TSA Overreacts Again, Printer Cartridges Are Now Banned

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is at it once again. In a typical reactive move, you can now no longer bring printer cartridges over 16 ounces on an airplane. If this weren’t so sad, it would be downright comical. There has to be a better way to do this.

Bomb in 1 Quart Ziploc Bag

You all know about the recent terrorist plot, right? Terrorists in Yemen shipped bombs via cargo aircraft to the US. It’s unclear what the ultimate target was, but it is clear that the goal was to blow something up. It didn’t happen. These bombs were disguised in large printer cartridges. Did we really need to guess what the TSA reaction would be?

As of now, cargo from Yemen has been banned completely to the US, and the feds threw in Somalia as well just for kicks. And yes, printer cartridges over 16 ounces are banned. But get this, they’re only banned on domestic flights and international flight inbound to the US. Really? What a pain.

Now, I can’t imagine there are too many people trying to lug around 16 ounce printer cartridges; these are not the ones you find in your standard inkjet. But they are out there and now you can’t ship them. But, uh, how exactly is the TSA going to enforce this? Let’s say you’re traveling to London. It should be fine to carry your cartridge, right? But not if you go to Detroit. Remember, you go through the same security checkpoint as everyone else, so does this mean that the TSA is going to start enforcing rules by destination? Sounds like just what we need to slow things down even further. And how are they going to pick out a boxy-piece of plastic on the x-ray anyway?

Let’s not ask questions and just realize that we are now safer. How? Well, the next time someone tries to ship a bomb in a printer cartridge, there’s now a small chance the TSA would actually detect it. Just forget about the fact that it’s unlikely they’re going to try to use printer cartridges again anyway. We can, of course, all sleep easy at night because this is clearly going to keep us safe.

I mean, there’s no chance that terrorists will just laugh and move on to something else. Knowing that the TSA will just ban anything that the people try to use as weapons, you’d think that the next bomb will be in a toothbrush, or maybe in a razor. Next thing you know, Schick will try to put razor-bombs in Gillette razors to see if it can get only Gillette razors banned.

Of course, the terrorists (and no, I’m not calling Schick a terrorist) could go too far. If they try to put a bomb in a laptop, then business travelers around the world will revolt. Just imagine what would happen if the TSA tried to ban laptops . . .

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49 Comments on "TSA Overreacts Again, Printer Cartridges Are Now Banned"

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sfredspot
Guest

You really just need a Facebook “Like” button on here. It would sum up my feeling perfectly on this.

Nick Barnard
Member

I’m half tempted to start a petition encouraging the next terrorist to put the next bomb in a 1 quart ziplock bag… Whats funniest is that these weren’t carried on they were shipped. Its like saying bikers get hit by cars, so lets not let anyone walk on the sidewalk. I’m going to get my logic professor to visit the TSA and provide a lesson or 42 for them.

David Z
Guest

Two words: knee jerk.

Hermann
Guest

This stupidity will soon be over: At some point some terrorist puts a bomb inside himself. Then TSA bans persons from flights as they may have hidden bombs inside. With no travellers, there won´t be a need for TSA checkpoints and then all will be fine :)

SEAN
Guest

Well said.

Evil Genius
Guest
>>>At some point some terrorist puts a bomb inside himself.. That’s already happened, over in Saudi Arabia, IIRC… A bad guy managed to get within the inner circle around a government security official, and set-off the bunch of PETN he had up his wazoo. The official survived, but the bad guy became a new wallpaper pattern… What will also be interesting to watch is how TSA reacts to the young guy who got on the flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver wearing the old man mask, and then removed it in the aircraft lav once airborne. What will TSA do… Read more »
JM
Guest

Excellent post.

Methinks we need to drop back and punt. Other than creating a new cadre of self important civil servants, I am afraid that the TSA has been a relative failure.

Of course, if we come up with something better than TSA, I will miss the entertainment of dealing with these guys on a regular basis. I dealt with a guy over the weekend who I swear was Nick from the old Barney Miller TV show (wonder if he makes bad coffee, too?).

JM

David
Guest

It’s just political covering of backsides. If in 2012, another bomb was found in a printer cartridge, the head of the TSA loses his / her job. By banning cartridges, the TSA can say they tried but didn’t have a big enough budget to scan everything being loaded as baggage / cargo and the head of the TSA keeps their job

Dane
Guest

The best part was that at the bottom of your article on my google reader, there was an ad for a printer and ink cartridges. :)

Carl
Guest

Good lord. Here we are again, our TSA is proving once again that they are great at trying to stop the LAST terrorist threat.

Do we not have ANY forward thinking people inside that cluster of an organization???

