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It wasn't a can of hairspray, it was 700 bullet primers

But hey, they look so much alike, give the TSA at Boston a break:

A man has been arrested after FBI and TSA officials said his luggage contained volatile gun parts, which caused his bag to explode Tuesday just before it was about to be loaded on a plane.

The unidentified 37-year-old man had 500 to 700 bullet primers in his luggage. Primers are considered the "spark plugs" of a bullet and ignites the gun powder, projecting it toward the intended target.

Officials originally said the exploding bag was caused by a hairspray aerosol can.

The situation turned out to be much more serious and could have been even more dangerous if the bag containing the combustible elements would have exploded while the plane was in the air.

They're adept at harrassing grannies, children, lactating mothers and kids with braces on their legs, all in the name of keeping us safe.

But they miss a cache of bullets that end up exploding in someone's luggage.

How do you spell incompetence?


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Comments (24)

Apparently, the TSA is unfa... (Below threshold)

Apparently, the TSA is unfamiliar with the phrase "bust a cap..."


Any information on whether ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Any information on whether the bag's owner was a terrorist or a dumbass?

When TSA puts us through increasing levels of inconvenience, there's an implicit bargain: We deal with the metal detectors, the shoes of, the X-rays, the restrictions on liquids ... and in exchange, TSA catches dangerous materials, whether carried by terrorists or dumbasses.

And if the TSA can't catch this kind of thing ... then what's the point to the rest of the crap we have to deal with in air travel?

If packaged correctly there... (Below threshold)

If packaged correctly there would have been no problem unless the baggage handler mistreated the bag. If the primers were removed from their standard packaging the guy deserves the punishment. Primers are sensitive but the packaging is made to protect them. I hope they investigate why the primers were caused to explode, bad packaging or poor baggage handling. mpw

So did the bag EXPLODE or w... (Below threshold)

So did the bag EXPLODE or was part of the bag singed ?

A piece of a primer hit the handler's boot, and part of the bag appeared singed, Leverock said. A bullet primer is the back end of a bullet that provides the spark to ignite the gunpowder.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/12/29/1992085/arrest-made-after-bag-contents.html#ixzz19VLMwt4X

This looks like a baggage h... (Below threshold)

This looks like a baggage handler was beating the crap out of someone's lugage. He/she will probably sue for unsafe work conditions.

Again, not bullets just the primers, so nothing to see here folks. Move along. Slow news day.

OK, You called TSA... (Below threshold)


You called TSA incompetent but what should be done to keep a idiot from violating Depart of Transportation HAZMAT regulations and TSA regulations. Will asking the individual who checked the bag if he is Jewish have solved the problem.

Will eliminating metal detectors have solved the problem.

Instead of nitpicking, why done make solid suggestions. Nitpicking is the refuse of the do-nothings and lawyers and should be avoided.

"But they miss a cache of b... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"But they miss a cache of bullets that end up exploding in someone's luggage."

Not bullets - Primers. They are just little dots by comparison. Still, there is no excuse and the obvious concern is that they were being loaded into the cargo hold so the implication once again is that checked luggage does not get, er, checked.

It would be helpful to know who the 37 year old individual is that they have detained and what his background is. Then we can know whether it is just an idiot or if this might have been someone doing a dry run.

The TSA is yet another of t... (Below threshold)

The TSA is yet another of those feral-gummint make-work disorganizations that keep the otherwise deservedly unemployed off the dole rolls.

"You called TSA incompet... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"You called TSA incompetent but what should be done to keep a idiot from violating Depart of Transportation HAZMAT regulations and TSA regulations. Will asking the individual who checked the bag if he is Jewish have solved the problem. "

The TSA has maintained that the best way to ensure everyone's safety from terrorism is to do mass screening of passengers and luggage for dangerous materials from bombs to nail clippers. That's not everyone's idea of the best approach.

So the TSA has said that they will protect us by mass screening yet we get weekly accounts of something or someone slipping through their net. Their answer to that is to make the screenings more invasive and offensive not to reexamine the screening process and replace it with something more effective like behavioral profiling.

Behavioral profiling would have caught someone attempting a dry run with the firing caps. It would not have caught someone violating hazmat rules.

The TSA's problem is that they chose a way that should have caught it and it failed. the very thing they said they would prevent they continue to allow and they get more offensive about their screening process with every failure they have.

The criticism is of the screening process and their empty promise of security. No one is saying that behavioral profiling would have prevented someone from stupidly transporting hazardous material.

In general people are less concerned about others being stupid as they are with someone being a terrorist. The TSA claims to be protecting us from both. It fails at both. We are not nitpicking as you say but complaining that their method has failed and that there exists a method demonstrated to have been successful and they refuse to even consider it for stupid political reasons. We have offered criticism and solutions, your point is totally off base.

Sounds like an idiot to me,... (Below threshold)

Sounds like an idiot to me, Jim m. Carrying primers loose from their packaging? And entrusting said combo to the gentle attentions of a baggage mangler? That's sheer stupidity.

And even then, primers on their own aren't much more powerful than old-fashioned roll caps. They can be shipped via normal channels, with appropriate markings. (One site I checked shows a $25 hazmat fee tacked on - but a box of 1000 large rifle primers was only $30.)

As I said - sounds like an idiot.

First: I'm waiting for Big ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

First: I'm waiting for Big Sis to hold another news conference to tell us, "the system worked."

SuperDestroyer - you're kidding, right? You think Big Sis or her top advisors read wizbang? You think she'd take advice from any of us? Come on, she doesn't even listen to the grunts in TSA!

