Have a drink? The TSA wants some of that

Every time you think the TSA can’t come up with anything more stupid or abusive, they prove you wrong.

The latest — well, not the latest, actually, just finally picked up by the mainstream media — is that TSA agents, while randomly roaming around at the gate, well past the checkpoint, are not only singling out passengers for yet another grope or a paw through the bags, but also “testing” the beverages they’re drinking.

I know — I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you can’t make this stuff up.

Yes, dear reader, that water or coffee or soft drink in your cup, the one you bought after you passed through the checkpoint, in the so-called sterile area? That could contain a bomb! And you didn’t even know it!

Thank heavens the TSA is here to save the day. As they wave their little Magic Bomb-Detecting Stick over your beverage, be sure to smile and thank them. After all, they’re Keeping You Safe.

It’s telling that this article from KJCT in Colorado has elicited, as of this writing, over 1,800 comments, most of them assailing the TSA for the idiocy of this policy, and many of them relating readers’ stories of their own about having their drinks “tested.” Yet compare that to the response when a story is published of people getting assaulted by the TSA. The outrage exhibited over the latter pales in comparison to that over the former.

“Strip me, grope me, abuse me, molest my children — just don’t touch my drink!”

Ah, ain’t it grand living in the Land of the Free?

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Monkey Myshkin)

  • Drontil

    If asked to hand over your drink, just drop it on the floor. Oh, oh, it slipped out of my hand. So sorry. 🙂

  • Daizymae

    And yet one more stupid and abusive thing conceived and perpetrated by the TSA:


    My friends actually experienced this about a year ago in Atlanta airport.

    • Yes, this idiocy isn’t new. The New York Times wrote about it last year. But since so many people haven’t yet read about it, I’ll do a post on it for TSA News.

      • Daisiemae

        Thanks. You and Sommer and Wendy and Amy and Bill and Chris do a great job keeping us all informed. This blog seems to be the only place where we can really keep abreast of what’s happening with this monstrosity called TSA.

  • Maryjanelle

    Stop buying the overprice food and beverages sold beyond security. That will get someone’s attention.

    • And bring your own drinks through the checkpoint?

      Yeah, I thought so.

      Though I do agree that the best thirst quencher is plain old tap water from the water fountain. Yet TSA thugs will still insist on testing your bottle with said water. Just in case the municipal water supply has been infiltrated with explosives.

  • Bob

    Hi Lisa. Noticed you commented, but may have missed the underlying story. Looks like the TSA is quietly removing the microwave cookers and replacing them with MMW ones.


    Logan was being touted as the first airport that would receive the upgraded gingerbread man BSX software. Now they are being pulled completely.

    “TSA plans to test the same privacy-enhancing software for the backscatter units like the ones at Logan Airport in the coming months. The technology is and always has been optional for all passengers.”

    Source: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/02/16/many-female-travelers-feel-targeted-by-tsa-agents/

    Mind you these units have only been in place for two years. Pretty obvious that there are radiation and targeting issues with the rape-i-scan chertoff units.

    • cjr001

      We’ve got MMW here with the upgraded software. No, it’s not really “nearly as fast” as metal detectors, not in the last.

      And we’ve also already seen the false positives: two trips through for my wife and I, and 3 of the 4 total times there was a false positive.

      The upshot is that they only checked that area. For us, that’s been the shoulders/arms, which probably means folds in our shirts (the big downside as to why so many false positives are generated).

      MMW is still slow and potentially problematic, but at least it takes getting completely unnecessary radiation out of the equation.

      Edit: I see Lisa commented on the story. And she’s spot on: Logan is now using BDO under a shiny new name. Not to mention, TSA’s is supposed to stop bombs from blowing up planes, not to catch everybody carrying a few grams of pot.

    • Bob, well, the “microwave cookers” are the MMW machines (millimeter wave, for those reading this who have no idea what we’re talking about). You mean they’re removing the backscatter (x-ray) scanners?

      Billions of dollars — our dollars — down the drain.

      ATR (automated target recognition, again for those reading this) has been installed on MMW scanners all over the country. Supposedly similar software for the radiation-emitting backscatter scanners has been in the works.

      From my point of view, it doesn’t matter. It has never been primarily about the safety angle for me — though I acknowledge that people are being used as guinea pigs for these untested scanners, which I’ve written about here at TSA News more times than I can count.

      I don’t care if there’s ATR or not ATR, I don’t care if it’s a Gumby image or stick figure or whatever, I don’t care if it’s “safe” MMW or unsafe backscatter. I object to the scanners, period. They are an intrusion on privacy. It’s my business who I want to show my bits to, not the government’s business to tell me I must.

