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Knives the FBI doesn’t like
April 3, 2005 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Knives (and their X-rays) the FBI doesn’t like (PDF, .htm here). Some plastic, some not; Some widely manufactured, others handmade. None of them seem likely to go the way of the "non-existent" all-plastic gun.
posted by hellbient (55 comments total)

 
Man, I want one of those little pocketknives that looks like a key. Those are sweet.
posted by BoringPostcards at 8:26 PM on April 3, 2005


Doesn't this document make it painfully obvious how misguided airport security is? If someone wants to try something, they're going to keep trying it until they succeed.
posted by banished at 8:37 PM on April 3, 2005


It's not just cleverly disguised weapons that worry me...

While passing through a major US airport recently, I noticed that a gift shop located past the security checkpoint was selling nail clippers. I went back to the metal detector area and asked some bored-looking TSA official if nail clippers are permitted on flights. He said "no, not if they have the little blade attachment thing," and was pretty incredulous when I mentioned that the gift shop not twenty feet away was selling blade-equipped nail clippers. I'll bet they're still selling them, too.
posted by greatgefilte at 8:51 PM on April 3, 2005


banished writes "
Doesn't this document make it painfully obvious how misguided airport security is? If someone wants to try something, they're going to keep trying it until they succeed."



The point of airport security isn't to prevent terrorism; it's to make the American public think terrorism is being prevented, and to keep the American public constantly in fear more terrorism will occur without these policies.

A public distracted by fear is less likely to complain about a bad economy or an ineffective government -- after all, dissent only aids the terrorists -- or about the billions in tax dollars being spent "to fight terrorism" and incidentally to line any number of well-connected pockets. Fear is very very lucrative for all involved.

This doesn't require -- and I'm not alleging -- any large conspiracy either: if your job is providing airport screeners, or training airport screeners, or issuing warnings about concealed knives, or issuing reports about terrorism, or whatever -- you've got a vested interest in seeing that the fear continues, and you can honestly say you're just being duly pessimistic to "stay on the safe side".

But if your career path at the FBI or at the DoD or at any of thousands of government vendors relies on money and more money being shoveled at "terrorism prevention", you have to be both brave and foolhardy indeed to stand up and say, "wait, maybe the Emperor doesn't have any clothes".

Liberals will agree that that -- and civil forfeiture laws -- are what have kept the "Drug War" going on for some thirty-five years. Cops, State Police, anti-drug programs, prison employees' unions, and politicians who want to look as if they're "doing something", all have a vested interest in keeping the "Drug War" going.

Conservatives will agree that the same thing motivates the "War on Poverty" -- lots of social workers and "mentors" and "crusaders" have their pensions tied up in the continuation of the "crisis".

And anyone outside of a farm state will tell you the "Family Farm Crises" is just another form of never-ending wealth transfers.

Again, no conspiracy, just follow the money.
posted by orthogonality at 8:51 PM on April 3, 2005


Ah yes, all those social workers subconsciously working to subvert the success of others to safeguard retirement money that won't be theirs for 30+ years...

But seriously -- a crucifix knife? At what point does someone go from being a normal person to someone who opens up a production line for the mass manufacture of crucifix knives?
posted by ontic at 9:05 PM on April 3, 2005


I like the knives that are disguised as bullets.
posted by LordSludge at 9:12 PM on April 3, 2005


Flying back to the U.S. from Paris with a large collection of newly purchased italian switchblades in what was to be my checked luggage, I was running so late I knew I would have to carry it on, and pass through the Xray. Solution? I put a bunch of forks and spoons in with the knives as camouflage. Pre 9/11 of course.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:12 PM on April 3, 2005


LordSludge - too funny.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:15 PM on April 3, 2005


Some of those ceramic knives are really nice for the kitchen. Not sure how good they are for hijacking planes.

The ring knife on pg 65 is pretty scary though. "Dude, I will give you a good scratch if you don't take me to Washington!"
posted by fenriq at 9:31 PM on April 3, 2005


we have lists! long lists! measurements! you are safe from everything but human error!

gulp.
posted by Satapher at 9:45 PM on April 3, 2005


I'm a knife collector, and have 10+ of those knives..

