Whew! TSA Off the hook! Blame the airlines!


Apparently a "terse" writer
Staff member
America, rejoice! It wasn't the TSA's fault, it was the airline's fault for not finding what slipped past the TSA! All is well!

Dow Jones Business News
US TSA To Check Plane Inspectors
Wednesday October 22, 12:44 am ET

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--After learning that box cutters and other potentially
dangerous items were stashed on four Southwest Airlines planes for weeks before
being found, the Transportation Security Administration said it has begun a
review to ensure that airlines conduct thorough daily inspections of aircraft,
The Washington Post reports in its Wednesday edition.
The TSA, seeking to assure travelers that the aviation security system can be
trusted, announced the inspection review as part of a broader internal
investigation begun after packages of box cutters, matches, bleach and
simulated explosives were found on two Southwest planes last week, the Post
Well thank god the TSA didn't let us down!

Umm, wait.

Would that stuff had to have been in that kids bags when he went through the checkpo...oh nevermind.

Of course you know what's next don't you? The TSA telling congress, "we need more money to hire people to inspect the airplanes."

You know the conspiricy theorist in me is thinking that this "kid" was a plant, and is going to go to "jail" in the Bahammas somewhere never to be seen or heard from again.

But, that's just my crazy imagination working...our government would never do something like that.

Sounds like a two part failure to me. The TSA failed to find the items before they were placed on the planes. The airlines failed to find them afterward. I think that they were hidden for several weeks if I remember correctly.
TSA: "Yeah, we screwed the pooch but the airlines did too!"

sounds like

Kid: "But mommy he did it tooooooooooo .... it's not fair ....... he should get in trouble toooooooooooo."

I was all for federalizing screeners and I still am - but it should have been set up like a police force - not just rehiring the bafoons we had in place before and bearuacrcizing the silly system we had in place. Which, is of course, what happened.
I read that--with disgust--this morning too. Wasn't it the airline that found the stuff?

I went through Checkpoint Charlie (aka Terminal C) the other day and over heard two TSA screeners discussing a new position within the agency. The position is called "Aviation Inspector." According to the one screener, the position is similar to the screener, but with more LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY. He said they will have access to the ramp and airplanes, will be able to remove pax from planes for various reasons, and will be trained in drug interdiction with the authority to inspect bags for drugs if they are seen during the x-ray screening.

Now not only will they be making sure my cell phone charger is not det cord, but they'll scrutinize the two kilos of home grown and home dried oregano and one kilo of baby powder that I pack in small individual bags for re-distribution on each trip.
"but they'll scrutinize the two kilos of home grown and home dried oregano and one kilo of baby powder that I pack in small individual bags for re-distribution on each trip."

The TSA is just mad they messed up. Thats why they are crying he should go to jail for years and that its the airlines that messed up, not the TSA. I know some screeners they are nice people but a few seem to be a few screws short. Its just a "feel good" agency, to make people feel they are safe but we all know that if a terorist wants be bring down a plane they will still do it.
There is more than just the TSA to blame(even thought they deserve the bad publicity!!!). Suppossedly the guy sent a letter, I think to the FBI, stating what he did. I guess they didn't take it seriously, until the SWA people found the items he planted.
Actually he sent the message to the TSA who after being exposed and embarassed forwarded the message to the FBI.

So basically, ticket prices will go up again or profits will be cut more. If the airlines have to start inspecting the planes themselves, they will have to hire or use current employees on overtime or re-trained to search the planes. The other option would be to have TSA do it, and they will of course add a fee for that much like the 9/11 "security" fee. Great. Can I have Argenbreit back yet?
That would be my guess.

That's part of why I'm getting my private.

No stupid TSA tricks to deal with, oh unless the president decides to over fly any state adjacent to mine.

Well, the modeling clay would certainly get past security, it would not be detected by the swab method, nor the scanners. The bleach in suntan bottles, well, that too would get past the scan. Of course the box cutters, that is bad. But, does not Southwest share in the blame, when the airplanes are on the ground don't they inspect the airplanes? Hell there could have been a dirty diaper back there.


