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Artful Concealment?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
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So, what exactly is artful concealment? Prior to working for TSA, I had never heard the term before. I used the term in a blog post a couple of months ago and based on the responses I got, many of our readers didn't seem to be too familiar with the term either.

So what does it mean? Does it mean to artfully conceal something you need to have Bob Ross paint a happy little tree on it so we won’t see it? Nope…

Let me give you a few examples, and then I’ll give you a definition.

A sword in a cane. A gun umbrella. A derringer belt buckle. A cell phone stun gun. A crucifix knife. A hollowed out bible with a gun inside. A gun taped to the bottom of a steel plate. I could give many more examples, but I don’t really want to give folks any ideas.

So basically, artful concealment is when you disguise an object by modifying its natural form to the form of something that will conceal it. This can be done by modifying the object to look like a permissible object, or it can be done by hiding the object in a belt, or shoe, bag lining etc. An artfully concealed item can also be an item that has been intentionally shielded by another object to hide its view from the x-ray.

In many cases, folks go through a lot of trouble concealing something with an item our x-rays can see right through. It’s sometimes comical to see the things that people think will fool an x-ray.

Here are some of the artfully concealed items that came through various checkpoints around the country just yesterday.

• A passenger was arrested after an officer found 19 rounds of .38 caliber ammunition hidden in their carry-on bag. The ammunition was taped together, wrapped in aluminum foil, and placed inside the handle of his carry-on bag.

• An artfully concealed 3-inch bladed belt buckle knife was detected in the carry-on bag of a passenger. The passenger surrendered the knife and was allowed to continue on their flight.

• A 2-inch pocketknife was hidden inside a laptop. The knife was located between the keyboard and the laptop screen. The passenger stated he knew the knife was in the laptop and that it was a prohibited item. Law enforcement officers issued a summons to appear in court and allowed the passenger to continue on the flight.

• A cane with an 18-inch sword blade was found during checkpoint screening. The police responded, confiscated the cane and interviewed the passenger who stated she did not know the cane (which was given to her by her husband) contained a sword. Law enforcement officers allowed the passenger to continue on the flight.

• A passenger was arrested after an artfully concealed 4½-inch knife was found inside a Santa Claus ornament. Police responded, confiscated the knife, and interviewed the passenger who stated she received the item as a gift and did not know there was a knife inside.

• A concealed pocketknife was detected during checkpoint screening. The passenger alarmed the metal detector and said that he had metal implants in his left hip. The passenger again alarmed the metal detectors and was referred to secondary screening. During hand wanding procedures, the passenger alarmed on his right side. The passenger produced a utility knife with a 2½-inch blade and wooden handle from his right pocket. State Police responded, confiscated the knife and arrested the passenger on the state charge of attempting to circumvent security screening.

• A 2½-inch knife was found inside a passenger’s belt buckle. The County Sheriff’s Department responded, took possession of the knife, and interviewed the passenger. Law enforcement officers allowed the passenger to surrender the prohibited item to a non-traveling family member and continue on the flight.

There are also a few blasts from the past I’d like to mention. We’ve had a gun in a teddy bear and a diaper bag, a knife in a baby carrier, and too many cane-swords to mention. Many of these canes are hand-me-downs or were purchased at an antique store or yard sale and the passenger had no idea whatsoever that there was a sword inside.

So what’s the moral of this story? It’s not worth getting arrested or delayed in your travels to sneak a small knife on a plane. And before you leave for the airport, double check your bags, belt and pocket for items that could cause you trouble at a checkpoint.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Update 12/17/08 1846: This happened after our blog post went live, but we wanted to share it with you anyway. After noticing a piece of metal in a shoe on the x-ray monitor, a passenger was caught artfully concealing a crack pipe under their shoe insert.

Bob
EoS Blog Team


Update 12/26/08 1500: Five rounds of .38 caliber ammunition were detected artfully concealed in a deck of cards in the carry-on bag of a passenger. The deck of cards were glued together and had five individual bore holes drilled out in order to hold the five rounds. Police responded and interviewed the passenger, who stated he “wanted to keep the bullets out of the reach of his kids.” Police arrested the passenger on the State Charge of Unlawful Possession of Ammunition.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Bob on

Phil's comment from December 17, 2008 10:09 PM has been deleted due to a link to adult content.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Bob on

NoClu said... Blogger Bob, I'm confused...
You write about the frequent discovery of "artfully concealed items" but your own TAS website provides the following statistics:

Oct 27-Nov. 2: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 3 - 9: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 10 - 16: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 17 - 23: 1 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

Nov 24 - 30: 6 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints

and

Dec. 1-7: 2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints.

