Knee-Jerk Alert: TSA Bans Printer Cartridges... World is Now Safer

by David Parker Brown Airline Reporter

I am angry and frustrated at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) right now. In classic form they have once again over-reacted in an idiotic fashion. I am not saying the recent mailing of bombs in printer cartridges across the world is not serious, but it demands real solutions, not knee-jerk reactions.

In a statement released by the DHS, they state that they are banning all cargo from Yemen. Okay, this makes sense. It is not like we have a lot of imported goods coming from Yemen. However, they are also banning cargo from Somalia. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have some intelligence that we do not know about. The release also states, “No high risk cargo will be allowed on passenger aircraft.” Okay, so far I am actually with the TSA here. Banning dangerous cargo from certain places in the world until we can figure out the risk actually kind of makes sense.

When reading, I assumed we must be talking about dangerous things like explosives, flammable items and bombs right? Think again. In the next sentence they continue with, “Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States.” Say what?

This is stupid. I hate to call anyone names, but there is just no other way to say it. This no-thought reaction actually makes me feel less safe. This is telling me that the TSA cannot detect a bomb no matter what form it takes. Do they think that terrorist will give up since they can’t figure out anything else to put bombs in? Please. Not that I think there are a heck of a lot of people carrying around large printer cartridges in their baggage, but what’s next?

Since the ban is sort of a shock, you might have missed the part where this is only for flights within and inbound to the United States. So, it is totally fine to fly with a printer cartridge on an airline departing the US, you just can’t bring any back. What sense does that make?

It is easy to ban printer cartridges since they are not common, but what if terrorists start using items that would be difficult to ban? Would the TSA start banning laptops or stuffed animals if terrorists start using them? I wish the TSA would stop wasting time and money with pointless security measures like this. They need to be honest with the public that there is no 100% solution and be smarter about bomb detection. The airline business has seen many good and horrid changes since 9/11. However, in the last nine years 0 Americans have died from terrorism on airlines. Compare that to the about 315,000 Americans who have died in automobile accidents over the same period of time. Some might say that scanning shoes and your toothpaste is related to those 0 deaths, but I say it has more to do with this not being the huge threat the TSA and the media like to play it up to be.

When I got word of this story a few days ago, I tried to contact two different TSA sources, but no one would contact me back (and I was not this snarky). The TSA is proud of their “Talk to the TSA” campaign, but I guess you can only talk to them about stuff they want to talk about. I have tried to get the TSA’s side to things, but they just don’t seem to want to talk, which is greatly disappointing to me. If you are not happy with the body scanners and their crazy knee-jerk reactions, I highly suggest you trying to talk to the TSA. If you get a reply, let me know.

Reprinted with permission from the Airline Reporter.