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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 Kellymae81 on

Phil said: Bob, why do you even care about this? Why are we wasting all this money under the guise of providing security so that you can bust people for things that probably don't hurt anyone and definitely don't endanger fellow passengers?

How many times do we have to tell you that we dont LOOK for these items, but if we find them, we have to report it. YOU and I both are required as a CITIZEN of the United States to report illegal possesion of drugs or paraphanelia. So, do you really think that as a Federal Officer (yes, whether you think we are or not, i dont care) that we are not to report these items if found? I DONT THINK SO!!!!!!!!!

SDF TSO

Submitted by Anonymous on

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.
___________________________________

Yes you are very smart. A knife is a weapon. No matter how big or small, it is what it is. Now the other things, this isn't prison. If people really want to try to hurt someone they will. So what is your point. But they will not be hurting people with a knife or gun or box cutter. Get over it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

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.
___________________________________

Don't give me the pore passenger garbage. The public is given enough information to make inteligent decisions.

Submitted by Anonymous on

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.
___________________________________

You are wrong. TSA does not look for cash. Yes they come accross it sometime. There are not international flights out of my airport, but the connecting flight could be out of the country. Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

Submitted by Anonymous on

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.
___________________________________

A TSO has nothing to do with collecting a person address and information. If a person is doing something wrong that constitutes a fine, the law enforcement officers handle that. The LEO makes the decisions, not the TSO. Don't talk about things you don't know about.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
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.
___________________________________

You are wrong. TSA does not look for cash. Yes they come accross it sometime. There are not international flights out of my airport, but the connecting flight could be out of the country. Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

December 19, 2008 3:54 PM

..........................
Once again the carrying of cash is of no concern to TSA even if the flight the person is taking is out of the country. None whatsoever.
Customs forms must be completed given to Customs but not TSA.

Bringing an LEO into the act when a person has large sums of cash should result in the TSO facing a Judge resulting in a fine or jail time.

I hope I am the one to get you there.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Don't give me the pore passenger garbage. The public is given enough information to make inteligent decisions."

Try again in English, please.

Submitted by Tomas on
kellymae81 wrote...
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.

Sorry, wrong. TSA DOES slap folks with admin fees that are outside the normal legal system and if you want any confirmation of what is being talked about do a simple Google search and read some of the large number of things written about that... Google TSA Admin Fines

Tom (1 of 5-6)
Submitted by Tomas on
Yet another Anonymous wrote...
A TSO has nothing to do with collecting a person address and information. If a person is doing something wrong that constitutes a fine, the law enforcement officers handle that. The LEO makes the decisions, not the TSO. Don't talk about things you don't know about

Neither should you, Anon, neither should you.

Please see this news article:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7806697/

Tom (1 of 5-6)
Submitted by George on

kellymae81: YOU and I both are required as a CITIZEN of the United States to report illegal possesion of drugs or paraphanelia.

Although I'm sure some officials in the DEA fervently dream of the day when every citizen has a legal obligation to report drug possession, I was unaware that such a law actually existed. But anything is possible, since there are so many laws on the books that no ordinary citizen could possibly keep track of them. Therefore, could you please cite the relevant section of the United States Code that imposes such an obligation on citizens?

I'm more inclined to believe that TSA officers have an requirement to report to law enforcement any "illegal" items they happen to find while searching for items that threaten aviation. I'd very much like to read the relevant law or regulation that imposes that requirement, and particularly to see what they consider reportable. However, I suspect a TSA official would respond "Of course that's SSI!" (assuming anyone from the TSA deigns to respond at all).

Submitted by Anonymous on

kellymae81 said...
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.

The reason we must speculate is because TSA refuses to publish ALL Rules and Regulations that they force upon the traveling public.

To eliminate any speculation, please post the COMPLETE list of ALL rules that we as the traveling public must adhere to to get past the TSA checkpoint without any problems.

When rules are classified as SSI, and we have no access to those rules, please explain to all of us how we are supposed to know and follow those rules.

The TSA hides behind SSI, refuses to inform the public of the rules, and then somehow expects us to follow those rules.

If you can't fathom the stupidity of it all, then I guess there is zero hope.

There are many legitimate questions on this blog that go unanswered.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

Or so that they can seize the cash on the automatic presumption that anyone who is carrying that (arbitrarily large) amount of cash must be involved in drugs or terrorism. The passenger might be able to get the cash back if he hires a lawyer, brings a lawsuit in the approprirate jurisdication, and proves to the judge beyond any doubt that the cash has no connection whatsoever with any illegal or questionable activity.