The knife collecting comunity has known about this FBI pdf. for quite a while. Whereas I could see how someone could/has used these for terrorism, much of the same damage that a 1" penknife could be done with a plain ole' bic pen, or even a sharpened #2 pencil.

It's just another tool to try and keep the public shitting-in-their-pants scared thet the boogyman is comming to get you. And a way to frustrate collectors like myself. Eventually they'll try to "ban" all of those knives. And any knife with a double edge.. and any knife with a tanto point, and any knife with a recurve blade, and any knife.

This won't keep anyone safer. ever.

It's just another area of our lives that government want's to control over. Another way for those in charge to piss on our liberties.

Do you really think that terrorists are really going to try to hijack another plane with box cutters? or crucifix blades? Or even airplanes? They know that we are on the lookout for that, for what it's worth. The next attack will be from another direction against something we haven't guarded against, and then we'll be thrown that much further into a facist police state.. The public will DEMAND it. Stupid public...
posted by Balisong at 9:49 PM on April 3, 2005


My guess, ontic, is that the crucifix-knife producer wasn't exactly normal in the first place.

Not being snarky ... "just sayin'" ... because I'm all "WTF" as well :)
posted by redteam at 9:59 PM on April 3, 2005


Wait a second. If I bring a ballpoint on a plane, chances are I'm using it to write. If I bring a little plastic knife, I may be stupid, but I'm not bringing it to fill in a crossword, am I? These things were designed to be weapons, and anyone carrying them onto a plane is either an idiot, is planning something, or both.

Also, an alternate scenario (though I think ortho's right on): Say the FBI et al really are on the ball and keeping us relatively safe. After all, no one's landed an attack in the last four years, and that surprises me. People are obviously trying.

But even if that's the case, they can't just show the public how that works. You can't publicly describe your tactics. So you keep up the bullshit at the airports to keep people happy, just like ortho says, but meanwhile you actually do real work.

Now I don't want to stand up for this administration -- far from it. But come on; few people who follow this stuff are afraid. This just makes Mr. Travelling Man feel comfortable handing over his clippers while all the bomb-chasing and intrigue is kept where it belongs -- out of the public eye.

Granted, this all provides opportunities for abuse of the system. That sucks. But it's not for naught.
posted by NickDouglas at 10:01 PM on April 3, 2005


Fear everything, all at once.

Trained terrorists can saw off their own limbs with credit cards, tie off spurting arteries, and then emerge from airplane bathrooms wielding swords made from their own artfully shaved down bones.

Don't forget, we're dealing with fanatics here.
posted by troutfishing at 10:05 PM on April 3, 2005


If I bring a little plastic knife, I may be stupid, but I'm not bringing it to fill in a crossword, am I? These things were designed to be weapons, and anyone carrying them onto a plane is either an idiot, is planning something, or both.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't be banned on airplanes. I'm saying that the determined will not let this slow them down even a little. But nail clippers? You gotta be McGyver slick to kill someone with some nail clippers. It can be done, and probably has, but don't believe for a second that you having to surrender them is keeping you one bit safer in the air, or at the courthouse, or in school.
posted by Balisong at 10:19 PM on April 3, 2005


I worked as a baggage handler and the stupidiest thing was that they sometimes searched us when we went into work for knives ect, but knifes and guns are ALLOWED in checked luggage and thats what i handled all day. If i wanted to get something like that onto an plane all you would have to do would be to have a friend check a suitcase with the item inside it.
posted by Iax at 10:19 PM on April 3, 2005


I used to know a guy down in Bakersfield who made knives of all sorts out of waste tiles that came off the Shuttle, as collected by some friend of his out at Edwards. Guranteed (not in writing) that they'd get throug any metal detector anywhere. Store was gone last time I was down there...
posted by hob at 10:25 PM on April 3, 2005


An obsidian knife. With a bone handle. Hand-carved. Yes, I know that obsidian can be very sharp, but the mental image is priceless. Terrorist cavemen. They hate us for our wheels and livestock...
posted by cmyk at 10:47 PM on April 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


This is goofy. And it really dismays me that the FBI could spell 'magnetometer' incorrectly that many dozens of times.