Seems like there is some confusion over reporting or you are blowing the issue out of proportion.
December 17, 2008 2:57 PM
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NoClu – You listed Dec. 1-7. These events occurred between Dec. 8-14th Stand down. No conspiracy to see here…
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Joe said... Your suggestion about water forgot one option, the person can declare the water as medically necessary and get it through your checkpoints. Stop withholding information from people. We are tired of it. December 17, 2008 6:39 PM
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You are correct, but how am I withholding information? It wasn’t addressed in the comment and the information about exceptions is readily available at tsa.gov
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Jim Huggins said... Bob ... forgive the snarkiness here ... but where in the list of permitted and prohibited items are crack pipes covered? If the same passenger had not artfully concealed the item, would there have been any TSA issue? I'm just wondering if, when I hide an extra $20 in my shoes to keep in case of emergencies, I'm inviting some sort of trouble at a checkpoint ...December 17, 2008 7:46 PM
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Jim, folks stuff money everywhere. Money belts are a common item we see at checkpoints. There is nothing wrong with hiding money as long as you’re not trying to take over 10 grand out of the country without declaring it.

As far as the pipe, if you have ever seen a blasting cap, you would know that they look similar. They looked extremely similar on the x-ray image. Our TSO noticed this anomaly in the shoe and had the shoe inspected as they should have. The problem is that once we found out it was drug paraphernalia, we had to contact Law Enforcement. I can’t say it enough, we are not in business to find drugs, but when we stumble across them, we can’t just say “oh well, it’s not my job” and look the other way.
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Sandra said... Bob, please explain to us how a crack pipe is a threat to an airplane. No, I didn't think you could explain that. December 17, 2008 7:53 PM
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Sandra, if somebody lit the crack pipe in flight, the residual smoke would be pulled into the ventilation system and distributed to all passengers and crew on the plane. You would eventually have a plane full of crack heads jonesing for their next hit. I think that’s a threat to aviation… OK, for those of you with no sense of humor, that was a joke…
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Anonymous said... Bob, Why is the crack pipe considered dangerous? Is this just because it was concealed? I can't understand why you would make a big deal about it (or any deal at all). December 18, 2008 3:04 AM
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Ok. Who made a big deal out of this? It wasn’t me… I posted an article on Artful Concealment. The next day, an interesting report popped up about the crack pipe in a shoe and it had some pictures. So, I updated my post. Nowhere did I say we saved the world… If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why is pie exempt from liquid and gel restrictions?

Is this a holiday-specific exemption, or an ongoing change in policy?

Is it because pies pose no danger? Neither do any other liquids TSA has barred citizens from traveling with.

Is it because pies are a food item? Then will TSA stop barring bottled beverages, peanut butter, and other foodstuffs that pose no danger to anyone from planes?

Is it because barring pies from flights would be pointless, stupid, and do nothing to make anyone safer? Neither do TSA's other liquid policies.

What recourse does a citizen have if a TSO and that TSO's supervisor decide not to let a pie through screening?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post."

Bob, you made a big deal by including it as an update. And, I note that you have yet to answer the many questions about how a crack pipe poses a threat to an airplane. That is because it does not, just as shoes do not and water does not and gel deodorant does not.

You are lying to us, and we are sick of it.

Submitted by Dave on

Oh wow! I feel so much safer now!! The TSA found _gasp_ wait for it... A CRACK PIPE! Are you people serious?

Submitted by George on

Bob, this is unfortunately another case where you've put your foot (or at least a shoe) in your mouth, and undermined your agency's credibility.

The original post was clear and commendable, although the term "artful concealment" is a confusing term of art. What it seems to mean is intentionally concealing a prohibited item in an attempt to sneak it past security screening. That's apparently distinct from the case of a passenger who unintentionally brings a prohibited item to a checkpoint (e.g., a forgotten pocket knife or the sword in a cane purchased at a thrift shop). If there's an official term for that, Bob didn't use it. In either case, if checkpoint screening finds the item and prevents its entry into the sterile area, the TSA has done its job. They deserve credit rather than criticism for this. Presumably, the distinction between "artful concealment" and unintentional possession of a prohibited item is relevant only to what happens next to the passenger and/or the item. Either way, the TSA has successfully interdicted an item officially designated as a threat to aviation. That counts as a "success."

The problem arose when you added that picture of the shoe, apparently as a well-meaning illustration of "artful concealment." Unfortunately, a "crack pipe" is neither an item prohibited from carrying on an airplane nor a threat to aviation. Although it's arguably drug paraphernalia, I'm not sure it's actually illegal. So while I'll give the TSO credit for finding a metal foreign object concealed in a shoe, I'd classify this as a "false positive" rather than a "success." Yes, it illustrates the TSA's ability to detect metal objects concealed in shoes. But unless there's some kind of classified Executive Order deputizing TSOs as drug enforcement agents, the TSA is not in the business of interdicting drug paraphernalia. So your well-meaning illustration merely opened you up for criticism about "mission creep" and the possibility that actual threats to aviation are so few and far between that the TSA has to rely on false positives (which do not threaten aviation) to justify its existence.

