Skip to comments.Tighter airport security led to boy's arrest
Posted on 05/28/2003 11:06:44 AM PDT by Labyrinthos
ASHEVILLE - When a teenager checked his luggage packed with chemicals, a bomb making handbook and instructions for explosives from a Web site on the Internet, federal baggage screeners at the Asheville Regional Airport responded quickly Sunday.
Screeners notified police, who arrested the boy on felony charges. And because he tried to bring the materials aboard a plane, the teen may face federal charges.
The chain of events may never have occurred if not for the Sept. 11 attacks two years ago, when terrorists hijacked four jetliners and forever changed airline security in the United States.
"You can not simply joke about this stuff anymore," Sal Severe, a school psychologist said of Sunday's incident. "Everyone knows this is a serious issue. And parents need to be aware of what their kids are looking at on the Internet and why they are interested in this type of material."
The Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday screeners spotted the hazardous materials with explosive trace detectors and rapidly removed the luggage. Under a new system implemented last October, every single bag destined for an airplane is inspected. Congress also mandated that by the start of the year, all baggage be screened at every domestic airport.
The TSA is a federal agency responsible for passenger and baggage screening. It was created after the Sept. 11 attacks when questions were raised about the ability of privately contracted screeners.
"It's our job to make sure these passengers are not placed in danger," said Richard Fox, a TSA spokesman.
"When people think about airport security, most think about the passenger checkpoint," Fox said. "But, we in fact screen every checked bag, something that didn't occur when contractors filled screening positions. And there is increased technology and inspections that begin the minute a bag is checked."
Fox said in the case of the teen, "everything went according to plan. The screeners here (at the Asheville airport) did a fine job at identifying these items that were prohibited."
(Excerpt) Read more at cgi.citizen-times.com ...
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
First, I wouldn't blame the TSA yet. I can't tell you the number of times long before 09.11 and the advent of the TSA that my lock was popped on checked luggage, particulary in Atlanta and Newark. One time, the baggage handler who was sifting through my checked luggage in Atlanta put someones else's lock on my bag (or one of the many spares he probably carried). Second, during my last several trips through airports, there were numerous signs asking people not to lock their bags. Third, the TSA has thousands of bags to check and if they stopped to put the lock back on every one, the planes would never leave the gate anywhere close to on-time.
I don't know for sure. Nor can I guarantee that he was actually 14 years old or that he was even a boy. Could have been been a middle aged, middle eastern looking female disguised as a 14 year old boy.
I saw the guy check it right in front of me. He made me unlock it. I started to lock it back when he was done. He said "No sir, I must remain in control of the luggage. I will lock it back."
Second, during my last several trips through airports, there were numerous signs asking people not to lock their bags.
Haven't seen that one. Actually the airline suggestions always say lock your bags.
They're not picking on youngsters. They're picking on youngsters carrying bomb making material. There's a difference.
I guess you missed the part of the article that cited the following stats: Since 1993, there have been more than 14,000 bombings or attempted bombings in the United States, and more than one third of them were attributed to juveniles, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Just because a kid doesn't intend to blow up a skyscraper, doesn't mean it's ok for him to bring the ingredients of a bomb aboard an airliner. He may not be a terrorist (yet), but what the hell was he thinking trying to get stuff like that on board when people are getting tweezers and nail clippers confiscated before boarding a flight? And what was his.. and better yet... his parents' explanation for the contents of his luggage?
Our attention has been focused on muslim extremist terrorists lately, but that doesn't mean that there isn't still potential for domestic terrorism. I don't know about you, but I, for one, am glad that they "picked" on him.
As a teenager while flying between parents for the summer, I flew at least once with a "Poor Man's James Bond" book which contained explosive recipes and also I checked my chemistry set on several occasions. In your unqualified view, should I have been arrested?
Years latter in my chemical engineering classes I found out that many if not most of my American classmates had a similar interest in their teenage years. Nowhere in the article does it say that the "chemicals" were assembled into anything dangerous. Furthermore, I would wager that being a chemical engineer, I could assemble the contents of the purse, shaving kit, or computer in your baggage into something dangerous. Should you be arrested? We don't have all the fact about this case and it is far too soon to draw any conclusions about the TSA's competence in this incident.
I gues you missed the part of my post where I closed my comments with "< /sarcasm >."
LOL! That was then. This is now. How long has it been since you were a teenager?
You're ruining the collective hysteria !
I'll guarantee that as a mechanical engineer, I also can make some very nasty devices out of ordinary household items.
When I think of all the stuff my friends and I did as kids, we should all have been imprisoned for about 25 consecutive life terms. The fact that no one was hurt is of course immaterial.
Hmmm. Technically, your brain is one such component. Anybody with a brain, a computer and access to the internet possesses components of mass destruction.
You're right, explosives are fun when you're a teenage boy, and I'm sure you're no psychopath. However, there's a difference between blowing yourself up in your basement, and endangering others on an airplane. There's nothing wrong with boys playing with fire. But you don't bring it on an airplane. And while that may have been ok a hundred or so years ago when we were teenagers, times have changed, and now it's not ok anymore. It's that simple.
You are absolutely correct. A motivated ME could take out an aircraft quicker than any other type of engineer other than maybe an EE. The pilots are now safely behind 1/2" of plate steel while the hydraulics are still behind a mere 1/16" of polyethylene in the rear biffy. The TSA is primarily concerned with insuring the confidence of passengers, not their safety. We will know that they are finally getting serious when they start taking the El Al approach: looking for the terrorists, not just the weapons.
