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TSA Shuts Down Airport, Detains 11 After "Science Project" Found 537

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-down-the-graduated-cylinder dept.
OverTheGeicoE writes "A group of students and a professor were detained by TSA at Dallas' Love Field. Several of them were led away in handcuffs. What did they do wrong? One of them left a robotic science experiment behind on an aircraft, which panicked a boarding flight crew. The experiment 'looked like a cell phone attached to a remote control car with some exposed wires protruding.' Of course, the false alarm inconvenienced more than the traveling academics. The airport was temporarily shut down and multiple gates were evacuated, causing flight delays and diversions."
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TSA Shuts Down Airport, Detains 11 After "Science Project" Found

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  • Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:04PM (#39565163)
    Why the "Scare Quotes" in the title? Is someone implying that it was actually a bomb, and not a robot? TFA does not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:04PM (#39565165)

    There's no such thing as too much fear.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:04PM (#39565169)
    The terrorists aren't trying to get on our airplanes. The terrorists are blowing up Planned Parenthood clinics.
  • Before TSA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:05PM (#39565187)

    How many things actually happened in the entire history of commercial flights before the TSA existed? And why do they still exist in light of that? Sheesh.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:06PM (#39565201)

    Zero.

    Number of people nude Xrayed or sexually groped (on their breasts or crotch) or strip-searched or locked in glass jails for carrying breast milk or ..... (this list could go on several pages).

    Millions.

    I hope none of those machines were malfunctioning and ejected lethal doses. They are never checked. TIME TO END THE TSA. And the Fed (give the power back to the State central banks).

  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:06PM (#39565203)

    The terrorists are strip-searching people with judicial approval.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by INeededALogin (771371) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:08PM (#39565237) Journal
    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.
  • Re:Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:08PM (#39565257)

    Because that way, more people click on it. Don't you know how news sales works?

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:08PM (#39565259)

    The terrorists are laughing up their sleeves.

  • by Etcetera (14711) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:09PM (#39565265) Homepage

    What kind of moron takes something that "look[s] like a cell phone attached to a remote control car with some exposed wires protruding" onto an airplane?

  • Re:Before TSA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Shorty-dammit (555739) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:09PM (#39565267)

    How many things actually happened in the entire history of commercial flights before the TSA existed? And why do they still exist in light of that? Sheesh.

    Doh! Wasn't logged in for some reason.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:13PM (#39565317) Homepage

    What kind of moron takes something that "look[s] like a cell phone attached to a remote control car with some exposed wires protruding" onto an airplane?

    What kind of moron LETS SOMEONE take something that look[s] like a cell phone attached to a remote control car with some exposed wires protruding" onto an airplane? I mean, if snow globes [salon.com] are verboten, how in the world could that contraption possibly get on board in the first place?

  • Another TSA Fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gubers33 (1302099) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:13PM (#39565323)
    The device obviously got through security in Dallas thus it must not have been a threat. It isn't like that was something that was easily concealed or concealed in a bag if the crew found it. The TSA have stopped exactly zero terrorists while harassing and groping millions innocent people and have multiple lawsuits filed against them costing taxpayers more money then their already ridiculous budget. TSA is a waste of taxpayers money, plain and simple.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:13PM (#39565325)
    While not the best decision, I think the point is that he shouldn't have to worry. If it was on the plane, it made it past the TSA, and assuming they did a good job at their theatre, was safe. This whole fiasco is an exercise in how useless and overbearing the security is in airports these days.
  • by Entropius (188861) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:18PM (#39565397)

    The hilarity is that if the nerds really wanted to play havoc with US air travel, they could, and there's not a damn thing the TSA could do about it.

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:20PM (#39565423)
    Okay. These people happened to be flying with something that looks very suspicious. A cellphone wired up to some other electronic device. Okay. Occasionally people do fly with suspicious looking items that are completely innocent. Then these same people "forget" it and leave it on an airplane? When's the last time you forgot a piece of carry-on luggage on a plane? I'm sure it happens occasionally, but when people are flying they are usually careful about such things. Now put the two together. What are the chances that a group of people bring a very suspicious looking electronic device onto a plane and then they all simultaneously forget it there? Isn't it possibly a bit more likely that they were playing some sort of a prank, or trying to test security at the airport and it backfired? Just a thought.
  • by tibit (1762298) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:24PM (#39565469)

    People leave stuff on planes. That's a fact. People carry weird looking electronics on board. That's a fact too. You can't scream bloody murder unless there's one. Just because someone has wires n'shit doesn't mean it's dangerous.