Note that it would have been very different if the shoe had contained a knife or explosives. That's supposedly why we have to remove our shoes, stand in our stockinged feet on a cold and filthy floor, and then balance precariously on one foot to hurriedly put our shoes back on after screening (not every checkpoint has a "re-composure area," and not every "re-composure area" has an available chair). But if the only thing you can show us to justify this "pain point" is occasionally finding hidden drug paraphernalia, we will be even more skeptical whether the War on Shoes is worthwhile.

Submitted by Dunstan on

"TSA should start checking pet licenses at airport checkpoints, too. There are probably illegal unlicensed pets out there, and they're going to come through your dragnet sooner or later. That could be one more TSA success story, right?"

Don't get TSA started down another rabbit hole.
As I found out during the rescue of my dog two years ago, it is illegal to transport a dog across state lines without a valid Rabies Certificate. Not just the collar tag, mind you, but the paper proof.

Needless to say, terrorists armed with travel kennels loaded with small rabid animals should be a major concern of the TSA.

Submitted by Phil on

Bob at TSA wrote:

"The problem is that once we found out it was drug paraphernalia, we had to contact Law Enforcement."

Bob, what qualified it as drug paraphernalia? It was a tube with a bowl on the end, right? Weren't you simply guessing that it was something that would be used to administer illegal drugs?

What rule requires TSA to notify law enforcement when they find something that is suspected of being drug paraphernalia? Whose definition of paraphernalia does TSA use (there is no federal law regarding paraphernalia, thus those laws which exist vary from one jurisdiction to another).

Where was this found?

We've asked several times and you have neglected to answer: Was any illegal substance found in this pipe? If not, why did you hassle the person any more than if you had found a pornographic magazine "artfully concealed" in a sweater?

"I can’t say it enough, we are not in business to find drugs, but when we stumble across them, we can’t just say `oh well, it’s not my job' and look the other way."

1. That's a straw man argument. We're not talking about you stumbling across drugs, but across something that looks like it might be used to smoke things including legal and illegal drugs.

2. Sure you can -- just like you might do if you looked out the window and saw someone parking illegally, or if you heard someone in line mention that the pet license for the kitten he is carrying onto a flight is expired. Your job is to keep dangerous items off airplanes.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Anonymous on
Posted by Bob:
There is nothing wrong with hiding money as long as you’re not trying to take over 10 grand out of the country without declaring it.


Then why does TSA insist on calling law enforcement when a passenger is discovered to have a large wad of cash (or concealed cash)while headed to a DOMESTIC flight?

You admit that there is nothing wrong with carrying cash domestically. Yet you admit to referring passengers found with large amounts of cash to law-enforcement, who can then proceed to harass the passenger or even seize the cash under what are seriously messed-up civil forfeiture laws (laws that derive from English common law allowing law-enforcement to seize nuisance cows). Please resolve this contradiction.

And even if a passenger is traveling internationally with over $10K, neither you nor airport law enforcement are qualified to determine if they have filed the correct form. They may already have filed it; they may be planning to file it at the gate while they wait for their flight; etc.

TSA should not be in the business of searching out cash. You can't even do a decent job of meeting your statutory mandate to screen for weapons, explosives, or incendiaries, so messing with things like cash, drugs, toothpaste, water, and IDs is just silly.
Submitted by Phil on

[reposted without link to what Bob at TSA characterized as adult content, a link to a Google search for that item, or even the name of the item (which rhymes with "flashlight")]

Furthermore, consider what you did to this person by making such a big deal out of the pipe he felt he had to hide in his shoe in order to take it wherever he was headed. Everyone reading, please set aside your "why would I care what happens to some crackhead" feelings for a moment and consider this rationally (crackheads don't fly much, anyway).

I will venture to guess that nobody is proud of smoking crack. Lots of people will happily admit to using alcohol (which is woven into our society), nicotine (until they die of lung cancer, sometimes), caffeine (even caffeine addicts, whose day is ruined without a large morning dose of it, celebrate their use of it), cannabis, prescription pain killers and muscle relaxants, psychedelics, and sometimes even powdered cocaine. But crack cocaine carries the stigma of being the reputed drug of choice of people who don't have much money to spend on their drugs of choice. Smoking crack is -- at least to someone who can afford airfare -- similar to admitting to smoking methamphetamine: a dirty little secret -- nothing morally superior or inferior to the others, but heavily frowned upon. Even at the height of Prohibition, when the illegal drug alcohol was considered the scourge of American society, drinking brandy or moonshine did not carry the stigma that smoking crack does now.

So not surprisingly, this guy didn't want your associates to see his pipe, Bob. And as it's not a weapon, explosive, incendiary, or anything that would endanger other passengers should it be carried onto an airplane, it's none of your or your associates' business. The moment that someone realized that what was in the shoe was not a danger, your people should have apologized and embarrassingly let the person go about his business. It's like you caught him with a sex toy. Then stopped him, pulled it out, and photographed it. While he stood there with no shoes on.

