technical degree, are you gonna let them starve? No, you're going to go and get a menial, unskilled labor job with the TSA and get paid well to piss everyone off, cuz that's really all you're good for.

I'm not saying the TSA is good. And I'd rather have no jobs for the genetically lobotomized, but it's just not their fault that most of them got the job of TSO, they're so useless they have no other choice. And in the "land of opportunity" (yeah right, opportunity my ass), everyone is entitled to try working at something. And it turns out that unskilled mouthbreathers are really great at fondling the unwilling, and stealing shit from people's bags.

Re:non-toxic? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243327)

If I were a bad guy with a fake ID or something bad in my luggage, I'd go home and try again a different day with a different fake ID.

You know you don't need an ID to fly nationally, right?

Re:non-toxic? (1)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243499)

Nor does TSA need to let you on your flight. There's nothing to stop them from questioning you for four hours when you don't bring an ID.

The TSA needs to be stopped (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243139)

I was an American teenager in the 1970s. Back then, people made fun of the Soviet Union. One of the most popular jokes referred to a Soviet citizen's internal passport, which apparently they were supposed to carry even when going from city to city. And of course there were all the stories about the KGB.

Fast forward to now. The TSA is becoming more and more intrusive into all aspects of our lives. They are even trying to worm their way into searching you on city buses and trains. Also Congress has, on more than one occasion, entertained proposals that would require US citizens to carry what amounts to an internal passport.

Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down that wall... and we thought we won the Cold War. But I guess Breshnev and company are having the last laugh.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (1)

biometrizilla (1999728) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243195)

Not just the TSA. Here in North Carolina you can be stopped at a "license check" roadblock. A thinly veiled attempt to catch drunk drivers, but requires you to present your driver's license to the officer. He may as well say, "Your papers please", just like in Nazi Germany.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243801)

He may as well say, "Your papers please", just like in Nazi Germany.

I didn't know they spoke English in Nazi Germany?

"Papieren, bitte!"

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (3, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243233)

The joke is, in the USSR you didn't have to carry internal passport (which is just a form of country-wide standardized ID) anywhere. You could fly on airplanes or ride trains without showing ANY form of ID.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243403)

That's actually bullshit. Going to Leningrad from Riga required a very distinct passport check, guess you only went within one PSR? Let's not even mention restricted towns. In short you are either foolishly ignorant or lying.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (3, Interesting)

utkonos (2104836) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243677)

Sorry, but which restricted town are you speaking of in that region? Sosnovy Bor? Kronshtadt? There weren't constant checks in those places. Of course if you looked out of place, you would be checked, but it wasn't like the place was in lock-down 24 hours a day. Even now, Sosnovy Bor is closed, but I have never been checked, not even once while visiting people there.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (1)

utkonos (2104836) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243711)

Also, it occurred to me, what road were you taking between Riga and Piter that required such a passport check? The now E77 through Misso then northeast through Pskov?

Anyway, speaking of the road between Latvia and Piter: "he lived the way he sang". Tsoi zhiv!

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (2)

Cyberax (705495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243725)

Well, my family traveled from Astana (then Tselinograd) to Moscow by airplane. There were no passport checks at all. We moved a lot between cities in the USSR as well. No passport checks, again.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243251)

I was an American teenager in the 1970s. Back then, people made fun of the Soviet Union. One of the most popular jokes referred to a Soviet citizen's internal passport, which apparently they were supposed to carry even when going from city to city. And of course there were all the stories about the KGB.

The most popular joke is our Pledge of Allegiance, which until the red scare, did not include the words "under god". Communists were portrayed as being godless heathens, and thus atheists and agnostics were frequently profiled (to use the modern vernacular) by police and the authorities. Of course, sixty years later, revisionist history has all but forgotten it. This country has a long and inglorious history of sacrificing its citizens on the altar of public opinion whenever an external threat was perceived. "I hold in my hand a list of 80 names of communist party members in the democratic caucus" is laughed at as an example of how 'backwards' people in the 50s and 60s were, even as we nod our heads agreeably to watchlists containing tens of thousands of names of suspected terrorists.

