TSA Responds to Backscatter Houdini: "For obvious security reasons, we can't discuss our technology's detection capability in detail"


TSA's Blogger Bob watched the "viral video" of a man demonstrating how to "trick" the TSA's backscatter x-ray machines, and he is not impressed

I watched the video and it is a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures.

For obvious security reasons, we can't discuss our technology's detection capability in detail, however TSA conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies in the laboratory and at airports prior rolling them out the field. Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the field and has found things artfully concealed on passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs. It's one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go BOOM.

With all that said, it is one layer of our 20 layers of security (Behavior Detection, Explosives Detection Canines, Federal Air Marshals, , etc.) and is not a machine that has all the tools we need in one handy device. We've never claimed it's the end all be all.

Who knew that "tiny pills" and "tiny baggies of drugs" could make a plane "go BOOM"? 

The video of the TSA's newest bête noir is below: 

NEXT: Ronald Bailey on Secular Humanism and Its Discontents

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  1. Who knew that "tiny pills" and "tiny baggies of drugs" could make a plane "go BOOM"?

    He was speaking figuratively.

    1. He was speaking figuratively.

      and yet managed to say literally the stupidest thing ever.

      1. LITERALLY

        1. WINNING!!

    2. I like the cars, the cars that go boom.

      1. Speaking of which, this woman is never allowed to fly


    3. Mission creep raises it's ugly head, but now it's wide out in the open.

      (Of course, as soon as the thugs took over, they made it clear that they would be conducting warrantless searches for anything and everything, far beyond their supposed purpose of doing what was needed to make travel safe.)

      1. Haven't they actually said they weren't going to look for anything non-terrorism-related after several publicized events of them going after people for other shit? Like the large amount of cash some Ron Paul staffer had once, or the woman with the blank checks? I could swear I read here ages ago that they were pwomising not to go after people for anything other than terroristy things.

    4. Technically they tell you to take everything out of your pocket before the scanner, so they're justified in beating you for resisting.

  2. Do they still claim the panty bomber as a successful prevention of an attack?

  3. It appears the youtube guy (Tsaoutofourpants - Jonathan Corbett) has commented at the TSA Blog and has issued a challenge:


  4. Before you go through the scanner they tell you to remove everything in your pockets, including, even, handkerchiefs, which I dutifully do (I don't want to miss my flight, wherein lies their ultimate power)
    But I do wonder how good this technology is if it could be defeated by a pocket handkerchief.
    Or am I being picky?

    1. My plastic comb in my back pocket set it off. Also pissed off the TSA agent who berated me for not removing it.

      A. Sixty. Nine. Cent. Plastic. Comb.

      1. Same here! Although the agent was too apathetic to berate me.

  5. 'Noire' has an e at the end of it, poseur.

  6. Well, it is for our safety and security. (he said sarcastically)

  7. There are any number of ways to defeat the scanners, as the TSA knows very well. This is why Rafi Sela, the Israeli expert, described them as useless. TSA is wasting our money, violating our privacy, and playing us for suckers.

  8. I watched the video and it is an crude attempt to allegedly show how
    to circumvent TSA screening procedures.

  9. Can anyone out there name all 20 layers of security?

    1. one

      And those are the levels of TSA security, chirren!

  10. Sometimes a secretive but inept bureaucracy is just a secretive but inept bureaucracy. That's what the TSA is, no matter how many cheerleader-"experts" they have.

  11. Twenty layers? That's a nice, round number.

    1. They meant Twenty LAWYERS.

      1. Are you sure?

        I had it as Twenty LAIRS.

        1. Great. So now the TSA split the Triforce of National Security into 20 pieces?

  12. LITERALLY twenty lairs of suck curity. Twenty. Lairs.

    You never know where it's gonna come from. Like a ninja, this security. Or a fart - silent, but deadly.

    Twenty. Lairs. Ninja-fart security, bitches.

