USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

More on the Liquid Rules: Why We Do the Things We Do (Commenting Disabled)

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Last week, there was a post on the ars technica blog by Jon Stokes, Senior Editor and Co-Founder, posing some questions on TSA’s liquids rules similar to other questions we’ve gotten on the blog so far. Kip Hawley wrote the following response, and we wanted to post it here for TSA blog readers to see as well.


Jon,

Thanks for the question on liquids. We have lots of material on our site (tsa.gov) going into the liquids issue so that is available for background, including the video of it blowing up. I'll try here to break the question down into the sub-questions I hear most. I enjoy ars technica, especially that it is thoughtful and issue-oriented and I appreciate having the opportunity to address your question.

Was this a real threat? Yes, there was a very serious plot to blow up planes using liquid explosives in bombs that would have worked to bring down aircraft.

Why don't you just ban all liquids? Because our National Labs and international allies demonstrated to my satisfaction that there is, in fact, a scientific basis for allowing small amounts of liquids on as carry-on. We try to prohibit the minimum possible from a security standpoint. Also, the consequence of banning all liquids is a large increase in the number of checked bags, which creates its own issues.

Why can't multiple people bring on explosives in three-ounce containers and mix them post security? The tough one! Tough because there are parts of the reason that are truly classified but here goes... (read them all before throwing up your hands!)

  1. We are involved in risk management. The question to me is: "What do you have to do to make a successful attack so complex that an intelligent enemy would recognize that the odds of success are too low?"
  2. Because there are limits to our ability to detect every thing every time at the checkpoint, we use layers of security. For example, I and senior leaders at TSA work every day with the intelligence and law enforcement communities world-wide to get insights in how to make our security better -- frequently adding specific training and sometimes, respecting our obligations to the intell and law enforcement communities (like our remote control toys advisory), communicating directly to the public. Also, we reduce risk by a) adding behavior detection capability, K-9 teams, surge teams and document checking out front; and b) by undercover presence throughout the area behind the checkpoint, as well as better screening of the supply chain of items in the sterile area after the checkpoint.
  3. We reduce risk by deciding what we believe is necessary for a completed bomb -- the core of the 100ml (3.4 ounce) limit. Extensive testing began the morning of August 10, 2006 -- the day the liquids plot was made public -- to determine if there is a level at which any liquid brought onboard a plane represents little risk. These were tests by multiple government agencies, National Laboratories and other nations and they assisted in the 3-1-1 formulation. We announced 3-1-1 on September 26, 2006 and that allowed travelers to go on overnight trips without having to check a bag. That is the trade-off: if 3-1-1 is too complicated, you can always just check your bag.
  4. The preparation of these bombs is very much more complex than tossing together several bottles-worth of formula and lighting it up. In fact, in recent tests, a National Lab was asked to formulate a test mixture and it took several tries using the best equipment and best scientists for it to even ignite. That was with a bomb prepared in advance in a lab setting. A less skilled person attempting to put it together inside a secure area or a plane is not a good bet. You have to have significant uninterrupted time with space and other requirements that are not easily available in a secured area of an airport. It adds complexity to their preferred model and reduces our risk, having the expert make the bomb and give it to someone else to carry aboard. They are well aware of the Richard Reid factor where he could not even ignite a completed bomb. Simple is truly better for them. Also, bomb-makers are easier for us to identify than so-called clean 'mules.'
  5. The container itself adds complexity. A 100ml container limits the effect of, and even the ability of, a detonation. It also forces a more precise mix, and a lot more boost -- which makes it easier to detect from that side. Even creative ways to smuggle liquids in are less effective because, eventually, they still have to mix it right and get it into the right container, etc. There are also issues with what kind of container you use, but let's leave them to puzzle that out further...
  6. The baggie gives us two benefits: A) It serves as a visually identifiable, easy way to limit quantity. Even if they wanted to bring multiple bottles to mix, we limit the quantity of their total liquids as well (bottles "hidden" in the carry-on bag stick out). B) The baggie serves to concentrate the vapor - substances used to create liquid explosives are very volatile and emit fumes even through sealed bottles. (We have tested.) We have liquid explosives detectors that take advantage of the vapor concentration factor in the baggie. This way, we do not have to examine what's inside every bottle, regardless of what the label says.
  7. The effect of pulling out liquids and aggregating them separately allows our security officers to have a clear look at the liquids -- and, perhaps just as important, it de-clutters the carry-on bag so that we have a clearer view of that as well.
  8. With our medical exceptions, they have to talk to one of our Security Officers who can use a variety of methods to tell whether it presents a problem including test strips, and hand-held detectors that are highly effective, even with closed and sealed bottles. With the larger bottles, the other features needed to make it viable would be very apparent.