I think if I were going to hijack a plane at this point I'd just punch people in the face. But realistically, you probably wouldn't even have to do that. Threats are powerful.

Those pepper spray pens are pretty cool though. And the plastic razor blades. How the hell would they stop those? And I'm really glad they put those 'shuckra' things on there (page 66), because I'm sure they would never be noticed otherwise.

Crowning awesomeness: the address at the bottom. "2501 Investigation Parkway".
I wonder if this is even real.
posted by blacklite at 10:52 PM on April 3, 2005


I was kinda wondering if it was even real, too...

You'd think the FBI could come up with a better logo.
posted by Balisong at 10:57 PM on April 3, 2005


aww-- i wanted to make fun of the terrorist cavemen.
posted by sambosambo at 10:57 PM on April 3, 2005


Balisong, man, you don't know MacGyver at all. He never killed with his powers, he always disabled. He'd be disappointed in you.
posted by fenriq at 10:58 PM on April 3, 2005


I'm sorry McGyver. I'll do my best to restore my trust by watching more A-team.. They were pretty heavily armed with plenty of explosives, and never killed anyone, either..
posted by Balisong at 11:08 PM on April 3, 2005


Page 42: Fear plastic cutlery.

"If I bring a little plastic knife, I may be stupid, but I'm not bringing it to fill in a crossword, am I?"

A lot of people carry little knives or scissors around with them. I personally don't, but both my parents do, and my mother once almost had her little scissors stolen by the TSA. (She was allowed to keep them when she said she was a nurse, I guess on the theory that she could somehow use this tiny scissor to save someone's life on the plane. They didn't check that she was a nurse either. So they fail at following rules which are themselves a failure.) They're useful for cutting things besides people, you know. Most of the things on the list were of that type. Basically wholesale government theft of the people's tools.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:19 PM on April 3, 2005


What I love is all the X-Rays are side shots. I know if I was smuggling a ceramic knife in my carry on I'd orient it in my bag edge on to the scanners.
posted by Mitheral at 11:37 PM on April 3, 2005




It's just another tool to try and keep the public shitting-in-their-pants scared thet the boogyman is comming to get you

Two other possible explanations:

1 - It's one way for the FBI to prove that they're doing something and thus get continued funding. Note that the population being duped here is not the US public, but rather the US Congress (specifically the appropriations committee). Big difference in that it's not a plot by GWB (or "the neo-cons"), if anything it's against GWB by the head of a department who wants to make sure that he has a job in a few years.

2 - The goal is not to eliminate weapons on flights. It's to make it sufficiently difficult that it'd be tough to get multiple weapons on-board that would be difficult to be overcome by really angry Texans. If four terrorist assholes with Ka-BARs get on a plane then they might be able to hold off a determined passenger revolt. However, if the only thing they can get onboard are little 1" knives in the shapes of crucifixes and NASCAR helmets (the irony of trying to hijack a plane using a NASCAR helmet is killing me) then I suspect that a former football jock or two could take them out.

Will the "next" attack be on planes? Probably not because the security is actually somewhat effective. Again, it doesn't have to be 100%, just enough that it's not the weakest link anymore. If we eliminated airport x-rays then I suspect the next attack would be through airplanes becuase they really do seem to be effective.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 1:18 AM on April 4, 2005


orthogonality,
But you are advocating a sort of paranoid, "the government is evil and in cahoots with the corporations and trying to harm us" mentality that is the hallmark of conspiracy theories. Let me say that I think you are right, that there is probably a lot of problems resulting from the money involved. But I don't think the reason for airport security is as sinister as constantly keeping the public in fear. In fact, I think it serves quite the opposite purpose. Yes, airport security will not stop anyone determined enough to do damage. What it does do is create at least some sense of ease and security in the minds of the passengers. You might cry that this is a false sense of security, and it is, but it does help people to think that the situation is at least somewhat being taken care of. It might be more truthful to put up signs that read, "Fuck it, when you step on that plane you're gambling with your life" instead of guards, but that's not going to help the situation much.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:39 AM on April 4, 2005


I used to have a crucifix knife — this was when I was über-goth and thought that it was soooo cool.

