TSA Confiscates Homemade Battery and Water Bottle, Declares Victory Over Terror

"For six long minutes on June 30, screening operations froze at Jackson-Evers International Airport's West checkpoint in Mississippi." Bated breath. "Transportation Security Officer Scot Peele leveraged his training and experience when he detected the suspicious item while monitoring the X-ray image of the passenger's carry-on bag." The "explosive-like" item that brought you this tense Jack Bauer moment? An empty water bottle and an engineer's homemade battery pack to keep his portable DVD alive on a long flight to Hawaii.

Even though, as Phil Torrone points out, a seasoned bomb expert could deduce in two seconds the battery pack—which is pretty much like a commercial one, except it's hand-crafted with 28 rechargeables connected by resistors and held together by a silicon-based adhesive—was not a bomb and totally safe, the engineer ultimately gave it up anyway to pass through "after recognising that the item could be seen by other passengers as a threat." That photo that makes it seem vaguely ghetto bomberrific is probably staged too. (Why is the wire positioned to look like it's connected to the water bottle?)

Uplifting moral of the story: If something even looks vaguely bomblike to the wandering, untrained eye of the sweaty guy munching Ambien in the seat next to you, the TSA will bust it, regardless of its actual potential to cause harm (it is causing terror, after all). BTW, Phil says he hasn't had any problems flying with homemade electronics, but make sure anything you carry that has wires and batteries couldn't be mistaken as bomblike by the lowest common denominator of airline passengers. [TSA via Schneir on Security via MAKE]

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