TSO: "Cigars can be made into bombs."

Old Feb 16, 16, 4:20 pm
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TSO: "Cigars can be made into bombs."

Yep, that's what I was told today. I travel by commercial air almost every week, and almost always carry an ABS-plastic cigar travel humidor (it's a Herf-a-dor in case anyone cares) with me in my briefcase. Over several years and hundreds and hundreds of flights it's never been an issue, and I've never even received so much as a comment about it, even when opting out of the AIT and getting a bag check - until today.

Today I passed through one of my weekly-used PreCheck checkpoints. The x-ray operator was spending way more than usual time scanning each bag, and sending what appeared to be nearly every other bag down the chute for additional screening. My briefcase was selected.

The TSO who searched my briefcase had a copy of the x-ray image of it up on a monitor in front of her. She rummaged around in my briefcase while looking at it, exclaimed, "Aha!", pulled the plastic humidor out, and said, "I have to open this."

After fumbling with the latches, she popped open the humidor, and there were my cigars. She looked at the top layer, but didn't touch them. I asked her if that was really what triggered the bag search, and she said, "Oh yes." I expressed incredulity, and mentioned that I had carried that same humidor through her checkpoint at least a hundred times without ever having it opened or even glanced at.

She looked at me with a solemn, earnest face, and said, "Cigars can be made into bombs." When I heard this pile of nonsense, I couldn't help it - I just shook my head. She said, "If you had seen what we've seen, you'd understand."

Thanks to goalie's This Week in TSA History threads, I happen to know that TSA has never reported finding any cigar bombs. I have great pity for that poor deluded TSO.
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Old Feb 16, 16, 4:53 pm
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Originally Posted by BSBD View Post
She looked at me with a solemn, earnest face, and said, "Cigars can be made into bombs." When I heard this pile of nonsense, I couldn't help it - I just shook my head. She said, "If you had seen what we've seen, you'd understand."

Thanks to goalie's This Week in TSA History threads, I happen to know that TSA has never reported finding any cigar bombs. I have great pity for that poor deluded TSO.
Maybe she's old enough to remember the ads for exploding cigars by the same company that sold the dribble glass and the joy buzzer.

The exploding-cigar gag supposedly goes at least as far back as Ulysses Grant, and rumors abound of an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro using such a device.

No, I won't insert a Bill Clinton joke here.
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Old Feb 17, 16, 12:12 am
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Do the TSA rely upon all sorts of reports and legends about what the CIA was said to have considered to use to assassinate foreign political leaders? Poisoned cigars or cigar bombs?
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Old Feb 17, 16, 2:09 am
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Didn't Sigmund Freud once say: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?
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Old Feb 17, 16, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Do the TSA rely upon all sorts of reports and legends about what the CIA was said to have considered to use to assassinate foreign political leaders? Poisoned cigars or cigar bombs?
I'm thinking the source is vintage Bugs Bunny cartoons. That's visual evidence!
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Old Feb 17, 16, 9:06 am
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If they're focusing on cigars I can hardly wait until next month. We're taking a cruise with another couple in the Caribbean and the guy is a huge cigar smoker. He had close to a suitcase full for our Med cruise last year. Of course he can always buy Cuban cigars but I can see him being hassled about the dozens of cigars I know he'll have with him. He has a great sense of humor but not about his precious cigars.
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Old Feb 17, 16, 9:07 am
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Old Feb 17, 16, 9:54 am
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Originally Posted by BSBD View Post
I'm thinking the source is vintage Bugs Bunny cartoons. That's visual evidence!
If I'm not mistaken, the TSA is even on the hunt for toy "dynamite" -- even that "dynamite" made for Lego play.

The TSA can't help but think of the children, with immaturity to boot even in its adolescent years.
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Old Feb 17, 16, 9:59 am
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Originally Posted by BSBD View Post
Yep, that's what I was told today. I travel by commercial air almost every week, and almost always carry an ABS-plastic cigar travel humidor (it's a Herf-a-dor in case anyone cares) with me in my briefcase. Over several years and hundreds and hundreds of flights it's never been an issue, and I've never even received so much as a comment about it, even when opting out of the AIT and getting a bag check - until today.

