World and TSA still much stupider than returning soldier remembered [update]

On reading through the comments that readers made in response to an article we recently posted entitled, “World much stupider than returning soldier remembered” I was struck by the number of people that thought it was a hoax.

If we lived in a sensible world, I would have no doubt that this was a hoax. An assault rifle, even one that is unloaded, is a formidable weapon in the hands of a trained soldier. Thus it would seem utterly ludicrous that a soldier would be asked to relinquish his nail clippers and be allowed to board a plane with something that has the potential to inflict a lot more damage. It is ludicrous, but these things happen.

In my life, I have traveled quite a bit and learned what does and doesn’t fly with airport security along the way. I traveled at times when terrorism was just as much of a threat than it is now (if not more) – but clearing security was never anywhere near as stressful as it has become.

In the past five years, I have not made it through an airport without witnessing at least one incident that made me scratch my head and ask, “what the hell is wrong with you people?” … silently of course because you don’t voice your opinions in airports unless you want to be escorted to a private room for a debriefing.

I saw a little old lady have her nail clippers taken away. When she raised an objection she was shouted at and threatened with arrest. My mother saw one old lady lose her knitting needles.

In Sydney, I saw a Chinese student lose most of the duty free purchases that she had made in New Zealand. Apparently, the amount of supplements that she was carrying were over and above the Australian Customs limit – this is despite the fact that she was catching a connecting flight to China and was not going to be leaving the airport.

I’ve also been swabbed, frisked and interrogated every time I traveled alone.

Then there was this gem posted by one of our commenters:

Coming home from Baghdad, I had my M-4, my M-9, and they even let me keep my leatherman. But my bottle of scope mouthwash? out of the question.

Oh, and don’t even think about trying to board a plane with a Transformers shirt… and I’d say that any of these t-shirts would be a really, really bad idea.


C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and a reporter at large for We Interrupt and Uberreview. He currently resides in the Japanese countryside approximately two hours from Tokyo - where he has spent the better part of a decade testing his hypothesis that Japan is neither as quirky nor as interesting as others would have you believe.
28 Comments on this post.
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  • Case
    11 December 2010 at 2:43 pm
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    This is crazy! They should either cut all security and let everyone free to fly with whatever they could carry… the fares would be cheaper…

    Or maybe they should ban commercial flight all together… all of the people that NEED to fly can ask the military for a ride… In this day and age, who NEEDS to fly? business? use the internet… visit family? stay in your own damn country…

    • Cberry
      12 December 2010 at 7:07 pm
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      When you say “stay in your own damn country” you’re forgetting about Hawaii. I happen to live on Oahu and if I want to visit my family (like for my sister’s wedding in April in DC…) I HAVE to fly. There’s no ‘just drive’ or take a boat. It’s not realistic and we have an expectation to travel! You don’t want to fly? Fine, enjoy the Dark Ages.

      • mee
        14 December 2010 at 4:27 am
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        Dude that sucks for you. If I had family I had to fly to, they’d never see me at their house. Unless I could get my friend with a pilots license to fly me out. being well connected is the tits.

      • Stuart Bogue
        14 December 2010 at 6:15 pm
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        Stay in your own damn country is about as stupid as it gets…..Stay under your own damn rock….

    • David
      15 December 2010 at 12:04 am
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      what about Hawaii

  • TSA: nail clippers a national security threat, assault weapons… | What's the BUZZ? Tell us what is happening!
    11 December 2010 at 5:28 pm
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    […] World and TSA still much stupider than returning soldier remembered [update] ( […]

  • That one guy
    13 December 2010 at 7:05 pm
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    I feel like HANDS are formidable weapons in the hands of a trained soldier.

    I’ve heard all my life that “Freedom isn’t free,” and I’m not going to knock that, ever. However–and I may be wrong–safety, too, is not free, and I believe the price of safety is freedom and good sense.

    • smarter than you
      14 December 2010 at 4:23 am
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      Yeah, but be reasonable. They do shit like take fucking nail clippers from an old lady and yell at her. Its one of the many reasons I will never fly even if u pay me. Because I’ll probably end up in jail for telling a mentally challenged tsa agent to go fuck themself with a cattle prod.

    • me
      16 December 2010 at 1:27 pm
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      Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
      Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

  • Coppersdad
    15 December 2010 at 1:32 am
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    Recently, as we returned to the West Coast after visiting some Civil War Battlefields, my 66 year old wife was stopped and threatened with arrest. She was carrying collector replicas of Civil War Minie Balls (the projectiles used in the muzzle loading rifles of the period). They were mounted on a card as they were sold in the gift shop. We were told they were prohibited and could be used to take over the plane.
    I’m certain there are many stories like ours. I’ve come to wonder just how much of this kind of thing has to do with passenger safety and how much is an indicator of the level of education of the TSA employees, the level of training of the TSA employees, the ambiguity of the “rules” they operate under and the total confusion and mismanagement of the TSA supervisors.

