TSA's new Instagram shows all the dangerous items that presented no danger


The TSA has launched an Instagram account, showing all the "dangerous items" they steal confiscate from air travellers. The message is clear: we are keeping you safe from in-flight danger. But what they don't show is all the grand-jury indictments for conspiracy to commit air terrorism that they secured after catching people with these items… READ THE REST


What's absurd is thinking that a terrorist would submit to a search willingly. If your intent is to do harm, how is the TSA screen actually stopping you? How would they screeners address an actual threat? It's not as if they are trained to handle an actual confrontation.


My eyes went wide when I saw the grenade.

link because apparently I'm not allowed to post pictures

From the TSA blog:

Inert Ordnance and Grenades etc. - We continue to find inert hand grenades and other weaponry on a weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if an item looks like a realistic bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited - real or not. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays in checkpoint screening. I know they are cool novelty items, but you cannot bring them on a plane. Read here and here on why inert items cause problems.

I totally get why you can't carry these on airplanes but it goes back to your initial point. "Does this actually make us safer". Probably not.


Level 1 argument: The TSA confiscates a lot of weapons, so they're keeping us safe.
Level 2 argument: The weapons they confiscate aren't going to be used for bad things, so the TSA doesn't keep us safe.
Level 3 argument: The weapons that the TSA confiscates are a red herring. The weapons that bad people WOULD have brought on board, if there were no TSA, are actual benefits of having a TSA.

Really, I'm just calling out your strawman/exaggeration:

I said that as a frequent flier, I was very interested in safe airplanes, but that I didn't think the TSA contributed to that. He disagreed and cited all the stuff he confiscated, but admitted, when I asked him, that he didn't think that anyone actually planned to do anything bad to airplanes with the stuff he took away, nor did he think they'd do something unplanned and dangerous to the airplane with it.

I think you're both wrong - the TSA does improve safety, but not for the reason that this guy says. But really I'm assuming you're just exaggerating here, because it's hard to imagine anyone could believe that x-rays and metal detectors don't make flying safer. http://boingboing.net/2013/05/03/when-all-the-cool-kids-were-hi.html

If you said "the TSA pornoscanners" instead of "the TSA" then I'd agree - but then that has nothing to do with a confiscated gun.


Right, and wouldn't long security lines be a better target anyway?


I don't care for the cramped tedium of flying so my solution to air terrorism would be to put all passengers into some form a of brief cryostasis for the journey. Imagine the convenience of taking a nap in LA and waking up seemingly moments later in London. I think there's a successful business model in there somewhere.


Security theater.

It is a pity that members of the TSA can't claim acting credits.


what an adorable Elsie Pea...


That's the Fifth Element style of airliner travel. There is a definite appeal to it, especially as someone who never manages to get any sleep on airplanes.

I have long fantasized about an airline where half of the seating was instead stacked bunks like in the Fifth Element. If you wanted to work during the flight you book a regular seat. If you want to sleep you book a bunk. I'm sure the FAA regulations make this an impossible dream (the seatbelt requirements alone would be a problem), but I do think it would make air travel much more pleasant.


I take it the absence of any knitting needles or crochet hooks is a tacit admission that those tools of crafting are not dangerous?


Tom Wolfe was quoting Judge Wachtler, and not the other way around.



Oh my word. Someone needs to have a sit down with them about how to use hashtags.


instacool hashtag on a photo of a knife in the shape of a gun.....this is some next level ridiculous-ness. what genius gave the green light to this project.


What's funny is that can be applied to many government programs.


I don't think Cory is making a real case against a minimal TSA presence. For example, not many people would argue against a basic metal detector to weed out the occasional gun or knife (though many studies have shown those don't get caught that often anyway.)
It is the post 9/11 security theater that is the issue, a lot of hand waving for what is at best a waste of time/money and invasion of personal space and at worst a distraction from real threats.
The simple step of locking the cockpit door is probably the most effective thing we could have ever done in response to 9/11. But even that is solving yesterday's problem.


Maybe this is against Instagram Terms of Service, people should let them know?


I'm a bit confused about the reasoning here.

It took me a while to puzzle out that it's the TSA's imagined message here that the author is objecting to -- but his reading of the message is so fundamentally hostile that it's hard to figure out what the problem is unless you automatically fault the TSA for everything they do.

The TSA is much derided, and showing that they accomplish something meaningful is important to their legitimacy. Keeping people from bringing guns and concealed weapons on planes is important -- even when it's a nice white person who a TSA agent would never suspect of hijacking a plane.

So, the TSA shows you that indeed, they are getting something important done -- that is not strictly theater. Cory faults them for that.

Then faulting them for not prosecuting people who they believe just made a dumb mistake? That seems unbelievable disingenuous. They are BEING KIND to people who messed up.

The TSA agent you quote is probably just spouting a catch phrase, but it's very true here. He or she is just a grunt, and he should not be making the determination about people's intent. The TSA presumably has people that specialize in that sort of thing, presumably above his paygrade.

I am not sure about the benefits of the program, but is seems like Cory decided that everything that the TSA does that's not in line with his demands is rotten -- like a recent ex.


No, the point is that if someone brings a gun on a plane with an intent to harm, he or she would probably use it at the TSA checkpoint and not just let himself be frisked. The point is that someone submitting to having their dangerous looking possessions taken away from them kinda indicates that that person is NOT, in fact, a real threat.

If you really were intent on hijacking a plane, probably you would plan in advance to take on something that would not get screened out - say, a toothbrush that you would have whittled into a shiv and then placed a cap on so that it went through screening like any other toothbrush. Or, say, back in the day before all this bogus crap security theater, I don't know, a box cutter?

If someone is really planning to take down a plane, they probably plan it out in advance to get through the screening and aren't all like, "Oh, guns aren't allowed on planes? I FORGOT."

I do not for one second feel safer with all this hoo ha. Travel has become a total pain in the ass and not one bit safer than it was before 9/11 - and actually, it was pretty safe then. I'm sorry 9/11 happened and it's good to assess what happened and try to prevent it from happening again, but screening is not a good answer.


Help me understand whether I should be facepalming...

Are you seriously suggesting that guns should just be allowed on the plane, because terrorists are too clever to take guns on planes?

If not, then you are misreading me (I'd suggest it might be because of blanket assumptions about the TSA and anyone who defends it). All guns need to be taken away, even if the holder seems like a solid dude. You can't take guns away exclusively from terrorists any more than you can wear a helmet only when you're going to crash.

Again, criticizing the photo stream only makes sense if you start from the presumption that the TSA are a bunch of jerks.

The public asks if they do anything meaningful. They show that they confiscate real weapons, some of them disguised to demonstrate that they are capable of doing so and frequently do. The TSA critic consequently finds a technicality that makes this totally rational behavior into more evidence of TSA's evil.

The assumption that a terrorist would immediately open fire at a terminal if he or she thought he or she would be caught seems informed by Hollywood caricatures. If there is a good avenue for sneaking weapons on a plane, a smart terrorist will consider it -- especially if failure is risk free, as the apparent lack of indictments shows.


What's a "dangerous item"? Remember that scene in Bourne where he goes after the guy with a ballpoint pen? Ya ... that's enough for someone trained. Pointed or heavy. Canes. Umbrellas. Broken-off armbones. Trained killers make do, no box cutters needed.