      And again, all of this technology is one big boondoggle. We’re paying billions for it, and the so-called security industry is getting rich off it. We are subsidizing Rapiscan, L-3, Smiths, et. al., and paying for own abuse in the bargain.

      • Bob

        Yes Lisa – They are removing the two year old back-scatter units and replacing them with the MMW units.

        I was told a while back that ATR would never work with the back-scatter. Apparently this must be true as TSA is pulling the units entirely instead of “upgrading” them as they originally touted.

        I also object to the scanners for many reasons. But look at it like this:

        1- Part of the EPIC lawsuit was that the machines were digital strip searches. The court acknowledged this and said it needed to be fixed. DHS said it would start testing ATR on BSX.
        2- DHS refuses to allow the BSX machines to be tested for radiation.
        3- DHS refuses to allow workers to wear radiation badges.
        4- MMW machines have a reported 40% false positive rate.

        The only reason to pull the BSX machines from service is if:

        1- They are starting to feel the heat from various lawsuits, passengers, and congress. Passengers know what the x-ray scanners look like and i have witnessed more opt-outs to them as opposed to the MMW.
        2- BSX machines put out much higher levels of radiation then claimed. DHS is in a bind as if they “come clean” more suits will follow.
        3- ATR was tested on BSX and is higher then even the dismal 40% failure rate.

        It also means that the money allocated in the budget for more scanners is going for replacement machines, and not towards expansion of the program.

        This is GOOD for us. Start pounding the doors. Start asking why DHS is throwing away even more on machines they said were “save and effective”. This shows to the public what we already know. That the scanners are useless and the TSA/DHS cannot be trusted.

        • Bob, all good points. And Germany found that the MMW scanners alarmed on false positives 54% of the time (also something we’ve written about here several times — readers can search our archives).

          • I object to any search of me or my possessions in truth. There is no reasonable cause to search my person or possessions unless I am in the action of committing a crime. last I knew boarding and airplane is not a criminal act.
            Yes I know that some security measures seem reasonable in order to reduce high-jackings and other in flight crimes. However the continual reduction of citizens rights is worrying. I personally would much rather have a dog sniff me for explosives that some stranger placing their hands all over my body.
            Added to that the hiring practices of the TSA seems to leave a lot to be desired. As it is seeming to become a haven for sexual predators.
            Oh yeah if they are wanting to test my drink they had better supply a clean cup as they are not sticking anything into something I am going to then ingest. which means I want them to supply a cup test it to show me that there are no already applied substances in said cup then allow me to pour some of my drink into the very same cup they tested then to watch them test it preferably while filming the whole process so as to have evidence that they tested it and the contents were found to be lacking in bomb making materials. of course since I have little knowledge of how to make a bomb other than what I have seen on TV I would not know whether said drink might indeed be capable of being a bomb making component. Though one show indicated H2O might indeed be an ingredient in making a bomb….

        • Daizymae

          Actually, there is another possible reason for TSA to pull these machines (if that is indeed what they are doing) and replace them with different machines. Big money. Many government officials and their well-connected cohorts are raking in millions of dollars from all this. So every machine purchased by the federal government puts more money in their pockets.

          Waste is not a concern of TSA. Just look at the warehouse of unused equipment that TSA tried to destroy before Congressional investigators could find it.

    • Dazymae

      “The technology is and always has been optional for all passengers”?

      Ask the thousands of people who have been forced to go through it even after they said they didn’t want to. Ask the thousands of people who were subjected to a retaliatory and abusive sexual molestation after they refused the scanner. That is not optional.

  • ang.

    Can I put some of the drink in my mouth first and “deliver” the sample from there?

  • Davidgdesigns

    That’s ridiculous. What the hell? Take the train.

    • Ummm they are already starting grope sessions on trains from things I have read.

  • Daizymae

    Yes, it constantly flabbergasts me how cavalier people are about the sexual assaults, the abuse, the endangerment of elderly and disabled people yet they practically foam at the mouth about taking off their shoes. Yes, I know taking off the shoes is stupid and useless. But how does that compare to being sexually demeaned and assaulted?

  • cjr001

    I just saw this story, too, as a news brief on another news site. (And when I say brief, the ‘story’ is all of three sentences.) Good to see that somebody has a real story about it.

    Not surprisingly, some of the comments on that story are just downright stupid. Hire a private jet? I guess I missed the fact that I’m not wiping my backside with $20s.

    But hey, this is TSA, where they use the same dirty blue gloves on person after person, not caring whether they could be spreading disease. What harm is there in letting them near something you’re actually going to eat or drink, eh?