The TSA is great at trumpeting anything close to what it considers to be a success but nowehre on its top 10 list is a terrorist. They didn’t catch any.
Schneier points out that the firearms and knives brought to the checkpoint by forgetful passengers would have been caught by the very same screening procedures that existed pre-9/11, the TSA offers no value add there.
And that the number one good catch, small chunks of C4 explosives in a passenger’s checked bag, was found on the return flight meaning that the TSA didn’t even find it on the outbound.
This Salon piece reminds us of some of the silly confiscations of 2011:
TSA confiscates a butter knife from an airline pilot. TSA confiscates a teenage girl’s purse with an embroidered handgun design. TSA confiscates a 4-inch plastic rifle from a GI Joe action doll on the grounds that it’s a “replica weapon.” TSA confiscates a liquid-filled baby rattle from airline pilot’s infant daughter. TSA confiscates a plastic “Star Wars” lightsaber from a toddler.
All of these things really happened. There’s no real need to arrange them in order of ridiculousness, but it’s that last one, with the lightsaber, that really makes you wonder if we haven’t lost our minds. (I mentioned this incident in a column last month, but it deserves another reckoning.) In earthly terms a lightsaber is a toy flashlight covered by a rounded plastic cone. As a “weapon,” though, it is something that exists only in fantasy. The product neither looks like a real weapon nor does it contains part that, by themselves, are TSA contraband. It is an imaginary weapon hazardous only to a race of imaginary space-people invented by George Lucas.
Thus, confiscating a lightsaber is a little like confiscating a genie bottle or a magic wand.
Although a Twitter account that claims to link with Newt Gingrich’s brain to share his policy ideas seeks to pursue the light saber idea as a national security strategy, so perhaps the TSA was working jointly with the military, seizing a prototype. The truth is out there…