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Snakes On A Plane! And Turtles & Birds, Oh My!!! Almost...

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Monday, August 29, 2011
Coiled Snake In Hand

Coiled Snake In Hand

From the “Crazy Things People Take On Planes” files, here are some new additions involving snakes, turtles, and birds.

The first incident occurred at the Miami International Airport (MIA) and involved a gentleman with seven small snakes in his pants. (Insert inappropriate joke here) He also had three small turtles (Insert more jokes here) and they were all stored in lady’s hosiery in the man’s trousers. The snakes and turtles were found using TSA’s imaging technology which allows TSA officers to find potential threat items concealed from plain sight. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers arrived on the scene and took custody of the reptiles. The passenger was arrested on the federal charge of “harboring reptiles in an unnatural habitat.” I made that up... the individual was actually charged with violating the Lacey Act.

Bird freed from sock.

Freed From The Sock The second incident occurred at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) when two birds were discovered during a pat-down that was being administered due to bulky clothing. They were wrapped in socks and taped to the leg and chest of a woman who was traveling to China.U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers arrested the woman on suspicion of smuggling and exporting an endangered species out of the United States.

TSA’s mission of course is not to find artfully concealed wildlife, but items taped to a passenger’s body could very well be explosives or some other dangerous prohibited item. We just don’t know until we check it out. Threats concealed under a person’s clothes remain a concern and this discovery, threat or no threat, once again demonstrates the effectiveness of TSA’s security techniques.

Snakes & Turtles In Hosiery

Snakes & Turtles In Hosiery

Snake

Released From The Hosiery

Birds Taped In Socks

Birds Taped In Socks Imagine the chaos that would ensue if a marmot were concealed in a pair of trousers? Kudos to the officers at LAX & MIA!

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

Comments

Submitted by Teldannen on

Poor critters. Too bad the people smuggling them can't be charged with animal cruelty as well. What happens to the animals in situations like this? The bird in the picture looks tame - did it find a good home?

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

Hi Teldannen. U.S. Fish & Wildlife took them. I'm not sure what they do with them, but I linked to their blog in my post if you want to contact them.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey, Nice Marmot!!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Obviously TSA is doing a better job than Customs. ICE staffing should be lowered to reflect the work done now by TSA and the positions sent to TSA.

Submitted by Animal Care Awa... on

THIS IS WHY I AM EXTREMELY INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH TSA SLC, UT IS COMBAT LIVE CONTRABAND.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The snakes and turtles were found using TSA’s imaging technology

Why were the snakes and turtles using TSA's imagubg technology? ;)

Submitted by JustSayin on

To all the negative naysayers who truly believe the body scanners are there for reasons other than spotting prohibited items....

SEE????

Submitted by Anonymous on

Does radiating law-abiding American taxpayers constitute animal cruelty? Reasonable and informed people would think so...

A recently released poll shows that American's respect for government is at an all time low - congratulations on the TSA's contribution to those negative numbers...

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob- what actual threat to air travel do pets pose? I though the TSA was supposed to be keeping us SAFE, not acting as a 4th-Amendment-immune arm of law enforcement.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The TSA violates the spirit of the posse comitatus act.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I hardly think TSA is looking for pets and snakes. However, its logical that if they scan someone and find an unusual package in an unusual place, they will check. Thats called keeping us secure.

Having found contraband, live or manufactured, I hardly think they will let the passenger go through with it.
Seems simple enough to me, wouldnt you say, Anonymous???

Submitted by Anonymous on

If your techniques were effective, you would actually catch terrorists without bothering innocent citizens.

Submitted by Mike Toreno on

"this discovery, threat or no threat, once again demonstrates the effectiveness of TSA’s security techniques."

No it doesn't.

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

Anonymous said... Bob- what actual threat to air travel do pets pose? I though the TSA was supposed to be keeping us SAFE, not acting as a 4th-Amendment-immune arm of law enforcement. August 29, 2011 9:49 PM

--------------------

They're not a threat. I'll share my last paragraph with you again:

"TSA’s mission of course is not to find artfully concealed wildlife, but items taped to a passenger’s body could very well be explosives or some other dangerous prohibited item. We just don’t know until we check it out. Threats concealed under a person’s clothes remain a concern and this discovery, threat or no threat, once again demonstrates the effectiveness of TSA’s security techniques."