  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:25PM (#39565479)

    Well, if the flight crew is freaking out, then either the TSA let it through or gave it the OK because it's ON THE PLANE.

    Either the TSA's useless (for letting a bomb go through)
    or the flight crew's panicking (for assuming the TSA let a bomb go through).

  • by codepigeon (1202896) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:27PM (#39565513)
    Handcuffs, really? Couldn't this have been solved in a matter of minutes if the TSA just asked a few questions of the students and teacher?

    The same with the shooting in Florida. If both guys had just talked/asked questions that teenager would still be alive.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:30PM (#39565555)
    Don't you know? Americans cannot be terrorists. Only people who hate America can be terrorists, and they also plot their attacks from outside the country.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:33PM (#39565585)
    So the lesson is, if you want to bomb an airplane, enclose your bomb in a smooth, brushed aluminum and/or plastic case?
  • Re:Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:34PM (#39565603)

    Because that way, more people click on it. Don't you know how "news" sales works?

    FTFY.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:38PM (#39565667) Homepage

    If it got on the plane, someone checked it somewhere and gave it a thumbs-up. That makes it more likely to be a toy, just like it looked.

    What's to say that when it passed through security it wasn't a cell phone, an RC car and wires with plugs on them - in different bags and/or from different people? I hate to be defending the TSA, but in this case I think it was perfectly reasonable to suspect this could be an airport/airplane assembled bomb. "Forgetting" it on board might be a way to make it blow up on the next flight rather than become a suicide bomber, honestly I have a hard time finding fault with suspected terrorist bombers being cuffed. Yeah of course it sucks for everyone affected when it turns out to be an innocent mistake but if they didn't react to this, what do you expect them to react to?

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:38PM (#39565687)

    The device is described as a robot-like device with exposed wires, resembling a handmade explosive device.

    So if I put coloured epoxy over the wires so they cannot be seen ...

    The point is that the people claiming that this looks like "a handmade explosive device" do not know what "a handmade explosive device" looks like.

    It just looks UNUSUAL so they panicked.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:39PM (#39565691)
    The incident probably cost airlines and various travellers plenty of money (delayed flights etc.). Sounds like a new way to harm America: sneak things onto airplanes that look like bombs. It should not be too hard; if you disassemble a typical laptop and turn a few things around, you'll have something that looks like a bomb.
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:39PM (#39565693)

    >>>The TSA sucks, but I can't say I disagree with their response in this case.

    A little late don't you think? The TSA's job is to keep bomb-looking devices OFF the plane, not discover them 5 hours later after the flight is already over. If this was a real bomb* then it would have already been used. TSA == fail. (again)

    *
    *I doubt terrorists will waste their time attacking airplanes with bombs. They'll go after soft targets like your home or factory. The best way to deal with them is to keep them OUT of the country in the first place (yes that means walls on both borders; enemies shouldn't be able to just walk in).

  • SO "Exactly what you want them to do" is fine a bomb AFTER the flight is over?
  • by NatasRevol (731260) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:49PM (#39565827) Journal

    If everybody on Slashdot gets an old phone, opens it up and leaves it on a plane...

  • Re:Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @04:52PM (#39565865)

    Carter was a disaster as a president. However, the Republicans since 1980 have made a point of nominating the dimmest bulbs in the box.

    Reagan? Already senile. His was a Weekend At Bernie's presidency.
    Bush the Elder? A retread, complete with barfing on foreign dignitaries.
    Then they moved on. BobDole... yeah. Shrub the Younger, whose intelligence could be measured in scoops of raisin bran. McCain, who while a "war hero" from years prior basically campaigned like a zombie.

    And then we get the "brain trust" of this latest batch. Herman "couldn't even make an edible pizza" Cain. Mitt "robber baron" Romney. Rick Sanctimonous, champion of home schooling and anti-science rants. Michelle "hehe, I went into law because my hubby said we were done having babies and I should make myself useful in the daytimes before his nightly blowjob" Bachmann. And of course Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who "historians" who have a running bet to top each other and misrepresent American history in a worse way.