Maybe his name is "John-boy."
Was it really bad stuff?
A banana with a glass of milk. SBD. No lighter needed.
That's right, the world isn't perfect, and people can still get away with things they shouldn't get away with, and a real genius can make a bomb out of piss water, and the TSA, or anyone for that matter, can't guarantee your safety anywhere at any time. But they're trying to do better than they did before, and that's all you can ask for.
For the most part, the security people at airports are just trying to do their job as best as they can. Maybe some of it may seem like overkill to you, but maybe if they were operating in "overkill mode" on 9/11, the twin towers would still be standing. Or maybe they wouldn't. I guess we'll never really know for sure. But after recent events, common sense dictates that you can't expect them to just sit back and treat homemade bomb kits as a joke.
I completely disagree. It's this attitude that the TSA "are just trying to do their job as best as they can" that is causing the problem. The only thing that could have prevented the Sept-11 terrorists from boarding the aircraft in the first place would have been a simple interview like El Al does. By putting up with this intrusive, yet admittedly ineffective security, we are all allowing the next tragedy to transpire. Maybe then, after more people die, we will wake up and finally begin take this threat seriously and then act accordingly.
Perhaps you're right. I think it's a good suggestion. However, the truth is, we don't know if anything could have prevented those terrorists from boarding. People can lie on interviews. And when someone is hell bent on achieving a psychotic, suicidal goal like crashing into a building, they do their homework.
Interviews, like El Al, may be more effective than current procedures, but then you'd have people whining about that the way they whine about the current procedures. Then it would be an "invasion of privacy" or some other violation that someone is unhappy about. People would start filing lawsuits for being detained because someone didn't like the way they "look", nevermind evidence. So they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't.
I think the thing that makes El Al safe is that the Israelis don't screw around. They have proven this historically, not with one act, but time and time again. They don't negotitate with terrorists or hijackers, and they leave no room for nonsense "political correctness." They crack the whip like no one else, which is why so many liberals in this country criticise them when they do things like demolish terrorist's homes. Most of the things that they do, unfortunately, would never pass here.
What's worse, I worked for Boeing for five years !
I don't think the airport baloney is doing anything at all, except "raising people's awareness" and pissing them off. Any dedicated nut case could circumvent the "security measures" without much effort at all.
While I recognize the value in "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", I favor applying a ton of cure. Why haven't we sued the terrorists' families and everybody else associated with them? Why not put an even greater effort into finding al Quaeda and bringing them to justice?
It would sound even better if President Bush in his speeches could say "Some folks attacked us on 9/11. They're ALL dead now, so they won't be any more trouble."
Naive, I know, but I can dream, can't I ?
I know they are incompetent because they are government employees of a Democrat make-work program to buy the votes of people who cannot get real jobs.
I know firsthand because I have had the misfortune of having to fly three times since 9/11. Each time infuriated me.
If Bozoes like you think it is great that we have turned airoports into POW camps, you can have them.
When the airlines all go belly-up and the airports all close because people like me refuse to subject themselves to the minimum-IQ airport Gestapo, I am sure you will want the government to keep paying them anyway.
I will conceed that we can never know for sure if interviews would have prevent the tragic events of that day. I am very confident that given El Al's track record, however, that the odds of nineteen out of nineteen getting through would have been almost zero. Those terrorists could have hijacked those airliners with tooth floss, but I doubt very many could have gotten through an Israeli interview. If just one of them had been prevented from boarding and then interrogated, all of them might have been stopped. I am convinced that all the weapons screening in the world is worthless in preventing any organized terrorist attack.
I also agree that there would be a great deal of liberal whining if we were ever to start using overt demographic profiling, even of foreign nationals from terrorist sponsoring countries. The sad reality, however, is that we will end up using it now or after another tragedy. I would prefer the whining.
Ain't that the truth!
Most passengers are more afraid of the security than they are of the terrorists. Those overpowered screeners are killing the entire air transportation industry.
I am only afraid that I am going to tell one of them what I think of them. I am sure that would be a federal crime.
Me too. And I am all for profiling. I know the liberals scream about it being "racial" profiling, but the truth is, it's "criminal" profiling. I don't remember who said it exactly but it's so true -- of all the terrorist hijackers that we've seen lately, there was not a Swede among them.
But even profiling can be circumvented, which means we can't ignore other suspicious characters just because they don't fit the profile. That doesn't mean we go after little old ladies... unless there is something about them that raises suspicion.
Which brings me back to the main story. This wasn't about terrorist detention. It was about a kid who, in violation of common sense (not to mention whatever rules there may be against such things), tried to get something on board that he had no business bringing on board, and so he was stopped. Rightly so. I doubt El Al would have let him board one of their flights either, and his parents would have had quite a bit of explaining to do.
Unless the "bomb making" information he possessed ("General Chemistry 101"?) was officially classified, there are no restrictions on its possession or transportation. As for the "chemicals" in question, you are simply unqualified to say anything about whether he had any "business bringing them on board" until you know what it was and how much of it he had. If you really believe that the TSA should ban transport of all "chemicals" then you should do you civic duty and leave all of your medications at home. There is almost nothing an organized terrorist could not do on a commercial aircraft with an ounce of the right substance, even if it was in a pill bottle. As I've said, there is absolutely nothing in the article indicating that this boy broke any specific law. I sure wouldn't want you on a jury.