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Wrapped Presents Are OK, But We Might Have To Open Them For Anomalies Or Alarms

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Monday, November 14, 2011
Wrapped Presents

Photo Courtesy of MB

It's not even Thanksgiving yet and as I jumped into the blogosphere this morning, it was all abuzz with posts and tweets about TSA targeting wrapped presents at checkpoints. Names such as "Grinch" and "Scrooge" were being thrown about with reckless abandon. I even saw a reference to the infamous "Heat Miser." Let me assure you, we are not Mr. Green Christmas and we're not Mr. Sun...

Since TSA's inception, we've worked to educate passengers about traveling with wrapped presents. This is nothing new. Wrapped gifts are screened just like any other item. We can see through the paper just like we can see through luggage, but just as we have to open a bag when it requires a search due to an anomaly or an alarm, we have to open wrapped items as well if they alarm or require additional screening.

We want your gift to arrive wrapped just as much as you do. Just know the possibility is there that if the item alarms, we might have to open it to resolve the alarm. We don't enjoy unwrapping presents that aren't for us, but if an anomaly is detected inside, we'll have to unwrap it in order to determine what it is so we can clear it for travel.

This tweet stuck out earlier. It's about a person who had to have their present unwrapped. It was a box of knives!

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Tony on

It is hard to even comment on your postings. The net of every policy discussion is that the traveling public must continue to endure the abuses of the day that you think of.

Submitted by Nadav on

You can't really educate passengers. Those who fly frequently are used to your policies, and others will keep coming with wrapped knives.

Claiming to educate passengers seems pretty weird, especially when the target audience is several hundred million people.

Nadav

Submitted by RB on

And most of us thought the Grinch was just a fairytale.

Seems TSA has no boundaries.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Oh no, someone wanted to mail someone else a box of kitchen implements. Clearly this sort of thing requires intervention by the Federal Government.

Even in Nazi Germany people could mail knives to each other without the government opening their presents in transit.

See something, say something, huh? I see a government suspicious of its own citizens holiday gifts on one hand, and handing out weapons to drug cartels with the other. If DHS wants to protect us they should investigate the BATFE.

Submitted by Anonymous on

'Heat Miser', you say?

"We missed your razor blades,
We missed your gun.
For every weapon we find,
we missed 100 and 1..."

Submitted by Anonymous on

Presents? Who in their right mind does not use the USPS, UPS, FedEx or DHL these days to ship things when they fly? My toolboxes, electronics, and critical possessions go by next day air every time I fly, straight my work-site or my hotel. Nobody, and I mean nobody, in the TSA needs to fat-finger damage or five-finger discount my test equipment, prototypes or training film collection.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Don't see how unwrapping presents is "injustice" and "evil". The TSA has for quite a while said DON'T WRAP YOUR GIFTS. Travelers who choose to not listen to this request should expect a search even more.

I like to fly in comfortable loose fitting clothes. That makes me a target for a pat down. Yes it sucks but I expect it. Flying isn't a right it's a privilege.

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

Don't worry about the critics. Just do the job, and, if they want not to go through security, they want not to fly. It's THAT simple.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You just keep on unwrapping any and all presents as you would bags, TSA. I cannot believe half of these posts complaining about the incredible amount of things people have the nerve to try and bring on a flight and then act surprised. I sure hope you are joking when you think they, their grandchildren, or didn't know what they purchased at an antique store. If you believe any of them, you must gone to high school in the 40s or 50s. Continue to do your utmost to keep our nation safe from where you stand or sit. It's a shame people need a real life action movie event to think we need more security. Just continue to think of all you may not be finding that we need you to!

Submitted by Joann on

I disagree! If we can all appriciate and fully understand the full scope of the security that is being provided we would understand why they do the things they do. The one day that something is not caught because they slacken up then they will be to blame. We cant have double standards. You want to be safe but dont want them to do their jobs!

Submitted by Anonymous on

The best advice the TSA can give holiday travelers is to stay at home and avoid an interaction with your organization all together. Does the TSA need to be reminded of the numerous unseemly incidents involving the TSA workforce throughout 2011? Why would anyone trust you with their holiday gifts, much less their person?

Submitted by Andy on

It hink a better title for this post would be, "Wrapped Presents Are OK, Or They're Not, We'll Let You Know."

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob [not the blogger] said...
Don't worry about the critics. Just do the job,

There wouldn't be nearly so much criticism of the TSA if they actually did their (suppossed) job.