It's not as if you intercepted a crack shipment; you found someone carrying what you think might be used to smoke crack. Then you (presumably) called in some others to huddle around the x-ray screen, probably called over a supervisor, then left the man or woman standing there without shoes while you carefully examined and photographed the completely legal object he or she tried to hide in the shoe (sure, paraphernalia is prohibited in some places, but really -- how do you differentiate between a "crack pipe" and any other pipe, anyway? It's really only a crack pipe if it has crack in it.) and probably called the police. He probably missed his flight, in which case you probably cost him several hundred dollars.

All over a pipe. A pipe, Bob. A pipe that this adult (I assume, since you didn't mention that a child was involved) whose day you runied might have used later to adjust his state of mind. An adult who wasn't trying to bring down a plane, stab his aisle-mate, or even smuggle crack or stolen crack pipes, but just trying to go about his business. He may as well have been stopped for having rolling papers or a martini glass stashed in his belongings.

Thanks, TSA, for wasting our money and ruining someone's day. And thanks, Bob, for bringing this to our attention. It really enhances the "what is artful concealment" story when you show us things that people stick under the insoles of their shoes (there was nothing artful about this) in an attempt to get past your unconstitutional security checkpoints without you bothering them. When you find a nudie mag "artfully concealed" in a sweater in somebody's bag, be sure to post a photo of it here on the blog.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Mr Gel-pack on

Bob,

The "Post a comment" box does not show up in older posts like http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/08/got-feedback.html with Firefox or Linux or Safari on Mac. Maybe older posts still use the old-style posting mechanism that somehow is now broken?

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Phil writes:

Sure you can [overlook drug paraphanelia] -- just like you might do if you looked out the window and saw someone parking illegally, or if you heard someone in line mention that the pet license for the kitten he is carrying onto a flight is expired. Your job is to keep dangerous items off airplanes.

Actually, I can see Bob's point of view on this one.

If we allow screeners to selectively ignore violations of law, we introduce yet another source for inconsistencies in the screening process. And if one screener reports a suspected crime while another doesn't, you create possibilities of charges of at best arbitrary enforcement --- and, at worst, prejudicial enforcement.

I'm not a lawyer ... but I suspect the issue is that TSOs, as government employees, are obligated to report potential crimes in progress, even if not directly related to their duties. This is hardly unique to TSA. (An old pastor of mine had a member of his church who was a firefighter ... he could never attend the candlelight services at the holidays, because the open candles violated some local fire code and he'd be obligated to report them if he saw them.)

I don't know if this situation would be any different if screening was done by private employees rather than public employees. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but the duty to report a crime for private citizens seems to be much, much lower.

But if TSA is required by law to act in this way, far better that it should act consistently than inconsistently.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ok. Who made a big deal out of this? It wasn’t me… I posted an article on Artful Concealment. The next day, an interesting report popped up about the crack pipe in a shoe and it had some pictures. So, I updated my post. Nowhere did I say we saved the world… If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

December 18, 2008 12:35 PM

........................................
Gosh Bob, getting a little defensive?

You made a follow up post about a possible crack pipe that is in no way a threat to an airplane.

Since this person was in a federal checkpoint I would be curious if you could articulate the Federal Law that this person was in violation of?

I think it is pretty clear based on the responises you received that pretty much everyone feels you were making this "big catch" a "big deal"!

I also noticed that you haven't taken the time to mention the 12,000 plus complaints filed against TSA and its staff as mentioned on the NBC station in Dallas during the evening news 12/17/2008.

Guess you guys are to busy finding possible crack pipes or reporting people who happen to have a large amount of cash on them to do your jobs well.

Submitted by Bob on

Due to the many complaints I've received, I have reverted to the old comment box.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Noclu on

(I hope this isn't a double post, sorry if it is. Glitch using the approval process...)

Bob said:
NoClu – You listed Dec. 1-7. These events occurred between Dec. 8-14th Stand down. No conspiracy to see here…

I think you miss the gist of my listing multiple weeks worth of data. What I said was

"Seems like there is some confusion over reporting or you are blowing the issue out of proportion."

Even for the week of Dec. 8-14th, there were "7 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints" in all airports covered by the TSA combined. Your story here says "Here are some of the artfully concealed items that came through various checkpoints around the country just yesterday."

To me, that either a) there has been a historical under-reporting of discovered "concealed" items and your team got either lucky or super diligent yesterday, b) all your events listed in this article didn't occur "just yesterday" c) you are trying to make a relatively common and generally unimportant occurrence into a matter of utmost urgency. or d) this is yet another PR article trying to prove that the TSA is diligently protecting our Security and we as travelers should respect your authoriti.

Seriously. The vast majority of artfully concealed items you list as being discovered are not a threat to aviation security, are carried by people having no intention of using them during flight, don’t pose a significant threat to travelers or the control of an aircraft, and/or seem to fall far outside of your mandate.