A few other points, this policy has been adopted in more than 80 countries worldwide and means that there are common rules almost everywhere you fly. The choice is a total ban or this, and we are working very hard at a technology solution that should make this better all around. Think early 2009 for that.

The challenge is to reduce risk on the things we know about (shoe bombs, liquids) while having enough other measures in place to disrupt what we don't know is coming. Any time we fixate on one thing, you have to be concerned about opening up something elsewhere. Balance, flexibility, and unpredictability are key. So is going on offense by being connected to intelligence / law enforcement and being proactive with our surge patrols, undercover activities, etc. AND getting TSA and passengers back on the same side! That last one is what we're trying to do at our checkpoint with our TSOs and online with our blog.

Whatever you think about our policies -- please recognize our Security Officers who train and test every day and will do whatever it takes to make you and your families safe when you fly. They are the best in the world and are on your side; please give them a little recognition when you see them. Thanks for the opportunity to comment,

Kip

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

How much longer until this paranoia goes down to the point where I can travel with ease again?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Read point number 4. Now read it again. Any questions? Thank you.

Submitted by Al on

Coming from an agency that does not even deploy technology that would enable it to detect plastic explosives (or a stick of dynamite) carried in someone's pockets or pants, worrying about the liquid threat is idiotic.

TSA should focus on finding all the test bombs it is currently letting through before worrying about liquids.

Also, how does this add a layer of security if the limitations are so easily circumvented by one person taking multiple trips through security or multiple persons aggregating materials past security?

Submitted by Anonymous on

But that doesn't answer the question! Your answer seems to be, "Parceling it out into 3.4-oz containers forces the terrorists to have to measure carefully."

There are no liquid explosives that can be manufactured on the flight. If the bad guys are bringing pre-mixed, they can still collude and combine their bottles onboard (Kip dodges this one).

It doesn't answer why liquids have been singled out (when there's hundreds of times more powder and solid explosives).

It doesn't answer why liquids are confiscated under the presumption they're dangerous, then dumped in a big old bin next to the queues, with no testing or assaying.

I've never seen anyone weasel out of a question like that before. He takes eight bullet points to say things that are completely oblique to the question.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on
Was this a real threat? Yes, there was a very serious plot to blow up planes using liquid explosives in bombs that would have worked to bring down aircraft.

Unfortunately for your story, many prominent chemists world wide have already debunked it. It is a hollywood version of events - a serious plot in an action movie. Your whole heightened security rests upon it being possible to construct such an explosive under carefully controlled conditions but not on an airplane.

That is the reason why some of your reasons are classified. You don't want the public to see that a ventilation hood is required, that bunsen burners are required, that liquid cooling agents such as N2 are required, et cetera.

Do you ever worry that your credibility is declining so much?
Submitted by 100KFlyer on

Well, color me confused. Is the liquid ban about carrying on board ready-made explosives (in which case even 9-12 ounces of premade nitroglycerine would pose a serious threat) or the Hollywood-style "binary explosives" which you apparently admit yourself cannot be reasonably assembled in an airport or an airplane????

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi - thanks for putting up this blog. It's great to get some dialogue going.

I have a question. You say there was a real threat to blow up planes using liquid explosive. I don't doubt there was a threat, but then I don't doubt that there might be a threat to blow up planes with plastic, solid or any other type of explosive. Nor do I doubt that there might be a threat to hypnotise cabin staff into killing the pilot, or any one of a thousand ways of bringing down a passenger plane. The question, which you do mention in passing, is whether this threat is believable? What, for example, do you say about the various testimonies from those that apparently know, that mixing binary explosives on board an aircraft is practically impossible? This link for example.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How many people do you think actually believe this?

Submitted by Anonymous on

How can the UK "plot" be considered a "very serious" one when the would-be conspirators had not procured tickets, passports (in some cases), and DID NOT HAVE A WORKABLE BINARY LIQUID EXPLOSIVE? The ban on liquids is precisely as sensible and necessary as is a ban on manticores or cyclopses; we know it, you know it, and it is a large part of why Americans do not take TSA at all seriously, and view airport screening as an unfunny joke.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is in response to your last paragraph.