The discovery triggered stepped-up inspections of the entire U.S. commercial air fleet — roughly 7,000 planes. But after consulting with the FBI, the Transportation Security Administration rescinded the inspection order and no other suspicious bags were found.

According to authorities, Heatwole told federal agents he went through normal security procedures at airports in Baltimore and Raleigh-Durham. Once aboard, he said, he hid the banned items in compartments in the planes' rear lavatories.

Heatwole told authorities that he left packages on four of the six planes, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio. Other packages were found on April 13 and April 14 in planes in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Tampa, Fla., but it was unclear when they were planted.

The TSA, which received Heatwole's e-mail, did not send it to the FBI until last Friday. FBI agents then located Heatwole and interviewed him.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, whose department includes TSA, said officials "will go back and look at our protocol" for handling such e-mails. He said that the agency gets a high volume of e-mails about possible threats and that officials decided that Heatwole "wasn't an imminent threat."

His bags contained box cutters, modeling clay made to look like plastic explosives, matches and bleach hidden in sunscreen bottles, the affidavit said. Inside were notes with details about when and where the items were carried aboard. They were signed "3891925," which is the reverse of Heatwole's birthday: 5/29/1983.
Correction: losses will go up

Seriously, though, while the TSA deserves most of the blame, Southwest deserves some as well. How did those things just sit there for weeks?

And forget about assigning blame. The question is how do we fix the problem. As someone else noted, the play dough wouldn't set off the detectors and the sun tan lotion bottles wouldn't, either. When I went to the CN Tower in Toronto, they had something that blew air at you and then analyzed it for traces of explosives. Is that something people ought to be looking at for airports?

The box cutters, though, that's just inexcusable. If you're going to bitch about people's pocket knives and screwdrivers, you cannot let a box cutter get through.
How did those things just sit there for weeks?

[/ QUOTE ]
Kinda makes you wonder how often they clean the lavs on those planes...ewww.

Well the student wrote the US government and told him what he was going to do, the letter wasn't taken seriously or forwarded to any other authorities. Then the event takes place and then SWA finds the materials during an inspection weeks later.

Here's the kicker, they were found in the lavoratory, probably in a place that the average Joe Schmoe ramp guy doesn't look when (if?) he cleans the lavoratory.

Southwest eventually found them. They deserve kudos for that. But doesn't this sound an awful lot like "The Phoenix Memo"?
At MCO all of the planes are cleaned by an outsourced cleaning crew (that also takes care of JetBlue and I THINK AirTran and Spirit). Only a few of the smaller SWA station clean the planes and they generally only have one or two RONs a night. We have between 14-16 in Orlando. More than likely he put that stuff in one of the storage bins in the lav, which probably aren't checked more than once a week anyway. As far as the lavs, don't worry. They are supposed to be dumped everytime the plane lands, but that is done from the outside.

I'm not trying to shift blame totally to TSA, but there is kind of an assumption that if it's on the plane, it's through TSA first. Hell, I have to get through there to get to work everyday, so if I wanted to do something like this, they should catch me on my way in to work. The AOA (aircraft operations area) is considered sterile so we don't HAVE to check every bag we get. It's already been screened, therefore we assume it's safe. Otherwise every bag checked at the jetway would have to be opened or x-rayed.

TSA should either own up to their screw up or let the airports go back to individual contractors. Believe me, I'm all for federal screeners. I'd prefer that to the inconsistancies of private companies. But right now it seems like the government wants the ferderal screeners (and the tax dollars to go with it), but when something goes wrong, it's someone else's fault. Sorta like they want to have their cake and eat it, too.
A friend of mine who owns a charter company got racked apart as he went through TSA the other day. They were as usual patronizing but finally apologized to him, "We're sorry sir that you are having such a lengthy search."

His reply? This is classic
"No THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Thanks to you people my charter company business has DOUBLED in the last few months!"

I hope they get the hint.