Watch out for TSA training exercises

Daniel Rubin: It was no joke at security gate

22-year-old Rebecca Solomon, a University of Michigan student, was going through security at Philadelphia International Airport when she was confronted:

A TSA worker was staring at her. He motioned her toward him.

Then he pulled a small, clear plastic bag from her carry-on – the sort of baggie that a pair of earrings might come in. Inside the bag was fine, white powder.

She remembers his words: “Where did you get it?”

This is a nightmare scenario — particularly given today’s drug laws and the severity of sentences (not to mention being at an airport).

Until finally…

Just kidding, he said. He waved the baggie. It was his.

And so she collected her things, stunned, and the tears began to fall.

Another passenger, a woman traveling to Colorado, consoled her as others who had witnessed the confrontation went about their business. Solomon and the woman walked to their gates, where each called for security and reported what had happened. […]

When she complained to airport security, Solomon said, she was told the TSA worker had been training the staff to detect contraband.

Now that this story hit the paper, the TSA worker is no longer employed.


I understand that the TSA needs to conduct training exercises, but there are proper ways to do that, and sneaking contraband into innocent people’s bags is not one of them.

I remember a story a couple years ago about the equivalent of the TSA in another country conducting training exercises. They snuck some drugs into suitcases and lost track of the suitcases. Oops. Hope none of those innocent travelers was going to a country where they execute people for smuggling drugs…

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23 Responses to Watch out for TSA training exercises

  1. ray says:

    end this rediculous war on american perple….I hope that s-o-b has the same thing done to him at some airport….

  2. ezrydn says:

    Don’t think you can’t do something about these people? This case shows you can. In my instance, I got two Customs Agents fired out of Houston Intercontinental because they decided to strip search my wife in the jetway, while boarding. I recorded it along with what they said to me, on my phone and forwarded a copy of it, along with my complaint, through the right channels.

    Later, I received a letter saying they were no longer with the force. If you’re right, Stand Tall!

  3. claygooding says:

    One of the “benefits” of being able to use fear to pass legislation that bypasses constitutional rights too protect the masses,while never achievable,is very easy to fund.
    Dang that sounds familiar.

  4. BruceM says:

    Every TSA worker (and TSA resource) being spent to look for drugs is one less TSA worker and resource being spent to look for bombs and guns and things that can actually hurt people. And no, it’s not a false dichotomy in that I’m setting it up as either-or when they could do both. They can’t do both. They can’t even look for bombs and guns competently (every time they’ve been tested they’ve failed). Since drugs are probably more common, and are smaller and more well-hidden, they will spend far more time looking for drugs in a person who meets a “drug courier profile” as they let the bearded Muslim with the Koran in his hands walk right past them.

    Pathetic. Just another way the “war on drugs” makes us less safe (endangers the precious children).

  5. Kant says:

    Slovakia did something similar this month. Only they were testing bomb sniffing dogs and so they stuffed RDX into a bunch of unwitting passenger’s bags and they missed one.

    The sad/scary thing is, this seems to be common practice.

  6. Just me says:

    You know, this is just one example of how we have been conditioned to accept intrusions into our personal life.

    I for one think this just shows how our war on terror is just like our war on drugs. They can look for drugs,confiscate drugs,arrest people with drug and guess what…theres always more drugs,more people with drugs.

    The same for terrorists, theres always going to be more bomb material being made,always going to be more terrorists to carry this material. Both drugs and bombs will always be a continuous problem. Both will be something that billions of dollars will be wasted on until we find a better way to do things.

    Fortunately theres a way to fix both. As for drugs, just legalize. As for bombs /terrorists, our government could try this..STOP MAKING ENEMIES OF EVERYONE THEY COME IN CONTACT WITH!! The American people included.

  7. BruceM says:

    Just me: unless you’re willing to come out and say “I’d rather have thousands of innocent people die horrible deaths in a terrorist attack than permanently lose some of my privacy” (as I am willing to do) the government will continue to take advantage of its failures by greater and greater intrusions of our privacy. We either get the illusion of safety or privacy, but we can’t have both. And few people, like myself, are willing to accept the worst case scenario of justifying protecting and preserving our privacy.