"Train and test every day to ensure my safety?" Well your security officers have a funny way of showing it. It seems like you officers want to get us through with minimal work to them. Every time I go through a TSA check point, there are always officers that I wouldn't trust to keep me safe. And some of them are screening bags.

The screeners are usually socializing with someone else while they're screening bags which means that their attention is not focused on their job. Maybe that's why they constantly fail tests put out by the government?

If your people constantly fail when they are tested, then how can we be sure they won't fail when the threat is real?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks for the information Kip. Tell your screeners to keep up the Good work. I fly alot and have a lot of respect for the TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

On point number 4, you admit that it would be nearly impossible for someone to mix liquids to create a bomb in an airport or airplane setting. Someone would need to sneak lab equipment past security, obtain plenty of private space, and find hours of uninterrupted time. Even with lab conditions and the best scientists, the bomb might not ignite.

So, ALL passengers have been harassed and hassled due to an overreaction by TSA to a Hollywood science-fiction scenario that is so extremely unlikely to happen as to be impossible to any thinking person.

When is TSA going to get some common sense, remove this liquids ban, and actually do something realistic to protect the flying public?

Submitted by Chuck on

I'm really confused by Secretary Hawley's attempt to justify the current limitations on liquids.

#4 in his explanation seems to be a perfect argument for why the TSA does NOT need limitations on liquids.

Apparently, Secretary Hawley believes that terrorists are smart enough to build an entire chemistry laboratory past the security checkpoint but too dumb or too lazy to add together multiple 100 ml containers of already-prepared explosives. It makes absolutely no sense.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So we are now up to two "official" responses, one from "the man" himself and one in video form from an "expert", and yet there is still no answer to any of the issues raised in the comments. You're talking but not saying anything!

In fact, the only thing you've managed to do is provide more credence to the inanity of it all. You admit that the most likely threat is a pre-manufactured explosive (and use that as a reason for the bag rule and small container size) but neglect the issue of throwing the contraband into a plastic bin right next to your employees and customers! If you are being honest and you really believe that the most likely scenario is a pre-made bomb, why don't you treat any confiscated material like it is a dangerous device?!

To be honest, if I was Jon I would be insulted that you actually think he's stupid enough to buy any of your answers. I mean how is this reply not more of the same old "Just trust us; we know things that you don't about chemical bombs" that Mr. Stokes called you on in his first post?

Submitted by Brendan_i on

Thanks for partially addressing the concerns raised in the earlier liquids thread.

That said, I'm concerned about the statement that testing began as soon as the plot became public. CNN reports that the plotters had been under observation since December of the previous year, yet this statement makes it appear that homeland security / TSA did not begin to address the mechanics of the plot until the participants were already detained. Is that correct?

Submitted by Zolodoco on

Oh hey look: http://www.boingboing.net/2006/12/13/war-on-moisture-char.html

Here's another one. "Sources: August terror plot is a 'fiction' underscoring police failures." The URL is long, so look for Raw Story with that headline.

The simple truth is that there is a liquid restriction because of the so-called liquid bomber plot. It's proven a fabrication designed to build public support behind fear-mongers during the '06 election cycle in the U.S.

Why then do we still have the restriction? If you want, a team of creative individuals can come up with a dozen more improbable scenarios that represent a grave threat and we'll all be boarding planes naked. Whoever tells the TSA what to do wants to keep reminding us that we're supposed to be afraid. You know, that terror alert orange I keep hearing in my local Omaha airport. Sure, whatever guys. Life is terror alert orange, is that it? Stay afraid.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What about the threat of dihydrogen monoxide? I read on respected citizen blog Little Green Footballs that dihydrogen monoxide is possibly the most dangerous asset in the terrorists toolbox. I think it should be banned. God bless America.

Submitted by Norgg on

I was going to ask some questions, but they've been asked already, as well as several I hadn't thought of.

Just going to add my voice to those asking for a real explanation with fewer contradictions.

Submitted by Dave X on

So is the limit 3 oz, 3.4 oz, 100ml, or 88ml?