Dan
Guest

Although David is right (just political covering of backsides) your post sums up my feelings quite nicely.

In the end, it’s the airlines that suffer. Me? I just travel less or find things within a reasonable drive.

SEAN
Guest

Me thinks the answer is self evident. In other words, NO!

Oliver
Guest

While I agree with CF and all the other commentators, I would like to see a blog post dedicated to how security should be implemented to be effective, comprehensive, affordable and non-intrusive/invasive (preserving our human/civil rights). I think it would ultimately be a more productive discussion than this, you know, knee-jerk reaction of a blog post :)

David
Guest

Israelification is one option. Maybe Cranky could do a post on that…
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199

Sam
Guest

Totally agree. And if people don’t like this proper security, then don’t fly. And if people don’t like racial profiling (that is NEEDED for proper security) then don’t fly either. It’s about time people say it as it is.

Davester
Guest

With all due respect Sam, the Israelification mentioned behavioral profiling – not racial profiling. As quoted in the article:
“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”
I’m still surprised TSA didn’t ban clothing on planes in response to the underwear bomber. That would make flying interesting for all.

Sam
Guest

Between me and you, they do a mix of racial and behavioral profiling. I’ve been through Israeli security dozens of times.

Oliver
Guest

It would indeed be interesting to see Cranky analyze the “Israelification”. There is certainly a problem with problem with scale — how many airports does Israel have and how many are there in the US that all “feed” into the system? But that’s not to say that it’s not worth considering or at least evaluating.

David SF eastbay
Member

I posted a comment over at USA Today saying when is the TSA going to ban the most dangerous thing on the plane…..humans!

Makes you wonder if they put a bomb in baggage/packages that looks like a boom would TSA see it? They are to busy looking for shampoo, shoes and now ink cartridges.

Why did a cartoon bomb that looks like a black bowling ball with a wick that Wile E. Coyote would try an use against the Road Runner just pop into my mind?

Jon
Guest

The point has been made many places. Going back to pre-9/11 security is the answer. We solved the planes used as missiles problem within hours in air over Pennsylvania. Locks on cockpit doors help too. Divert the money spent on the TSA to the FBI and CIA to stop these problems before they start.

SEAN
Guest

What if all luggage was band from airplanes do to terrorism fears including carry-ons? Yes, I know it sounds totally farcicle, but you cant put anything past the paranoid TSA & there reactionary stances. I can understand if the TSA did something that was perventitive, but as it stands the TSA only reacts after the fact.

Tyler
Guest

The targeted ad that appeared with this post in my Google reader feed was for Ink & Toner…. with free shipping to anywhere in the US.

nedguy
Guest

Have they said anything about mobiles yet?

‘spect they will.

The bomb packages, such as the U.S.-bound printer discovered on a plane in Dubai, contained explosives and “an electrical circuit linked to a mobile phone SIM card”, according to the early reports.

Over the past few years, many of the major airlines have been investing heavily in the development of in-flight mobile phone communications. You think they are going to let passengers phone out or anyone phone in to a plane while it’s airborne?

jyarmis
Member

You know what they say… The TSA’s slogan is “solving yesterday’s problem tomorrow.”

Paul
Guest
Why don’t we require the shippers to screen their cargo in the first place? Oh that is right they just spent $20 mil to lobby not to require it!! I am sure the families of the two UPS pilots that recently died from the cargo incident will sleep much better knowing that UPS did not want to spend the money and that TSA is just trying to stop the threats. TSA the whipping boys just trying to make it safer. I guess I am just a bit sensitive about 300 of my union brother firefighters being murdered and TSA is… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member
Paul, my condolences. I don’t think anyone on this blog is advocating that the TSA cease to exist completely. Rather, I think we’re asking for intelligent security that looks for today’s equivent of hijackers using planes as missiles. That problem was created on September 11th, 2001 an interim, partial solution was tried on Septemer 11th, 2001 by the passengers and crew of United 93, and a much more permanent system was rolled out in 2001 and 2002 in the form of reinforced cockpit doors, along with the fact that pilots will no longer allow hijackers in the cockpit, has solved… Read more »
Harry
Guest

TSA….Thousands Standing Around….how many really think we are close to 100% domestic cargo security?

cahilldot
Member

PROFILE…PROFILE…PROFILE….PROFILE INSTEAD OF FRISKING GRANDMAS AND PUTTING NICE LOOKING WOMEN INTO THE TOTAL BODY SCANNERS….

Sam
Guest

100% Agree. But we’re so politically correct that no one wants to do that. We’d rather settle with a false sense of security called the TSA rather than do it the right way.