Change the names and places, and people forget it's the same dance.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243567)

I was an American teenager in the 1970s. Back then, people made fun of the Soviet Union. One of the most popular jokes referred to a Soviet citizen's internal passport, which apparently they were supposed to carry even when going from city to city. And of course there were all the stories about the KGB.

You were suppose to carry a gov't issued ID card. If you were stopped by police, you could be asked for it. And that had *nothing* to do with traveling, just everyone above age 18 or so was suppose to have one in their wallet.

What's the difference in the US? You can't get on a plane without ID. In Soviet Union, you could get on a plane, train, boat, whatever without ID. They just asked you for the ticket - imagine that! You only needed ID in case the police stopped you, and there were no police on planes.

Not carrying ID could get you a ticket. But then I've never known anyone that was asked for ID outside of a traffic stop (driver license, ID card).

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243643)

What's the difference in the US? You can't get on a plane without ID. In Soviet Union, you could get on a plane, train, boat, whatever without ID. They just asked you for the ticket - imagine that! You only needed ID in case the police stopped you, and there were no police on planes.

Not carrying ID could get you a ticket. But then I've never known anyone that was asked for ID outside of a traffic stop (driver license, ID card).

And just today in Arizona a judge upheld Arizona's Show me your papers law [msn.com]. If you look foreign and are in Arizona, you better have your papers with you or you may find yourself sitting in jail until you can confirm that you're here legally.

Re:The TSA needs to be stopped (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243585)

>>>They are even trying to worm their way into searching you on city buses and trains.

Trying? It's already being done at random bus and train stations. Also malls, post offices, parks, hotels, and along interstate highways. Or even just walking down the street.

The TSA and their VIPR teams can accost you at any time.

It make sense (for a change) (4, Insightful)

nickovs (115935) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243143)

If you are going to check something at a checkpoint then it makes sense to stochastically sample with secondary checks to test your error rate. Apparently the TSA believe that there is a reason to limit the liquids through airport checkpoints and screen those liquids that they do allow through. Irrespective of if this is itself a rational position, if you believe that it is then it is also rational to check randomly sample liquids after the checkpoint.

Re:It make sense (for a change) (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243413)

If you are going to check something at a checkpoint then it makes sense to stochastically sample with secondary checks to test your error rate.

This may be true in general, but not for this situation. Checking your error rate with such random checks works only if the number of items making it through is big enough. If nothing comes through, or what makes it through is only a very small percentage of the total, you have a big chance to miss that one offending item when you do your random checking.

Here we're talking about chances literally in the order of one in a billion, if not one in ten billion. The chance that someone brings a bottle of explosive liquids to an airport checkpoint is simply that small - actually afaik no-one ever really tried to bring explosive liquids through an airport checkpoint.

So the chance that someone will bring such an item to your airport is extremely small. So basically on normal days, as in well any day actually, there is nothing to detect. Your "non-toxic test liquid" may as well be plain water as the test is going to be negative anyway. It's total and utter nonsense. Testing liquids people have bought in the restricted area, and that they are drinking at the same time, makes even less sense. It's hard to imagine that an explosive liquid would make for a good drink.

Re:It make sense (for a change) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243571)

If you are going to check something at a checkpoint then it makes sense to stochastically sample with secondary checks to test your error rate.

TFS explains that it is not limited to 'secondary checks' of liquids that have gone through the checkpoint, but also drinks that were purchased at stores inside the gate.

next step (1)

gale the simple (1931540) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243171)

based on the rationalization mentioned in the article: random colonoscopy at some point before the security check point may be introduced because... no one will expect it... brilliant...

cryst

Re:next step (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243261)

They'll just say the policy has been in place for years so there's no reason to make a big deal out of it.

Re:next step (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243535)

Obligatory Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quote:

"But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."

"Oh yes, well, as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything."

"But the plans were on display..."

"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

"That's the display department."

"With a flashlight."

"Ah, well, the lights had probably gone."

"So had the stairs."

"But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"

"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display on the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.’"

—Douglas Adams

Random swabbing (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243175)

The real reason for this is to make you, the idiot public, feel safe by having some random person in a uniform approach you and proceed to do something vaguely scientific-looking while assuring you that you're very safe here. See, you're safe because we're doing this thing of dubious value, but we're dressed in uniforms that command authority.