And why should we believe some answer posted on the web? The screeners don't.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is amazing to me that Pre-9/ll this manner of comments are still being made. This type of attitude is the very reason the government did nothing to thwart the threat because the public would be angry because of the "inconvenience" it would have caused them. Finally, the government does something preemptive to stop a serious threat and the public groans and complains. I guess America only wants more blood shed before they'll be willing to put up with minor inconveniences when they fly.

Lord knows even if putting together a binary explosive is unlikely on an aircraft I am willing to check my toothpaste and shampoo just to elimilate the possibility.

If the government had released the information that they knew about 9/11 before the event took place, there is no doubt the the public would scoff just as you all are doing. We live and learn.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If "a 100ml container limits the effect of, and even the ability of, a detonation," why hasn't the TSA concerned itself with empty containers? Your logic and approach to this supposed threat are full of inconsistencies.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So TSA yet again admits that the original "threats" of explosive assembled in the sterile area or on a flight are not real. Fine. That leaves us with pre-assembled liquid explosives.

But TSA has yet to address or even acknowledge the next logical issues:

Conventional liquid explosives such as nitroglycerin (used in the Philippene 434 bombing over a decade ago) are detected quite well by TSA’s existing ETD. Furthermore, nitroglycerin would need to be stabilized in a cotton-like solid to be stable enough to make it through an airport as was done on flight 434; yet soaked solids are not banned by TSA. So why does TSA need to ban liquids? Why not use your existing technology (ETD) to detect these compounds?

3) Liquid explosives are inherently unstable (see above). So by maintaining the ban on liquids, TSA is maintaining that a liquid explosive exists that is stable enough to carry through a checkpoint in a water bottle (so can’t be nitroglycerin) and can’t be detected by existing ETD or puffer. I’ve seen no evidence of such an explosive. Conventional liquid explosives are so unstable that the act of carrying them out of the parking lot into the airport would probably detonate them.

If such a miracle liquid explosive exists, then TSA should produce a video of a water-bottle sized container filled with liquid being moved as if through x-ray and a terminal and then detonated to produce a large explosion. Showing the video would not reveal the nature of the explosive or any secrets. Yet all TSA gives us is a vague video of a test explosion with no demonstration of the container or its transport.

As for respecting TSA's screeners, how about them respecting passengers. When TSOs quit giving retaliatory secondaries for asking questions or standing up for yourself, stop confiscating/stealing permitted items, stop the new policy of harassing some passengers with perfectly valid government-issued IDs (due to address-change stickers, how some states handle license renewal, and just plain paranoia and spite), and are held accountable for their screwups, then I'll consider giving them some more respect.

Submitted by Chance on

Hi, Chance from the Evolution blog team here.

If I understand many of your comments correctly, many of you are concerned that answer #4 contradicts the policy, but from my reading this isn't the case. We're saying that

A:Terrorist prefer simpler methods.
B:Liquid explosives generally aren't simple to begin with.
C:The 3-1-1 policy makes this tactic even more complex, therefore making this method even less attractive to the terrorists.

If I've mischaracterized our thinking, I'll post a correction, but this is how I read the policy.

Besides the German plot, (which many of you point out was pretty early in its conception phases) there have been other incidents of concern to us here at TSA:

* An individual was killed in July 2006 in a Texas City, Texas apartment complex when a small amount of TATP he manufactured exploded in his lap. (Houston Chronicle)
* An Oklahoma State
University engineering student
was killed in October 2005
when an improvised explosive
device he constructed detonated
outside a football stadium.
Examination of his residence
revealed extensive TATP
production. (Oklahoma Channel 5 News)
* Millennium bombing plotter, Ahmed Ressam had HMTD and RDX in a vial in the trunk of his car. (Time Magazine)

Submitted by Anonymous on

What I don't understand is that you want me to pay more for a ticket so that you can harass me and assume that I'm guilty without reason for my "safety". 1) I don't feel safe if everyone is getting the third degree. I feel like I'm visiting a prison. 2) I haven't done anything wrong nor did I get a say in the matter.

Not to mention because of all the extra waiting, lines, etc. flying isn't even worth it time and money wise unless your destination is almost 10 hours away and even then it's questionable.

I stopped flying about two years ago because it's ridiculous. FYI, it's never a good idea to treat your customers like criminals.

Submitted by Al on

Hi Chance--

Thanks for you posting, but the examples you gave seem to illustrate that the types of liquid explosives the TSA is worried about are so unstable that the bombmaker would be likely to blow himself up before harming anyone else.