    A friend of mine has a better word for these sorts of idiots - they're known as Brain Donors. Kind of like kidney donors, they obviously donated a long while ago and somehow are alive without a functioning brain.

  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @05:01PM (#39565973)

    Except this is proof that the TSA completely fucked up and didn't do their job. If the device was such that it would terrify (much more highly trained than the TSA goons) air crew, what the holy fuck was it doing on the plane in the first place, let alone in the cabin or outside of a container in cargo, with the power source disconnected?

    What also pisses me off is that the passengers were the ones who were taken away and interrogated. I wonder: Did the TSA agents who fucked up also get taken into custody and subjected to interrogation?

    If not, why not? Either through intent or incompetence they allowed this to happen. If it was intent, then they're clearly abetting terrorists, and if they're incompetent they shouldn't have jobs anymore.

  • by ebh (116526) <ebh-slashdot.hyperreal@org> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @05:03PM (#39565981) Journal

    I like that. Who needs bombs when you can effectively DDoS the airport?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @05:15PM (#39566099)

    Taking down a plane is scary, and it would really suck for the people on the plane. Hijacking a plane and hitting a building with it is much worse.

    Your argument is that if we didn't have the TSA, we'd not have any security, and that's incorrect. Keep the security we already have - scan the bags, metal detect the people, and be done with it. You can't scan for all the possible ways to make something explode, and any hijacking attempt is very likely to be stopped by passengers that are now aware of the problems (like both of the bombers that you mention).

    9/11 happened because passengers figured the hijackers would make demands, and then they'd go land somewhere and the people would be free, because that's what typically happened with hijackings before then (I believe.. I may be picturing movies). There was no incentive to fight back, and risk of injury or death if they did. When the passengers on Flight 93 found out about the attacks in other places, they realized that they either fought back and maybe lived, or died in a fiery death and caused other people to be injured/die. They then tried to regain control of the plane. I don't think any hijackings with a conscious passenger cabin are likely to succeed for a very long time.

  • by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @05:34PM (#39566311)

    And the Fed (give the power back to the State central banks).

    I hate rider bills.... :)

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @05:40PM (#39566373)

    You're mistaking a difference of opinion with bias. Yes, there's a difference. Go look it up.

    And this complaining about the slashdot moderation is a really tired meme. The only time it gets brought up is by people who somehow care what their post is sitting at. Yes, it's a popularity contest. That's inherent in any moderation system. No, it doesn't mean that it automatically means that your beautiful snowflakishness is being unjustly trampled. It means that the majority think that what you wrote is dumb, uninformed or stupid. Yes, this is a vague judgment. Get over it.

  • by hot soldering iron (800102) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @05:56PM (#39566543)

    Actually, it's more like "Lots of Americans hate THEIR GOVERNMENT." I actually love my country, and it's idiots, very much. Most of them are fairly kind and happy. But lawyers and CEOs are usually suspected of vile anti-social behavior (correctly) until proven innocent.

  • Re:Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @06:11PM (#39566681)

    Is it really so hard to believe that a mechanism connected to what looks like a cell phone could be a bomb?

    Ask someone who has been in Iraq and Afghanistan (or Israel for that matter) what is frequently used to detonate IEDs remotely on command.

    Honestly, I know that there are some pretty ineffective TSA regulations out there, and that there's a lot of security theater going on, but I'd rather look like a fool than let hundreds of people die on my watch. And frankly, what do you think many homemade bombs are, if not science projects taken to a murderous extreme?

    Perhaps this was an overreaction, but nothing in the article provides facts other than the indignation of those inconvenienced.

    I do have to wonder, though, where can we draw the line where stupid things like this don't happen to innocent people, but that real terrorists can't take advantage of those lines.

  • by bhalter80 (916317) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @06:15PM (#39566729)
    Infact I can't remember the last time I saw a TSA press conference where they were claiming victory for foiling a plot to down an airplane. I can remember quite vividly at least 3 occasions in which triumphant passengers subdued lunatics that could have downed airplanes. How bout we leave the security to the people who's asses are on the line and send the not-quite-good-enough-to-be-a-cops home?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @06:25PM (#39566821)

    It's a shame the big, bad horrible USSR didn't snuff her out. I wouldn't have to listen to libertardians quoting from the Gospel of Rand all the time.