But, as has been pointed out innumerable times, their methods are ineffectual, bothersome, and violate Constitutional Rights. Worse yet, they simply don't work. Time after time, after time, the TSA fails tests, letting through up to 70% of the weapons/bombs it was looking for.

Forget tests- Time after time after time, we hear about ordinary citizens getting through the TSA "security", only to discover they had [insert prohibited item here- guns, knives, box cutters, 3.5 ounce shampoo bottles, etc].

Time after time after time, we hear about citizens humiliated by having their -ostomy bags poked and prodded in public, or being handed pliers and told to remove piercings, or being told to drink their own breast milk.

If the TSA cut that... stuff... out, they'd still be violating our Rights, but (sadly, imo) almost no one would have a problem with it.

and, if they want not to go through security, they want not to fly. It's THAT simple.

No- we WANT to fly. We just don't want to be questioned like a criminal, poked, prodded, irradiated, and have our water bottle stolen from us before getting on the plane.

To avoid all that, we choose not to fly.

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

If the screener can, with technology, see through the package, another screener won't have-ta open it up.

If the screener cannot, even with technology, see through the package, another screener will have-ta do it the ol' fashioned way -- that is, open it up.

What's the best way to proceed? Don't wrap the packages; or you can send them ahead on Greyhound. Do what's most convenient for you; but, remember, TSA will do its job until somebody with juice tells TSA not to do their job. Then, we'll see what happens.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
"Flying isn't a right it's a privilege."

Wrong - show me where the constitution says that.

You are allowed to do anything that isn't illegal. There are no laws against flying on an airplane. It's as much a right as walking down the street.

Don't give away your rights - you might never get them back,

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I disagree! If we can all appriciate and fully understand the full scope of the security that is being provided we would understand why they do the things they do."

They should tell Congress. Rep Mica and others just released a report describing the TSA as "bloated and inefficient." The calls for more privitization and a large reduction in staff could not have come sooner.

"The one day that something is not caught because they slacken up then they will be to blame."

Statistically, the TSA misses 70% of "prohibited" items so clearly you're wrong.

And, once again, the one to blame will be the one breaking the law. The anticonstitutional activities of the TSA will, in that case, be proven ineffective but we already know that, don't we?

"We cant have double standards. You want to be safe but dont want them to do their jobs!"

Well "standards" of any case would be nice. Your comment also assumes that the TSA makes us safer but it does not.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Flying isn't a right it's a privilege."

Utterly, totally, completely false. Air travel is a right. Do you believe air travel could be denied on the basis of race or religion? If it's a privilege, it could be denied.

If you want this silly comment to be taken seriously, please cite the repeal of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and appropriate common carrier law.

Does the TSA put this out among its work force? Sounds like a good subject for a FOIA.

This blog should stop doing the nonsensical jokes and address this very real question.

Bob - Is air travel a privilege in the eyes of the TSA?

(And, yes, I realize this will not be answered)

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

Of course, flying is a priviledge. No one has a Right to "hijack" a private airliner.

There is no Fourth Amendment issue where there is consent to a search. Passengers entering the secure area, warned by signage all over the airport, expect to be searched. They imply consent by their conduct.

Submitted by Anonymous on

They should tell Congress. Rep Mica and others just released a report describing the TSA as "bloated and inefficient." The calls for more privitization and a large reduction in staff could not have come sooner.

-----------------------------------
The reason Mica and his buddies call for privatization is because they receive huge campaign contributions from the same private companies that want to charge the federal government huge amounts of money for the priveledge of having the contract to provide security at the airports.
No thanks, I remember what security was like before TSA. Remember when you had the minimun wage worker who spoke no english, didn't have to be a US citizen, and didnt have any skills at all for doing the job. I know because I used to work for one of those companies. The training was a joke because there was none. You were hired and the next day you were on the floor screening passengers without so much as a single class to teach you anything. I'll take the federal employee that gets extensive training before even working with passengers any day.

Submitted by Anonymous on

[[Of course, flying is a priviledge. No one has a Right to "hijack" a private airliner.]]

This is, of course, facile. And you, of course, know it. Flying and hijacking are two different things, and one does not imply the other.

You may as well say that gun ownership is a privilege, not a right, because no one has the 'right' to commit robbery.


[[There is no Fourth Amendment issue where there is consent to a search]]

There is no consent where there is no choice. You know this as well.


[[They imply consent by their conduct.]]

You find "implied consent" in the Constitution and then you'll have a basis for your position; until then it is a facile rationalization.

rwilymz
http://dblyelloline.blogspot.com/

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob [not the blogger] said...
"Of course, flying is a priviledge. No one has a Right to "hijack" a private airliner.
There is no Fourth Amendment issue where there is consent to a search. Passengers entering the secure area, warned by signage all over the airport, expect to be searched. They imply consent by their conduct."