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Jim Huggins on
TSA’s mission of course is not to find artfully concealed wildlife, but items taped to a passenger’s body could very well be explosives or some other dangerous prohibited item. We just don’t know until we check it out.

I understand that. But once TSA determined that the artfully concealed items weren't explosives, but wildlife, why would TSA refer the matter to other authorities like US Fish & Wildlife? Is it any of TSA's business whether or not those snakes were being transported in the violation of the Lacey Act?

It seems like TSA, in the pursuit of its mission, ends up acting as a proxy for numerous other agencies (Fish & Wildlife, FAA, local law enforcement). I might argue that TSA ends up doing more for those agencies than it does to fulfill its own mission.
Submitted by MRFLIGHT on

JIM

TSA is required to hand over certain information to Law Enforcement Officers, such as individuals who try to hide something on their bodies to get through security. Once the individual does this,and TSA finds whatever what was hidden, it then is sent to LEOS, LEOS then take over from there. If the LEOS see a crime or hint of a crime, they are going to notify the LEO agency who has certain jurisdictions. In this case, i will give you what most likely happened

TSA Finds anomalies on the persons Body

TSA checks the body parts to make sure its not weapons or explosives.

TSA Finds live animals.

TSA then must notify LEOS because passanger tried to artfully conceal items(reguardless what it is)

LEOS come to scene, and interview passanger

LEOS then call the right agency and arresst the individual on a state or federal charge

That was most likely the sequence of events.

soo JIM TSA MUST notify LEOS when something is artfully concealed reguardless of what it is

Submitted by Anonymous on

The animals may not be a threat to air travel, but many of them are on the endangered species list which makes them illegal to own. Others present a problem by carrying diseases. Parrot fever is extremely dangerous to humans so no they do not find them a good home.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

MRFLIGHT: yes, I understand *how* the current procedure works. I'm just not convinced that it *ought* to do so.

When I come through a checkpoint with a young child, is it TSA's job to determine whether or not I am the child's legal guardian?

When I come through a checkpoint with a laptop, is it TSA's job to verify that all the software on that laptop is properly licensed?

When I come through a checkpoint with a wallet containing paper money, is it TSA's job to verify that none of that money is counterfeit?

TSA seems to pick and choose which potential crimes it investigates and which it leaves alone. I'm just not sure where TSA draws the line between national security interests and Fourth Amendment limits on unreasonable searches.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
I hardly think TSA is looking for pets and snakes. However, its logical that if they scan someone and find an unusual package in an unusual place, they will check. Thats called keeping us secure.

Having found contraband, live or manufactured, I hardly think they will let the passenger go through with it.
Seems simple enough to me, wouldnt you say, Anonymous???

August 29, 2011 10:52 PM

............
Yes simple enough. TSA views violation of the 4th amendment as business as usual.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The animals or such could be your pet they stole. ?
I think smuggling is against the law as well. No matter the nature. And to the other person: If your techniques were effective, you would actually catch terrorists without bothering innocent citizens.

August 30, 2011 7:46 AM

Well, I think that is why WE now have all the NEW technology wouldnt you say? To bad there are NOT SO bright people in the world, but I think WE are doing what WE see is a step in the right direction for protecting the Americans of our country. Go TSA...people know better come on...

Submitted by Anonymous on

"TSA’s mission of course is not to find artfully concealed wildlife, but items taped to a passenger’s body could very well be explosives or some other dangerous prohibited item. We just don’t know until we check it out. Threats concealed under a person’s clothes remain a concern and this discovery, threat or no threat, once again demonstrates the effectiveness of TSA’s security techniques."

Well now I feel completely safe. After all every non-metalic threat I have ever seen looks and feels just like a bird in stockings. Well, there was that one time I mistook a non-metalic threat for a turtle. Good job TSA, you single handedly stopped a potential outbreak of bird flu.

I wonder if the whole body imaging would have caught the bird if it had been flattened into a pancake shape?

