Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fluid Enforcement of Airport Security

This morning I flew out to Phoenix for a meeting just a couple of hours after Britain foiled the terrorist plot to destroy several airliners with liquid explosives, and the TSA implemented its new ban on bringing liquids on board US flights.

Now I'm back in Phoenix Airport awaiting my flight home, with time to worry about terrorists. While I wouldn't expect Al Qaeda cells to attack on a day when security is at level Red, I am not generally comforted by the TSA's implementation...

-- The passenger in front of me was allowed to board with a bottle of alleged cough syrup because she had a prescription with her.

-- I was joined in Phoenix by my colleague Brian Neider who was allowed to bring his contact lens fluid on board because he "REALLY needed it."

-- a passenger on Brian's flight smuggled liquid onto the plane in his pocket, undetected by the metal detectors and out of sight of the X-ray.

I hope the terrorists never think of putting explosives in their prescription bottles, or pocketing the bombs, or insisting that they REALLY need their bombs. (I might feel a little better if passengers had to somehow ingest their fluid before allowing it on board, but only if the explosive liquid was sure to kill them before they were airborne.)

OK, attendant is making me shut off my phone...


  1. Anonymous12:17 AM

    Hey David, give those TSA guys a break man! They have a hard enough job as it is...

    Posted from the free country of the Netherlands, where airport security is friendly, and you don't have to take your shoes off before you get into a plane

  2. Arun,

    Good point. I should point out that despite the chaos in the airports today, the TSA processed the mobs with surprising efficiency.

    My point was that the policies are flawed. I asked one TSA officer about some of the security holes, and he said, "Look, we just have to do what the President tells us to." (sigh)

  3. Give the cost of perscription drugs (and the lack of the government doing anything about it) I wouldn't give up my bottle either. And I take it you don't wear contacts, or at least have eye sight bad enough were the changes of pressure on a plane turn your eye lids into sand papaer.

    So what's next? If a terrorist plot involves an electronic device, all laptops, pds, and cell phones are banned from an airport? If someone hides something in their pocket should we board nude? it might be easier too if we tattoo everyone with barcodes on the back of their necks, for easy IDs when we board.

    Instead of hiring minium wage workers and giving out crazy guidelines that only react to what has already happened (all those years we had bottled water on planes!) we could get serious and add more US Marshals trained in airport/airplace security on every flight. Then again, you can't expect much when DHS thinks Indiana is the number one terrorist target.

  4. Anonymous5:13 AM

    At Heathrow (and other uk airpots i guess) only baby milk is allowed on board and even then the parent has to drink some of it in front of the security staff to take it on. At the moment we can take nothing other than a wallet and travel documents on board... (explosive passport anyone?) flying long haul without even a book or newspaper doesn't appeal.

    It's nuts as these measures have forced massive cancellations particularly on domestic flights, it cannot possibly be maintained so any terrorists will just wait a while for things to lapse.

  5. Anonymous12:02 PM

    The Bush administration has spent about $318.5 billion total to-date for the war in Iraq. For a simple case alternative, the US could have doubled spending on the TSA (2006 budget: $5.3 billion) for the next 60+ years.