Finally, “Stand down” doesn’t work with me as I’m no longer in the military. It is important to point out to employees of the government when they don’t make sense, inappropriately obfuscate or otherwise mis-inform or exaggerate. I would also offer this request to you. Please respond. Increasing dialogue may help us make progress in the effort to establish rational aviation safety policy, close gaps in security and improve the overall safety and security of our transportation systems.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ok. Who made a big deal out of this? It wasn’t me… I posted an article on Artful Concealment. The next day, an interesting report popped up about the crack pipe in a shoe and it had some pictures. So, I updated my post. Nowhere did I say we saved the world… If I wanted to make a big deal out this, I would have created a new blog post.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

December 18, 2008 12:35 PM

Phil, I sent a message to Bob about the "adult content" of your post. If anyone clicked the word "fleshlight" it did take you to an adult website. To have that address pop up on a tracked system could get some people in hot water with their employer. I have no problem with the word but your link was inappropriate for this forum.

Submitted by Trollkiller on
Blogger Bob said...

Due to the many complaints I've received, I have reverted to the old comment box.


And us old goats thank you.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob said...
Due to the many complaints I've received, I have reverted to the old comment box.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

December 18, 2008 2:57 PM

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Trollkiller on

You know I like busting on the TSA as well as the next guy but come on, it was a Crack Pipe, wrapped in a Crack Baggie.

I am a person that tries to hold the TSA to their legal mandate of searching for weapons, explosive and incendiaries. If the TSA finds something ILLEGAL or something that truly appears illegal they are obligated as good citizens report it.

A large amount of cash, while it may be unusual, should not give rise to suspicion sufficient enough for law enforcement involvement. There is NO law against carrying any amount of money domestically. If the ticket does not state the flight is international the TSA has no cause to involve any other agency.

In this case the comparison of crack pipes to cash is apples and oranges.

Submitted by Tomas on

Hi, Blogger Bob!
_______________________
Blogger Bob wrote...
Sandra said... Bob, please explain to us how a crack pipe is a threat to an airplane. No, I didn't think you could explain that. December 17, 2008 7:53 PM
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Sandra, if somebody lit the crack pipe in flight, the residual smoke would be pulled into the ventilation system and distributed to all passengers and crew on the plane. You would eventually have a plane full of crack heads jonesing for their next hit. I think that’s a threat to aviation… OK, for those of you with no sense of humor, that was a joke…
_______________________

Quick question? If you can find the time to respond to this with a joke, why do you appear unable to find the time to even acknowledge the following question from myself and others? This question has been repeated several times for over a month with zero response.

Since the "ounce" markings on a tube of toothpaste are in weight, not fluid measure, which allows the manufacturer to put a larger number on the tube (good for sales), why do TSOs insist on rejecting tubes of toothpaste that WEIGH more than 3.4 ounces, but are LESS than 3.4 FLUID ounces?

"Dialogue" is two way...

Tom (1 or 5-6)

Submitted by Phil on

Bob, thanks for fixing the comment so that anyone using a modern browser, not just whichever ones your people tested the new feature on, can participate. I wish you hadn't blamed it on complaints, but on the fact that the change introduced new problems.

Trollkiller, a crack pipe is only a crack pipe if someone uses it to smoke crack. Unless its accompanied by a bag of white stuff (and even then I'm not sure) I think the TSA should discretely replace any pipes they dig out of someone's belongings during a search for dangerous items and let that person go on about his business.

We put up with a lot of inconvenience and likely-unconstitutional behavior from TSA because people are scared into thinking it's necessary for security. Slowing down their checkpoint searches to deal with what might be a controlled substance -- much less slowing it down to deal with something that might be used to administer a controlled substance -- is just plain wrong.

They should have advised that guy to put his pipe in his carry-on bag next time instead of suspiciously tucking it under his insole, wished him a nice day, sent him on his way, and gotten directly back to keeping weapons, explosives, and incendiaries off of airplanes.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

"That's supposedly why we have to remove our shoes, stand in our stockinged feet on a cold and filthy floor, and then balance precariously on one foot to hurriedly put our shoes back on after screening (not every checkpoint has a "re-composure area," and not every "re-composure area" has an available chair)."

I deal with this by putting my shoes on as soon as they come through the X-ray, while I'm still in line. If it inconveniences anyone else, they should complain to TSA about it.

"But if the only thing you can show us to justify this "pain point" is occasionally finding hidden drug paraphernalia, we will be even more skeptical whether the War on Shoes is worthwhile."

There's no justification for the War on Shoes, it is not worthwhile, and every patriot should be skeptical of it and every other misbegotten policy propagated by the domestic terrorists at TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why is pie exempt from liquid and gel restrictions?

Is this a holiday-specific exemption, or an ongoing change in policy?

Is it because pies pose no danger? Neither do any other liquids TSA has barred citizens from traveling with.

Is it because pies are a food item? Then will TSA stop barring bottled beverages, peanut butter, and other foodstuffs that pose no danger to anyone from planes?

Is it because barring pies from flights would be pointless, stupid, and do nothing to make anyone safer? Neither do TSA's other liquid policies.