How can you equate flying on a plane with hijacking? That doesn't even make sense.

Putting up signs doesn't change the law. I can't just put up a sign and then do whatever I want.

Submitted by RB on

Bob [not the blogger] said...
Of course, flying is a priviledge. No one has a Right to "hijack" a private airliner.

There is no Fourth Amendment issue where there is consent to a search. Passengers entering the secure area, warned by signage all over the airport, expect to be searched. They imply consent by their conduct.

November 17, 2011 12:36 PM

.................
Travel is certainly a right and the means was not defined making travel by air a right also. If any limitation is present it is in the contract between the person wanting to travel and the person/persons providing the travel, and certainly federal government has no say in this unless a warrant can be produced to arrest a person.

Consent for a search limited expressly to finding WEI and nothing more.

Not an electronic strip search, not a sexual assault pat down search, and definitely not what TSA is doing today.

Submitted by TSORon on

Anonymous said…
[["Flying isn't a right it's a privilege."

Wrong - show me where the constitution says that.]]
Please show us where in the constitution, or even in US law, where it says that it is?

Another Anonymous said...
[["Flying isn't a right it's a privilege."

Utterly, totally, completely false. Air travel is a right.]]

Really? Where is that written? Please, show us where in either the constitution or US law where it says that?

Another Anonymous poster (aka rwilymz) said…
[[There is no consent where there is no choice. You know this as well.]]

Walking away is a choice. Never booking the flight is a choice. Taking the train, a boat, or a pogo stick is a choice. Presenting oneself and your property for screening of your own free will is also a choice.
Another anonymous poster quipped…
[[Putting up signs doesn't change the law.]]

Your right, it doesn’t. But it does give you the ability to make the decision to comply or walk away knowing that should you comply that there is a search involved. Hence the “implied consent”, and indeed “informed consent”.

RB said…
[[Travel is certainly a right and the means was not defined making travel by air a right also. If any limitation is present it is in the contract between the person wanting to travel and the person/persons providing the travel, and certainly federal government has no say in this unless a warrant can be produced to arrest a person.]]

Travel is indeed a right. Travel includes but is not limited to: Aircraft (private charter, private aircraft, personal aircraft, balloons, hang gliders, and of course flapping your arms). And the government has a “say” in most of those activities, such as the FAA, licensing, flight plan approval, location, and of course safety of the vehicle used. I kinda figure that the flapping of arms won’t pass the test.

RB also said…
[[Consent for a search limited expressly to finding WEI and nothing more.

Not an electronic strip search, not a sexual assault pat down search, and definitely not what TSA is doing today.]]

WEI can be hidden anywhere on the body. Can be made to look like just about anything else. The only limit is the creativeness of the individual constructing the devices. A toilet seat would not normally be considered a dangerous object, but one made of C4 certainly would be.
We all read stories about smugglers and some of the tactics they use to get their “product” to market, these same methods can be used to smuggle weapons, explosives, and incendiary devices through the checkpoint. Ignoring the obvious is silly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSORon said...
Walking away is a choice. Never booking the flight is a choice. Taking the train, a boat, or a pogo stick is a choice. Presenting oneself and your property for screening of your own free will is also a choice.

Firstly, many people need to travel for their jobs. Such travel needs to happen in a timely manner- no trains, boats or pogo sticks. Are you seriously saying that they should quit their job in this economy in order to avoid begin irradiated or felt up by the TSA?

"Gee, if you don't wanna be stabbed by the mugger, just hand over your wallet. You have the choice."

Second, many people AREN'T "presenting" themselves. Gee, I wonder why airlines need to charge all these extra fees?

"A June 2008 study by the U.S. Travel Association revealed a deep frustration among air travelers that caused them to avoid an estimated 41 million trips over the past 12 months at a cost of more than $26 billion to the U.S. economy. Air travelers expressed little optimism for positive change, with nearly 50 percent saying that the air travel system is not likely to improve in the near future. The effect of avoided trips cost airlines more than $9 billion in revenue; hotels nearly $6 billion and restaurants more than $3 billion. Federal, state and local governments lost more than $4 billion in tax revenue because of reduced spending by travelers. (Source: Air Travel Survey, 2008)"

Thanks, TSA for helping destroy the Economy.

We all read stories about smugglers and some of the tactics they use to get their “product” to market, these same methods can be used to smuggle weapons, explosives, and incendiary devices through the checkpoint.

