Ever wonder what's inside those empty squad cars parked around airports? Or on the dashboards of the ones that just seem to circle? We don't know either. But now we're guessing that whatever they're using, it's awfully sensitive. Maybe American airports are more secure than TSA's oft near-comical bumbling might imply.
As for how these kinds of stories actually affect the broader debate over TSA, the arguments cut both ways.
If you want to be sympathetic to the security agency, you take this example and say "See? There are lots of homeland security things happening invisibly under the surface. So let's take it easy on the whole 'TSA incompetence' thing, because we just don't know."
If you're a TSA critic the argument runs the other way. You look at this incident and say that it proves that real detection is quietly happening outside security lines. What goes on inside the terminal, according this story, is just so much security theater. We're not sure that's ultimately a winning argument - TSA still needs to line people up for police dogs, and dogs are still the world's most efficient bomb detection technology - but it's certainly not incoherent.
In any case, security officials apparently have really sensitive sniffers and they use them in lots of places. Reassuring! We think...
[Photo: basictheory / Flickr]