And if the TSA finds cash that is promptly seized when the law enforcement officer gets wind of it, how does that contribute to the safety of aviation?
Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Kellymae: "How many times do we have to tell you that we dont LOOK for these items, but if we find them, we have to report it. YOU and I both are required as a CITIZEN of the United States to report illegal possesion of drugs or paraphanelia. So, do you really think that as a Federal Officer (yes, whether you think we are or not, i dont care) that we are not to report these items if found? I DONT THINK SO!!!!!!!!!

Kellymae, what you don't seem to get is that you have a distinction when you put on that uniform. You are not just a US Citizen. You are an agent of the US government. As such, there are laws and rules that you are bound by as a government actor that don't apply when you are off duty.

When I worked for the government, there were certain tasks that I couldn't do even to myself while working lest I violate my own constitutional rights. Yes, it's possible to violate your own rights. These same tasks are ones that I could do off duty and not violate my rights.

By your logic, a cop could do things that would normally exceed his authority or require warrants while on duty if he were to do them as a citizen. Or asking someone to do something for him as a citizen that he wouldn't be able to do, such as an LEO asking you to do a thorough secondary on someone he thinks might be suspicious but wouldn't be able to excecute because he doesn't have probable cause. Read up on the silver plate doctrine.

You can't have it both ways. When you're in uniform and performing in an official capacity, your "citizenship" takes a backseat as you are an agent of the government.

It's amazes me that people that work for the government just don't get that you.

Now, regarding this: "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!!!!"

This line of thinking illustrates what's wrong with TSA. It focuses on the wrong thing. Instead of focusing on the 99.999999999999999999999999999% that are law abiding citizens, you're focusing on the minutia that detracts from the mission. TSA is focusing on every scenario imaginable it seems. Imagination being the key concept there ... TSA is letting hyperactive paranoia and an overactive imagination dictate security and not reality. I can imagine my bottle of liquid could explode while I'm dancing in the street and getting hit by a bus. It could happen. But how likely is it that it will really happen?

You are ranting like there are terrorists out there crawling in our airports waiting to use a bottle of water or a pocket knife to take over a plane. The mere 0.000000000000000000001% chance of it happening (if it's even that great) has TSA in CYA mode.

Do terrorists exist? Yes.

Do sharp and pointy objects exist on planes even with TSA? Yes. Many of them are brought on by crew as part of the plane's equipment (preparation knives, silverware, etc). Many of them are already permitted. I have yet to see anyone from TSA explain to me why a 4" blade on scissors are permitted yet a 2" pocket knife is not. Tell me which of the those two are the more dangerous item.

Are the terrorists going to win if a small 2" pen knife is permitted when 4" scissors are already permitted?

Please, come back to reality, and write a book or a screenplay because the imagination shown by TSA shows that talent is being focused in the wrong place.


Robert
Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Anonymous: "Yes you are very smart. A knife is a weapon. No matter how big or small, it is what it is. Now the other things, this isn't prison. If people really want to try to hurt someone they will. So what is your point. But they will not be hurting people with a knife or gun or box cutter. Get over it."

You're right ... this isn't prison. So why are we being treated like prisoners?

So what if they won't be hurting anyone with a knife? TSA's trying to prevent people from being hurt for cyring out loud!!! They can still be hurt by all this stuff, and I don't even have that vivid of an imagination. Imagine what a terrorist could come up with!!!

Yes, I'm being sarcastic. The point is that if the obsession is about weapons and given the paranoia TSA has about these things, why does it care about some things in a given class but not others ... like scissors? The paranoia and imagination are rclearly evident in the TSO and official posts lately. If they're really thinking about every little thing, why are they harping about the little things while ignoring other larger threats in the same area?

Yeah, you might not get stabbed with a 2" pen knife, but what about scissors?

Robert
Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from an Anonymous TSO: "Don't give me the pore passenger garbage. The public is given enough information to make inteligent decisions."

Right ... that's why it's given to us when we ask for it in a clear, concise manner in an easy to find place without contradictions.

I can't even make it thru a checkpoint without seeing either contradicting or false information. TSO's on here can't even give the same information.

The public may be able to make intelligent decisions. Unfortunately, it's clear that TSA and its employees aren't.

"A TSO has nothing to do with collecting a person address and information. If a person is doing something wrong that constitutes a fine, the law enforcement officers handle that. The LEO makes the decisions, not the TSO. Don't talk about things you don't know about.