Weird story. Normal packag... (Below threshold)

Weird story. Normal packaging, consisting of a dimpled plastic tray (think cupcake pan) holding 100 primers in a 10 x 10 matrix and covered with a cardboard sleeve - is enough protection for hundreds of thousands of primers to be shipped all over the country every day without any problems. A hit on just one primer won't do anything to set the rest off.

Years ago, an ammunition arsenal worker was killed when he carried a metal bucket 1/2 full of primers. He was "jinking" the bucket up and down as he carried it by it's handle - making a sound like rain falling on a metal roof, causing the primers to rub and bounce against one another. The resultant explosion tore his leg off.

I agree it sounds like an i... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I agree it sounds like an idiot. Regardless, the TSA claims to be screening to stop this and once more they failed. They need to admit that the process is incapable of rendering the promised results and that they should do something different.

My point is that their method is insensitive to stupidity vs terrorism. It should catch both. It catches neither. It doesn't really matter if this was an idiot or not. It shows that the system doesn't work. If it had been a terrorist it failed.

Looks like the TSA will hav... (Below threshold)

Looks like the TSA will have to wait yet another day to stop their FIRST terrorist.

My guess is xray showed the... (Below threshold)

My guess is xray showed them and baggage handlers mishandled the bags like they do everyday.

No word if he claimed them when he checked the bag.

I think this is being blown out of perspective by the MFM and the stupid TSA. Most folks are ignorant to what a primer is in the first place.

Burqa Woman: ... (Below threshold)
According to both lobbyists... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

According to both lobbyists and the TSA it would cost too much to inspect all of the luggage that goes into the cargo holds planes. For that reason only 75% of luggage on passenger planes is inspected. It's not just passenger luggage either. What's really scary is that half of all packages shipped through UPS & FedEx are shipped in passenger planes.

Not all airline cargo is screened before takeoff

THE INFLUENCE GAME: Shippers fought cargo controls

RE: "The situation turned o... (Below threshold)

RE: "The situation turned out to be much more serious and could have been even more dangerous if the bag containing the combustible elements would have exploded while the plane was in the air."
These are not combustible: they are explosive. The power in a cartridge is an accelerant (i.e. it burns fast). Primers used to be made of mercury fulminate or potassium chlorate, also used to make blasting caps. Primers working together would be very useful as a primary explosive to detonate a real bomb.

This is another in a long line of TSA failures.

URL: http://gizmodo.com/5714865/the-tsa-let-a-loaded-gun-get-on-an-airplane

A man accidentally brought his loaded .40 caliber gun onto an airplane. He didn't know he had it. Neither did the TSA, who completely missed it during its scan and allowed that plane to fly. Apparently, this happens a lot.

Farid Seif, a Houston businessman, usually carries the weapon around for protection. He didn't realize he had kept the glock in his carry-on computer bag until he was mid-flight. Once he landed, he immediately reported the incident (and was stunned he was able to get it on board without hassle). That something like this happened should be scary in itself, but authorities tell ABC News says that that sort of incident isn't exactly uncommon:

Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security.

A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA's new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.

There are several issues in all of this:
1. The TSA is providing security theater -- not real security.
2. The TSA has an important job to do, and they aren't getting it done: the training and professionalism just isn't there. It's a failure.
3. There is no accountability. No one gets fired for screwing up. Reports of the failures are "classified" so the public is not aware of how badly they are doing. And if you complain, as the pilot recently did by posting a video of TSA incompetence, they attack the whistle-blower.
4. While they are taking away more rights from the public who have to fly, they aren't solving the real problems.
5. All of this stands as an excellent example of why Federal government solutions to problems don't work: they create powerful state-sponsored monopolies that don't deliver what they promise, and there is nothing that the public can do about it. At least the Post Office has a reason to change: they have some competition. The US Defense Department has real competition, with winners and losers determined on the battle field. But if the State delivers health care the same way that the TSA delivers security, you better not get sick.

What's really scary is that... (Below threshold)
Caesar Augustus:

What's really scary is that your average TSA idiot is a helluva lot smarter than Obama's cabinet-level people for national security.

Well, thank goodness it was... (Below threshold)

Well, thank goodness it wasn't breast milk!

But they miss a cache of... (Below threshold)

But they miss a cache of bullets that end up exploding in someone's luggage.

Wrong! Primers are NOT bullets and don't even look like bullets, Plus there are a gillion legit reasons for the person to be in possession of said primers.

Now the fact he had then in travel luggage and didn't declare them or broke other rules is a totally different thing.

What's really scary is t... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

What's really scary is that your average TSA idiot is a helluva lot smarter than Obama's cabinet-level people for national security.

The Bush administration was no better. Both administrations focused on inspecting only carry on baggage. Think about this, a would be terrorist's best chance at getting past security is to check in their backage at the ticket counter. They would not even have to board the plane.

"But they miss a cache of b... (Below threshold)
Don L:

"But they miss a cache of bullets that end up exploding"

Technically, bullets don't and can't explode. Cartridges, which contain primer,powder, and bullet(projectile) might.

More info: Unless they're compressed somehow they don't go whizzing around from being heated in a fire either -that's Hollywood stuff.

For those still confused, p... (Below threshold)

For those still confused, primers are small metal discs measuring between about .15 and .22 inches in diameter which fit into the end of a shell. The weapons firing pin hits the primer causing a chemical reaction to ignite the gunpowder. The powder burns releasing huge amounts of gas which propel the bullet to its target. Modern gunpowder BURNS, it does not explode. Primers, however, can explode if mishandled and 500 or so can create a pretty nice little bang! Apparently TSA was unduly confused by a guy who chose to NOT hide the primers in his rectum or have his girlfriend tuck them into her...handbag. After all, putting them in one's luggage is TRULY sneaky, ain't it!






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