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Terminal Cornucopia
November 16, 2013 1:44 AM   Subscribe

Can common items sold in airports after the security screening be used to build lethal weapons? Yes.
posted by Zarkonnen (57 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read that link and got that same someone's watching me feeling I got when I searched for "anarchist's cookbook" in high school.
posted by The Potate at 2:07 AM on November 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've said this for years. Here's one.

But hey, TSA, you keep right on making a fuss about scissors and nail clippers and bottles of shampoo that are a bit too big. You idiots.
posted by Decani at 2:10 AM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I'm guessing the reaction from TSA about this video is banning aerosols for sale within security perimeter. And maybe lithium ion batteries.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:12 AM on November 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


so THAT'S in my NSA file now.
posted by empath at 2:13 AM on November 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Evan Booth is my new hero.

I'll note though that I can kill any of you twice and show you your still beating heart with a Captain and Tenille CD.
posted by vapidave at 2:15 AM on November 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


People, you're sort of missing the point.
Everything you've ever done is in your file.
Everything.
posted by fullerine at 2:20 AM on November 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Everything you've ever done is in your file.
Everything.

Also in high school, they all warned me about my permanent record.
posted by The Potate at 2:24 AM on November 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


The obvious solution is to make the airport shops even more expensive, such that bringing in sufficient bags of cash to make a weapon will catch the eye of security staffers with a taste for the green.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:39 AM on November 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


A neat idea. But these weapons aren't really lethal. A few seem to be considerably more dangerous to the user than the intended victim.
posted by Authorized User at 3:17 AM on November 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Potate, did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?
posted by maxwelton at 3:41 AM on November 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


There were a lot of good comments on reddit about this, and god, i'm gonna get V& for this, but a lot of these could use serious improvement.

The thermos lithium battery "fraggacino" thing loses basically all it's explosive energy when the flimsy plastic lid blows off. Don't they sell metal nalgene type water bottles in airports? The least amount of surface area for the lid to get the highest pressure on the actual metal portion hoping for at least some of the energy to go into that failing seems like a better strategy. Or hell, why not fill the thermos with small things like those tiny ass travel size nail clippers and stuff that you can amusingly buy in airports despite not being allowed to bring them along yourself?

The fact that you can make something blow up is the point, i get that, but it seems like the "actually hurting people and not just causing a CNN story" part is massively exaggerated. The blunderbuss thing especially seems like it would land the operator in a level 1 trauma center and maybe damage who or whatever was directly in front of it to some extent. Like, it's more dangerous to whoever is holding it than anyone else.

But seriously, i could throw a metal marble/marble sized ball bearing through sheetrock with my bare hands if you gave me a couple tries. Shit just doesn't seem that "lethal".
posted by emptythought at 3:55 AM on November 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


It used to be that you had to kill/disable the crew of the plane, and the passengers would be expected to remain largely passive. I frequently see the claim that this has now changed, and that a substantial portion of the passengers would now fight to the death.

The reasoning is that the passengers used to believe they had a good chance of surviving a hijacking, whereas now they would believe death was likely/inevitable if they didn't fight back.

It is extremely hard for a small number of people to hold of hundreds of attackers in an enclosed space. Even with guns they could be literally trampled to death if enough people swamped them.

But I'm not convinced by this theory. I think that even when faced with symbolic (but impressive) weapons like his lithium flash grenade a very large number of people would lock up and freeze. Has any proper research been done on this? Ethically I don't see how you'd simulate people fearing for their lives.

Obviously we have some evidence from the "Flight 93" case, but could attackers in an isolated incident today convince the passengers it was a hijacking and not a "weaponize the plane" situation? I can't convince myself either way.
posted by samworm at 4:10 AM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't care if these are truly "lethal" or not. They're still more dangerous than nail clippers, knitting needles, or 4 oz bottles of shampoo. The point I took from this is not that we should take away all lithium batteries, but just another example of why the security theater of the TSA is so idiotic and such a waste of time, money, energy, and stress.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:42 AM on November 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


But these weapons aren't really lethal

They might not be lethal to a normal human. But the TSA staffers are a special lot. Perhaps it is standing next to Porno scanner or having their DNA torn apart from Terahertz radiation but whatever the reason, they are far more delicate flowers of humanity.

