What the TSA is Super Proud of Today

To the TSA, terrorists must be a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and MacGuyver.

From the TSA’s Instagram account,

#TSAGoodCatch – A shaving cream can with a false bottom was discovered in a carry-on bag at Las Vegas (LAS). When the false bottom was removed, officers discovered a small plastic bag with marijuana, a metal pipe, a spoon, a lighter and a hair clip.

Three thoughts:

  1. This is what the TSA – an agency that has never caught a terrorist – is bragging about finding, calling it a “good catch” and putting it up on their instagram account.

  2. The TSA wanted to stop looking for pocket knives, saying there are only so many things they can focus on and paying attention to things that aren’t terrorism risks makes us less safe, distracts them from looking for real threats. The TSA shouldn’t be bragging about looking for and finding things that aren’t terrorism risks.

  3. Am I the only one who thinks this shaving cream can is really awesome? Ok, it wasn’t awesome enough. But I still kind of want one.

There aren’t actually a lot of people out there trying to blow up airplanes and the only useful changes in aviation security post-9/11 have been reinforced cockpit doors and a new equilibrium where passengers will fight back against any hijacking.. Meanwhile TSA stands for (T)aking (S)tinkweed (A)way.

(HT: Bryan S.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Considering you are not in the airline security business, nor are you in any security business, and are nothing more than a blogger with an opinion, and we all know that, just like an a$$hole, everyone has one, you may want to stick to travel and stay away from topics you know nothing about.

    Seriously, Gary, do you truly believe the TSA, or any other Government security agency, will publicly broadcast those areas where they are successfully thwarting terrorists? That would be the same as saying, “Hey terrorist, don’t try this trick anymore because we’ve figured it out!” Wouldn’t be real smart, now would it, Gary?

  2. @Not TSA, as “nothing more than an anonymous commenter with an opinion” (that hasn’t been particularly well explained even), perhaps you will consider:

    1. The government’s own reports show a 95% TSA failure rate in detecting weapons and explosives.

    2. The TSA has compiled lists of “top 10 good catches” and none has ever involved a terrorist, are you suggesting that the TSA – which never fails to trumpet itself, and which has been under fire in Congress for its failures – actively hides its success?

    3. As security expert Bruce Schneier writes (https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/06/reassessing_air.html), “The TSA is failing to defend us against the threat of terrorism. The only reason they’ve been able to get away with the scam for so long is that there isn’t much of a threat of terrorism to defend against. … Terrorists are much rarer than we think, and launching a terrorist plot is much more difficult than we think. I understand this conclusion is counterintuitive, and contrary to the fearmongering we hear every day from our political leaders. But it’s what the data shows.”

    4. As David Burge wrote, “At $8 billion per year, the TSA is the most expensive theatrical production in history.”

  3. “Hey terrorist, don’t try this trick anymore because we’ve figured it out!” Wouldn’t be real smart, now would it, Gary?

    Except, didn’t the TSA just tell the terrorists not to hide their C4 in a false-bottom shaving cream can?

  4. @ Gary

    If you really want the can, you can find one easily by searching for shaving cream safe on Amazon (and probably other ecommerce sites).

  5. Sorry Gary, you’re wrong on this, and your stance against the TSA in general. Why wouldn’t they be proud of stopping an illegal activity?? Your problem in this case is with the law, not the TSA.

    Your continued railing against the TSA is irresponsible, especially for someone that flies as much as you do. When is the last time there was a successful hijacking of a US plane?

  6. @Dave when was the last time there was an attempted hijacking that was stopped? Certainly a 95% failure rate isn’t a meaningful deterrent. Fact is that there aren’t that many people trying to hijack planes.

  7. I sometimes think Gary goes overboard with his criticism of the TSA but I’m with him on this one. The TSA’s job is to ensure the security of commercial aviation. It’s hard to make a reasonable argument that catching marijuana furthers this goal (and that’s regardless of where you stand on the marijuana legalization/decriminalization debate), particularly when they have such a high failure rate with the stuff they’re supposed to catch.

  8. I am pretty libertarian here. Let’s get rid of most of the American agencies. Just to save the hide of a few Americans I am spending thousands of my tax dollars. And most of these fat slobs are not even thankful to me. We have 300 million people, we can afford to lose a few, or a lot.

  9. Gary,

    I know your libertarian instincts automatically make you hate TSA but seriously stop.

    What is this nonsense that TSA hasn’t caught a terrorist? Has there been a successful terror attack? So whom are they supposed to catch?