And the TSA won't catch them.

And THAT is why the TSA is useless and should be shut down. (Heck, the TSA misses up to 70% of weapons in it's own tests! Imagine the miss rate when the person has a real weapon, and really doesn't want to be caught!)

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

Travel is a Right when you use your own vehicle.

If you expect to travel by way of somebody else's vehicle, it is not a Right.

Airlines are private companies. They own, or lease, their aircraft. You pay to fly with them.

Air safety is the job of the State. If you wanna fly, you go through the procedures the State has set up to make flying as secure as possible with the least amount of inconvenience.

If you wanna fly, you go through security. If you want not to go through security, you don't fly. Passengers don't make the rules; they don't know enough to make the rules.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSORon said:
Please show us where in the constitution, or even in US law, where it says that it is?

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, as amended. Also, common carrier law.

It's appalling that a TSO doesn't know this.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"The reason Mica and his buddies call for privatization is because they receive huge campaign contributions from the same private companies that want to charge the federal government huge amounts of money for the priveledge of having the contract to provide security at the airports. "


This one comes up from time to time and is always debunked. There is no "priviledged" group out there bankrolling Mica.

Try again.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSORon said...
[[ Utterly, totally, completely false. Air travel is a right.]]
Really? Where is that written? Please, show us where in either the constitution or US law where it says that?

Anything not explicitly forbidden by law is allowed. No sane person expects the law to list every possible allowed activity.

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

OK. Let's say that travel is a "Right."

Even if it is, that Right doesn't let you "hijack" private property -- that is, the modes of travel that belong to somebody else who has nothing to say about it.

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

The signage around the airport alerts you to the fact that you are subject to search while on airport property. So, if you continue, you accept that.

There is no Fourth Amendment issue where you even imply your consent by your continuing into a secure area. It's not necessary to give verbal consent, nor sign an agreement. You conduct is enough.

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

>>Consent for a search limited expressly to finding WEI and nothing more.<<

Who says they're looking for more than that?

You let the POlice in your house. They are looking for a suspect. They spot heroin on your coffee table, in open view. You're in trouble. They weren't looking for more than the suspect, but they found something more. Do they ignore the heroin? Of course not.

Pre-TSA, before I was supervisor, I was on the x-ray, screening carry-ons. A big piece of luggage came into view. What was inside looked like folded sweaters uniformly packed, and a uniform space around the edges. I stopped the luggage and called the supervisor. The sup called police and the pax ran away. Was I wrong? No. [The POlice found drugs inside. The pax was a "mule." They found him later and arrested him. I was/am happy.]

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob [not the blogger] said...
OK. Let's say that travel is a "Right."
Even if it is, that Right doesn't let you "hijack" private property -- that is, the modes of travel that belong to somebody else who has nothing to say about it.

Strawman alert - no one has ever claimed that. There are lots of valid criticisms of the TSA on this blog - try addressing a real one.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob [not the blogger] said...
"Airlines are private companies. They own, or lease, their aircraft. You pay to fly with them."

Yes, the airplanes belong to the airlines. So why does the government get to tell the airlines who is allowed to go on those airplanes?

It should be the airlines decision who flies and who doesn't. They should set the level of security. If you don't like their decision, then take your business somewhere else. That's the way a free market is supposed to work.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The government gets to tell the airlines cuz the airlines are regulated by the State for the safety of all. It's the same system of regulation that tells us who can fly an airplane and who can drive a car and, for example, how fast they can do them.

The airspace is federally-regulated, and, so, the State gets to say who can be in it.

A free market also works this way: If you don't like the procedures, find another way to get to your destination.

Submitted by Bob [not The Bl... on

>>no one has ever claimed that [flying is a Right]. There are lots of valid criticisms of the TSA on this blog - try addressing a real one.<<

I have addressed what has been brought up.

Submitted by TSORon on

An Anonymous poster asked…
[[Yes, the airplanes belong to the airlines. So why does the government get to tell the airlines who is allowed to go on those airplanes?

It should be the airlines decision who flies and who doesn't. They should set the level of security. If you don't like their decision, then take your business somewhere else. That's the way a free market is supposed to work.]]

The Constitution of the United States says:
Article 1, Section 8. The Congress shall have power … To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; … To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Regarding Article 1 of the Constitution, I certainly hope TSORon isn't suggesting that the TSA falls under the Commerce Clause. You weren't seriously suggesting that, we're you Ron?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"The Constitution of the United States says:
Article 1, Section 8. The Congress shall have power … To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; … To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."