If you want to see this first hand, dress up in a suit, wear an official-looking nametag (it needs to have a BIG official-looking gold seal on it) covered in laminate, and then walk around a commercial building telling people what to do. Tell them men's room is closed and everyone has to use the women's (or vice versa). Stand in front of an elevator and tell people it's out of order (even as people exit from right behind you). Now, take it to Troll Level 99 by getting a couple of your friends involved in it: Come up with something completely outrageous (claim you're an USDA food inspector and need to look at anyone carrying a sandwich while in front of a cafe), and make sure your friends agree to do whatever you're doing. Then demand the same of other random people. Take a bite out of their sandwich and then tell them it's "acceptable" and let them go. You can have one of your friends object, at which point you eat the entire sandwich and treaten to write them a citation for interfering in official inspector business.

You'd be surprised just how far you can take it. I mean, you can basically rob someone of everything they own, and as long as other people are complicit to allow it, they'll just fold in like a deck of cards. No. I really mean it. But don't do it since it's unethical. But they do, they really do. :(

Re:Random swabbing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243345)

The funny thing is... most people would be too idiotic to figure out what you're alluding to. They would just think you're another nut; a "false" authority figure. The real authority figures are the good guys!

Re:Random swabbing (4, Insightful)

Larryish (1215510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243493)

To the tune of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A.":

I was born in America,
Where I'm often told I'm free.
And I voted for the pice of shit,
Who told that lie to me.
And I'll prick my finger,
Next to you,
At the all-you-can-eat buffet.
I can't afford to move abroad;
Trapped in the U.S.A.

Re:Random swabbing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243545)

I believe there is a movie about this phenomenon playing in some theaters right now

http://www.avclub.com/articles/compliance,83906/

Re:Random swabbing (4, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243617)

>>>If you want to see this first hand, dress up in a suit, wear an official-looking nametag (it needs to have a BIG official-looking gold seal on it) covered in laminate

I saw this on a plane recently. As I was getting off I put on my workbadge, since I knew I was going directly to my job. When I said "excuse me" people looked at my badge and said, "Oh certainly sir" or "yes sir" and let me get past them in the aisle. My seat was close to the rear, but by using this technique I ended-up as one of the first persons off the plane.

That wasn't part of my original plan, but just happened to work out.

How do you know it's a TSA agent? (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243187)

How do you know it's a TSA agent dripping a strange liquid into your drink and not a crazy guy dripping a slow acting poison or virus that won't be noticed until hours later after hundreds of people come down with a strange affliction all across the country?

Even if you demand to see ID first (is the TSA agent obligated to show ID upon request?), how many people know what a TSA badge is really supposed to look like?

Re:How do you know it's a TSA agent? (0)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243227)

Because the other TSA agents presumably WOULD know.

Re:How do you know it's a TSA agent? (3, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243597)

Because the other TSA agents presumably WOULD know.

Would they? How long would it take to discover the rogue TSA agent? If TSA tactics are always changing and no one knows what's real and what isn't, maybe the bad guy would have time to visit all the patrons of an airport restaraunt and infect their drinks before slipping away unnoticed.

Or maybe the bad guy is a real TSA agent and slips the virus into another agent's vial, and that agent goes around infecting people without even knowing it.

Or, to really spread terror, the bad guy can just dump a TSA uniform and some testing vial half full of Anthrax (or whatever can be transmitted though liquids) in an airport restroom where it will be discovered. Then TSA won't know how many people may have been infected.

Do it in more than one airport and they won't even know how many airports it happened in.

The bad guy doesn't actually have to do anything bad to shut down air travel nationwide - just dump some clothes and a vial in a restroom stall.

This is where TSA's security theater could come back to bite them - when they rely on so much showmanship, all it takes is a different kind of showman to make them look incompetent. No amount of TSA spin is going to help when news crews are in several different airports across the country showing discarded TSA uniforms and speculating about what could have been going on. And if TSA suddenly announces "We will no longer be testing liquids", people will wonder why they were testing them in the first place if they can suddenly stop testing them.

Re:How do you know it's a TSA agent? (2)

Altus (1034) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243255)

LSD might be fun, plane full of dosed travelers!