According to results periodically released to the media, the TSA has a shameful record at catching test bombs that would be more likely to be containing traditional, more stable explosives. Why not focus on passing some of those tests before worrying about the so-called liquids explosives threat.

Speaking of the TSA's shameful record, what happened to the "Gripes and Grins" section of this blog?

Submitted by Anonymous on

chance: You said "C:The 3-1-1 policy makes this tactic even more complex, therefore making this method even less attractive to the terrorists."
But had you actually understood the comments so far, you'd realize that NO IT DOES NOT. There is nothing "complex" about pouring the prepared contents of one container into another larger container or possibly wearing the liquids on their bodies that don't go through any scanners or detection process.

There is no "safe side" to this. The liquids ban doesn't stop anyone really dedicated to blowing up a plane. It is instead, arbitrary security theater, designed to make some people think that they're safer, without actually doing a damn thing.
Banning liquids in airplanes is so hypocritically arbitrary when anyone at any time can walk into any office building with a bomb and blow the place up. Again, banning liquids doesn't make anyone safer. A person who wants to kill you still can and still will. Even on an airplane.

And please stop spouting this TATP garbage. TATP in its explosive form is a white crystalline powder, something that the TSA does NOT ban. And when wet it loses most of its sensitivity. Evaporating off the liquid from a TATP solution, especially enough solution to actually bring down a plane, is something that cannot be done without a lot of time and preparation and privacy. Something that is therefore impossible for the same reasons that TATP production past security is impossible.

Submitted by Some PhD At DHS on

Pssst...Chance:

TATP isn't a liquid. It's a powder. It's made from liquids (liquids that have gone through a bunch of temperature-critical reactions, then been very slowly filtered and even more slowly dried).

But, hey, if you want to keep trotting out TATP as some kind of magic bugbear binary boom-boom, go right ahead. It just drops TSA's credibility further down the toilet.

Submitted by Cathy Ward on

I traveled through MDW and ORD BOTH and never had a problem with a bottle of water with which to mix my 11 month old's formula.
(Uh, yes, she was with me.)
When I got to JAX, they made me THROW OUT THE ROOM TEMP unopened Dasani water and buy FREEZING COLD $5.98 crap water from beyond the security checkpoint.
Two bottles - I didn't have a 50 gallon drum. Daughter was not happy, I was not happy.
Oh, and the kicker? The TSA agent said, "You can only carry it through if it's Nursery Water."
Uh, guys, "Nursery Water" is a brand name of bottled water sold to paranoid parents at jacked up prices.
Does the agent have stock in Nursery Water? If not, why must I buy a specific brand name?

Then the woman on the 800 complaint line said "You can only have three ounces."
Okay, so now I can have it, but only if it's 3 ounces.
Gee, if I had a 20-week old fetus I guess three ounces would be sufficient for a meal. But an 11-month old toddler drinks 8 ounce bottles.
Then I said, "You have an exemption for juice and milk for babies. Does not water, which makes formula, count as a "medical necessity?"
Then she said, "If you are claiming medical necessity, you need a doctor's note."
Really? A doctor's note for water?
If Juicy Juice is okay, does that mean there are doctors out there writing prescriptions for it?
So juice and milk are completely safe but water is dangerous?

Get your stories straight. Have one set of rules.

Very frustrating, and it's quite easy to understand why the TSA just beat out the IRS for the most-hated government agency.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please answer this question: Did the would-be plotters in the UK plot Kip claims was "very serious" have a working binary liquid explosive?

Submitted by WeeklyFlyer on

I see my previous comment was never posted - probably because I linked to an ABC news article which highlighted a study showing that we are statistically not any safer having anybody check our luggage.

Never mind that for now. Chance - you came back with a rebuttal to our statements on the liquid ban by pointing to a number of people that blew themselves up trying to concoct the famous liquid bombs. This unfortunately proves our point that these liquids are so unstable to work with that they are completely impractical.

I would like to reiterate me unpublished comment that we are more likely to be killed by lightning than by a terrorist. The hassle of the TSA screening is not in proportion to the risk presented by the terrorists.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well, I don't feel very safe when a bin right next to people is being filled with potential explosives taken from passengers. When these potential explosives are taken why aren't explosive experts called? Why isn't the area evacuated? Why aren't the potential bomb carrying passengers arrested or at least detained until the safety of the items can be determined?