Not Scared of Terrorists

Submitted by J Miller 094 on

All, animals, insects, coming in to the United States must be claimed. Other countries have insects that if turned loose here in America, would devastate wheat crops vegetable crops etc. etc.and don't think that these other countries would not love to see American crops ruined. Just another way to attack the American people.
This is a law that must be upheld. It is for the protection of the American people.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Seriously? So if you are walking down the street and you see someone steeling a car, you won't call the police because your aren't a law enforcement officer?

If someone is trafficking animals, and you knew about it...you would do nothing?

TSA's mission may be to thwart a terrorist attack on aviation...but if it stumbles across a criminal activity, such as trafficking animals, they'd be criminals themselves if they do nothing about it.

What's wrong with people?

Submitted by Adrian on

Have there been any studies to determine if the level and type of radiation emitted by the scanners is safe for reptiles, amphibians, and birds?

By subjecting concealed animals to this radiation, the TSA may be endangering already endangered animals.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I understand that. But once TSA determined that the artfully concealed items weren't explosives, but wildlife, why would TSA refer the matter to other authorities like US Fish & Wildlife? Is it any of TSA's business whether or not those snakes were being transported in the violation of the Lacey Act?


TSA has found people with child pornography in their luggage. Should we allow these people to go free as well seeing as it is not a threat to the airplane? If a crime is observed it should be reported. I understand why people don't like being searched but no one says you need to bring illegal items with you on the plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And just to be clear, everyone: TSA has never, ever, ever found a single threatening item with its strip-search scanners. All they've ever done is find things that are harmless. But Bob doesn't want to talk about that, the same way he doesn't want to admit that no other country shares TSA's shoe fetish.

Submitted by JustSayin on

Anonymous said...
And just to be clear, everyone: TSA has never, ever, ever found a single threatening item with its strip-search scanners. All they've ever done is find things that are harmless. But Bob doesn't want to talk about that, the same way he doesn't want to admit that no other country shares TSA's shoe fetish.

August 30, 2011 12:22 PM



Finally, the voice of reason............

:)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wake-up America! This incident was clearly a foiled trial run of the terrorist's next plot. The TSA must quickly develop and deploy anti-reptile protocols to ensure that al-Qaeda cannot undermine our airways by putting snakes on a plane. We must remain vigilant against the threat of extremist reptiles.

Let us never forget the tragic events of Pacific Air 121!

Submitted by Anonymous on

"All, animals, insects, coming in to the United States must be claimed. Other countries have insects that if turned loose here in America, would devastate wheat crops vegetable crops etc. etc.and don't think that these other countries would not love to see American crops ruined. Just another way to attack the American people."

TSA isn't customs. This wasn't a border crossing.

"TSA has found people with child pornography in their luggage. Should we allow these people to go free as well seeing as it is not a threat to the airplane?"

So they're going through people's reading material looking for what? What made them believe they were dangerous that led to the discovery? This doesn't bother you?

A slippery slope. The road to a Police State is paved with good intentions.

They are NOT law enforcement.

Submitted by JustSayin on

Anonymous said...
Wake-up America! This incident was clearly a foiled trial run of the terrorist's next plot. The TSA must quickly develop and deploy anti-reptile protocols to ensure that al-Qaeda cannot undermine our airways by putting snakes on a plane. We must remain vigilant against the threat of extremist reptiles.

Let us never forget the tragic events of Pacific Air 121!

August 30, 2011 1:10 PM


Very funny! Do you do jokewriting? You should be writing for Leno or Letterman. They would use this.

Submitted by Anonymous on

ALL OF US WOULD BE ALOT SAFER IF THE TSA WERE ALL OVER THE GREAT US OF A, NOT JUST IN TEH AIR PORTS.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let's say those animals actually made it onto the plane before being discovered. In that case, Bob's blog would say just as he did in his July 1st posting: "Our approach is designed so we don’t depend on any single layer of security. Together, the 21 different layers provide a strong, formidable system that gives us the best chance to detect and prevent attacks before they occur."

At no time was the flight in danger and THE SYSTEM WORKED!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wow. The TSA is really getting desperate for pornoscanner "success" stories. The public might be starting to wise up at last.

