Weekly TSA report

Joseph's Brethren Discover Money in Their Grain Sacks, ca 1530. Stained Glass, France (Metropolitan Museum)

I’m happy to announce that the TSA homepage has finally updated its Week at a Glance feature for the period between February 10th and 16th, 2012:

  • Firearms: 24 loaded; 4 unloaded
  • 3 artfully concealed prohibited item found at checkpoints

They’ve added a link to the TSA Blog on their homepage where you will find detailed descriptions of the weapons seized that week together with some photos. The blog entry ends with this paragraph:

Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt. 

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to all the confiscated items, here’s your answer:

And despite cynical suggestions from angry travelers that security officers keep the items for themselves, the TSA turns over the property to state agencies and commercial vendors, which cart it away to sell. Although public auctions yield a fraction of retail prices, dozens of states have found some revenue in the contraband.

Around 30 states participate in the program and Pennsylvania appears to have done the best, raising $700,000. Other states don’t bother, claiming it’s more work than it’s worth.

Since 2005 Congress has allowed TSA to add the hundreds of thousands of dollars in loose change left behind by passengers every year to its operating budget. Now a bill has been introduced to donate that money to the USO.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., says that money could be better used by the USO to support troops than by the TSA and has a bill that would do that. “I think the taxpayers and travelers would think it’s more appropriate that that extra change be donated to a group like the USO,” he says.