More silliness than safety.

Submitted by Chance on

I apologize to you PhD at DHS and everyone else if my post sounded ignorant since TATP isn't a liquid but a powder. Ironically enough, while I was writing my post I was looking right at a report that said exactly that. However, my point is that our concerns towards explosives don't just come from one report, but multiple incidents both in the U.S. and abroad.

Submitted by Chance on

From Al,

Speaking of the TSA's shameful record, what happened to the "Gripes and Grins" section of this blog?

Al, that page was accidentlly pulled off, and I've been informed that it will be returning. However, there is a good possibility we'll seperate the "gripes" from the grins, at least at some point.

According to results periodically released to the media, the TSA has a shameful record at catching test bombs that would be more likely to be containing traditional, more stable explosives. Why not focus on passing some of those tests before worrying about the so-called liquids explosives threat.

I believe there is a little bit of a false premise there, that we can't be alert to both liquid and traditional explosive threats, and continue to improve our detection rates for the tradition threats you mention. I'm not in the training or technology fields, so I can't really give much detail there, but I do know that in my office it's not as if liquids are all we talk about everyday.

Chance - Evolution Blog Team member

Submitted by Chance on

From anonymous: But had you actually understood the comments so far, you'd realize that NO IT DOES NOT. There is nothing "complex" about pouring the prepared contents of one container into another larger container or possibly wearing the liquids on their bodies that don't go through any scanners or detection process.

It seems to me that it adds at least two additional steps to the process: filling the various containers (versus one large container), which increases the likelyhood of a mistake on the bomber's part earlier in the process, and 2. recombining them into a large enough bomb to detonate, which inceases the likelyhood of detection at the end of the process.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"* An Oklahoma State
University engineering student
was killed in October 2005
when an improvised explosive
device he constructed detonated
outside a football stadium.
Examination of his residence
revealed extensive TATP
production. (Oklahoma Channel 5 News)
"

And, do you see a government body outside stadiums making people take off thier shoes? Nope.

And the only reason those places ban bringing in food and beverage, is commerce, not safety. Perhaps that's the real reason here, sense as others have stated, there's certainly price fixing going on behind "The Iron Curtain".

As has been said numerous times here, you could kill more people by detonating a much more complex explosive in the crowd standing in your line. How does that help to give anything more than an illusion of "safety"?

Every single thing, such as guns and knives, that you gloat about finding on your website, could have been found by pre-9/11 security measures. And in fact you have not once, that I can find, found anything that could not and would not have been found by those pre-9/11 measures. If you have such a case, I, as an United States citizen, Demand disclosure. As a citizen, I do not have to ask for anything. And using this "SSI" garbage to override a Freedom of Information Act request is anti-american if not illegal.

Submitted by Anonymous on
It seems to me that it adds at least two additional steps to the process: filling the various containers (versus one large container), which increases the likelyhood of a mistake on the bomber's part earlier in the process, and 2. recombining them into a large enough bomb to detonate, which inceases the likelyhood of detection at the end of the process.

It seems to me that an international network that plotted for several months to hijack three planes utilizing a small number of people and minimal tools is not going to be deterred by having to purchase and use a funnel.

Terrorist acts are crimes of premeditation, not opportunity.
Submitted by Anonymous on

This again just shows that your agency does little more than provide an illusion of security at the cost of seemingly endless harassment. Is it any wonder that we, the flying public, are not "on the same side"?

My observation is this: Determination is a very interesting thing and this 3-1-1 rule is nothing more than an inconvenience. 100ml x up to 10 bottles is a liter of potential explosives or other flammable material. Someone who is determined would be more than happy to take the extra time to set that up, and only determined terrorists actually get on planes.

Of course, this ignores all of the other holes in the "A-OK to take on a plane" list... Like the fact that duty free flammable liquids are allowed on the plane and that any number MRE heaters allowed on board (youtube "MRE Bomb"). Even if these things aren't deadly or going to cause another 9/11 (an implausibility even if a terrorist with a weapon managed to get on board, given the environment today), they certainly are enough to cause a major scene for the creative terrorist and achieve the goals of terrorism.

Submitted by Jay Maynard on

The TSOs will get recognition from me when they realize they're not my master, but my servant; they have jobs because I can't choose not to fly. A little humility and professionalism goes a long, long way.