    The thing that pisses me off most is that we lose our privacy because the government screws up. Latest example – the Xmas terrorist plot. The US gov’t ignored explicit warnings about a specific individual, allowed him to fly into the country, and only due ot sheer luck and a duality of incompetency did his bomb not explode at 35,000 feet. As a result of the government’s incompetency, they are now going to move ahead with those horrible scanners at all airports that view us naked. And released TSA documents show they are lying when they say these machines cannot and do not save the images of the naked passengers. They do. And it won’t take long for credit bureaus and marketing companies to get the naked pictures of us, will identification.

    The scanned picture shows you have a small penis… so get ready to have your mailbox flooded with junk mail and spam for herbal penis enlargement pills.

    All to make cowardly people feel safe.

  8. Cliff says:

    “Just me: unless you’re willing to come out and say “I’d rather have thousands of innocent people die horrible deaths in a terrorist attack than permanently lose some of my privacy” (as I am willing to do) the government will continue to take advantage of its failures by greater and greater intrusions of our privacy.”

    To paraphrase Ben Franklin, if you trade essential liberties for temporary security, then you deserve neither. I stand by that too, but I’m afraid that most Americans are cowed and scared of the boogeyman created by those who are there to provide an illusion of security (security theatre, if you will).

    Our founders would be ashamed of what we have become as a nation. I picture TSA agents demanding George Washington or Thomas Jefferson to take off thier shoes and, after laughing hysterically, telling the TSA jackboot to get lost.

    The majority of Americans are a bunch of soft, whiney crybabies who demand they be protected at all costs. So what if a few people get caught in the gears of the bureaucracy and are ground up, it’s all for the greater good, right? You have nothing to hide, right?(snark) The war on some drugs used the same questions to guilt you into complying with it.

    Americans have forgotten that risk is part of being alive and a risk free existance is only possible at the expense of your freedom to travel and live your life.

    This whole charade is really about protecting property and investments than it is about people and this episode oinly emphasizes this point. Those planes and building cost a lot to build and maintain, people are cheap and disposable.

    The world is a security theatre stage and we all play a part, only sometimes you get to play the fool in the production.

  9. BruceM says:

    The problem is each individual, small little violation of our privacy, compared to the horrible worst-case scenario threat, sounds perfectly reasonable to nearly everyone. Who wouldn’t take off their shoes and take 5 steps forward to prevent a terrorist from blowing up an airplane full of innocent people – AND PRECIOUS CHILDREN? Very few people will say they have a problem with that.

    Once they’re conditioned to that small encroachment on their privacy, then it’s no liquids on airplanes. Well, who wouldn’t give up taking a bottle of shampoo in their carryon bag to prevent a terrorist from blowing up an airplane full of innocent people – AND PRECIOUS CHILDREN? Very few people will have a problem with that, either. And then, because (a) the government can’t do it’s job and (b) because terrorism in an inevitable cost of living in a free and open society and because (c) we live in a world that allows religion, there will always be new terrorist attacks, threats, and new limits to our privacy that the vast majority of people will happily give up.

    The point it it never happens all at once, it happens bit by bit. What pisses me off the most, aside from the fact that we refuse to identify the enemy here as Islam and keep pussyfutting around who is trying to kill us… is that every terrorist attack thus far could have been prevented. Our government had the information, but because the CIA wouldn’t share info with the FBI and the NSA wouldn’t share info with the CIA or FBI and vice versa, and because each agency has its own “list” and its own “intelligence” sources and each agency wants to get credit for preventing an attack and making the perp-walk arrest (even if it’s kept secret and only known within the intelligence circles), these attacks were not thwarted in time. It’s been shown over and over again that the US government, collectively, had all the information – more than enough – to stop 9-11 from happening. It’s either encompetence or they intetionally allowed it to happen (which was the greatest thing that ever happened to the Bush administration and GOP). I’m not a conspiracy theorist and I always assume negligence over malice when either will explain things, it’s my version of Occam’s Razor (all else being equal, the explanation of negligence is the simplest and thus best one).