    1. "We gots scanners *for* the scanners, dude. You wouldn't even believe how so-phisticated the technology is. Nuclear powered, and nano-tech, and gamma-ray, chemical-sniffin'....oh, wait - hey Cletus! Get yer rubber gloves! This old lady's got a funny bulge under her corset... now - M'am, I told you to please put the cane down or else Jimbo there's gonna give your pacemaker a little jump-start, and no one likes that burning-hair smell... so please cooperate.. how bout I tell you a funny story while Billybob removes your prosthetics...."

  13. you know? things that go BOOM.

    There's something about that whole wacky-n-whimsical tone on the TSA blog that has always been REALLY irritating.

    Yeah, we get it: The Internet is that zany place where everything gets a name like "Yahoo" and people make pictures of cats saying stuff. That doesn't make your own project any less serious, you dimwits, and Americans aren't out here laughing along.

    1. There's something about that whole wacky-n-whimsical tone on the TSA blog that has always been REALLY irritating.

      "Hey man, lighten up! We're *servicing* you! You're supposed to enjoy traveling! Thanks for shopping and shit! .....Also, bend over."
      (snaps on rubber glove)

  14. ""Look, we'd love to let y'all people know just how amazingly competent we are, but, see, shit is like top secret, and I swear we totally interdict tourist...i mean terrorists, like every day. terrists stuffed *full* o' drugs, shampoo, toenail clippers, exploding dildoes... we got warehouses of that shit. you name it. That other guys' movie was totally faked too. You see his shoes? Nobody *ever* gets through security with shoes. We'd have busted his commie ass before he even got his belt off. Who you gonna believe? A large government bureaucracy, or some punk kid who hates america? Also - you ever see his feet? I bet he had *shoes* on. Nobody ever gets through security with shoes. Everybody knows shoes are the most important threat to airline security. Can't trust a man what has shoes on...God bless America and the TSA"'

    1. ahh, fuck. I said the shoes thing twice.

      Shoes are that important!

      1. Dude, that was the best part!

      2. "you said shoes twice"

        "i like shoes"

  15. Direct word-for-word quotes, please, in which Pat Robertson "invites" God "to smite" someone. I'm not saying they don't exist, I'd just like to see them before I give the nod to that phrasing. I'm skeptical that he has "invited" God "to smite" any person.

    1. Apparently, it's a death threat to ask God to smite someone - and isn't it odd when liberal athiests start believing God WOULD smite someone?

  16. Now it is past time for Energy Secretary Steven Chu to weigh in on whether the 6 volt battery hack is real or a hoax. The American people need clear leadership on this issue, but the obstructionist Republicans would rather waste public money and time with Solyndra.

    1. "The American people need clear leadership on this issue"


  17. Reminds me of the good old days with Phil Hendrie (the bit was called "Plane Go Boom" http://www.philhendrieshow.com.....where.html)

  18. All this AND General Dynamics sifting through FaceBook/Twitter/God knows what else, brought to you by the Obama Administration... because they caaaare.

  19. A couple of years ago, security expert Werner Gruber demonstrated live on German TV how to get the components of an actual thermite based bomb through one of those porn scanners. Pockets on the side of a shirt or jacket are outside of the range of the porn scanners, and this is well-known. German also simply carried through some small parts of the bomb in his mouth.

    1. Great, now they'll get tongue depressors and it will "open wide". What's next, a colonoscopy?

    2. Werner Gruber demonstrated live on German TV how to get the components of an actual thermite based bomb through one of those porn scanners.

      You shouldn't even need to risk smuggling the components in that manner, at least if you have a couple other conspirators also willing to buy plane tickets to get past screening. I'm 90%+ sure that all the components for a thermite bomb can be taken on a plane in regular carry-on luggage in full compliance with TSA regulations. The only problem would be somebody getting suspicious if you had all, or substantially all, the components together in one place.

  20. lol, the TSA is a Joke! Biggest WASTE of an agency there is, hands down.


  21. Here's the original unedited version of that blog post.


  22. Is the TSA trying to hush mainstream media coverage?


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