What recourse does a citizen have if a TSO and that TSO's supervisor decide not to let a pie through screening?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sandra said...
So - are we supposed to be impressed?
___________________________________

Eww don't read the blogs if you don't care what they say. Its people like you that make this page so difficult to read.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think you have other problems if somebody can still take down a plane with a 2" knife.

If we keep up worrying at this rate, soon buff men won't be allowed on flights because those muscles are prohibited!
___________________________________

This is stupid! You could still cut someone with that knife. Exceptions can not be made because the public is not smart enough to follow directions. If TSA were to allow 2" knives than people would be trying to bring their 3" knives because they are only one inch bigger.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What can we do to get toothpaste on the flight so we don't have to buy it when we land? What about water for the longer flights so we don't dehydrate?
___________________________________
Get the travel size toothpaste or even two if you are going to be gone for a while. And buy a water at the airport. WOW

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why does FSO have a better Red Team score? And will the new "See, Feel, Think, Do" help get the scores up? The only problem I see is the lack of TSOs that have been on the job and know what they are "Seeing, Feeling, Thinking, Doing."

Submitted by Anonymous on

re: 2-inch pocketknife concealed in laptop. I thought short-bladed pocketknives were now permitted? Or is it the fact that a legal knife was "artfully concealed"? The story doesn't say that the knife was confiscated.
___________________________________

Where do people get their information? No knife is allowed! If it is under 3 inches the person can take it back out of security. If it is over than the leos get involved.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And I thought you didn't refer pocket knives to law-enforcement unless they were 4". This guy had a 2.5 inch blade, which is a small-medium pocket knife. What gives?
___________________________________

This man had the option to empty his pockets when he alarmed the walk through metal detector. He did not, there for was concealing the knife(2.5 inches or not).

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please use some common sense to the effect we at TSA per se didn't care that it was a crack pipe we looked at it as an item that was concealed to escape detection, we as federal employee's are required to inform the local law enforcement and let them make the decision. The comment compairing it to a "nudie magazine" and would not be a danger to the airplane could be turned to what if was child pornography should we not report it as it doesn't threaten you. If you just hate the organization just leave it at that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please use some common sense to the effect we at TSA per se didn't care that it was a crack pipe we looked at it as an item that was concealed to escape detection, we as federal employee's are required to inform the local law enforcement and let them make the decision.

............................
Since informing an LEO is a federal requirement as you say please show us the regulation that requires this procedure. Thanks

Submitted by Phil on

Someone anonymously wrote:

"we at TSA per se didn't care that it was a crack pipe we looked at it as an item that was concealed to escape detection"

Unless that item is a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, it's none of your business. If you see a pipe, assume it is free of residue of illegal substances and intended for use with legal substances. If you see some porn, assume that it contains people of legal age. If you see a pet, assume that it is licensed and has had its rabies shots. If you see some cash, assume that it belongs to the person holding it. If you see an digital music player, assume that the person holding it had permission to copy the data it contains onto it. If you see some papers, assume that they are not secret plans for world domination. If you see someone with brown skin, assume that he has a right to be where he is. None of that is any of your business.

Your job is to find dangerous things. When you're not doing that, leave us alone. If you see someone being mugged at the terminal, sure, offer assistance, but when anything else catches your eye and turns out not to be a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, go back to doing your job. Please.

"If you see a pipe, we as federal employee's are required to inform the local law enforcement and let them make the decision."

I don't believe you. Please back up your claim with verifiable information. We've asked repeatedly here for

"The comment compairing it to a "nudie magazine" and would not be a danger to the airplane could be turned to what if was child pornography"

Still not a danger, and still something you should never notice in the first place unless that magazine was rolled up in the shape of a handgun. And even then as soon as you realize it's not a gun, leave it alone and go back to doing your job. Don't thumb through it. Don't ask the holder if he stole it or copied it without permission of the copyright holder. Don't ask him to prove that he is not a criminal, don't ask him what his name is. Leave him alone and do your job.

"should we not report it as it doesn't threaten you."

YES! It is not your job to inspect everyone who passes your checkpoint for anything they might be doing wrong!

People repeatedly accuse your agency of conducting unconstitutional dragnet operations, and the attitude you display here shows that you think this is exactly what you're supposed to do. You are not.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

Trollkiller said...
If the TSA finds something ILLEGAL or something that truly appears illegal they are obligated as good citizens report it.

Then I guess the TSA should report themselves. ID checking, confiscation of property, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, practicing medicine without a license, and the list could go on and on.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Guys come on its Drug Paraphernalia. Ok it cant take down an aircraft but it STILL is illegal. Also if it was found Artfully Concealed then by law TSA needs to notify Law Enforcement no matter what it is, because they are trying to sneak something on the aircraft. the guy hollowed out his shoe and knowingly hid something in it. I dont care if it cant take down the plane the act of doing that and trying to get through security is suspicious enough and by law tsa needs to notify LEOs

Submitted by Anonymous on

"The comment compairing it to a "nudie magazine" and would not be a danger to the airplane could be turned to what if was child pornography should we not report it as it doesn't threaten you."