    Your comments are most amusing because they really illustrate why libertarians have zero traction in politics. And if you needed more confirmation, Trump the authoritarian who gives a zilch about First amendment is just showing that by winning te nomination of the so-called Conservative party.

  10. I’m with gary on this. TSA needs to be told that they are NOT the police. Perhaps the lighter violates the rules and if so, it should have been confiscated as if it were found in somebody’s pocket. People are giving away far too many of their rights in the false fear that it will make them safer. The worst of the lot is those that rarely if ever fly. One day there will be a line of naked people boarding the plane and we will only be able to look back to when it all was allowed to grow a piece at a time.

  11. I am quite skeptical that the TSA has ever thwarted an actual terrorist plot, especially given their internal audit failure rates…and I think the agency and its current procedures should be axed. But it is *possible* that a successful intervention of a serious attack did occur, and the particulars of the situation are such that it can’t be publicly announced because it would tip off the adversaries or other future terrorism plots. The fact is that that is a consideration in espionage, counter-intelligence, and military operations. Whatever self-congratulating the TSA public affairs folks like to do, they would be overruled by the appropriate folks at DHS if doing so would compromise security. To believe that this could not, occur is to grossly lack understanding of such matters.

    I don’t believe, though have no personal knowledge, that the TSA has stopped any legitimate attacks, due to the rarity of passenger aviation terrorist attacks and the feeble TSA procedures – I”m just saying it can’t be dismissed out of hand by anyone not accessed to the full layers of intelligence information.

    I think personally that the TSA feels fine with displaying these non-security “catches” because the general public will smile, nod their heads and think “yep sure is good we have these TSA folks”.

  12. Gary’s right- there aren’t a lot of people trying to blow up planes. Heck, even on 9-11 there were only 19.

  13. I’m a little baffled by the criticism of TSA here. Did anyone think that maybe publicizing this particular find might have little or nothing to do with the marijuana element and a lot more to do with just simply illustrating that that particular means of smuggling is on the TSA radar? While it might be assumed that terrorists and real drug dealers use more sophisticated methods, it is probably helpful to communicate to the recreational drug user to not bother using this crude device, which does in fact waste TSA’s time to search/find/process, etc. By the same token, I wouldn’t be surprised if TSA did not publicize a truly novel smuggling tactic that they might have gotten lucky on and don’t wish to see replicated.

  14. Honestly, I’ve witnessed TSA agents who clearly lack the same training across airports in the US or blatantly refuse to follow the guidelines set forth for them in writing by our government. LGA comes to mind as one of the biggest abusers. They are nothing more then rent a cops with too much power. The TSA is nothing more then masturbatory theater and need to be completely overhauled. They can’t even pass their own internal testing and I’ve lost track of how many agents have been arrested for stealing passengers items.

  15. You are right on point here. This is clearly beyond the scope of the TSA responsibilities. Marijuana is not on the TSA’s prohibited items list. Furthermore, TSA is not any sort of law enforcement agency. They do wear badges, but those badges have the same value as the one I proudly wore when I was on the safety patrol in 6th grade. In this matter, they are just like any other citizen who turns someone else in (and not doing their job).

    They found a bag of pot. Is Transportation more Secure and Administered now?

  16. More important than how many terrorists TSA caught is how many terrorists events they prevented by simply being there, thus discouraging attempts. Consider what would have happened after 9/11 had the U.S. done nothing at the airports. Do you think terrorists would have not tried the same thing again?

  17. The media or someone has been able to strike terror into the souls of people about being in an airplane crash. How many more people could be killed at the super bowl or any major event? It just isn’t right that some power had the ability to create the TSA, source it with the unemployed scum of the earth, and force it on the flying public. The sheep are simply getting in line and lifting their skirt and somehow feeling better about theirselves knowing that the poor schmuck next to them no longer has his cork screw or shaving cream. America is giving up too much for that false comfort. America is giving up too much even if that wasn’t a false comfort. And how does TSA have the authority to act like the police when they find something that is not terrorist related? I see the naked line in our future.

  18. Take it easy on Gary, he was just posting a lighthearted post.

    On the news here in Atlanta jusf this week is that the head honchos at ATL airport will begin to bypass TSA in favor of private contractors because there are so many issues with them.

    That’s newsworthy and kind of proves Gary’s point.

    Ps was this cabin somebody’s carry on luggage?

  19. Take it easy on Gary, he was just posting a lighthearted post.

    On the news here in Atlanta just this week is that the head honchos at ATL airport will begin to bypass TSA in favor of private contractors because there are so many issues with them.

    That’s newsworthy and kind of proves Gary’s point.

    Ps was this can in somebody’s carry on luggage?

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