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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Nuts and Bolts of Security ... but mostly the Nuts.

After our trip to Washington, DC last fall, I shared a few comments regarding security checks along the way. You may remember my describing the amusing episodes - if you can call them "amusing" - regarding Terry's Jekyll and Hyde Bagallini purse.

Her purse easily passed through security checks into all of the historical sites we visited along the National Mall. The list of prohibited items, posted at the door, included many things including backpacks - but purses, fanny packs, etc., are allowed.

Terry usually carries her Bagallini purse over one shoulder on the single shoulder strap. For added convenience, the "single" shoulder strap however has a zipper along its length. If she unzips the zipper, one shoulder strap becomes two so she can then wear her purse like you wear a backpack. This gives her more freedom with her arms and hands to take photos, etc., without her purse slipping from her shoulder.

Unfortunately, if once beyond the security check she decides to unzip the zipper and wear it like a backpack she immediately catches the attention of security guards who insist that she must wear it like a purse. For what reason? Because, rules are rules. Meanwhile I am wearing my fanny-pack on my fanny. Perhaps if she fastened the shoulder straps around her waist and wore her purse like a fanny-pack and not like a back-pack she would be in compliance.

This brings me to 3.4 ounces of shampoo. If you have traveled via the airlines, you know that you must restrict your liquid items, such as shampoo, to 3.4 ounces or less - and then have no more bottles than will comfortably fit in a one-quart plastic bag.

If a passenger's carry-on bag is inspected and the traveler forgot that he had a ten ounce bottle of Breck tucked inside, the bottle of Breck is tossed into the confiscation bin along with all the confiscated over-sized hand-lotions, tooth-pastes, mouth-washes and makeups.

When the over-sized liquid rule was enacted, the first instinct of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was to give the confiscated items to charity or, for some enterprising airports - to sell them on e-Bay. The TSA then considered the liability risk. According to the TSA, (a quote from their website) "As you can imagine we have voluminous amounts of liquid items surrendered daily. ... Early on there was a move to donate the liquid items to local homeless shelters but we were forced to suspend that practice after the determination was made that there is a liability risk. We couldn't continue to donate items and not know if the water was truly water or if the shampoo was truly shampoo. While unfortunate, the litigious world in which we live forced the abandonment of that process. So now, those items are tossed out."

But wait a minute, here! Why were those over-sized items confiscated in the first place?

The only reason that those over-sized bottles are confiscated is because they could be potentially dangerous terrorist weapons in disguise! If such items, either separately or in combinations, are potentially lethal wouldn't you think that a government Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Team would rush in the moment that an over-sized bottle is discovered, handle it with kid-gloves, take it to some concrete revetment and destroy it?

If confiscated items can be tossed into collection containers, and thought sufficiently safe to be donated to charities or sold on e-Bay, then why are we going through this mindless exercise? Even the TSA wasn't concerned with the danger about blowing up a homeless shelter or having a homeless person consume a lethal substance that they thought was water. The TSA, in their own words, were not as concerned about being safe as they were concerned about being sued!

The terrorists want to destroy our way of life - or so we say, and we are allowing mindless rules and faulty logic of our bureaucracies to do it to us instead.

Good night nurse! What next?

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