  10. warren says:

    We are dealing with gestapo idiots! They will move this idiot to another location don`t kid yourself about him loosing his job. An old fed govt trick{stunt}.We deserve what were getting.Allow more govt control we will all be wearing stars.

  11. foo says:

    Emotional distress lawsuit please – seems pretty cut and dry. Abuse of power needs to be penalized.

  12. BruceM says:

    Indeed, people always get the governments that they deserve, and a few of us notwithstanding, we are getting exactly what we deserve. We always have been.

    We’re stupid, ignorant, child-obsessed, scared, feminized, religion-loving fat assholes. Our government, both Bush and Bushbama, are exactly what we deserve.

  13. foo says:

    Cliff – very well said.
    “This whole charade is really about protecting property and investments than it is about people and this episode oinly emphasizes this point. Those planes and building cost a lot to build and maintain, people are cheap and disposable.”

  14. DdC says:

    Video Captures NY Police Beating Handcuffed Man

    In October 2008, from different vantage points, three members of the Dallas family watched the frenzied sequence of events that Michael Mineo says led to his abuse at the hands of police officers and that the officers say led to a mostly unexceptional arrest.

  15. Jarts says:

    Give someone a uniform and a bit of “authoritay” and this is what happens. Do we know this drooling mouth breathing cretin was really fired or just transferred or demoted.

  16. Cliff says:

    Thanks foo! The point is obviously clear, we are worth less than property of the investment / bankster class.

  17. Servetus says:

    It doesn’t have to be this way. We can have both security and privacy if the solutions to terrorism are clever enough.

    Naturally, I wouldn’t expect cleverness from the prohibitionists, or anyone else with a similar authoritarian mindset. Cleverness equates with that which is creative, and a lot of creative people end up as recreational drug users. Compared to the creative drug aficionados, drug warriors are mere spectators.

    The self-castrating underwear terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. was not creative. It was just a variation of the shoe fetish bomber. Yet it nearly succeeded because a number of dimwitted Home Security clowns think the enemy is dumber than they are. Wrong. Anyone underestimating an enemy is likely to become a viable target, even if the enemy can’t build a working bomb, which is often more a result of Murphy’s Law than incompetence.

    It also depends on one’s idea of privacy. Does a terahertz body scan really violate privacy? Is it possible for anyone to get off on an image like that? Will guys with huge schlongs get pulled aside and searched?

    As for justification, even if the law says there can be no expectation of privacy in a commercial airport, there are still priorities to recognize. Human dignity is one priority. But someone smuggling hash in their shorts is not a threat to the lives of airline passengers or anyone else. Someone packing C-4 is a threat. All the better to legalize cannabis so that more important security priorities can be met.

  18. DdC says:

    Journey for Justice

    Slave Labor Means Big Bucks For U.S. Corporations 02/06/01
    UNICORE * Whackohut

    Slavery: Another Fine Product Still Made in the USA! 12/17/01

    At the same time, the United States blasts China for the the use of prison slave labor, engaging in the same practice itself. Prison labor is a pot of gold. No strikes, union organizing, health benefits, unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation to pay. As if exploiting the labor of prison inmates was not bad enough, it is legal in the United States to use slave labor. The 13th Amendment of the Constitution states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States.”

    “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
    They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
    — UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1

    James Geddes
    Sentenced to 150 years, reduced to 90 years
    charged with cultivation and possession of five marijuana plants.

    Will Foster
    93 years – Marijuana Conspiracy (34 plants)

    Did the Feds Frame Brian Epis?

    The Surreal Stupidity Of Placer County.
    2006-02-01 16:20:00
    Steve’s life remains in great danger, and right now he is the subject (victim) of a bizarre medical experiment that should outrage the medical profession. He is as much a victim of torture as anyone in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. Of course, if he were an accused terrorist, Amnesty International would have been there today.