Submitted by Chance on

Not to change the subject, but I've made many an MRE bomb in my day, (a little tabasco sauce added in works wonders in my experience) but other than a little hot water I never saw them do much damage.

Submitted by Chuck on

The explanations put forth by the TSA about the limitations on liquids don't make any sense. Worrying about the liquid threat is a waste of valuable resources.

It's too bad that the TSA employees that have been assigned to represent the TSA in this blog are not experts.

I'm going to show this blog to the people at my congresswoman's office so they can begin to understand what everyone else seems to be realizing about the total incompetence of the TSA.

Submitted by Gerry Davidson on

Call me a patriotic sap if you want, but I just want to give kudos to the TSA for their new blog:

#1) For having the guts to get out there with a blog and converse with the flying public (angry mob);

#2) For going to the painstaking trouble of trying to explain to the angry mob why they are doing their dead-level best to save our puny lives;

#3) For listening to every incendiary amateur in the country (world?) on what it really takes to detonate a bomb at 30,000 feet;

#4) For giving all the whiners a platform on which to continue to rail that this security stuff is all bunk and TOO MUCH TROUBLE for them to deal with in their very busy and important lives. Case in point is this comment posted by, of course "Anonymous", "How much longer until this paranoia goes down to the point where I can travel with ease again?" (Would someone please put this person on a Greyhound bus?)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why doesn't TSA EXPLICITLY match the Canadian and European Union standard for liquid explosives of 100 ML/3.4ounces? Toothpaste comes in 100ML convenient sizes, but not 3 oz sizes. Different screeners sometimes reject 3 oz but less than 3.5 oz (ie 100ML) toothpaste tubes. How about a uniform worldwide rule--100ML or less (>3.5 oz)?

Note, from a travel site post:

Yesterday’s post regarding the TSA’s possible introduction of a 3.5 fluid ounce standard for carry-on liquids yielded a small storm in my e-mail inbox, including a thoroughly disposable form letter response from the TSA itself, encouraging me to check the website. Gee, great. Thanks for that.

But thanks to Benet Wilson, it also yielded this far more helpful response from Amy Kudwa in the TSA’s Office of Public Affairs:

Since the liquid threat was discovered as part of the foiled terror plot in August, TSA has worked very closely with our European partners to harmonize our overall security efforts. As a result, the EU, Canada and several other countries adopted in November a 100 ml standard for liquids. This standard most easily converts to our 3 ounce limit and is readily understood by passengers both in the US and abroad. Our 43,000 TSOs have been trained on this negligible difference and we have not seen any issues with European visitors meeting either standard. (emphasis added)

So the TSA defies the metric system and equates 100 ml with 3 ounces. Close enough for them, good enough for me.

By the way, I was wrong about a minor detail in yesterday’s post: the conversion of 100ml. I had foolishly looked at the label of a European 100ml bottle of shampoo in my bathroom, which incorrectly translated 100ml to 3.2 oz. In fact, 100 ml = 3.38140226 US fluid ounces. Effectively 3.4 ounces.

Carry on!

Submitted by Ayn R Key on
Call me a patriotic sap if you want, but I just want to give kudos to the TSA for their new blog:

#1) For having the guts to get out there with a blog and converse with the flying public (angry mob);

Because, after all, characters on a computer screen are so dangerous. This really is a risky thing for them to do.

#2) For going to the painstaking trouble of trying to explain to the angry mob why they are doing their dead-level best to save our puny lives;

And when several posters here demonstrated that their reasons really are empty, and Chance came back an repeated the same disproven reasons, that really is a painstaking explanation.

#3) For listening to every incendiary amateur in the country (world?) on what it really takes to detonate a bomb at 30,000 feet;

Even amateurs can QUOTE people with PHDs.

#4) For giving all the whiners a platform on which to continue to rail that this security stuff is all bunk and TOO MUCH TROUBLE for them to deal with in their very busy and important lives. Case in point is this comment posted by, of course "Anonymous", "How much longer until this paranoia goes down to the point where I can travel with ease again?" (Would someone please put this person on a Greyhound bus?)