Right ... that's why personal information is taken down for administrative fines down the road. Is it not a TSO that demands ID to either copy or take down the information when an complaint form is requested (not all places do this, but it happens quite often). Just where do you think that information comes from and who's collecting it. It's not always an LEO.

If you're going to call people out for not knowing what they're talking about, you should at least be well informed of what your employer does before spouting off.

Robert
Submitted by Anonymous on

"Non-flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint Yes - 3 oz. or smaller container "
Here's some really fancy research. It does not matter how much is in your container by what kind of measurement, TSA requires your carry on liquids to be in a 3 oz or smaller container (with the wonderful leniency of allowing 3.4oz to accomodate the metric system which measures out to 100ml. standard international size for travel containers.) Get over your toothpaste problem by getting travel size liquids, reading the very available TSA pamphlets on prohibited items (which are written in a very simple format anybody can understand)and be ready for your flight for goodness sakes!

Submitted by BlognDog on

What is it with Americans? They strongly oppose any attempt at preventing people from wandering around in public with firearms, and calmly mingle in public with heavily armed individuals every day, but put them on a plane and suddenly the possibility of being in the vicinity of someone with a 2 inch blade is an unacceptable risk.

In any event, wasn't it just a few years ago that the DHS was up on Capitol Hill, providing sworn testimony that those alarmists who believed that the federal government would be incapable of resisting the temptation to use airport screening for anything other than prevention of terror attacks were just being silly? And now they seem to be openly bragging about it.

Submitted by TSO Tom (PHL) on

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
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.
___________________________________

You are wrong. TSA does not look for cash. Yes they come accross it sometime. There are not international flights out of my airport, but the connecting flight could be out of the country. Which is why when a large amount of cash is found (not looked for) a LEO is informed. So that they can be sure that there is no illegal activities occuring IF the person is indeed traveling outside of the US.

December 19, 2008 3:54 PM

..........................
Once again the carrying of cash is of no concern to TSA even if the flight the person is taking is out of the country. None whatsoever.
Customs forms must be completed given to Customs but not TSA.

Bringing an LEO into the act when a person has large sums of cash should result in the TSO facing a Judge resulting in a fine or jail time.

I hope I am the one to get you there.

December 19, 2008 4:21 PM
***********************************
So anon, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You believe that smugglers of large sums of cash, including cash smuggled by drug dealers, is OKAY? That a TSO should not have to notify a LEO in such instances and that these people who produce and sell drugs to possibly YOUR children, have the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to smuggle drug money out of the country? And that I as a TSO who is doing what I'm told to do, and possibly stopping such a smuggler, should be prosecuted as a result? Excuse me but that's idiotic! First of all, if its a drug dealer, guess what anon...he's not going to declare it to customs! Secondly, if its a legitimate traveler with legitimate purposes, he would have already declared it, have the proper paperwork to prove he declared it and be on his way without LEO intervention. Let's think about this logically, while we are NOT police, we do work in conjunction with local, State and Federal Law enforcement agencies...that said, it would be impossible for us NOT to notify a LEO of such actions, whether they are criminal or not....again if customs paperwork exists and the cash is NOT artfully concealed, there is NO PROBLEM at all! Get over it anon, we do what we do, if someone wants to smuggle money or drugs out of the country they should find another way to do so, because if we catch them we are calling a LEO. And anon, there isn't a court in the country that will prosecute a TSO for stopping a drug dealer!

Submitted by Stephen on

Of course... you talk about the efficacy of artful concealing. You talk about how many peopl ehave been caught.

I notice however not even a consideration about what this says about the efficacy of the rule itself.

What percentage of the people caught with "Artfully concealed" items have been shown to have ties to terrorist organizations? How many plots to hijack airplanes or otherwise harm the crew or passengers have been shown to have been foiled by this?

Oh wait... is that because no such ties have ever been found? No such plots uncovered? Hmmm so what was your point again?

-Steve
(who is still a disgruntled taxpayer)

Submitted by Stephen on

To the TSA bloggers:

I read the anonymous comment about the man who plead guilty to bringing a gun to the airport under quite accidental circumstances.

Can you please explain a) How incidents like this help us? b) WHats the ratio of actual "bad guys" caught to innocent people just trying to travel?