I also have a tiny little penknife — we're talking half-an-inch long here — that I keep attached to my boots. Although I seriously doubt it, I was told that I could probably gouge out a vein with it if I tried hard enough.

And I keep a boxcutter in my pencil case. Because I cut open boxes. And occasionally remove stray threads, buttons, hangnails, and other odds and ends.

But it's weird, because I grew up around people who naturally carried knives. Partially because we did a lot of outdoorsy things, partially because we did a lot of mechanical things, and partially because it was part of the mythos my family tended to want to keep around them (most of them were bikers and/or metalheads).

So now, that I live in the UK, I'm discovering that, obviously, not a lot of people carry knives with them. And it's weird to me not to...
posted by Katemonkey at 2:56 AM on April 4, 2005


in the UK...not a lot of people carry knives with them.


The statistics are frightening.
posted by the cuban at 3:36 AM on April 4, 2005


Very strange not to have a knife indeed, Kate.

Nick, what about self-defense? Try to be responsible for your own liberty.

The only way to prevent terrorist attacks is to stop pissing all over nations smaller than ourselves. How about being nice for a change?

Cubano: I bet those DVDs would sharpen up somethin' fierce.
posted by Eideteker at 4:16 AM on April 4, 2005


I'm not a fan of Vasiliev's DVDs, for the real deal check out Paul Vunak's stuff.
posted by the cuban at 5:01 AM on April 4, 2005


You don't have to believe in conspiracy theories to explain the current state of the above-mentioned government agencies; you just have to believe in self-interested behavior.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:40 AM on April 4, 2005


Words the FBI doesn't like: foreword.
posted by ninebelow at 6:42 AM on April 4, 2005


Sangermaine: What it does do is create at least some sense of ease and security in the minds of the passengers. You might cry that this is a false sense of security, and it is, but it does help people to think that the situation is at least somewhat being taken care of.

Bizarrely it has the opposite effect on me. I get all anxious like when a cop pulls you over at a DUI road block even when one hasn't been drinking. I know that chances of being involved in a terrorist take over of a plane in Canada/USA are so remote as to be ignorable. I probably have a better chance of a piece of frozen sewage from a plane hitting me. On the other hand the chance of triggering a false positive during a security screening with all that entails (not the least of which involves Canadian citizens being deported to Syria) is much higher. That fact that the screening process is an expensive, mostly useless, time wasting exercise that makes it practically impossible to travel by air anonymously is infuriating. And it's starting to spill over into other forms of mass transit.
posted by Mitheral at 6:50 AM on April 4, 2005


an expensive, mostly useless, time wasting exercise

And this makes it different from most other government activity ... how?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:29 AM on April 4, 2005


Is Glock pronounced "Glock" or "Gee-Lock"?
posted by delmoi at 8:48 AM on April 4, 2005


Rhymes with clock.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:54 AM on April 4, 2005


Wait a second. If I bring a ballpoint on a plane, chances are I'm using it to write. If I bring a little plastic knife, I may be stupid, but I'm not bringing it to fill in a crossword, am I? These things were designed to be weapons, and anyone carrying them onto a plane is either an idiot, is planning something, or both.


"weapons"? Come on, a 1" little swiss-army style knife is not a "weapon", it's a tool for peeling oranges and other small cutting people need to do during the day.
posted by delmoi at 9:07 AM on April 4, 2005


Passengers now know that when push comes to shove, it's best to fight back at anyone who tries to hijack a flight.

So why the hell are we being kept weaponless? We need our knives to protect ourselves.