This is shown because of the need to go to the hospital after smelling honey.

If sniffing bee vomit sends you to the hospital - imagine what would be left of 'em after an encounter with these gift shop weapons? Jim Croche's Slim would look good.

(And think about how effective these people are. U.S. Transportation Security Administration efforts costing $200 million a year to spot potential terrorists by observing behavior are ineffective. Perhaps a law asking the mad bomber who bombs at midnight to apply honey to the bombs might help?)
posted by rough ashlar at 4:59 AM on November 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heck, if I remember correctly, in Godfather 3 a guy is assassinated with nothing more than plastic-framed eyeglasses --- or in other words, almost anything can be used as a weapon.

Which, I guess, means flying will be even more festive than it is now: no carry-ons at all, plus everybody will have to be buck-naked, to prove they don't have something hidden in a pocket.... imagine the friends you'll make!
posted by easily confused at 5:59 AM on November 16, 2013


Land yourself on the no-fly list with this one weird article!
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:02 AM on November 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


This post needs the "ACME" tag.
posted by jquinby at 6:04 AM on November 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a pretty neat thing.

Someone with an intent to do as much damage as they can without regards to whether they will survive could do an incredible amount of harm if they are clever about it. Thankfully they are generally not so clever and I can imagine that this would seem effective to them. If someone does this instead of causing an industrial accident in just the wrong way, or using the obscene amount of military hardware more dangerous than guns floating around the country to main and murder, or create chemical or biological weapons in clever ways than the leg or two that this would cause to need surgery would be incredibly cheap.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:19 AM on November 16, 2013


Blasdelb: "This is a pretty neat thing.

Someone with an intent to do as much damage as they can without regards to whether they will survive could do an incredible amount of harm if they are clever about it. Thankfully they are generally not so clever and I can imagine that this would seem effective to them. If someone does this instead of causing an industrial accident in just the wrong way, or using the obscene amount of military hardware more dangerous than guns floating around the country to main and murder, or create chemical or biological weapons in clever ways than the leg or two that this would cause to need surgery would be incredibly cheap.
"

That has always been the problem from a security viewpoint. The vast majority of modern security is predicated on the idea that the attacker wants to stay alive after the attack. You lose that, you lose almost all your portfolio of defenses.
posted by Samizdata at 6:23 AM on November 16, 2013


Wait a minute. I can buy a quadcopter in an airport?
posted by Samizdata at 6:34 AM on November 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're still more dangerous than nail clippers, knitting needles, or 4 oz bottles of shampoo

Nail clippers and knitting needles are both entirely permitted items under TSA rules. And, of course, they rule against liquids has nothing to do with preventing the transportation of shampoo.
posted by yoink at 6:42 AM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nail clippers and knitting needles are both entirely permitted items under TSA rules.

Knitting needles are back to being 'generally permitted'. As far as I can recall, they've always been officially permitted (in the US that is), but historically there's been the proviso that they have a decided preference for bamboo or plastic circulars. Anyway, knitters have reason to be a bit paranoid about the TSA taking their needles and fucking up their projects--for a long time the situation was much more ambiguous than it is now. ("How much did these needles cost and how upset would I be to lose them?" remains a factor for some people when travelling. I've largely stopped knitting on planes, for no particular reason.)
posted by hoyland at 7:12 AM on November 16, 2013


CITIZEN! PLEASE CHECK YOUR HANDS, FEET AND TEETH AT THE GATE.
posted by lalochezia at 7:14 AM on November 16, 2013


This seems vaguely relevant.
posted by sour cream at 7:25 AM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Two thirds of carry-on luggage contains aliminum tubes that can be snapped off for use as a jagged stabbing weapon. But oh noes! A knitting needle!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 AM on November 16, 2013


I wish I could remember the story, but my Google chi is not strong today.

