The TSA’s “mythbusters” are at it again, and this time they’re trying to debunk my claim that bottles of water are safe enough to be cleared for takeoff. But in trying to prove how dangerous liquids are, is the government propagating a few myths of its own?
Of course it is.
Never mind that the TSA doesn’t bother to address how lighters and breast milk can pass muster, and water can’t. Never mind that its video “proof” that liquids are dangerous could have been created by any Hollywood special-effects studio, and has in no way been independently verified.
And never mind that all of the evidence it cites that “liquids remain a real threat to aviation security,” lacks the sourcing required to make it credible.
No, I think what bothers me more than that is the way TSA forwards its arguments with half-truths and “facts” that are impossible to verify.
TSA claims it spent eight weeks conducting “extensive research by some of the world’s leading explosives experts.” Who are these “experts”? What, exactly, did they discover? Does the TSA expect us to just take its word for it? And which one of these experts voted that a cigarette lighter wasn’t a threat, but that bottled water was a threat?
Would these experts be willing to sit down for an on-the-record interview?
And take TSA’s claim that it’s testing “technology capable of screening sealed bottled liquids for explosives.”
I spoke with one of the companies that has created a device capable of screening liquids, and it told me a slightly different story. The company says the TSA has known about its system, which can weed out dangerous liquids, since 2005. But, “we simply have not been given the opportunity to meet with the appropriate officials at TSA and DHS to review the capabilities,” a company representative told me.
Sounds as if TSA want to keep this liquid and gel ban going indefinitely.
So I put it to our friends at the TSA. If you really want to “bust” the myth that liquids are not a threat, it’s time to come clean with the American travelers you are supposed to protect.
Give us the names of the experts who you consulted when you determined liquids were a threat. Tell us exactly what they found. Explain to us why factory-sealed water bottles have to be discarded at your checkpoints. Tell us why you’re so certain that breast milk and lighters can’t be used by terrorists.
And while you’re at it, tell us why you’re ignoring technologies that could be used to screen these supposedly dangerous liquids.