Re:How do you know it's a TSA agent? (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243471)

If a suicidal terrorist really wanted to terrorized a population, they would intentionally catch Ebola and go through an airport, train station, or to a densely populated public event. Afterward, everyone would be afraid to go out into public. Anyone could be an unwitting agent of a terrorist plot.

Re:How do you know it's a TSA agent? (1)

zcomuto (1700174) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243611)

You could say the same about any fairly unsecured transport network. There's countless bridges, buses, trains and stations worldwide that could cause a massive loss of life and there's virtually no security bar some token "No unaccompanied bags" notices. I suppose we should just be thankful that terrorists are not actually intelligent enough to figure it out.

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that whilst the threat of terrorism perhaps doesn't scare everyone, it certainly inconveniences everyone. Time is money, and the simple fact that these security precautions cost lots of it are helping them to win.

What is the TSA for anyway? (5, Informative)

MacAndrew (463832) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243219)

I've had a sneaking suspicion that the TSA is a stealth jobs program for the otherwise unemployable. It's not so much the intrusive searches and so on as the STUPIDITY of their measures (how are four small bottles of liquid different from one large bottle?). As a game I stand in line at the checkpoints daydreaming about all the ways I could sneak things through—ideas that I won't share because it appears that terrorists are generally, thank goodness, even dumber than the gatekeepers. Many critics have already dissected their policies, e.g., http://www.schneier.com/ [schneier.com] It's just too easy.

Terrorism is a very serious problem that can get people killed. So is the TSA.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243461)

Just wondering. Not that I can vote in your country or so, but I hear a lot about it in the news and so about your upcoming presidential elections. This Mitt Romney, hasn't he promised to create something like 12 million jobs or so? I don't recall the exact number but it was pretty much the same as the number of registered unemployed in the US. Quite impressive a promise. I always wondered how he's going to create those jobs. Just nicely asking companies to hire more people usually doesn't work very well.

Now what is his stand on the TSA? Being a republican candidate I'd guess he's all for expanding the TSA in his to-be-smaller government. Could be a way to fulfil that promise.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243479)

I've had a sneaking suspicion that the TSA is a stealth jobs program for the otherwise unemployable.

Oh, they're employable. It doesn't take a genius to pick up trash on the side of the road, to ride on the truck that paints the white stripe along the edge and scream when it runs out of paint, to drive a truck that picks up brush from people's yards, etc. There are plenty of things that our government *needs* to be doing that could be done with pretty much the same people for the same amount of money, yet our government feels the need to piss away our hard-earned tax dollars on these agents of compulsory obsequiousness instead.

At this point, I think the TSA's main purpose is to ensure a servile working class that is too broken to care about how much they're being screwed by the aristocracy, all while using propagandistic techniques to convince them that it is for their own good.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243523)

I've had a sneaking suspicion that the TSA is a stealth jobs program for the otherwise unemployable.

You assume incorrectly. The marginally employable in this country are those who are any/all of the following: under the age of 25, over the age of 65, overweight, physically disabled, have a criminal record (this one overshadows all the rest combined except age), lack a degree/diploma of any kind, or do not speak english fluently. The TSA's hiring criterion specifically disqualify most of the people in the former categories; You can't have a criminal record, you need to be physically fit enough to stand on your feet for an 8 hour shift, and you need to speak english fluently. I believe they also required a high school diploma or GED -- and unlike most other employers, they will check.

It's not so much the intrusive searches and so on as the STUPIDITY of their measures (how are four small bottles of liquid different from one large bottle?).

You assume that the reason for the intrusive searches and 'stupid' measures are to improve security. They aren't. They're there to make the passengers feel safe. All of these searches and measures are highly visible (there are no privacy shields for most of their activities -- they prefer it be in public view), obvious, and very visually-orientated. It is quite literally theatre. The phrase "security theatre" describes what they're doing perfectly; they are actors on a stage, and you are the audience. The polls have consistently shown people support these procedures; It has broad public support. Articles like this are a tempest in a teapot; the general public simply doesn't care about those things. They may agree with everything the article states, but they'll quite happily keep right on doing it because it makes them feel safer.