In it, taking an airplane basically involves no luggage, losing your clothes that are replaced with issued disposables, and being tranquillized once onboard.
posted by Samizdata at 7:47 AM on November 16, 2013


In it, taking an airplane basically involves no luggage, losing your clothes that are replaced with issued disposables, and being tranquillized once onboard.

That doesn't sound bad. Bags get shipped to my destination, no one kicking the back of my seat, and I won't notice the Axe product coated human next to me. How do I get this option for my next flight?
posted by kellyblah at 8:08 AM on November 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


...and being tranquillized once onboard.

I've heard of seasoned travelers who cross the Atlantic on an Ambien and a glass of red wine, but also of not-so-seasoned travelers who tried this same thing with spectacularly bad results*. As in, results which required diverting the flight.

The lesson is: test your plan a day or two prior to boarding.

* - not me
posted by jquinby at 8:15 AM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why bother making a club with a pointy bit, when you can smuggle a pipe bomb in your ass?
posted by orme at 8:36 AM on November 16, 2013


Further evidence that very,very few citizens of western countries have any desire to be terrorists.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:43 AM on November 16, 2013


Make no mistake: the best part about buying a bulky item is, in fact, the huge cardboard box.

The man speaks truth.
posted by arcticseal at 8:49 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and being tranquillized once onboard.

Double dose of marijuana edibles makes long flights/bus rides much better. I did once run into some difficulty upon waking up from a doze because I was REALLY thirsty but on the other hand the bottle of water I was holding was REALLY FAR AWAY from my mouth. Disclaimer, don't do this if you don't have experience getting pretty fuckin' high off eating weed.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:17 AM on November 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nail clippers and knitting needles are both entirely permitted items under TSA rules. And, of course, they rule against liquids has nothing to do with preventing the transportation of shampoo.

If you haven't actually experienced the TSA not liking something you have that is technically permitted, it is not a fun experience. I have stood next to my mother-in-law when she pulled out the highlighted guidelines she printed from the internet showing that her crochet hook was allowed on the plane. As far as most TSA agents are concerned, their opinions trump any so-called "rules".
posted by hydropsyche at 9:32 AM on November 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


...and being tranquillized once onboard.

Or like the man said, just put me in a wheelchair, get me on a plane.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:41 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clearly, the solution is to ban Axe body spray from airports.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:54 AM on November 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've sat in First Class and gotten a steak knife, without even asking -- it comes with the steak.

Terrorists do not fly First Class.
posted by Houstonian at 11:13 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clearly, the solution is to ban Axe body spray from airports.
posted by arcticseal at 11:19 AM on November 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes it's time for that deodorant brand

(•_•)

( •_•)>⌐□-□

(⌐□_□)

to get the axe.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:30 AM on November 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is cool and all...I blew up some stuff pretty good when I was a lad...but the explosives were primitive compared to this...

...but...I don't really buy the "what if terrorists already know about this?" answer to the "Why let terrorists know about this?" question. If you were really worried about doing a public service, wouldn't you at least try telling the TSA/FBI/whoever about this without broadcasting it to everybody? I mean, this seems to be a case in which a desire for web fame has trumped concern with the public good. Maybe this stuff really is pretty ineffective, and so it doesn't matter... But I just don't buy the lame answer to the serious question. I have some inclination to value an honest lack of concern over faux concern and a shitty answer.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:36 AM on November 16, 2013



I have definitely bought something in an European airport duty-free shop that U.S. Customs and the FDA consider deadly. I have bought a Kinder Egg.
posted by bad grammar at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


FoF, he said that he had already sent the TSA all of the information in the films. They seem not to have gotten back to him.
posted by Thing at 11:59 AM on November 16, 2013


I have definitely bought something in an European airport duty-free shop that U.S. Customs and the FDA consider deadly. I have bought a Kinder Egg.

Ban lifted earlier this year.

The adverts still remain a threat to mental health however.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The TSA is doing plenty of harm to the public good already, far more than is ever likely to happen even if someone were stupid enough to attempt an actual hijacking with one of these janky weapons. He is doing a public service by demonstrating how useless these harmful security measures actually are.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:10 PM on November 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really just want mentions of Kinder Eggs to be followed by a hush, gasps, and fainting Victorian ladies. Like, you mention them and Victorian ladies just show up out of nowhere and faint.
posted by NoraReed at 1:32 PM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want people to STFU about Kinder Eggs. Mediocre chocolate, stupid prizes, WTF? Anyway,

Wait a minute. I can buy a quadcopter in an airport?

