In its latest commendable but misguided attempt to to stop terrorists, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) just announced that toner and ink cartridges of more than 16 ounces will be banned from all US-bound passenger aircraft in carry-ons and checked bags.
USA Today Travel reports that the move is reaction to the “thwarted terrorist plot” last week when explosive devices were found on a US-bound aircraft from Yemen.
LIke Shortformblog.com (SFB), we too think the action is not a good use of TSA skills.
In the first place, who carries ink and toner cartridges on a plane? If you do, it’s safe to say you’ll be branded a potential terrorist.
Secondly, Terrorists groups are very well organized and long-term planners. The DOT action, once again, is a reaction to an event in the past. It is unlikely any terrorist plot will again involve the use of printer toner.
Some confusion exists with the Telegraph.couk adding that Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, said all cargo from Somalia and Yemen “were not banned” but USA Today Travel implying such cargo was in fact banned.
Regardless, the explosive devices in the flight from Yemen were found in ink cartridges in the cargo flight out bound from Yemen leading Napolitano to state that the threats from terrorists are “serious and evolving” and these kinds of security measures are necessary to protect the American public.
Whether these kinds of actions make the skies and the passengers who fly them any safer, is a big question.
Flying With Fish, a blog for those “who fly and want to fly smarter” doesn’t think so.
Nor apparently does a Department of Defense (DOD) spokesperson who was quoted as saying that the prohibition of ink and toner cartridges “does nothing to enhance the security of passenger flights.”
To state the obvious, most printer cartridges do not have the ink or toner volume printed on the cartridges.
The Transportation Security Administration and Homeland Security would be better off using their skill sets to better train screeners and create a comprehensive security system that isn’t always reacting to the yesterday’s threat.
The ban, says SFB, is “security theater” designed to be seen to be doing something, however ineffective.