Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Aviation Security Crisis Continues

The first week of the new decade is only two days old and already we've had the following security alerts and emergencies.

If you put up a fight, you won't make your flight

Award winning war correspondent Michael Yon was detained and handcuffed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Yesterday by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel.

According to Yon, “they handcuffed me for failing to cooperate. They said I was impeding their ability to do their job.”

Regarding the incident in Seattle, Yon was adamant the TSA agents had overstepped their bounds: “If I am the guy on that passport and I don’t have any contraband in my luggage, it is a matter for the FBI, not the TSA ... TSA people are out of control.”

And people say that German police don't have a sense of humor

A German man was temporarily detained at Stuttgart airport on Tuesday after he repeatedly told security personnel that he had explosives in his underwear, police said.

The police said in a statement that the family would not be refunded for the cost of their canceled trip and could "expect a fine of up to 1,000 euros ($1,444) ... and possible costs for the police operation."

Letting TSA screeners use their own discretion is never a good idea

On a post-Christmas flight out of New Orleans last week, the TSA confiscated young Josh Pitney’s Play-Doh.

The child’s mother Christy Pitney [said] "And the man from TSA was taking every [Play-Doh] can out at a time and putting it on a table, and Josh saw and he started fussing. I tried to explain that those were the rules, but it turns out it’s not prohibited on the TSA’s website - so apparently those are not the rules."

Christy was right. Play-Doh is not a prohibited item and it is allowed on board ... However, because plastic explosives can be camouflaged to look like Play-Doh, a TSA spokeswoman says screeners are told to use their own discretion.

Bad dog!

All checkpoints at the Lindbergh Terminal of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have reopened after being closed for a short time, after a suspicious piece of luggage was found by a bomb-sniffing dog, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA reported that at about 1:45 p.m., a canine team was conducting routine screening of operations at MSP when they were alerted on a bag on a luggage carousel number 12. TSA contacted the local police department and Bloomington Police Department bomb squad.

The bag was not a passenger's bag and was never on a flight, according to airport spokesperson Pat Hogan. It was the end bag the airport crews throw on the carousel to signal that all luggage is unloaded.

Suspicious honey, and possibly toxic

Authorities say the suspicious material inside luggage that prompted the shutdown of the Bakersfield airport turns out to be five soft drink bottles filled with honey.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood says the bottles, inside a checked bag at Meadows Field, had tested positive for traces of an explosive.

Youngblood says investigators are trying to determine whether there was something in the honey or on the bag that caused security alarms to go off shortly before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The discovery of the suspicious material halted flights to and from the airport. Two security officers reported feeling ill after being exposed to the bottles.

Security test goes wrong

Irish police have released a man held over an explosives find, after Slovak authorities admitted planting them in his luggage as part of a security test.

Airport security detected seven of the illicit items, but the eighth - 90g of research development explosive - managed to escape detection.

Slovak authorities were reportedly trying to test screening procedures for checked-in luggage by placing items with unwitting passengers.

Heavy sleeper missed by sleepy TSA agents

The Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport is investigating how a Pensacola Christian College student from Korea ended up spending the night at the airport undetected.

The student, Enoch Hwang, was found asleep at a Delta airlines gate at 4:15 a.m. Sunday when an agent of the airline arrived to open the gate for business.

According to an incident report, Hwang told airport officials, in broken English, that he arrived at the airport on a Delta flight at about 5 p.m. Saturday ... He spent the night sleeping in the seats near Gate 8 next to the concourse window and next to a support column.

According to the report, Transportation Safety Administration officials left the concourse at 7 p.m. Saturday and two TSA employees walked to the end of the concourse and back to the checkpoint without noticing Hwang ... Another search was conducted at 11:50 p.m. Saturday by airport police and they did not spot Hwang either ... A search done at 3:10 a.m. Sunday morning did not uncover Hwang.

And your point is?

Cuba has lodged a protest with the top US diplomat on the island over extra screening for Cuban citizens flying into the US, calling the rule a "hostile action" meant to justify America's trade embargo.

Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's North American affairs office, said the new security controls were "discriminatory and selective."

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