And that, my friend, is all the TSA offers: A feeling of security.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (1)

MacAndrew (463832) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243555)

Ah, but you assume too much. I'm sorry, the TSA people I've interacted with may have had high school degrees but were hardly the alpha cut. As for TSA as theater: agreed. That was my point, the actual level of security provided is very little.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243583)

Ah, but you assume too much. I'm sorry, the TSA people I've interacted with may have had high school degrees but were hardly the alpha cut. As for TSA as theater: agreed. That was my point, the actual level of security provided is very little.

I don't assume anything. I contracted with the TSA when they hired their first batch of airport screeners -- my primary job responsibilities supported their hiring process. I can't disclose details, but this isn't assumption or "I read it online" -- this is "I was there" knowledge. And whatever you think of the screeners' intelligence level, I can assure you that they were all given a standardized test and receive regular training and testing for their entire career. Their IQ is a meaningless metric to their supervisors -- as long as they can follow procedure without deviation, they could have had their brain replaced with a toilet scrubber and they'd still keep their job.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (1)

MacAndrew (463832) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243669)

Well, last shot: I didn't mean IQ, whatever IQ is, and I certainly never mentioned it. I meant competency and the ability to think independently. For one thing the "first batch" of screeners was probably different from the second, third, fourth etc. batches; at least in the beginning they were pretending TSA was something new. It could be a training failure or poor policy limiting personnel but—whatever the cause—I am NOT comforted by what I have seen that air travel is even a hamster's breath safer than it was before 9/11. Procedure is never enough, and the phenomenally stupid questions I have been asked by security do not suggest much more is being added. Some of the workers may be fabulous, but it doesn't save the program; too many are not.

Now, a toilet scrubber. I think you've hit on something there. How tragic that would even occur to you in connection with what is a very important job.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243531)

Terrorism is a very serious problem that can get people killed. So is the TSA.

The 9/11 attacks caused roughly 3,000 deaths .
Most years other than 2001 apparantly resulted in less than 1,000 lifes lost globally (though 5-6 times as many people tend to get wounded)
Lifes lost globally to plane crashes ~1,000 to 1,500 per year
The total number of lifes lost to traffic accidents last year in the US was about 33,000
Deaths caused in the US by pneumonia in 2009: about 51,000

Don't just take the accuracy of those numbers for granted.
Please go take a few minutes and search for statistics. Educate yourself about the numbers and how they were determined.

Then please tell us whether or not you still consider terrorism to be a serious problem.
Do you still believe the risks were so great ? Do you still consider your lost liberties as acceptable costs for that safety ?

tl;dr; Get a fucking perspective.

Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243577)

Uh, just because the attack hasn't happened doesn't mean terrorist attacks don't happen. If the TSA is a joke, if no safetry has been gained (true), no matter how good sacrificed civil liberties make you feel deep down inside, it's just a matter of time.

FDA approved? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243221)

So they go around sticking test strips and liquid in peoples drinks. Sure it's perfectly safe we told you so. Has the FDA even approved it or is it super secret we cant let them know it does not work.

Remember to hide your drinks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243245)

Keep your bottled drink in your carry-on bag, and don't remove it to drink it when TSA agents are roaming around.

Re:Remember to hide your drinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243513)

I've reported you to the Glorious Department of Homeland Security for developing sophisticated detection evasion techniques and sharing them with other terrorists.

Human Intelligence? (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243295)

I read a comment on one of the other sites carrying this story that the test itself was of minor interest to the TSA - instead the goal is to talk to more passengers in order to gain "human intelligence." To these cynical ears, that sounds like exactly the kind of half-baked plan the TSA would come up with. Somebody thought it would be a clever way for their "behaviour profilers" to have an excuse to "profile" people without obviously creeping them out.

My personal experience is that I've flown once in the last 8 years, and the one time I did fly one of those TSA guys tried to talk me up while I was in line. It was uber-creepy - I spent the next hour trying to figure out if the guy was just naturally creepy or if he been trying "profile" me. Either way I did my best to say as little as possible to the guy and just get on past the checkpoint as quickly as possible. Talking up someone while you both wait a minute or two for the "test strip" to change color is probably going to be less obviously creepy. Still assinine and utterly ineffective, but less creepy.

non-toxic test liquid (0)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243329)

Non toxic, as defined by the folks who blast "non-toxic" radiation at everyone going through their body scanners.