-Steve

Submitted by Stephen on

Bob,

I have to say this for the first time... I agree with you. A federal employee finding a crack pipe really does need to notify the authorities... its a sad state, and its MORALLY WRONG (I would quit the job before rather than do that to someone... but what can I say...I am moral)

Anyway... this is just ONE MORE EXAMPLE of why this is NOT a job for federal employees. Isn't it?

This has NOTHING to do with airport security. In fact, many of the so-called security rules and regs don't. This is why it makes sense to put this job back where it belongs: in the hands of private security funded by the airports.

Submitted by Stephen on

>Don't give me the pore passenger
> garbage. The public is given enough
>information to make inteligent decisions.

I don't believe it. WHy not? Because if the public made informed decisions, then all the congressmen who voted to create the DHS would have been voted out of office 4 years ago and this blog, much less the agency that runs it, would have already ceased to waste our tax dollars and time.

-Steve

Submitted by Tomas on

Yesterday my most recent "6.0 oz. net wt." tube of toothpaste finally gasped it's last and was empty. Just to verify what I already knew (toothpaste is heavier than water) I thoroughly rinsed it out, grabbed a syringe and pumped the empty tube full of water. Pumped up ready to explode, it would not take 4 ounces of liquid, measured when I poured it out into a measuring cup.

I suspect brand new that "6.0 oz. net wt." tube of toothpaste probably held less than 3.4 ounces, liquid measure. (They do not fill them anywhere near as full as I pumped that tube up to.)

Blogger Bob! Can we get some sort of valid TSA response to TSOs rejecting "liquids" by weight instead of volume? We have asked quite nicely a number of times over a considerable period.

Thank you,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Submitted by Al Ames on

@Tom: "So anon, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You believe that smugglers of large sums of cash, including cash smuggled by drug dealers, is OKAY? That a TSO should not have to notify a LEO in such instances and that these people who produce and sell drugs to possibly YOUR children, have the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to smuggle drug money out of the country? And that I as a TSO who is doing what I'm told to do, and possibly stopping such a smuggler, should be prosecuted as a result? Excuse me but that's idiotic! First of all, if its a drug dealer, guess what anon...he's not going to declare it to customs! Secondly, if its a legitimate traveler with legitimate purposes, he would have already declared it, have the proper paperwork to prove he declared it and be on his way without LEO intervention. Let's think about this logically, while we are NOT police, we do work in conjunction with local, State and Federal Law enforcement agencies...that said, it would be impossible for us NOT to notify a LEO of such actions, whether they are criminal or not....again if customs paperwork exists and the cash is NOT artfully concealed, there is NO PROBLEM at all! Get over it anon, we do what we do, if someone wants to smuggle money or drugs out of the country they should find another way to do so, because if we catch them we are calling a LEO. And anon, there isn't a court in the country that will prosecute a TSO for stopping a drug dealer!"

I'll keep it simple for you.

It's none of your business. You're not looking for drug smugglers (or someone who might be just because they carry a lot of cash). It's between the person and customs if their money is declared. Domestically, it's none of your business. Period. You're not looking for drug dealers.

You're not cops. The vast majority of your job should be be able to be done without law enforcement. None of this "conjunction with" BS. If you're working as an extension of law enforcement, the protections the constitution provides are in full force.

You're harassing passengers by exceeding the scope of your authority. The "nothing to hide, nothing to worry about" line is BS, especially with civil forfeiture laws. Cop can't prove that someone's a drug dealer but might suspect, he can seize the money and the person has to file suit to get it back. An expensive proposition with the burden of proof on the person. How many innocent people is it ok to be caught in such a dragnet until it becomes an issue? Is it collateral damage?

While they may not have a constitutional right to take large amounts of cash out of the country without declaring it, they DO have a right not to be harassed by the government without probable cause. A large amount of cash is not probable cause for harassment by TSA. Customs is free to check it if they wish if the person's traveling internationally.

Emotional rhetoric about thinking of the children doesn't fly Tom. If there's anything idiotic, it's the "ends justify the means" garbage and disrespect for the constitution that's destroying the very freedom you're supposedly trying to protect for Americans.

Go ahead and keep doing what you're doing. We didn't need that constitution anyway.

Al

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSO Tom said in part......
So anon, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You believe that smugglers of large sums of cash, including cash smuggled by drug dealers, is OKAY?

............................
Tom why do you think everyone taking a flight is some sort of crimminal?

Just because I might have a large sum of cash on my person is no reason to believe that I am any thing other than a person who has some money.

