TSA Tip from Goldy al-Ḩmār: Eliminate TSA

Remember the crotch-bomber? Well, get ready for the ab-bomber:

It is very likely that a large (15-20 cm in diameter), irregularly-shaped, cm-thick pancake with beveled edges, taped to the abdomen, would be invisible to this technology, ironically, because of its large volume, since it is easily confused with normal anatomy. Thus, a third of a kilo of PETN, easily picked up in a competent pat down, would be missed by backscatter “high technology”. Forty grams of PETN, a purportedly dangerous amount, would fit in a 1.25 mm-thick pancake of the dimensions simulated here and be virtually invisible. Packed in a compact mode, say, a 1 cm×4 cm×5 cm brick, it would be detected.

Of course it’s no surprise that the TSA’s fancy new backscatter scanners could be so easily duped (apparently, they’re not very good at detecting strategically placed thin wires and razor blades either), but if you really want to get devious about it, the softest target in our air transportation system might just turn out to be TSA itself.

In fact, if I were a dedicated suicide bomber (and just to be clear to federal authorities, I’m not), I’d pack a rolling, carry-on suitcase with as much explosives as possible, pick the busiest time of the day, wheel it through the snaking security line until I was in the very middle of the crowd, and then… BOOM!

Depending on the sophistication of the device, such an attack would kill and injure dozens, possibly hundreds, and achieve the same catastrophic impact on the airline industry without having to devise a way to sneak a weapon through security. And since the target is created by the screening process itself, such attacks would be virtually unstoppable, as any attempt to expand the security perimeter would merely create more targets.

Meanwhile, the traveling public might be much less sanguine about waiting in line for TSA’s security theater if they feared the very act made them sitting ducks to the real terrorist threat.

Now I know some of you may find my public speculation on TSA security flaws to be irresponsible, perhaps even criminal, but I’m a big believer in the philosophy that drives the open source community on such matters: that publicizing security holes is the first step toward closing them. For example, had we imagined (as the Israelis did) that terrorists might commandeer airliners to be used as building-busting weapons, the 9/11 attack might have been entirely avoided.

For in the end, I don’t just oppose the TSA’s invasive new porno-scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs because I find them offensive, I oppose them because I feel they ultimately make us less safe by consuming resources on merely giving us a false sense of security.


TSA Tip #1: Eliminate Web Check-in
TSA Tip #2: Eliminate Duty Free


  1. 1

    spyder spews:

    And what is to keep a terrorist from dragging an explosive-laden suitcase into the baggage claim area, after the arrival of several flights? A large area, filled with people, waiting for their bags to appear. Me thinks that such an area is not exactly made security conscious, and would easily collapse from the force of such a bomb. Do the TSA management ever watch Mythbusters? Not exactly, but almost, a how-to primer on bomb development for maximum damage with minimal explosives.

  2. 2

    rhp6033 spews:

    Yes, one of the weakest points has long been the airport terminal itself. Our air terminals were all built long before security issues were a concern, and most of them are quite vulnerable anywhere from the load/unload area in front of the building, to the check-in counters, to the TSA security lines.

    I’ve always wondered what the TSA would do if at the point where people were taking laptops out of their bags and loading the conveyor belts, a group of terrorists instead opened their bag an pulled out automatic rifles, RPGs, etc., and either forced their way past security and stormed an aircraft gate, or took hostages of everyone in the area. I doubt the TSA agent or two with a handgun would be much of a deterrent.

    The solution is probably to adopt a security screen far back from the airport like the Israelis do, where people and vehicles are searched before they ever get near the airport. They do this at Narita airport (serving Tokyo) also, but there they just check your ID and ticket, but private vehicles have to open their trunks.

    But that just creates another line of vehicles some 1/2 mile or so from the airport, which becomes it’s own potential target – remember the guy who opened fire on the people waiting to get past security into the CIA parking lots?

    Ironically, every security precaution you take creates yet another security problem.

  3. 4

    Brain Damage spews:

    The TSA is just there to make us feel good. They don’t stop anything. Think on it. Go use Google. What was the LAST terrorist that was stopped and captured by an airport security screening process with a bomb or gun? Oh sure, once and a while you hear about someone accidentally wandering through with a gun they forgot to take out of a bag or a knife, but it’s not “terrorists” just some random schmuck who didn’t empty their bag from their last camping trip. What was the last real bad guy we stopped? Go on…try to find it.

    Need I point out I went through a metal detector to screen out ‘knifes’ or other sharp pointy things, then sat down on my Hawaiian Airlines flight and was handed a METAL knife and fork. Mother f**king stupid.