Greyhound is getting more business, but the travel is slower. Instead of 3 hours it takes 3 days to taverse the country. It is good that we have a platform to deconstruct their fallacious policies, but what we really need is a platform where they are forced to admit that they are lying at us through their teeth.
Submitted by Paul on

This idiotic ban on liquids has inconvenienced flyers and has NOT made anyone safer. The TSA has admitted that its screeners have had a hard time dealing with the increase in checked luggage. Also, if the screeners have to look for things such as water bottles, they are more likely to miss something truly dangerous such as a gun. Less is more!

Submitted by Anonymous on

The anti-liquid ban argument being put forth seems to be, if terrorists REALLY want to use liquid explosives to blow up the plane, they can and they will. So let's just allow all liquids on airplanes. Okay, for the moment, let's entertain that rationale.

As a TSA employee I can tell you that no matter how good security is, it is ALWAYS possible that someone will find a way to beat it. So does that mean we should just stop screening passengers?

That's just ridiculous. What Kip Hawley is trying to say is, hey, our system is not perfect. Our system is not unbeatable. But we're going to do every damn thing possible to make it that much harder on someone who wants to blow up an airplane. We want to make the would-be terrorists feel that the chances of success are just too low even TRY blowing up a plane.

And if you think TSA security procedures are not a deterrant, answer me this: How many planes have blown up since 9/11? Also, how many do you think would be blown up if we no longer screened passengers or their baggage?

He said 3-1-1 is a trade off. Every security procedure we have is a trade off. If our bomb appraisal officers had their way, carry-on baggage wouldn't even be allowed on airplanes, period.

Sheet explosive is easy to see on X-Ray but you can just cut it into little pieces, pass it through security by going through multiple times, and then reassemble it on the other side. So let's just allow all sheet explosives through the checkpoint.

Ridiculous.

Submitted by Berlin Neon on

ayn r. key said:
Greyhound is getting more business, but the travel is slower. Instead of 3 hours it takes 3 days to taverse the country. It is good that we have a platform to deconstruct their fallacious policies, but what we really need is a platform where they are forced to admit that they are lying at us through their teeth.

Why would TSA want to "lie"? What purpose would it serve them to have people (and their TSO's) go thru all of the trouble of limiting the amount of liquids? When someone or some organization "lies" they are doing it for some advantage or gain. So, what's in it for TSA to lie? And how do you think they keep all of their "lies" a secret? Wouldn't you think one or two of their employees would spill the beans about the big conspiracy?

Sounds like you think everyone is out to get you dude.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If it's a viable threat, liquids should be banned altogether. If airlines want passengers they will provide the goods and services they demand for flight. The ban worked, was consistent and was evenly applied. It was only when the "exceptions" started a few weeks later because of "squeaky wheel" passengers that the pandora's box was opened. People will understand and comply with simply straightforward rules when they are consistently applied. The current rule variations are confusing, unfair and discriminatory.

Submitted by Ma Beck on

Anon TSO 9:05 PM,

Planes weren't "blown up" on 9/11. They were flown into 3 buildings and one ground.
(UAL flight 93, incidentally, carried a dear friend of mine, so believe me, I agree with fighting terrorists.)

Now.

How many times did this happen prior to 9/11?

That's my point.

I appreciate the TSA who do a good job. I work at ORD and have many fine work acquaintances in the department.
But to pretend that the TSA is somehow responsible for a non-repeat performance is not truthful.

Things that really helped? Reinforced cockpit doors. Decreased complacency. Increase in the number of people who will kick the ever-loving dog out of someone who charges toward the front of the plane. Things like that.

NOT you making my grandma take her shoes off to go through a checkpoint. Not you taking my daughter's formula water away from her.
Not you making nursing mothers drink their breastmilk at a checkpoint.
Not you seizing nail clippers.

There is common sense, and then there is silliness.

Airport screening doesn't provide safety. It provides a sense of safety.

Submitted by Jay Maynard on
And if you think TSA security procedures are not a deterrant, answer me this: How many planes have blown up since 9/11?
Logical fallacy. How many angry circus elephants have charged the checkpoints at MSP since 9/11? Obviously, the TSA is deterring those, too.
Submitted by Berlin Neon on
Jay Maynard said:
"Logical fallacy. How many angry circus elephants have charged the checkpoints at MSP since 9/11? Obviously, the TSA is deterring those, too."

Yeah, but there is no evidence that angry circus elephants are wanting to charge TSA checkpoints. TSA and the other intel communities receive reports every day that there are terrorists planning to do us harm.

See the difference?

Pages