Submitted by Anonymous on

JustSayin said:
"To all the negative naysayers who truly believe the body scanners are there for reasons other than spotting prohibited items...."

And how exactly were these "prohibited" items with reference to the TSA's mission of security? Any evidence pursuant to a TSA search is almost certainly going to be excluded.

Nice try though.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said:
"Threats concealed under a person’s clothes remain a concern and this discovery, threat or no threat, once again demonstrates the effectiveness of TSA’s security techniques."

Except that your testers routinely slip through the scanners, don't they? If someone is dumb enough to conceal animals in socks, you're probably in luck.

Sadly, the threat is much more sophisticated than the TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am SOOO glad we are funneling BILLIONS of dollars into the TSA so people don't bring BIRDS on a plane!

How is it that TSA agents have no problems finding birds, snakes, science projects and the like but just can't seem to catch the Glock or stun gun that someone is carrying???

Submitted by JustSayin on

Anonymous said...
JustSayin said:
"To all the negative naysayers who truly believe the body scanners are there for reasons other than spotting prohibited items...."

And how exactly were these "prohibited" items with reference to the TSA's mission of security? Any evidence pursuant to a TSA search is almost certainly going to be excluded.

Nice try though.

August 30, 2011 8:39 PM



Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and TSA's introduction of body scanners: 0

You're so welcome.

:)

Submitted by JustSayin on

Anonymous said...
Blogger Bob said:
"Threats concealed under a person’s clothes remain a concern and this discovery, threat or no threat, once again demonstrates the effectiveness of TSA’s security techniques."

Except that your testers routinely slip through the scanners, don't they? If someone is dumb enough to conceal animals in socks, you're probably in luck.

Sadly, the threat is much more sophisticated than the TSA.

August 30, 2011 8:41 PM




I don't blame you for being so fixated on the TSA...they're an outstanding organizition that's kept America since 9/11.

Submitted by Anonymous on

JustSayin said:
"Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and TSA's introduction of body scanners: 0

You're so welcome."

There have been several terrorist attacks since 9/11/01. Why would you suggest otherwise?

And why do you feel so inclined to mock your fellow citizens?

Your job is safe at least until 2013. Shouldn't you be thanking us for paying your salary?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Still sticking to the body scanner claims? 9/11 commission update begs to differ -

"We are not satisfied with improvements to TSA’s explosives
screening capability. With significant federal funding,
TSA has deployed large numbers of enhanced screening equipment used at passenger checkpoints and baggage check screening. Unfortunately, explosives detection
technology lacks reliability and lags in its capability to
automatically identify concealed weapons and explosives."

"The next generation of whole body scanning machines also
are not effective at detecting explosives hidden within the
body and raise privacy and health concerns that DHS has
not fully addressed. Our conclusion is that despite 10 years
of working on the problem, the aviation screening system
still falls short in critical ways with respect to detection."

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and TSA's introduction of body scanners: 0"

Grand total of terrorist attacks between 9/11 and the introduction of the mandatory shoe carnival and liquids nonsense in 2006: 0

Grand total of terrorist attacks between 2006 and introduction of strip-search scanners: 0.

Grand total of terrorist attacks since introduction of strip-search scanners: 0.

Grand total of dangerous items detected by strip-search scanners: 0.

Grand total of non-US countries with a TSA-style shoe carnival: 0.

Grand total of independent research studies supporting TSA's liquids hysteria: 0.

Grand total of terrorists stopped by TSA: 0.

Gee, maybe terrorism is incredibly rare, and TSA is just wasting everyone's time and money with its ever-more-invasive gropings and probings to prevent something that happens incredibly rarely in the first place.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am not a fan of TSA for a variety of reasons but I would also be upset if they found issues like this and did not call a real LEO.

I suspect that there will be an interesting dance when some of these go to court and some smart attorney questions the validity of the search.

To "Just Saying" who is claiming that the TSA is responsible for the lack or terrorist acts in the US, perhaps you should read the 9/11 Panel Report Card. The FBI and CIA have received Kudos and rightfully so for thwarting many potential attacks, killing known terrorists, and taking the battle to the terrorist. Shame on you for trying to take credit for the actions of these courageous and largely unsung heroes.