So should TSA now search every piece of paper a citizen wants to bring on an airplane in the vanishingly unlikely event that it's got child pornography on it?

Submitted by Bob on

Anonymous said...So should TSA now search every piece of paper a citizen wants to bring on an airplane in the vanishingly unlikely event that it's got child pornography on it? December 18, 2008 8:36 PM
--------------
OK. I'll say it again. We are not looking for these types of things. It's only when we stumble upon them that we have to act.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, the comment you're responding to at 8:47 pm clearly quotes a post from a typically hysterical TSA apologist. No need for you to get up in arms when you could be using that energy to answer legitimate questions from the citizens you are supposed to be serving.

Submitted by Robert Johnson on

Quote from Anonymous: "This is stupid! You could still cut someone with that knife. Exceptions can not be made because the public is not smart enough to follow directions. If TSA were to allow 2" knives than people would be trying to bring their 3" knives because they are only one inch bigger."

I can cut people with pens, combs, broken wine bottles, paper, and so forth - all of which can be easily found or made on planes.

This argument is moot when other sharp and point objects like knitting needles and 4 inch scisssors are allowed.

If the same purpose can be accomplished with scissors and they're allowed, prohibiting boxcutters and knives of equal or lesser length is ridiculous.

A blade is a blade, right? Break the fulcrum off of scissors and you essentially have two knives.

Can't have it both ways.

Robert

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, in your first examples of artful concealment they were all about weapons, and in your update, the brouhaha is about alleged drug paraphernalia.

Is is "artful concealment" to hide perfectly legal things, like a flash drive, a mp3 player, a key, a bolt, money, or rolling papers? Or a switch inside a flashlight? Or a wire inside a pair of earbuds, or a battery inside a laptop?

Submitted by Trollkiller on
Phil said...

Trollkiller, a crack pipe is only a crack pipe if someone uses it to smoke crack. Unless its accompanied by a bag of white stuff (and even then I'm not sure) I think the TSA should discretely replace any pipes they dig out of someone's belongings during a search for dangerous items and let that person go on about his business.

Phil, I worked a head shop for many years, I am very familiar with the fine line between paraphernalia and not.

Some jurisdictions make certain styles and materials of pipes part of the paraphernalia definition regardless of what was smoked in them or if they had never been used. Assuming this was not found is a jurisdiction that that includes material or design as their definition, the appearance of the pipe would lend a reasonable person to believe that it was a drug pipe. A pipe like that would not normally be used to smoke tobacco or LEGAL herbs.

You don’t need a baggie of crack, if there is residue on the pipe, baggie or anything within "close" proximity showing an illegal substance that will be enough to make the charge stick. While the amount of drug residue may not give rise to a possession charge the presence of residue will give rise to a paraphernalia charge.

If the TSO did what you suggest and put the pipe back in the bag, and that pipe meets the qualifications of drug paraphernalia, the TSO would be an accomplice.

P.S. I tried pot a couple of times, nothing harder. I think I am the only truly straight person to have ever worked a head shop.
Submitted by MarkVII on

Thanks for switching back to the old way of submitting comments. The CAPCHA didn't work at all with FireFox and took several tries with IE.

Submitted by MarkVII on

"I had to be actually assaulted by a passenger (knocked down) in front of the LEOs who would have let the passenger board the flight."

Not to minimize what happened to you, not to excuse someone getting physical, and not to justify assault, but.....

The TSA would be in a better position if, as an organization, it was on the moral high ground in how it deals with passengers. I think the TSA needs to take a strong stand for civility in how it treats passengers.

Unfortunately, I've experienced a lot of unprovoked yelling and rudeness at checkpoints. Also, consider the number of posts here about screeners seeking to escalate tense situations instead of defusing them. That overall situation is a recipe for someone going over the edge and getting physical.

That being said, I think the LEO's should have taken a hard look at the fact that the passenger laid hands on you. However, if I were one of those LEOs, I would want to see the whole interaction in context -- particularly if there was an element of provocation.

I'm speculating at this point, but if the LEO's felt the passenger was provoked in some way, that might of played into their not making an arrest.

And that gets back to my point of being on the moral high ground of the issue.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Quote:
"Tomas said...
Perhaps this would be a good place to allow my previously blocked/censored comment about how after surgery in Philly I was on my way back home to the west coast, and being doped up forgot my 30 year old, limited edition, numbered small single bladed collector's edition $600 pocket knife was in my pocket (I've carried a pocket knife since I was a boy scout in the early '50s)."

Prohibited item, you were dumb enough to carry it. You should lose it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Where do people get their information? No knife is allowed! If it is under 3 inches the person can take it back out of security. If it is over than the leos get involved.

December 18, 2008 4:53 PM
............................
Sadly not from TSA since they will not provide complete,accurate information on just what it takes to transit a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint.

The information has been requested many, many times and still has not been acted on.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Trollkiller said...
You know I like busting on the TSA as well as the next guy but come on, it was a Crack Pipe, wrapped in a Crack Baggie.