  • Scott Wannan
    15 December 2010 at 2:00 pm
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    without source i’m still calling fake

    • Inthearmy58
      9 March 2011 at 6:08 am
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      Are you retarded?! There are several soldiers who have commented on here about how it has happened to them. Ask any soldier who has deployed and been through customs in Bagram Air Base. Soldiers returning from war are treated like terrorists. They give us full body x-rays, make us dump out every single bag on two seperate occasions and have everything inspected, and confiscate the stupidest items such as nail clippers even though we are carrying everything from M4’s to SAW machine guns and sniper weapons. It’s rediculous.

  • David Alderman2002
    16 December 2010 at 8:29 am
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  • David Alderman2002
    16 December 2010 at 8:34 am
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    Also, yall who think these stories are fake, REALLY need to WAKE UP! Military units do take there weapons on board (Look it up on the TSA website) and even tho I have never seen nail clippers banned on TSA’s website, I have had them taken away from me… along with my lighters (and I just flew back stateside in February) whereas the 2009 allowed/prohibited items ALLOWS lighters…. I think that the problem lies with the TRAINING with the TSA “screeners” not knowing what is and isnt allowed….

  • jessica
    16 December 2010 at 11:02 pm
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    I think this is funny, because the soldier himself (no weapons) could probably take over the plan. I definitely don’t think a set of nail clippers is something we would need to worry about.

  • JudiL
    28 December 2010 at 2:06 pm
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    If you saw a Chinese student lose some duty free – she would have been leaving the airport. If she had a direct connecting flight she would have been ‘in transit’ and not come down the airside bridge to go through Immigration (first barriers) then customs (second barriers). She was obviously exiting the airport and thus was subject to customs and quarantine regulations.

    • Anonymous
      28 December 2010 at 2:29 pm
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      JudiL, you seem to be very much mistaken. Even when you are ‘in transit’ you have to clear security at Sydney airport. Duty Free is carried on, and they check all carry on baggage – had things been in her suitcase she would have been fine, but as she was carrying it on, things were confiscated.

      And no, they were not leaving the airport, they were ‘in transit’ – their gate was opposite mine.

    • Kjhsfiuyt349872349jkldf
      12 January 2011 at 2:58 am
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      weinterrupt is right. They check your stuff even when you’re NOT leaving the airport.

  • G I Luvmoney
    6 January 2011 at 7:50 pm
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    Back in the 80’s, when flying in the Air Force, we had to divert to Lubbock Airport in Texas. We were dressed in our flight suites, carrying our parachutes (and in a small pocket in the leg of the flight suit was a small survival knife.
    Airport “security” went nuts over the knife, a USAF issued piece of equipment to be used by USAF pilots. Even back then, airport security was manned by mindless mouth-breathers

  • World much stupider than returning soldier remembered [TSA]
    7 January 2011 at 1:34 pm
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    […] In response to all of the comments, please read our update. […]

  • Dave ר Kliman
    11 January 2011 at 11:46 pm
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    The soldier asks a simple question… “what happened to my country?”

    Easy answer… Republicans happened… they happened big time…

    • sick of all the political crap
      14 January 2011 at 5:58 pm
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      Republicans did not do this, the liberal left did, and blamed the republicans with their inflammatory rhetoric, and without justification or documentation or source, you believed the lies and promoted them…that is why I do not go with either side…it is too stupid

      • G**D****SOCIALIST
        8 June 2011 at 3:47 am
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        interesting, because it sounds like you’re leaning a little to the right, buddy.

    • Dave
      12 June 2011 at 1:37 am
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      Dave,  your a f#%king retard. 

  • Jgyutreytewtr43ew
    12 January 2011 at 3:00 am
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    actually, airport security people are stupid all over the world. some of them are so lax that it boggles the mind and some of them are so “strict” that it makes no sense at all.

  • Dan Wetherell
    2 February 2011 at 1:59 pm
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    When I deployed to Iraq the first time we were flying out of a military terminal at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Imagine my surprise when I approached the TSA security screener (Weapon in hand) and she told me I had to pass my M-16 as well as my carry-on through the x-ray machine.

    I looked at her in disbelief and listened as my First Sergeant immediately behind me in line started laughing.

    I probably still would have been alright had I not held out the weapon and asked, “If you’re looking for a weapon it’s right here.”

    About forty-five minutes later after I’d been made to empty my bags and remove the majority of my uniform as well as my boots I rejoined the remainder of my company.

  • Guest
    10 June 2011 at 10:45 am
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    I was in disney world during 9/11 and on our flight back the saturday following they confiscated my mothers toe nail clippers because they could be used as a weapon when the TSA is scared of a middle aged woman with toe nail clippers there is most certainly something wrong. But to be scared of an armed soldier with toe nail clippers is ludicrous.

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