The other interesting thing to note about this is that the commission recommended Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has been dormant for 3 years despite the fact that serious issues have been raised and not dealt with concerning these issues.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Just Sayin' writes: Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and TSA's introduction of body scanners: 0

Grand total of terrorist attacks since Slobodan Milosevic was put on trial for war crimes: 0.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

Submitted by Anonymous on
JustSayin said... on August 31, 2011 11:58 AM

Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and TSA's introduction of body scanners: 0

You're so welcome.

:)


Again, as has been stated previously, correlation is not proof of causation.

I can just as easily say terrorist attacks stopped after the NFL added the Houston Texan's team in 2002 -- Or perhaps even that since the Knicks stopped winning playoff games (last one they one was in 2001), there haven't been any terrorist attacks either. Afterall, maybe that was the goal of the terrorist and since they got what they wanted, no more attacks, right?

Besides, you might want to put a few more qualifiers on that... unfortunately, there have been many terrorist attacks since 9/11 and even the more recent introduction of the body scanners.
Submitted by Anonymous on

"Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and TSA's introduction of body scanners: 0

You're so welcome.

:)"

I know, if there are no terrorist attacks, (well successfull terrorist attacks, on US flights, from US airports) then the TSA is worth the funding and we should not complain about having our genetalia touched by random strangers.

However, if a terrorist attack succeeds then it is obviously because the TSA is underfunded and the TSO's were distracted by the citizens who protest the touching of their genetalia by strangers. So the obvious solution is to give the TSA more funding and make it illeagle to resist in any way to the arbitrary and undocumented requests of TSO's.

Not Scared of Terrorists

Submitted by Kat on

In the period from 1970-1975, I flew to and from college a number of times. With me traveled my two red ear turtles. I had aquariums at school and at home for them, but they traveled in a cleaned margarine tub with about a half cup of water. I would comes up to the security post and open the tub (holes punched in the top to allow air) for inspection, the inspectors would usually laugh. After I went through the metal detector, I'd reclaim my turtles, and go on to board my plane.

When they grew too large to be kept in a home aquarium, they went to live at the Louisiana exhibit of the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. They remembered the taps I used to make on their tank and would swim up to me whenever I visited the zoo. I didn't see them the last couple of times before Hurricane Katrina, so, since red ears live to be about 30 years, I expect they'd passed on. It was a good life, I think.

Unfortunately, in the post 3.4-1-1 era, their half cup of water would probably mean I would be required to discard my pets in order to fly. That's sad.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Quoted:
" Jim Huggins said...
MRFLIGHT: yes, I understand *how* the current procedure works. I'm just not convinced that it *ought* to do so.

When I come through a checkpoint with a young child, is it TSA's job to determine whether or not I am the child's legal guardian? "
------------------------
Well, I'll bet if it was your child that was kidnapped you'd be saying something different now.

Submitted by JustSayin on

Two things...

1.) I'm not going away.

2.) Neither is the TSA!



Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and the formation of the TSA: 0

Submitted by Mike Toreno on

The point is that Bob's claim that catching some turtles demonstrates the effectiveness of the screening clerks is false. The TSA is supposed to contribute to flight safety. The turtles weren't a threat to flight safety, so catching them vindicates nothing. It's like when the TSA points to their success in stopping water from coming through the checkpoint as proof of their effectiveness. Water doesn't threaten flight safety, so stopping it doesn't provide any benefit.

The September 11 attacks were carried out in order to cause a reaction that would harm America, and the TSA is part of that reaction. It's a carnival of otherwise unemployable people directing their efforts toward making people take off their shoes and preventing the passage of harmless items like water. It does nothing to improve flight safety.

If Osama bin Laden were in charge of the TSA, it wouldn't be run any differently than the way it's run now.

If Osama bin Laden were in charge of the TSA, he wouldn't run it any differently than it's being run now.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

JustSayin writes: Two things...
1.) I'm not going away.
2.) Neither is the TSA!

And neither are we.

Grand total of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and the formation of the TSA: 0

Grand total of terrorist attacks since Spain began using euro notes and coins rather than pesos: 0.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

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