    This is NOT a joke, what do you think WILL happen when (eventually) some amateur hour “wanna be” terrorist retard tries to sneak on a plane with a bomb in his ass. Sure, laugh, but what WILL be the consequence? Seriously. How do we “check” for that? It’s ONLY a matter of time so you better be prepared with a serious answer…it’s coming.

  4. 5

    ArtFart spews:

    @4 “The TSA is just there to make us feel good.”

    Naaaaah. The TSA, and all of “Fatherland Security” for that matter, is primarily a means of funneling gubmint money to no-bid contractors.

  5. 6


    If scanners and pat-downs make us less safe, as Goldy contends, then that means we will hear about even more Muslim men trying to blow up American planes with bombs in the next few years, correct?

  6. 7

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 6: No, it means that they will continue to try to test the system, but as experience has shown since 9/11, they will use relatively untrained people who don’t know much if caught, or try to use package bombs (like the UPS/Fed Ex “printer bombs” a month or so ago).

    But as airport security becomes tighter, they will move on to “softer” targets – more attempts at high-rise buildings like the Oklahoma City bombing, rail bombings like the one in Spain a few years back, etc.

  7. 8



    If they will move on to other targets as airport security tightens, then doesn’t that mean that the TSA measures are working?

  8. 9

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 8: Not necessarily. They may simply spread out their attacks to other targets, for any variety of reasons.

    Remember that nothing can be defended indefinately, and to defend everything to is to defend nothing, as Napolean said. Eventually no matter how good your security, somebody is going to get through anyway, either because of oversight, incompetence, or holes in the system which we can’t afford to plug, either for finanical or practical reasons.

    The only thing you accomplish by defending a target is to buy time while you remove the threat. Either you remove the situations which foster the creation of fundamentalist terrorists, or you attack them at their source – depending upon which tactic is most feasible.

    Robert E. Lee understood this, he put his men to work building entrenchments around Richmond during McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862. The purpose wasn’t to wait for McClellan’s attack, but instead for the entrenchments to act as a “force multiplier”, allowing him to exercise economy of force in defending in one place, while freeing up a larger share of his army to go on the offensive at another location. He wasn’t going to leave the initiative to his enemy to decide when and where to attack.

    As long as we wait for the next attack, relying upon increasingly more frustrating security precautions, without removing the impetus which fuels terrorism, then we will eventually see someone who figures out a way to outwit the system.

    And if anyone wants to guess how you remove the impetus which fuels terrorism, I’ve got an easy answer: oil. Our dependence on oil is what put us into positions of shifting alliances and military bases, all to protect the flow of oil. Without our need for oil in the middle east, we can leave the middle east to those who reside there, and they can figure out their local squabbles on their own. We don’t have to prop up un-democratic regimes like the the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, etc.

    And don’t forget that Chavez in Venezuella is important only because Venezuella is the largest oil exporter in the Americas.

    Switching to mostly electric cars can solve a multitude of foreign-policy problems. And that’s not even counting environmental issues.

  9. 10

    sarge spews:

    I’ve often wondered about train travel. It would be really easy to stick a suitcase bomb on a crowded train, then get of on the next stop.

  10. 11

    Pete spews:

    To see this principle in action, witness the last several years’ history in Iraq, where suicide bombers have long targeted the queues at US security checkpoints (and still do), to great effect.

    @5 is correct. It’s all about making money for Friends of Important People. If it were actually about security, we’d start by not inspiring so many prospective terrorists.

  11. 12

    Steve spews:

    “If it were actually about security, we’d start by not inspiring so many prospective terrorists.”

    It appears that the game plan is to scare the living fuck out of us so we’ll all be more pliable and easily controlled. Fuck that shit.

    Whoever is giving marching orders to our government officials is the real enemy of the state. It’s like when they get to DC someone sets them down and explains the program to them, and how they fit in. Or else. Republicans and Democrats aren’t two sides of a coin. They’re on the same side of the coin. It’s the other side where hope resides.

  12. 13

    Eric Arrr spews:


    You don’t even have to get aboard the train. Just sabotage the track. There’s plenty of it to choose from.

    Not that the TSA would ever be so imaginative. I’m sure invasive screening of train travelers is right around the corner in any event.

  13. 14


    @5 brilliant! not many people understand the truth you illustrated here. the government makes kings faster than capitalism.

    @12 Whoever is giving marching orders to our government officials IS the real enemy of the state! Democracy is totally overrated. The people’s worst enemy is… themselves! I think =) but in all seriousness, i dig your response. very libertarian.