Consider the security hole this does fill... (3, Funny)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243333)

I really hate to defend the TSA but there is a legitimate infiltration vector that this does address - that employees beyond the checkpoint can being in substances and transfer them to passengers.

Now, I do not defend their approach - that the passengers are the ones that get interfered with. The TSA should be working behind the scenes so that dangerous materials never get brought in by employees. Someone could slip some C4 onto a palette which gets passed along to the cashier then to the traveler. Then at another store picks up the detonator, then assembles it all on the plane.

I have no idea what security there is on getting stuff into airports, I figure it's got to be nearly impossible to adequately screen everything. .

And another thing is that you wouldn't put C4 into coffee, you'd put it on the bottom of the cup in that little area created by the seam. Of course, a coffee cup is the last place. You could just cram it in a hollowed out book. You'd fit way more.

So the other give away here is that they are after a liquid threat, and we already know there are no liquid threats capable of being produced in mid-air, or on the ground without raising a lot of suspicion. It'd have to be pre-packaged.

Someone somewhere must have gotten some intel about this vector.

Re:Consider the security hole this does fill... (1)

DavidRawling (864446) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243375)

Darn, I was with you all the way until we got to your last assumption:

Someone somewhere must have gotten some intel about this vector.

Intel? At the TSA? Not going to happen (aka "Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here").

Re:Consider the security hole this does fill... (1)

zill (1690130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243433)

Why would the terrorists go through all that trouble? Just book first class and use the complimentary metal knifes. The 9/11 guys didn't need any fancy schmancy liquid explosives; all they used was just knifes.

Re:Consider the security hole this does fill... (1)

raehl (609729) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243675)

Have you ever flown first class?

Nobody in first class is scared of the dull stick that the airline attempts to pass off as a "knife".

Re:Consider the security hole this does fill... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243765)

Have you ever flown first class?

Nobody in first class is scared of the dull stick that the airline attempts to pass off as a "knife".

If you want to bring in a knife, bring in a ceramic blade tucked inside your DSLR or video camera body and they'll never see it on the x-ray.

Not that it matters, a blade or box cutter is no longer sufficient to bring down a plane - the pilots aren't opening the door no matter how many passengers you kill or injure. If you want to take down the plane you'll need a different method, which is what the TSA is trying to prevent.

Of course, it's an impossible task because TSA is protecting against known attacks, and it's the novel and previously unknown attack that will eventually slip by.

Re:Consider the security hole this does fill... (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243745)

I really hate to defend the TSA but there is a legitimate infiltration vector that this does address - that employees beyond the checkpoint can being in substances and transfer them to passengers

If an employee is going to bring in explosives disguised as a bottle of water, the person who will explode the device won't be walking around the terminal drinking from said bottle of water. They will stick the bottle in their carryon and move on.
The TSA does NOTHING to stopping anyone but a layperson.

Way to improve post security gate food/drink sale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243371)

I wonder if some TSA came by an drop checker and swabbed your drink getting whatever powder into your drink would it not cause the customers to throw the drink out then buy another one?

Just a thought there. IDK but was thinking if it was a way to help boost up some sales post security gate. Who knows.

Re:Way to improve post security gate food/drink sa (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243501)

Actually, I've been wondering if the whole "no drinks through security" rule was made at the request of the airport merchants who charge three dollars for a $0.30 bottle of water....

U$tArds, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243417)

your country is pathetic.

Been there, done that (2)

TClevenger (252206) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243445)

At Ontario airport over a year ago. We were lined up ready to board, and two fossils with a cart came up to us and then waited for the line to actually start to board the plane to start pulling people out to screen them. They used some kind of test strip and held it over my open bottle of water (I had drunk half of it while they watched), stuck it in a machine, and then a few seconds later, moved on to the next guy.

They didn't bother to check my backpack, where I had two other bottles of water I had bought from the same shop.

Re:Been there, done that (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243747)

Terrorists would obviously have their explosives on display, and would sip from them. Same with knives, which us why a couple of friends have repeatedly made it through screening with knives in their carry-on. Real terrorists would carry knives prominently.