Ban guns? Sure, we don't really need the risk of a depressurization disaster or a stray bullet taking out the flight systems. But, dammit, we need our knives!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2005


Ban guns? Sure, we don't really need the risk of a depressurization disaster or a stray bullet taking out the flight systems. But, dammit, we need our knives!

I'd rather fight knife-less hijackers with my hands then bebladed ones with a knife. But, given the ease of sneaking knives through x-rays, that might not be a problem. Personaly, I think this anti-nailclipper hystaria has got to go.
posted by delmoi at 9:39 AM on April 4, 2005


I recently had my swiss-army style keychain knife taken away when I forgot to put it in my check-in luggage. I wonder if I'd had one of these less obvious blades if I would have been treated differently (I passed through without further incident).
posted by hellbient at 10:11 AM on April 4, 2005


I'd rather fight knifeless hijackers, too. But the sad fact is that they will have weapons, because it simply isn't that difficult to get them past security.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:11 AM on April 4, 2005


If it's not that difficult, just get yours past security too.
posted by NickDouglas at 2:25 PM on April 4, 2005


he point of airport security isn't to prevent terrorism; it's to make the American public think terrorism is being prevented, and to keep the American public constantly in fear more terrorism will occur without these policies.

orthogonality, please. ...get a bit of perspective going (bad pun, sorry). So what's the story of other country's airport security?

Ever been to another country's airport? I've seen soldiers carrying around BIG guns, had my bags hand searched and x-rayed.

Isn't the presence of authority just part of the method of prevention? Lockerbie's will still happen, regardless of how much security is at the airport.
posted by tomplus2 at 5:09 PM on April 4, 2005


I am fairly certain I could do a lot of damage with a ballpoint pen. No joke.

I own a "Delta Dart" type knife, made of glass fiber, and a polycarbonate "CIA Letter Opener" type thingy. Pretty neat stuff. I bought both of them before 9-11.

I still want a Titanium Charge Card. It's on my list.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:38 PM on April 4, 2005


a rolled-up newspaper or magazine can do serious damage in a pinch. You probably couldn't hijack a plane with it, but I wouldn't want 1, 2 or more people on a plane coming after me with one.
And they're everywhere on airplanes.
posted by hellbient at 6:07 PM on April 4, 2005


Forget the rolled-up newspaper, the bad guy needs only a $9 (plus shipping & handling) for this full-blown, completely non-metallic & non-magnetic knife. Strapped to the small of your back with some smoothing or cushioning material on top of it, it'd probably even pass a thorough pat-down. Heck, you could strap it to your leg and get through normal airport security procedures no problem.

"Superior plunging power." Yikes.
posted by ManicExpressive at 6:34 PM on April 4, 2005


NickDouglas: But it'd be nice to have a few other folk carring for backup. Can't exactly go handing them out like candy once we're on-board.

Ah, well: I suppose they can always snap the aluminum rails in their roll-on carry-on luggage, and use them as stabbing daggers. There's a good 16" reach or so on them, and the handle is usually pretty well-attached.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:38 PM on April 4, 2005


From ManicExpressive's link... better than a knife. Cool.

Not exactly carry-on, mind.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:43 PM on April 4, 2005


five fresh fish: Very clever.
posted by ManicExpressive at 6:58 PM on April 4, 2005


erm, the rolling luggage handles, that is
posted by ManicExpressive at 7:12 PM on April 4, 2005


hellbient is exactly right; a rolled up magazine can kill you. Something like a national geographic can break an arm or knock someone out with a good swing, but even thin mags, when used as a thrusting weapon, can kill.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:16 PM on April 4, 2005


but I wouldn't want 1, 2 or more people on a plane coming after me with one.
heh. more like:
but I wouldn't want 1, 2 or more people on a plane coming after me with one each.
posted by hellbient at 9:58 PM on April 4, 2005


Maybe I'll design a knock-down slingshot. I'll bet one could get a couple pieces of medical tubing, a leather patch, and a couple odd-looking metal supports through the xray machine. It'd all look like nothing much when disassembled, but put together it'd be able to shoot a 1/4" steel ball through someone's head.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 AM on April 5, 2005


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