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Common Sense Says Don't Travel with Knives in Airports

December 23, 2011 at 2:44 PM | by | ()

We've been kind of rough on TSA over the last couple of months. We've raised concerns about how they're expanding outside of airports, especially given that inside airports they may be covering up the health risks of their safety procedures. Meanwhile we've mocked them for searching holiday gifts, for being obnoxiously pedantic about holiday foods, and for wasting $56 billion. Those two posts about gifts and food were kind of tongue-in-cheek, but the $56 billion thing—how do you even do that?

That said, and as we pointed out a few days ago, the agency has been making very tiny and very halting steps in the direction of sanity. So in the spirit of the season—and because security alerts shut down airports, and we're traveling over the next few weeks—we wanted to help them help you not make an easily-avoidable mistake.

There have recently been a couple of attempts to smuggle knives through checkpoints. Both failed, obviously. A passenger at Liberty International in Newark tried to disguise a knife as a credit card (we can't be sure, but we assume it was something like this thing). Another passenger at Reagan-Washington National Airport got caught trying to hide two throwing daggers inside a hollowed-out book (!!).

Let us explain very precisely why trying to get through security with sharp things that cut people is a bad idea. The most significant criticism of TSA isn't that they violate civil liberties. Like it or not what they do is still technically legal, until a court or Congress say otherwise. What they really get criticized for—and we've gone on about this issue at some length—is for building tomorrow's security checks around yesterday's hijackings. They respond to shoe-bombers by forcing us to take off our shoes. They respond to underwear bombers by building machines that see through underwear. The agency is purely reactive.

But the upshot of that is that the one thing TSA agents are almost certain to catch are the weapons that caused 9/11. There's an argument to be made that those are the only things they'll catch—and that they need to be more proactive—but that's not relevant to this post. What's relevant here is Stop It.

[Photo: hyku / Flickr]

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