In fact I find it very offensive that you would think that I or anyone else must be a drug dealer or some other sort of crimminal just becuase I want to take a commercial flight.

Perhaps you are not cutout for working with the public if all you see are people will ill intent.

I certainly hope I never have to deal with the likes of you during my travels.

Another fine TSA example!

Submitted by TSO Tom (PHL) on

Al said:
It's none of your business. You're not looking for drug smugglers (or someone who might be just because they carry a lot of cash). It's between the person and customs if their money is declared. Domestically, it's none of your business. Period. You're not looking for drug dealers.

You're not cops. The vast majority of your job should be be able to be done without law enforcement. None of this "conjunction with" BS. If you're working as an extension of law enforcement, the protections the constitution provides are in full force.

You're harassing passengers by exceeding the scope of your authority. The "nothing to hide, nothing to worry about" line is BS, especially with civil forfeiture laws. Cop can't prove that someone's a drug dealer but might suspect, he can seize the money and the person has to file suit to get it back. An expensive proposition with the burden of proof on the person. How many innocent people is it ok to be caught in such a dragnet until it becomes an issue? Is it collateral damage?

While they may not have a constitutional right to take large amounts of cash out of the country without declaring it, they DO have a right not to be harassed by the government without probable cause. A large amount of cash is not probable cause for harassment by TSA. Customs is free to check it if they wish if the person's traveling internationally.

Emotional rhetoric about thinking of the children doesn't fly Tom. If there's anything idiotic, it's the "ends justify the means" garbage and disrespect for the constitution that's destroying the very freedom you're supposedly trying to protect for Americans.

Go ahead and keep doing what you're doing. We didn't need that constitution anyway.

Al
***********************************
Al, we can debate over this until the cows come home, bottom line is this, the key words here are "smuggle" and "artfully concealed". First of all let me say that I agree with you to an extent....where we part ways is where you say its none of our business period as to how much cash someone is carrying or why. Here's the deal, when you go to the airpot, you know you're gonna have to go through the checkpoint, and by doing so, by placing your items on the belt, by walking through the metal detector, you are consenting to a search of your property and your person.The scope of that search is determined by what we encounter during the search. Now you may dispute that fact, but it is a fact and has been upheld by law. Now onto where it becomes our business: When we search a bag, and we come across drugs, money or whatever, there are certain laws that must be adhered to. First of all, if its drugs its cut and dry.....LEO. No ifs and or buts. If its money exceeding ten grand, I have to notify a supervisor. If the passenger is traveling out of the country, the supervisor has to notify a LEO...the LEO has to make sure the passenger has the appropriate paperwork from customs. That's the long and short of it. If the passenger has peaceful intentions and the proper paperwork, he or she is on their plane. If paperwork does not exist, customs is notified and they take over. Once I notify the supervisor, my part is done, once the supervisor notifies the LEO their part is done accept for paperwork and other notifications. Now like I said, dispute it all you want, its been upheld that this is the way it is supposed to be. And again, there is not a court in the country that will prosecute a TSO for doing it.

Tom

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSO Tom
There are plenty of reasons that people will carry cash, domestically and through borders.

If you sell a car, and get cash for it, if you refuse to pay the crazy bank fees for moving money, if you are travelling and understand the fundamental uselessness of travellers cheques, if you are annoyed at the $10k limit on transfers that invokes the know your customer rules, if you value your privacy and don't want your financial transaction tracked by those untrustworthy banks. When all is said and done cash is still legal tender, and there are plenty of people who are paid more than $10k each month - it isn't a lot of money any more.

Regardless, the requirement is to declare only when you go through a border, so for a start all non-international terminals should ignore cash being carried. Please do not assume criminal activity, especially when you should be looking for terrorist activity. I know it is a boring job, but this sort of stuff annoyed the heck out of travelers, and travelers that would inform you of anything truly suspicious if they actually trusted you.

Submitted by Anonymous on
There are many legitimate questions on this blog that go unanswered.

I think most all questions get answered but the person asking does not understand the answer or doesn't like the answer so they keep asking the same question.
Submitted by TSO Tom on

Anonymous said...
TSO Tom
There are plenty of reasons that people will carry cash, domestically and through borders.

If you sell a car, and get cash for it, if you refuse to pay the crazy bank fees for moving money, if you are travelling and understand the fundamental uselessness of travellers cheques, if you are annoyed at the $10k limit on transfers that invokes the know your customer rules, if you value your privacy and don't want your financial transaction tracked by those untrustworthy banks. When all is said and done cash is still legal tender, and there are plenty of people who are paid more than $10k each month - it isn't a lot of money any more.