Today I passed through one of my weekly-used PreCheck checkpoints. The x-ray operator was spending way more than usual time scanning each bag, and sending what appeared to be nearly every other bag down the chute for additional screening. My briefcase was selected.

The TSO who searched my briefcase had a copy of the x-ray image of it up on a monitor in front of her. She rummaged around in my briefcase while looking at it, exclaimed, "Aha!", pulled the plastic humidor out, and said, "I have to open this."

After fumbling with the latches, she popped open the humidor, and there were my cigars. She looked at the top layer, but didn't touch them. I asked her if that was really what triggered the bag search, and she said, "Oh yes." I expressed incredulity, and mentioned that I had carried that same humidor through her checkpoint at least a hundred times without ever having it opened or even glanced at.

She looked at me with a solemn, earnest face, and said, "Cigars can be made into bombs." When I heard this pile of nonsense, I couldn't help it - I just shook my head. She said, "If you had seen what we've seen, you'd understand."

Thanks to goalie's This Week in TSA History threads, I happen to know that TSA has never reported finding any cigar bombs. I have great pity for that poor deluded TSO.

ATF at one point used to show (and maybe still does) a cool video that includes how one can make a small but effective incendiary device from a cigar tube.

But not from the natural leaf wrappers of the cigars themselves.... D'Oh!
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Old Feb 17, 16, 10:13 am
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Originally Posted by Section 107 View Post
ATF at one point used to show (and maybe still does) a cool video that includes how one can make a small but effective incendiary device from a cigar tube.

But not from the natural leaf wrappers of the cigars themselves.... D'Oh!
Making a small incendiary or explosive pen doesn't take much intellectual ability and it can do more damage than using a cigar tube. Even before I was a teenager, I could do this with my grandpa's Montblanc pens. Maybe the TSA should examine all expensive pens while at it and then seize a couple for good measure. Apparently the pens have increased in value a lot since when I used to find them around. And we know the TSA likes expensive toys too.
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Old Feb 17, 16, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by Section 107 View Post
ATF at one point used to show (and maybe still does) a cool video that includes how one can make a small but effective incendiary device from a cigar tube.
I've traveled a lot with cigars in tubes (and empty tubes too) as well as in the humidor. The tubos have never been looked at either.
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Old Feb 17, 16, 10:39 am
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And The Secret Service wrestled the cigars to the ground...
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Old Feb 17, 16, 10:48 am
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Originally Posted by BSBD View Post
I'm thinking the source is vintage Bugs Bunny cartoons. That's visual evidence!
So how did she verify that your cigars (each and every one) had not been 'weaponized' without confiscating them?

(Have you ever noticed how the simple act of surrendering your valuables at a checkpoint completely neutralizes them? My deadly nitro pills and water bottles and nail clippers were completely safe after they disappeared into a waste bin or a TSO's pocket).

Did she swab the cigars, the case, your hands?

Or did you get lucky and encounter a nosy non-cigar smoker? Maybe she had never seen one of the cases and thought she'd hit the BIG score because she's never seen joints that big?
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Old Feb 17, 16, 10:50 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Maybe the TSA should examine all expensive pens while at it and then seize a couple for good measure. Apparently the pens have increased in value a lot since when I used to find them around. And we know the TSA likes expensive toys too.
Don't be giving them any ideas - they already steal our exorbitantly expensive plastic water containers.
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Old Feb 17, 16, 11:32 am
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Originally Posted by Section 107 View Post
Don't be giving them any ideas - they already steal our exorbitantly expensive plastic water containers.
I have had TSOs take sealed water bottles and stash them under the table, not toss them into the trash.

If I were Britney Spears, they'd either hand carry the bottle for me or they'd confiscate it and try to sell it on Ebay.
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