Why bother?

Now the Transporation Safety Administration suggests it might stop checking for razor blades, “small” knives, and explosive shoes.

The Transportation Security Administration will meet later this month to discuss the plan, which is designed to reduce checkpoint hassles for the nation’s 2 million passengers. It comes after TSA’s new head, Edmund S. “Kip” Hawley, called for a broad review in hopes of making airline screening more passenger-friendly.

An initial set of staff recommendations drafted Aug. 5 also proposes that passengers no longer have to routinely remove their shoes during security checks. Instead, only passengers who set off metal detectors, are flagged by a computer screening system or look “reasonably suspicious” would be asked to do so, a TSA official said Saturday.

Any of the changes proposed by the staff, which also would allow scissors, ice picks and bows and arrows on flights, would require Hawley’s approval, this official said, requesting anonymity because there has been no final decision.

No, the point is not to be passenger-friendly. The point is to be hijacker-hostile.

I thought bureacracies grew stupid over time. This one started stupid.

  • John Anderson

    If they stop looking for explosive Adidas®, can we carry matches again?

  • Why do I suspect that TSA will now incur the expense of a new set of guidelines to replace the ones advising passengers to wear loose-fitting shoes and carry small metallic objects in a separate bag that can be easily detached and x-rayed?

    Makes as much sense as planning a march to celebrate 9-11 which will require the DC police to spend massive amounts of their Homeland Security funds to keep order or a semblance of it.

  • Planes should be re-built with the front completely sealed off from the pasengers, and separate bathrroms for the pilots.

    Then the risk of a hijacking by passengers woud drop to nearly zero.

    It would still matter if someone were carrying an explosive. But they wouldn’t have to treat every sharp object as a weapon after such re-design.

    Currently, planes are desidnged such that every time a pilot needs to pee, they open the cockpit doors, which is th reason for keeping weapons off planes.

  • Ed Rusch

    Some airports have dropped the requirement for removing shoes, though. On recent trips, I didn’t have to remove my shoes in Seattle, Minneapolis or Detroit (nor in Toronto, where they never had that stupid rule), but I did in San Francisco and Boston. It’s a recommendation, not a requirement.

  • Slocum

    Banning small knives (and nail clippers, etc) at this point is just stupid. After 9/11, no plane full of passengers will sit passively and let a small group of hijackers control the aircraft armed only with small knives. Indeed, this form of highjacking was rendered inoperative DURING 9/11 when the passengers of flight 93 fought to retake the plane. 9-11 was only possible because it had never happened before and the official policy regarding hijacking was not to resist. To recreate another 9-11, the hijackers would now need to be VERY heavily armed.

  • daudder

    the whole ordeal is just a charade. nail clippers, nail files, lighters, metal cutlery, shoes off/shoes on…this is insane. Instead of actually doing something preventative, or having proper security on board an airplane, we sooth ourselves by ensuring someone cannot manicure us to death.

  • File Closer

    Several years ago I received a gift from my in-laws that ended up causing minor problems in an airport. The gift was a Swiss Army Knife Card (example here). Last November, while returning to Iraq from my two week mid-tour leave, the experts from the TSA finally found it. I’d been carrying the thing in my wallet for years. I carried it to Iraq, and used it many times. I carried it back from Iraq. I was returning to an environment where I carried a rifle, a boot knife, a set of brass knuckles, and an ASP extendable baton. I was in uniform when they confiscated the little multi-tool. I expressed my displeasure, but to no avail…the tool was lost to me forever, and probably now resides in the wallet of some Indianapolis TSA worker. Ok, that’s enough of my little human interest story. Sorry for ranting.

  • File Closer

    Oh, I forgot to add this: before the valiant TSA found my multi-tool, I was asked to remove my boots. My desert combat boots. I asked why, and the man, with a straight face, told me “your shoes fit the profile for possible explosives”. Uh huh. I’m sure many, many potential highjackings by uniformed infantry NCO’s in their early 30’s have been prevented by checking their boots as they return to Iraq. Happens all the time, right?