Regardless, the requirement is to declare only when you go through a border, so for a start all non-international terminals should ignore cash being carried. Please do not assume criminal activity, especially when you should be looking for terrorist activity. I know it is a boring job, but this sort of stuff annoyed the heck out of travelers, and travelers that would inform you of anything truly suspicious if they actually trusted you.

December 27, 2008 7:33 AM
***********************************
Anon;
While I agree that there are many legal reasons for carrying cash, both domestically and internationally, I also know that there are many people who try to smuggle cash by air. I did NOT say that everyone who carries cash either domestically or internationally is a criminal. What I did say, and I'll repeat myself again, since maybe I'm not being entirely clear, but what I DID say is that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES. Those who do NOT have legitimate purposes for carrying large quantities of cash, should worry because if we catch them, they're going to jail. That anon, is what I said.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
There are many legitimate questions on this blog that go unanswered.

I think most all questions get answered but the person asking does not understand the answer or doesn't like the answer so they keep asking the same question.

December 27, 2008 11:42 AM
.............................
You must be reading some other blog.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSO Tom, regarding the carrying of cash.

First, a TSA checkpoint is not a Dragnet. You should be looking for things that could cause harm to travelers on airplanes. I think those things are refered to as weapons, explosives and incendaries per the enabling documents for TSA.

Someone carrying cash is of no concern to TSA, period. It doesn't matter how much, why or even where they are going.

Perhaps if TSA tried doing their real job then TSA performance would go up instead of the dismal reports from GAO and other sources.

Your continued support of these illegal dragnet checkpoints demonstrate that you do not understand you job and should be terminated.

I'm curious, at what airport do you conduct these illegal searches?

You answer or lack of will futher demonstrate your competence to be a TSO.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anon;
... What I did say, and I'll repeat myself again, since maybe I'm not being entirely clear, but what I DID say is that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES. ...

December 27, 2008 12:24 PM
-----------------
No worries - probably.

But they will be questioned. And that is the crux of the problem. A police officer cannot just stop a person on the street to check to see if that person is carrying a large amount of cash without having PROBABLE CAUSE.

A citizen of the United Stated USED to be protected by the Bill of Rights. The Patriot Act has essentially done away with it. The TSA sees no problem with that.

That is the concern

Submitted by Anonymous on

nner@gmail.com
TSO Tom said......."Anon;
While I agree that there are many legal reasons for carrying cash, both domestically and internationally, I also know that there are many people who try to smuggle cash by air. I did NOT say that everyone who carries cash either domestically or internationally is a criminal. What I did say, and I'll repeat myself again, since maybe I'm not being entirely clear, but what I DID say is that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES. Those who do NOT have legitimate purposes for carrying large quantities of cash, should worry because if we catch them, they're going to jail. That anon, is what I said."

December 27, 2008 12:24 PM
/////////////////////////////////

Question for you TSO Tom;

Do you refer everyone who appears to be a non American, you know those people with brown skin, to police so they can determine their immigration status?

You know that they might not be in the country legally, right?

Gosh, if they are legal they have nothing to worry about, right?

And they may be breaking some law, right?

I wouldn't want you to miss an opportunity on your little TSA witch hunt.

Submitted by Bob on

I'm back. I hope everybody had a great holiday.

Check out the blog post for another update.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on
Do you refer everyone who appears to be a non American, you know those people with brown skin, to police so they can determine their immigration status?


I don't think racial type comments have anything to do with this blog. A non American can be anyone not just those with brown skin.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Do you refer everyone who appears to be a non American, you know those people with brown skin, to police so they can determine their immigration status?


I don't think racial type comments have anything to do with this blog. A non American can be anyone not just those with brown skin.
...................
OP here,

Sorry that you were offended,that was not my goal.

I used an extreme example in an effort to demonstrate to TSO Tom why his comments are unacceptable. Nothing more.

TSO Tom could easily see no problem with referring anyone to Law Enforcement for any reason since he does not understand that having money is not a violation of the law and is not a concern of TSA. Or that I should be concerned that I will in fact be referred to an LEO if I just happen to have money and wish to fly on a commercial airplane.

TSO Tom seems content to follow orders regardless of their legality.

I have asked Blogger Bob many, many times for the document and who signed said document requiring a TSO to refer someone who happens to have a large amount of cash and wishes to pass through a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint.