I am a person that tries to hold the TSA to their legal mandate of searching for weapons, explosive and incendiaries. If the TSA finds something ILLEGAL or something that truly appears illegal they are obligated as good citizens report it.

A large amount of cash, while it may be unusual, should not give rise to suspicion sufficient enough for law enforcement involvement. There is NO law against carrying any amount of money domestically. If the ticket does not state the flight is international the TSA has no cause to involve any other agency.

In this case the comparison of crack pipes to cash is apples and oranges.

December 18, 2008 3:31 PM
.............................
TK, I do not disagree with your base premise but as you know their is no reliable published documentation for public consumption to know just what TSA is looking for.

We know from comments here that they do in fact look for cash even though it is not and should not be something that concerns TSA.

The crack pipe in this blog update may be illegal under local law but I'm not sure it is under federal statues.

TSA found and identified an alarm. It was not in any way hazardous to the safe operation of an aircraft and they should have moved on to the next person in line. Perhaps a word to the wise would have been in order but nothing else.

When TSA can find the things they should be looking for without fail then they will be doing their job, not one second before. All of this other crap in no way makes anyone safer.

It just makes finding the real dangerous items less likely!

Submitted by Anonymous on

So what actually happened to the owner of the shoe pictured in the update? Assuming that the TSO dutifully reported him to law enforcement, did the police thereby add him to that month's tally of Successfully Vanquished Enemies in their sector of the Drug War? Did the TSO (or the TSA) share any of the credit for this Victory? And most important of all, assuming that this drug criminal speedily proceeded through the Drug War Justice Assembly Line directly to the appropriate penitentiary for the appropriate mandatory term, with everyone involved taking appropriate credit in their monthly Drug War metrics, has aviation been made any safer as a result?

Also, if (hypothetically) the "crack pipe" had been in a carry-on bag rather than artfully concealed in a shoe, would the outcome have been any different?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, since "Artful Concealment" is the current topic can you tell us what steps TSA has taken to protect travelers who check baggage from TSA, airline or airport employee thieves. We know that any security scrutiny should bring to light the removal of stolen items from the airport grounds. Sadly, to date that seems not to be the case.

These thieves must be adept at "Artful Concealment".

Submitted by Kellymae81 on

Anon said: My criticism (10:43 post) derives from TSA touting its big-catches of artful concealment of items that aren't really a threat. Many of the examples involved blades under 3 to 4 inches, which in my opinion are not a credible threat.

EXACTLY!!!!!!! YOUR opinion. How are we to know what someone's intention is with something that COULD harm someone. Maybe not fatally, but if we allow knives to everyone, who does that include? THE TERRORISTS!!!! If they really wanted to kill with a 2 inch blade, it IS possible. I sure don't want to be the passenger who fights back and gets a 2 inch blade jabbed into the side of my neck that I didnt know he had.

Do you all really not get that we are doing everything possible to prevent any bad scenario we can. If I wouldn't want someone to have even a 2 inch knife on a plane, I'm sure I'm not the only one. The traveling public who do respect what we do, have a right to feel safe when getting on an aircraft. YOU can think it's silly all you want, but you are not the only one with an opinion!!!!

SDF TSO

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Bob,

When I was in military technical training, we played a practical joke on base security. We poked a hole in the side of an empty soda can, shredded a cigarette onto the hole, and smoked the tobacco through the side hole and the drinking hole.

The end result looked a lot like a used improvised crack pipe. They do use soda cans.

Base security was going nuts looking for the drug users. They brought the drug dogs to the cans, and the dogs were entirely disinterested. They increased the frequency of random drug tests and found nothing.

Are you sure it was a crack pipe?

Submitted by Kellymae81 on

Anon said: am completely against TSA's "administrative" fines, which can only be contested in a kangaroo court and are an end run around the justice system that allows them to punish people for non-offenses like "non-physical interference with screening" (i.e., disagreeing with a screener) and "artful concealment of a liquid" (i..e, having a water bottle). TSA should leave enforcement/punishment to the cops and the courts, and stick to searching for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries as it is permitted to do by law.

Okay, first of all, having a water bottle is not considered "artful concealment" and does not constitute a punishment.
2nd...we DO stick to the searching and then hand passengers off to law enforcement when necessary (i.e. finding of weapons)

It is likely that many of the passengers cited in the examples received fines in the mail even though the TSOs involved in their incidents who diligently collected their address information almost certainly made no mention of the possibility of fines. That's dishonest and equivalent to a police officer pulling you over for speeding, telling you that you are getting a warning, and then sending you a ticket in the mail later.

Okay, now you are just speculating what we do. You have no idea the procedures that take place. Don't go saying things you have not a clue about. If something does happen that constitutes a punishment, it IS taken care of by LAW ENFORCEMENT and/or the courts. Yes, I'm sure TSA HQ is involved somehow b/c they were involved initially.

SDF TSO

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