  • File Closer, check eBay. Here are all of the items TSA found in Pennsylvania for example:


    Never a better deal on 50 pounds of bulk steel scissors.

  • File Closer

    Thanks, Undertoad, I got a nice chuckle out of that.

  • Parallel

    I want to be more hijacker-hostile. Frankly, when I get on an airplane tomorrow morning to fly to Washington DC, I want as many dangerous passengers around me as possible.

    Make us a pack, not a herd.

    See, for example, United Airlines Flight 93, or Qantas flight 1737:


    A stopped clock is right twice a day. So maybe even this stupid bureaucracy is getting it right in spite of themselves.

  • penny

    Bring on the Tasers with the cabin crew. And put real bullets where they count up front with the pilots. If they are taken out we are all dead.

    I’d already decided a strategy to strangle would-be terrorists with my panthose or bra after they took away sharp objects.

    I really don’t think these creeps are after flights anymore. Why bother when the rail system or a dirty bomb would be an easier play for them. A few Israeli-like incidences here with suicide belt gutblowers at large and the whole paradigm shifts to shoot to kill with no queasiness the jerks that meance us.

  • Eric Jaffa:

    Excellent. i think you have a very sound idea. Have you worked with anyone on this?

  • Ed Rusch

    “the whole ordeal is just a charade. nail clippers, nail files, lighters, metal cutlery, shoes off/shoes on…this is insane.”

    No kidding. On a recent flight, when going through security, I watched a TSA goon loudly berate a Boy Scout leader for having contraband — some kind of Scout kit. They were on their way to Jamboree. His troop looked on, mortified.

    When we’ve sunk to the level of requiring TSA folks to hassling Boy Scout leaders, the terrorists have indeed won. Sorry, Jeff; on this issue you’re shrill and unrealistic.

  • Hazelip

    C’mon…the whole nail clipper ban is completely stupid. If someone can take over a plane with a pair of nail clippers, bombs are the least of our worries; that dude would be one terrible bad-ass.

    Think about this for a moment, though. Why do they bother having anyone remove their shoes? Why is a manual search needed at all? Because they lack the abilities to detect explosives with a reasonable amount of accuracy. Just as George Carlin said in an act years ago, airport security isn’t about security, it’s about the illusion of security.

    Oh, and nice anti-spam measure, but without an alt-text tag, you unfairly block out your vision-impaired readers.

  • Old Grouch

    Jeff, you missed the real gem in this story: The TSA wants to make inspection ESPECIALLY friendly for some “special” passengers:

    “The TSA memo… recommends that certain categories of passengers be exempt from airport security screening, such as members of Congress, airline pilots, Cabinet members, state governors, federal judges, high-ranking military officers and people with top-secret security clearances.” — Washington Post, 13 August 2005 [bolding mine]

    Have to take care of our “masters,” don’t they!

  • Old Grouch

    OT- what’s with the automatic-bolding of blockquotes. And oh, for a “preview” button!

  • Skate

    Jeff, you commented on this TSA memo as if it is a proven fact that confiscating nail clippers makes us safer. It isn’t.

    The hijackers had box cutters. Does anyone really think the TSA can ever reliably detect such a thing? Granted, I can’t think of a reason that anyone should need an ice pick on a plane, but I was sitting next to a chef flying into a catering gig. He had packed his sharp things but brought on some other items with him. They confiscated his spatula! C’mon!

    There plenty of sharp things that people could bring on a plane to hold it up. Even **prisons** can’t keep knives out of the hands of prisoners. We need to concentrate on the most effective measures. Confiscating nail clippers are not those measures.

    What is important is real security, not just the impression of such. If you are going to disagree with the TSA proposal, why not give us examples of **what specifically** you disagree with rather than just a rant?

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