TSA? (1)

kwerle (39371) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243473)

While it's fun for everyone to bitch about the TSA, what is it doing here on /. ?

Re:TSA? (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243743)

While it's fun for everyone to bitch about the TSA, what is it doing here on /. ?

Seething, heaving, spuming in final gasps for liberty in a foul sea of glorified retardation, ridiculous restrictions and centrally-sanctioned security-cretins with clinical fetishes for your undergarments, unavailing revulsions and personal fluids? My best guess, anyway.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: FSCK the TSA! -- Literally perhaps. I suspect they fear a rigorous audit more than foreplay.

I mean this with all sincerity: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243561)

FUCK THE TSA.

Seriously, these goons are on a power trip that would make the Wehrmacht proud. I've flown several times since 9/11, but only because I had no other alternative at the time (I even drove 17 hours straight to visit my girlfriend while she was in San Antonio, because I had enough time to actually be on the road). Each time I've flown, I've opted out of being irradiated in favor of a pat-down.

Is it more invasive? Yes. Does it take longer than being scanned? Yes. Does it invonvenience them (even slightly) and force them to do more than just wave me through a machine? Yes. Does it make the screener uncomfortable? Hopefully that answer is also a yes. It's still useless and wrong, but I'm willing to give up a small bit of my dignity in order to make a point. I smile like an idiot during the entire pat-down these days.

Be that as it may, I will have to say that the screeners I've encountered at Austin-Bergstrom and in Nashville have been 100% professional and polite about the process. The people shoving everyone else through the machines seemed annoyed at having to get said screeners to deal with me, but that's not my problem.

funny (1)

no-body (127863) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243603)

that this comes up now after supposedly 5 years being done. Did people all of a sudden get more sensitive to that BS? Doubtful.

Easy access to your DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243613)

Thanks for submitting!

Mind your betters! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243647)

Avert your eyes, plebes! It is forbidden to watch, discuss or criticize the patricians!

Something to remember (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243661)

All these "enhanced procedures haven't stopped a single terrorist. We are constantly inconvienenced and harassed all for nothing!!!! Even the shoe bomber was caught on the plane not before boarding. All this is for the illusion of safety and has nothing to do with stopping terrorists. Even the strip search X-rays haven't foiled a single terrorist plot. In ten years of microscopes up your rectum they can't point to a single case where the TSA has stopped a terrorist. Even with all the billions spent on new equipment and rights abused the actual terrorists are found before they get to the airport or on the plane itself not during check in. What is the value of the TSA? Zero, zip, nada unless you sell water and coffee in the post check in shops then they are a gold mine!!!

United Suspects of America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243729)

Liberty plz.

Can we sue the TSA (4, Interesting)

chrismcb (983081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243759)

Can we sue the TSA for putting us in harms way? I am sick and tired of them making me stand in line, next to a barrel full of suspected explosives.

Security theater in the round (1)

rlh100 (695725) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243783)

Security theater is always better if it is not just up on stage but if the TSA actors actually come down into the audience and randomly do interactive skits with people in the audience. It shows they take their art seriously.

The TSA is nothing more than a jobs program. (3, Informative)

net_oholic (222829) | about a year and a half ago | (#41243805)

Someday, people will come to realize that there was one single change after 9/11 that effectively eliminated the possibility that hijackers could use our planes to fly into targets - they put locks on the cockpit doors.

Everything else is a charade. The TSA was created and is funded specifically to allow politicians to brag that they "created jobs", even if those jobs are completely worthless and nothing more than "security theater". It's a federal work program, nothing more. You might as well named it the "Ditch Digging Administration" and put the same low income, low skill workers in fields digging ditches and filling them back in. At least that would have some tangible benefit and stop causing so many people the nuisance.

In fact, the privacy invasions, delays, and "no fly lists" put in place by the TSA have caused significantly more deaths than happends on 9/11 - because people avoid the airports more and drive... getting into highway accidents.

This is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41243815)

How do you know that the fine upstanding TSA is taking all precautions by using sterile equipment and not putting a toxin into your beverage? WTF happened to the USA? When did we become Soviet America?

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