    Patriot Ax DEAth Penalty Enhancement

    Medical Cannabis Advocates Face Up to 40 Years
    Lynn and Judy Osburn

    Angel’s Fight to Stay Alive

    Police officers launch drive against pot decriminalization
    Janice Tibbetts Vancouver Sun Monday 28 May 2001 OTTAWA

    4 Florida cities trying to decriminalize marijuana

  19. DdC says:

    Sodomized to Protect Our Freedoms | | AlterNet
    Would we really need debate on the torture question if we discussed the numerous acts of sodomy instead of the nuances of waterboarding?

    ‘Relax Your Muscles as Much as Possible’

    According to the outfit Common Sense for Drug Policy, which maintains the Web site — — there are now approximately 77,000 state, local and federal inmates imprisoned on marijuana charges…

    … What’s life like in our prisons for those 77,000 marijuana convicts? Let’s steel our nerves and go visit the Web site , where the Los Angeles outfit “Stop Prisoner Rape” has posted the little plain-talking handbill it has prepared for young men entering our prison system, titled “For Prisoners: Advice on Avoiding HIV/AIDS.”

    The group’s handout — targeted primarily at heterosexual men who have no desire to ever be involved in homosexual activity — advises:

    “HIV/AIDS transmission during a sexual assault is a serious concern. The following are practical tips for reducing your risk. …

    “If you have a choice, try to avoid men who used needles for drugs in the past or are still doing so. … The more often you are raped, the more exposed you will be, so especially try to avoid anal gang-bangs. The most dangerous situation of all is if your +!@$ is bleeding, for that allows easy entry of the virus into your bloodstream. So try to use a lubricant or grease or cream if you can to minimize injury to your delicate internal body parts, avoid anal gang-bangs, and if you must endure forced anal penetration, try to relax your muscles as much as possible. These tactics are not ‘cooperating’ or consenting, they are just common-sense measures to try to save your life.

    “In many situations you are better off agreeing to do something (masturbating, oral sex, sex with a condom) rather than just resisting until you are overwhelmed and forced to deal with unprotected anal sex from one or many guys. You may feel you should resist to the end, but that would put your life in danger. There is no shame in doing what you have to do to survive; nothing changes the fact that rape is involved and you are not morally or legally responsible for it; these compromises are just pathways to your survival. It may even be to your advantage to develop skills in oral sex so that guys you have to deal with will be satisfied with that alone. Don’t feel guilty about it; you’re just trying to save your life….”

    Feeling pretty comfortable now with what the legal system is doing to these 77,000 nonviolent pot-smokers in your name? (And those are just the ones who end up doing hard time, mind you. Remember, 646,000 were arrested in 2000. Do you suppose most of them had a nice, restful night in jail? Do you realize, if their families spent a few thousand dollars apiece on legal fees, that adds up to more than a billion dollars, and taxpayer costs for lost police time are several times that?)

    Still going to tell me that treating them in this manner is just the way you show your “compassion” as you seek to “protect them from the health risks” of lighting up a joint, not to mention “sending the right message to the children”? continued…

  20. Duncan says:

    You guys are standing in the way of business. already has a waiting list of over 10,000 people who want to pay 29.95 per month to look at travelers’ naked bodies!

  21. DdC says:

    Fox news just discussed this story. 3 for prosecuting the employee criminally, and in civil court for personal trauma. 1 cop out “double standards” was the wording used. Said not a crime, but should be pursued in civil court for damages. Another point was being charged criminally would be a deterrent to other TSA workers. No one could answer what happened to the jerk. No one discussed what the white powder was? If it was drugs why wasn’t the TSA worker charged for drugs. Or if it was even tested. Not like it was a candy bar or something. Just white powder. Drug thugs, especially DA’s are whacko’s willing to kill and destroy the Constitution over winning a drug case. They are the criminals in need of persecution! Then prosecution!

  22. Ivan Ristovski,Belgrade Serbia says:

    one of the conditions to became a tsa gestapo officer
    is to be a proven pedophile and sex pervert

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