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Old Oct 14, 07, 6:30 pm
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 8,386
Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
Bart, you are usually a TSA voice of reason around here. Are you really saying that dumping the terminal because someone packs peanut butter or toothpaste in a checked bag is not absurd? Given the current rules, those items can't be in carryon bags. They are pretty common items.

The CTX scanners are said to falsely alarm for books and chocolate too. How comforting to know that we should apparently add peanut butter and toothpaste to the list
Not at all. I'm saying that there probably was something with the same consistency of peanut butter or toothpaste that caused the CTX to alarm. Combined with all the wiring, I can understand the concern. There are other procedures in place that could have mitigated the alarm. However, as I pointed out, it's the LEOs' call whether or not to evacuate a terminal. TSA does not make that call.

In this instance, talking about carry-on items simply doesn't apply in this case. Checkpoint x-ray operators make judgment calls. CTX machines are designed to alarm on items that contain properties similar to explosives in terms of density and other characteristics. In 99.999999999% of the cases, it's easy to determine that the CTX alarmed on a jar of peanut butter or a tube of toothpaste. This happens every hour of every day and is handled quite routinely. However, there is that one time when something else gives it the appearance of being something more than just a jar of peanut butter or tube of toothpaste. And a bag with a bunch of wires and cables in it will certainly do that. Still, there are other procedures that allow such situations to be mitigated. Then again, I wasn't there, so I don't know how the image appeared on-screen.

The missing detail in this story is what was on-screen and what was communicated between the TSA STSO and LRPD LEO. Keep in mind, LEOs are not experts at x-ray image interpretation yet they decide whether an x-ray image warrants evacuating a terminal. Not trying to criticize LEOs; just pointing out that they have the authority to make those calls. Hopefully, there was good communication between the STSO and LEO.

And as I pointed out, there are other factors such as the local politics at a particular airport. Not trying to question the professionalism of the LEOs; however, there are some airport chiefs of police who believe they should have their own little bomb disposal unit assigned to the airport. (I happen to disagree, but that's another topic.)

I still question the integrity of the news article. I see lots of gaps in information. I see the report has the illusion of being researched, but there are lots of holes in the reporter's story.

Again, I agree that the evacuation was not necessary and could have been avoided.
Bart is offline