Brad
Guest

El Al has had experience with this and women and the elderly have been used by terrorist in the past. One elderly woman was caught with packages that she was carrying for a neighbors “brother” even though she had no idea what they contained. Another incident involved a mother with a bassinet loaded with explosives given to her by her “husband” to bring on an El Al Flight. The Isralies know that the terrorist cannot be easily “profiled” You have to suspect everyone …even the pretty ladies and the grandmas….

Zach
Guest

Exactly. The Israeli model works. DHS cannot be in the business of avoiding hurt feelings, but sadly, a major subset of the US population would rather see another 9/11 than risk hurting the feelings of those who may fit the ethnic profile.

Nishant
Guest

I can’t wait for the terrorists to put a bomb in a laptop and the government do something stupid like banning laptops or better all electronics. Last time I took a flight to the US, I had two laptops and an iPad. I was told that there was no way I was going to get on the plane with both laptops and iPad on me. I had to buy a a new handbag and check-in two laptops. Ridiculous. TSA is going to go to such extreme measures that it will be better to drive than fly.

Cornell
Guest

Let’s see now. All plots, both successful and unsuccessful, have involved passengers or cargo. While they’re at it, why doesn’t TSA (Terminally Stupidly Anal) just go ahead and ban all passengers and cargo? The airlines would go bankrupt; but, hey, you can’t have everything. :)

Brad
Guest
Most of the comments are posted by folks either to young or to forgetful to remember 9-11. There was a great cry to “do something” after that tragedy. Local enforcement and private sector were just not up to the task. Hindsight is easy when we listen to the radio talk show hosts who now form public opinion in this country. TSA is not perfect and they have a hard job. They make many decisions we question, but to do nothing is not an option. They must form regulations and rules based on current and credible threats…and they have. I have… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member
I resent the insinuation that I don’t remember September 11, 2001. I was scared that day. Very scared, and I was nowhere near New York or Pennsylvania. I remember feeling a need to do something, and deciding the only thing I could do was to pack up my tux and attempt to return it. (My closest friend had gotten married the day before.) Living constantly in a state of fear just isn’t reasonable. There is some risk from everything, and to expect any system, including security, to be failsafe is naive and unrealistic. An excellent book about the shift to… Read more »
Brad
Guest

Why Things Break: Understanding the World by the Way It Comes Apart.

Interesting Book! I read it in Grad School as well…thanks for the link and reminder!

Sam
Guest

Really? I was a couple of miles from ground zero on that very day. Beautiful clear day…..how can one forget….

Cornell
Guest

RE: “Most of the comments are posted by folks either to young or to forgetful to remember 9-11”

Brad, I resent your remark. This is about common sense, a commodity which seems to be in short supply at TSA. For example, supposing Al-Quaida finds a way to make a bomb so that it is worn as an article of clothing. Using TSA’s irrational rationale, there would follow a regulation banning passengers from wearing clothing.

Kevin
Guest

Ah, keywords and webpages…or not! While reading this Cranky post on the left side of the page, a large ad for 123inkjets.com appears on the right side offering free shipping on orders of $55 or more (contiguous U.S.only)!

Axelsarkiss
Member

TSA’s reaction to a threat that has been found out: ban. I mean, I’d think the terrorists would be smart enough to use something else, as people now know what to look for… no reason to ban said thing… But TSA is TSA. By the way, Brett- your amigos over @ VA posted a net profit… I’m sure you will have a post on that tomorrow.

Axelsarkiss
Member

I said VA in the above post. My apologies- it’s VX. Stupid mistake… VA is the code for Virgin Australia…

Jesse
Guest

Brad, I also resent your comment about folks being too young or forgetful to remember 9/11. I most certainly do remember it. Much like the TSA, your comment is completely lacking in logic.

Jack Norell
Guest

This is getting to the point of… actually, it’s already passed the point of ‘Flying Circus’!

Air travel has already become so horrible that I’m avoiding it whenever I can, even at the cost of not traveling.

I really hope this charade comes to an end soon, but far from optimistic on that.

Zach
Guest
It looks like I’m in the vast minority here, but I’ll go ahead and post a devil’s advocate position. First of all, I become just as frustrated as the next person when I’m mired in a 30-minute security line, am in danger of missing my flight, and am stuck between a belt buckle-wearing first-time flyer going through the metal detector with buckets of change in his pockets and a TSA “agent” screaming at me, “I TOLD YOU TO PUT YOUR LAPTOP IN A BIN,” twenty seconds after I’ve already done so. That said–and, Cranky, I love your blog, regardless–this post… Read more »
myfarelady
Guest

After viewing this recent video of a pat down at LAX, my “choice” is for the body scanner–hands down! bit.ly/bM20zl

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