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Japanese Officials Try to Explain Away Massive Airport Security Fail

October 10, 2012 at 4:58 PM | by | ()

Japanese airport security officials are defending themselves and insisting that "there was nothing unusual" about Yongda Huang Harris, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen who boarded a flight in Osaka last week bound for Boston via LAX. That assertion is in question—and seems at least somewhat strained—since Harris was subsequently arrested in the Los Angeles airport when a customs officer noticed he was wearing a bulletproof vest and flame-retardant leggings under his trench coat.

Also discovered in Harris's luggage, and also casting doubt on the claims of those officials: "a smoke grenade, a hatchet, knives, three leather-coated lead-filled billy clubs, a gas mask, a Tyvek biohazard suit, leg irons, handcuffs, body bags, a collapsible baton, various masks, duct tape, batteries, oven mitts, cooking tongs, plastic cuffs, and some sort of device to repel dogs." Ummm...?

According to Japanese security officials quoted by CBS, Harris managed to slip through Japanese security because he looked neither jittery nor sheepish. We didn't realize those were the standards for when someone should be considered a security risk. We were kind of hoping that, in addition to preventing jittery and sheepish terrorists from boarding planes, officers were also on the look out for terrorists who are calm and confident. Apparently not so much.

Harris was in federal court yesterday and is being charged with transporting hazardous material. Just the smoke grenade could have filled an entire airplane cabin with smoke and started a fire, so "hazardous material" seems like an accurate description. It's hard to imagine him avoiding some sort of conviction and the charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

He's just lucky that it's not illegal to make Japanese airport security look like tools, because if anything that's an even more open-and-shut case than the hazardous material charge. Seriously. If this guy managed to get on an airplane, who exactly are they stopping?

[Photo: Florencio Briones / Wiki Commons]

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