A video uploaded to YouTube on Monday by a passenger at Columbus, Ohio's international airport purports to show two TSA agents testing passengers' drinks purchased after security at flight's gate.
According to user danno02:
My wife and son came back from a coffee shop just around the corner, then we were approached. I asked them what they were doing. One of the TSA ladies said that they were checking for explosive chemicals (as we are drinking them.) I said "Really..inside the terminal? You have got to be kidding me." I asked them if they wanted to swab us all. She responded with something like, yes sometimes we need to do that.
Even after Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano predicted last year that passengers in the future will no longer have to remove their shoes at airport security, she also predicted that the 2006 restrictions on bringing liquids onto planes, imposed after another terrorist plot, were here to stay.
So, with no outside liquids being brought by passengers into the terminal, why would the TSA start this procedure? Especially after taking a beating with incidents like confiscating a pregnant woman's insulin in August 2011, and the now-famous incident of the TSA confiscating a woman's cupcake because the icing could be classified as a gel.
It's also of note that the UK scrapped the liquids ban back in 2010.
According to the TSA blog, though, this testing isn't anything new. The agency says:
The most popular question that comes up with this topic is: "Isn't this redundant?" On the surface, it does seem that way, and it's the first logical thought that many have. However, any security expert will tell you that nothing is ever 100% secure. So, gate screening is kind of like our safety net to keep up with anybody who might be trying to get things past conventional screening.
What do you think? Is the TSA looking for the wrong thing? Have you seen this procedure at any other airports? Let us know in the comments below!
CORRECTION: This article previously stated that the TSA was swabbing drinks. According to the TSA Blog, agents are actually holding test strips over the beverages; nothing is placed in them.