Yes, I've seen 'em for sale inside security at one of those airports with a whole mall inside... Denver, maybe? Love to see a passenger fly their newly-purchased drone inside an airliner.
posted by Rash at 3:06 PM on November 16, 2013


Nail clippers and knitting needles are both entirely permitted items under TSA rules.

That didn't stop the Australian equivalent in Hobart International from slowly, laboriously, bending the one-inch fold-out nail file attached to my wife's nail clippers back and forth until it broke off.

They had previously let us into the country with it, and on a previous interstate flight as well.
It seemed patently obvious at the time that this particular giant, red-faced, sweating ocker of a man (or was he a bogan? I'm not sure) had some sort of grudge against Americans, which may be understandable, but it was still a surreal performance. Whatever you say, sir.
posted by Fnarf at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2013


My takeaway is that we need to ban scotch tape and floss from airports. Clearly they're both instants away from killing everyone using them by accident.
posted by caphector at 3:35 PM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


They can't keep deadly weapons from prisons, there is no way to do it to people who want to ride a plane.

The lunacy of a place that buys ineffective scanners over something that actually can detect explosives is perfect example of the problem.

If I wanted to build a bomb for a plane I would make it out of Polymer bonded explosive and make that the case of something else, such as a laptop or part of the luggage.

Or easier yet. Just hit it with a stinger as it was taking off.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:46 PM on November 16, 2013


Can common items sold in airports after the security screening be used to build lethal weapons? Yes.

So, Betteridge's Gun?
posted by dhartung at 4:05 PM on November 16, 2013


TSA response: Piss off. Into the air!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:41 PM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


...but...I don't really buy the "what if terrorists already know about this?" answer to the "Why let terrorists know about this?" question.

The system you are arguing for is called "security through obscurity". You can get away with this sort of thing in unique situations - World War II history is full of this sort of thing (including some cases where it went horribly wrong). But at some level you're assuming that since no one knows the lock is broken, there's no need to fix it.

The notion that this is not a good idea is hardly new: "The unscrupulous have the command of much of this kind of knowledge without our aid; and there is moral and commercial justice in placing on their guard those who might possibly suffer therefrom."
-From Locks and Safes: The Construction of Locks by A. C. Hobbs, 1853.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:17 PM on November 16, 2013


In it, taking an airplane basically involves no luggage, losing your clothes that are replaced with issued disposables, and being tranquillized once onboard.

All aboard to Flotsam Paradise! Always seemed like a great idea to me.
posted by goo at 5:33 PM on November 16, 2013


When Axe body spray is criminalized, only criminals will have Axe body spray.

All aboard to Flotsam Paradise!

Fhloston Paradise.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:41 PM on November 16, 2013


Yep, that's the one. Knock me out, stick me in a drawer and wake me up when we land.
posted by goo at 5:59 PM on November 16, 2013


goo: "Yep, that's the one. Knock me out, stick me in a drawer and wake me up when we land."

But ONLY if you dress the air/space stewards like that.
posted by Samizdata at 9:05 PM on November 16, 2013


I always get extra scanning in airports and my checked bags are always searched. The behavioral screening explains why- it's because I am terrified of the extra scanning which always occurs. This is probably why the behavioral scanning is ineffective- the people who are most visibly scared of the TSA are the rabbity sort of people who are panic-stricken when they are confronted with a bottle of lotion they forgot to transfer out of their carryon.
posted by winna at 7:40 AM on November 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want people to STFU about Kinder Eggs. Mediocre chocolate, stupid prizes, WTF?
You obviously haven't seen the new gendered Kinder Eggs.

Seriously, they come in pink and blue now.
To quote my daughter "Fuck. That. Noise."


I swear as a culture we're regressing
posted by fullerine at 4:59 AM on November 19, 2013


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