Blogger Bob continues to ignore my request.

I have to wonder just what TSA is hiding (and why) from the citizens of this country that Blogger Bob must hide, especially since cash money has no bearing on transportation safety.

This is additional proof that TSA cares little about our safety but has an agenda (unannounced) for something else entirely.

Anyone with a concern for their civil rights should be asking their elected representatives the exact same questions.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm back. I hope everybody had a great holiday.

Check out the blog post for another update.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Can you share any details on this item?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The update with the bullets "artfully concealed" in a deck of cards is a much better example than the previous illustration. Unlike drug paraphernalia, bullets are definitely a potential threat to aviation even if the possessor isn't carrying a gun. Unlike drug paraphernalia, this "find" is definitely within the TSA's mission and is therefore a valid "success" for which the TSA (and the TSO who found it) deserves full credit.

Despite all the well-documented problems and failings of the TSA, sometimes they actually do prevent items that are a genuine threat to aviation from getting on airplanes. The question then, as always, is whether these successes sufficiently justify all the stupidity, arrogance, hassles, and failures that accompany them.

(I would actually recommend that Bob remove the previous update with the shoe and the drug paraphernalia. The bullets in the playing cards are a relevant (and sufficient) illustration of "artful concealment" that does not seriously undermine an otherwise good post as the drug paraphernalia does. But since the TSA routinely ignores any suggestions we constructively offer here to improve the TSA's operations, image, and interaction with the public, I expect this one to be ignored as well.)

Submitted by Tomas on

TSO Tom, Al, I'm not trying to step into the middle of this, but there are two things in the repeated statements and clarifications I see here at EoS that are beginning to bug me...

(1) "...that those who have legitimate purposes for carrying large amounts of cash, have NO WORRIES."

I'm sorry, but in better days when I was making a substantially larger amount of money than what I make now on disability, it was not at all unusual for me to have a number of $500 dollar bills in my wallet, or for me to make substantial purchases from retailers in cash. My "legitimate purpose for carrying large amounts of cash" would have boiled down to a very simple "because I want to, what's your problem?"

(2) "... the key words here are "smuggle" and "artfully concealed". First of all let me say that I agree with you to an extent....where we part ways is where you say its none of our business period as to how much cash someone is carrying or why."

"Smuggle" and "artfully concealed" are terms that can quite legitimately have quite different interpretations or meanings on the opposite sides of the conveyor belt.

On my side (passenger) if I am carrying something valuable to me (substantial cash, family heirloom, confidential information, trade secret information, info from a pending patent, personally valuable items, easily broken items, easily mis-understood items, etc.) I will not wear it round my neck, staple it to my lapels, put it in a glass box with flashing lights or call attention to it in any other way.

If I were to be legitimately carrying a substantial amount of cash for whatever reason (and the reason is quite truthfully NOT something that the government has any right to be privy to) you are absolutely right that I would do my best to artfully conceal that cash rather than advertise it's presence.

Legally carrying a large amount of cash for whatever personal reason I might have, even it it is concealed, is NOT smuggling. It is not doing something unlawful. it is not something that should concern the TSA. It shouldn't concern the government at all unless I attempt to cross a national border with it, and then it is Customs' concern to the extent that I need to fill out a form so they know. I don't even have to show it to them.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

P.S. You familiar, I'm sure, with those "secret compartments" that 99.99% of men's wallets came with (about as "secret" as this morning's news headlines). When I lived in NJ/NY while working for AT&T and Bell Labs, I normally had $2000 in there; four $500 bills. That would cover me for picking up a good deal on a camera or some sound equipment, picking up the tab for a meal, grabbing a rental or a flight to get to a location I was needed at on short notice, etc. That was simply my backup funds for the little unknowns.

These days it sounds like that would cause apoplexy at a TSA choke point if someone found that artfully concealed cash I was "smuggling." (Especially since that was IN ADDITION TO whatever daily use cash I might have decided to carry - which on a trip, could be a pretty fair amount.)

T

Submitted by Anonymous on

To Anon who said...I don't think racial type comments have anything to do with this blog. A non American can be anyone not just those with brown skin.

December 29, 2008 3:43 PM

//////////////////////////////
OP again, I have to wonder why you have not spoken out about TSA causing people to be interrogated just because they have bought a ticket on a commercial airplane and while passing through a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint are found to have a large amount of cash.

These people have not violated any law.

Where is your indignation on this point?