  • by cicatrix1 (123440) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .1xirtacic.> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @06:28PM (#39566837) Homepage
    This was after the plane had landed safely. And well after the highschool science project had cleared security on the way INTO the plane. You're way too fucking scared.
  • Re:Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dr2chase (653338) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:05PM (#39567179) Homepage

    As I said to someone else, back when the Lite-Brite Mooninites panicked the Boston Police, the first rule of making a bomb, is to not make it look like a bomb. That's why IEDs get buried, stuffed into dead dogs, what have you. Around here, if you wanted to hide a bomb in plain sight, you'd stick it in a crumpled Dunkin Donuts bag.

  • by Cramer (69040) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:30PM (#39567373) Homepage

    This isn't fear, it's pure stupid. They got it through airport security, on to a plane, flew to their destination, and *now*, suddenly, it's a f***ing danger to the entire state of Texas. Those TSA morons just showed stupid they are and how much they can over react. There used to be this thing called "Lost and Found", but today, if you leave anything anywhere around an airport, you're a Terrorist(tm).

  • Oh Pleezeee (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:33PM (#39567387)

    Grow up will ya?

    Just because Ayn Rand got some things right doesn't make her an oracle, most of her ideals are garbage.

    Hell, even those idiots who co wrote the Bible got a few things right too, but the rest is controlling crap.

  • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:36PM (#39567399)
    I would come to the aid of a downed enemy airman during wartime. I would provide first aid and medical treatment as best I could, and then take him to the authorities. Just because they are enemy soldiers doesn't obviate the need to render humanitarian care. Now, on the other hand, providing him succor and then helping him escape back to the other side would be treason.
  • by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @08:22PM (#39567683) Homepage

    That was wartime. Different rules apply during war.

    Was there a decade in the last century in which the US not at war with some country (or now, terrorist groups)?

    And those 'innocent civilians'?

    Uuuh, scare quotes. Yes, at least the vast majority of them, exceptions notwithstanding.

    there's at least one documented case of them coming to the aid of a crashed Japanese pilot. Would you have the government just ignore that?

    Are you seriously trying to justify the internment of a whole ethnic group because of the actions of one single individual?

  • Re:Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binarybum (468664) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @08:33PM (#39567751) Homepage

    I do have to wonder, though, where can we draw the line where stupid things like this don't happen to innocent people, but that real terrorists can't take advantage of those lines.

    There is no such line, and I think that most Americans will agree that the one that has been drawn is much more in favor of stupid things like this happening to people than we would like to settle for.

        The important thing to remember is that security is far from free - and the TSA continues to exclusively prove that the dollars being spent on its services only put people at greater risk by diverting funds from more effective investments.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @08:45PM (#39567839)

    This was found on a plane right??

    I think the biggest problem here is that the TSA at one airport cleared the device for carry-on (not checked) and that another airport goes apeshit when the same device, already approved, is left on the plane.

    Where is the communication and common sense here? The TSA should have never let it on the plane as carry-on and checked it, with special instructions if you needed to go that far.

    The TSA is responsible for creating the situation here.

  • Re:Scare quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sun (104778) <shachar@shemesh.biz> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @12:10AM (#39568779) Homepage

    Didn't read TFA, so I'll answer based on the "data" here.

    It's perfectly legitimate to assume that this is a bomb. Perfectly reasonable assumption to make. What isn't reasonable is the actual reaction.

    Close half the airport? Why? Just taxi the airplane to somewhere remote and examine the object there. An airplane on the ground simply will not go up in flames due to a small bomb (and even if it does, if it's in a remote corner of the airport, let it).

    Detain the people involved? Sure. But why handcuff students?

    And, yes, I live in Israel. And, yes, I simply fail to see such a thing causing such a reaction here.

    Shachar

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:00AM (#39569133)

    My feeling is that those TSA pigs wouldn't be happier. They found justification for their crap existence and secured some more of future funding for their parasitic operations

    You know the US is no longer a First World country when a government agency can justify its existence by causing a huge economic loss for no real reason.

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