So your argument is that the TSA is the exercise of regulation accorded Congress regarding commerce among the States? I can't believe you mean this seriously. Were you, in fact, seriously making this point?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"A free market also works this way: If you don't like the procedures, find another way to get to your destination."

Markets do not define liberties. I suppose you'd say that if the "State" - a poor term to use since the Constitution does not refer to Federal authority by that term - takes away your right to publish a newspaper there's no harm since you could, for instance, publish a web page?

I'm sorry, it simply doesn't work that way.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"... who can drive a car and, for example, how fast they can do them."

You seem to be confused regarding the powers claimed by the Federal government and those reserved to the States. The Federal government does not set highway speed limits nor does it set driver eligibility standards.

The Fed does make some funding contingent on max speeds but that is a different (albeit abusive) exercise of Federal authority.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"A big piece of luggage came into view. What was inside looked like folded sweaters uniformly packed, and a uniform space around the edges. I stopped the luggage and called the supervisor. The sup called police and the pax ran away. Was I wrong? No."

A close call. Many judges would exclude the evidence you found since you had no reasonable suspicion that the anomaly was related to a threat to air travel. Had the passenger, in fact, not run away, the likelihood of exclusion approaches certainty.

The fact that you were "right" about the anomaly being drugs is immaterial; you have no powers to search for drugs.

Were you ever called to testify or were you deposed? If not, the passenger walked. You can still be happy that the contraband wasn't returned to him.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"The signage around the airport alerts you to the fact that you are subject to search while on airport property. So, if you continue, you accept that. "

Not so much, Bob, no.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"If you expect to travel by way of somebody else's vehicle, it is not a Right."

Really, Bob? So a hotel could deny a room to someone based on his race? It's a private company, after all, so it can do that right?

Well, Bob, not so much. Or at least not in the last 50+ years. Do some research on common carriers, public accommodations and common law.

Equally ridiculous is the claim that since the airlines are "private" - they are not, all are publically held - means that the Federal government can take away liberties using that as a basis. I own my home. Would you suggest that the Federal government can search my guests prior to entering my home? After all, my guests are entering a privately held property so, by your reasoning, they have no 4th Amendment rights, correct?

"Airlines are private companies. They own, or lease, their aircraft. You pay to fly with them."

Yes, I do. How does this allow Federal intrusion? Are you asserting that the Constitution allows Congress to modify private contracts? Warning, this is a trick question. Look at Art 1, Sect 10 prior to responding.

The law is a wonderful but complex thing. Do your research prior to posting and you won't be so easily embarrassed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Really? Where is that written? Please, show us where in either the constitution or US law where it says that?"

As I've blogged, the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and in the common law, ref common carrier and public accommodation.

I look forward to your response.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"There is no Fourth Amendment issue where you even imply your consent by your continuing into a secure area. It's not necessary to give verbal consent, nor sign an agreement. You conduct is enough."

Well, not really. Are you suggesting that if I can't read or can't read English, I've still consented? How about if I didn't see the signs? Do blind people consent to the warnings published on signs they are unable to see?

Let's follow your line of reasoning. If a passenger wears a shirt that says, "I do not consent to being searched," has that passenger then expressly rejected the (presumably voluntary) consent that you assert? Or do you think that the passive consent that you assert the pasenger has accepted is stronger than the passive rejection represented by the passenger's t-shirt?

I anxiously await your response.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Even if it is, that Right doesn't let you "hijack" private property -- that is, the modes of travel that belong to somebody else who has nothing to say about it."

Presumably, then, the Federal government would be equally excluded from having "anything to say about it," correct?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"OK. Let's say that travel is a "Right."

No, let's not say it. Let's acknowledge the case law and statute that define it as a right.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Air safety is the job of the State. If you wanna fly, you go through the procedures the State has set up to make flying as secure as possible with the least amount of inconvenience."

Another interesting assertion. Can you cite the appropriate Section, Amendment or Law? Does this power you claim for the Federal government include flights that originate and terminate in a single state? If so, why? Can you harmonize your assertion in the latter case with the 10th Amendment?

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSORon said...
The Constitution of the United States says:
Article 1, Section 8. The Congress shall have power … To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes

A flight entirely within a single state is required to have exactly the same security. Try again.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob [not the blogger] said...
>>no one has ever claimed that [flying is a Right]. There are lots of valid criticisms of the TSA on this blog - try addressing a real one.<<
I have addressed what has been brought up.

No, you seriously mis-quoted me.

You claimed that hi-jacking isn't a right. I pointed out that no one here ever claimed it was. Once again you avoid the real issues.

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