There is nothing in the law that determines how much cash one may have on their person.

Yet TSA seems to think it is their business to control people and their actions.

I have asked TSA for an explanation of this practice only to meet complete silence.

I will continue until TSA articulates why they find currency to be a danger to the operation of a commercial aircraft or announces a halt to this illegal inquisition!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I did indeed have a nice holiday, in part because my family drove rather than be subjected to the pointless groping and scrutiny of the domestic terrorists at TSA. Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
I did indeed have a nice holiday, in part because my family drove rather than be subjected to the pointless groping and scrutiny of the domestic terrorists at TSA. Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner.

December 30, 2008 11:34 AM

I am no fan of TSA or Bob but the ammo is a fair catch.

It is on the prohibited list to carry in the cabin of the aircraft.

Any number of small devices can be made to fire a round. Some could look like a large fountain pen. A real possibility exist that a weapon could get aboard.

So TSA gets an attaboy on this one.

Submitted by Kellymae81 on

Anon said Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner.

Are you kidding me? The bullets are the most dangerous part. If they are okay, then why not the barrel of a gun, or just the trigger or how about just the revolver? If we go along with that argument, then guess what...terrorist #1 brings one part and terrorist #2 brings another and so on....getting the picture? One part added to another part equals a LOADED GUN!!!!!!!!!! I'm sorry but I have to say that question takes the cake of all the ones I've seen on here.

SDF TSO

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yet another Anon said on December 30, 2008 at 11:34 AM,
"Now, Bob, please explain what threat ammunition poses to an airliner."

You know, it's comments like this that should get certain IP's banned from posting, if only for their own protection from exposing their own stupidity. It is clear to me that no matter what TSA does or says, there will always be some idiot with a stupid question or complaint(probably the same guy that holds me up in line with the bottle of water that he "forgot" in his bag). I don't agree with everything TSA does, but I can see that over the years there have been slow improvements in the right direction, and face it people, it's not that hard to travel smart! My God, get a life!!

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Good job on the bullets.

Now refer to my question about the crack pipe.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSO Tom, after your comments in the post dated, December 27, 2008 12:24 PM, I left a couple of follow-up posts with a couple of questions for you.

Your sure did get quiet all of a sudden.

Tom, they weren't hard questions. One was asked what airport you worked at and the other questioned how you might refer people for immigration violations.

If you didn't understand the comments because the words were to big I will be happy to rephrase them so you can understand.

What say you TSO Tom?

Submitted by We Can Do Better on

So <7" screwdrivers, and <4" sharp-bladed, pointy metal scissors are allowed, but not pocketknives... Hmmmmmmmm

I think I'll bring a couple screwdrivers and 2 pairs of scissors, which can be taken apart to make 4 4"-bladed "knives".

Would the flight attendants and the people next to me feel better? Can't hit an artery with a 6.75" screwdriver???


It's this kind of ludicrous, arbitrary BS that succinctly points out how retarded the TSA is. It is an inherently ineffective system, because it's never about the weapon, it's about the WILL.

and don't get me started on the shoes.

I'm flying to JFK again tomorrow and I just can't wait to deal with the lowest-common-denominator TSA employees. Woo hoo.

WE CAN DO BETTER! What was the rationale behind banning NAIL CLIPPERS again???? Please.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I'm flying to JFK again tomorrow and I just can't wait to deal with the lowest-common-denominator TSA employees. Woo hoo."

...and I am sure they look forward to dealing with a lower than "lowest-common-denominator" pax like you.

I hope I'm not behind you when you start your crap.

Leave the peons alone if they leave you alone.

Go for the head. Work through your legislators and public opinion to make changes.

Now is the time.

Submitted by Dan S on

I'm curious: a 29¢ Bic Stic ballpoint pen is far more deadly a weapon than a 2-inch "executive" pocket knife (yes, I'm being serious).

Could carrying one in my attaché or laptop case be construed as 'artful concealment'?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Quote;
" We can do better said...
So <7" screwdrivers, and <4" sharp-bladed, pointy metal scissors are allowed, but not pocketknives... Hmmmmmmmm

I think I'll bring a couple screwdrivers and 2 pairs of scissors, which can be taken apart to make 4 4"-bladed "knives".

Would the flight attendants and the people next to me feel better? Can't hit an artery with a 6.75" screwdriver???"


Just for the record, the TSOs who actually work at the CPs have been complaining about the stupidity of the tool/scissor allowance policy since the inception.

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