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New TSA Liquid Checks Trigger National Freakout, for Some Reason

July 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM | by | ()

When a blogger figured out how to defeat TSA's million-dollar scanners and posted the proof to YouTube, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that she literally hadn't heard about it. When a report by DHS's inspector general uncovered systematic TSA security breaches and issued a report, officials from the airport security agency told Congress that fixing things would take a while.

But spill one dead guy's ashes all over security at the end of a very bad PR month, and suddenly there are new rules on top of damage control on top of new rules. And to think, some critics suggest that TSA responds faster to public relations issues than they do to security issues!

None of that has anything to do with this week's news that, apparently, TSA agents have taken to roaming the terminal and putting strips into people's drinks to test them. We just wanted to get it out of the way since some of you guys get deliciously crazy when we defend TSA in any way and, since we're about to do that, we thought we'd ease you into the post. Because we care.

This story, which has TSA agents leaving checkpoints and randomly inspect liquids being carried by travelers around the terminal, seems to have bubbled up from local news and then hit national outlets. For years we've been saying things like "it's stupid for TSA to have a 3-2-1 system since terrorists can just go into the bathroom and mix their ingredients into something bad." These new checks is basically them saying "fair enough, we'll start checking for that too." Forebear the thought, but doesn't that kind of makes sense?

To listen to these news reports, asking passengers to let TSA test their coffee is the equivalent of agents setting up checkpoints at train and bus stations and circumventing basic Constitutional protections (which is something that is actually happening and is a real problem). The sheer tonage of misinformation would actually be kind of impressive if it wasn't so obnoxious.

The local news channel did an interview with an "infrequent traveler"—in a story about traveling, we'll remind you—and informed viewers that the new policy was stressing out people in airports. That woman was followed by some guy who thought the policy means every single drink would now get checked. He declared that "it's just ridiculous," which we suppose it would be.

Then there was this Fox News segment. The argument began with "there are lots of [other] objects" that random terminal liquid checks won't stop, which is technically true but irrelevant to the question of whether they'll stop these objects. Then came the assertion that if Americans are getting their coffee tested in airports then the terrorists have already won. Yeah, no. That's not what those guys count as winning.

Come on folks.

[Photo: Fox News / Yahoo News]

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