Arresting People for Walking Away from Airport Security

A proposed law in Albany, NY, would make it a crime to walk away from airport screening.

Aside from wondering why county lawmakers are getting involved with what should be national policy, you have to ask: what are these people thinking?

They're thinking in stories, of course. They have a movie plot in their heads, and they are imaging how this measure solves it.

The law is intended to cover what Apple described as a soft spot in the current system that allows passengers to walk away without boarding their flights if security staff flags them for additional scrutiny.

That could include would-be terrorists probing for weaknesses, Apple said, adding that his deputies currently have no legal grounds to question such a person.

Does anyone have any idea what stories these people have in their heads? What sorts of security weaknesses are exposed by walking up to airport security and then walking away?

Posted on May 31, 2016 at 6:35 AM • 84 Comments

Comments

Weldon ForsytheMay 31, 2016 7:00 AM

I'm not sure what kind of terrorist would think "ok, I can't blow myself up on the plane, so instead of blowing myself up right here and now, making my plan a partial success by killing several dozen people at the security checkpoint, I will make my plan a complete failure by calmly walking away and going home." However, I do know plenty of perfectly innocent people who will think "there's no chance I'm going through the scanner and have my nuts flashed in front of a TSA official and his giddy colleagues, so that leaves me with two options: a latex glove up my cavities or prison." To me it sounds like straightforward coercion: if you want to travel we'll make sure you don't give us a hard time, whoever you are: our way or the highway.

Dick Mills May 31, 2016 7:00 AM

To prevent another loophole, would also have to include people who cancel reservations after news headlines proclaim, "EXTRA SECURITY TODAY"

Don't forget terrorists who avoid airport security altogether by cousin by choosing other forms of transportation.

AnuraMay 31, 2016 7:05 AM

Two potential weaknesses I can think of.

Scenario 1: Someone is flagged for extra screening, walks away, comes back later, repeats until they don't get flagged.

Scenario 2: Someone is flagged for extra screening, walks away, passes whatever they are carrying to their friend who hopefully goes through without being flagged.

This would only work if your flagging process is random, which if it is then it is broken to begin with.

To be absolutely clear, I'm just trying to think up scenarios; I'm in no way endorsing this law.

Tamer SalmanMay 31, 2016 7:09 AM

They're probably thinking: any mysterious input to the system might reveal a weakness.

MasseyMay 31, 2016 7:15 AM

It could be worth clarifying that Apple refers to Sherriff Apple, Not the company. Without clicking the link it's not clear!

EvanMay 31, 2016 7:33 AM

Probably Jurassic Park, where the vicious and clever velociraptors are continually probing an electrified fence for weaknesses.

Z.LozinskiMay 31, 2016 7:44 AM

I've done this in the past. In some European airports, security screening is at each individual gate. When distracted, it is possible (in some airports) to confuse your gate number (A7) and seat assignment (7A). I realised what I had done as I was putting my laptop on the belt for the X-ray machine and realised (from the language being spoken by other passengers around me) that I was about to board the flight for Alma-Aty, not London.

One of the reasons the gate staff are supposed to check your boarding pass is to make sure you are boarding the correct plane, as getting this wrong is really inconvenient *for everyone*.

I'm struggling to see how criminalising human error helps though.

Come to think of it, I've done this at US airports too. Usually you spot the line isn't moving, and walk away to see if #airline loves you this week and has a line for frequent fliers.

KlvinoMay 31, 2016 8:01 AM

Evan's scenario wins hands down. Worth a chuckle.


If we follow the county's logic to its conclusion, then we should screen everyone arriving at an airport, whether they have a flight or just waiting to pick up/drop-off their friend... it would be the only way to be sure from their perspective.

In no way do I agree or endorse their proposal.

CallMeLateForSupperMay 31, 2016 8:04 AM

Stupid. But hey... it's New York State, and NYS is known to be schizo.

If a law like this were enacted, and if I hadn't written off air travel decades ago, which I did, then I could be the very first victim. I disengage and walk away from confrontations or potential confrontations frequently. Don't have any more at the sale price? I'm outta here. I may not enter unless I leave my backpack at that unguarded desk? I'm outta here. This check-out line isn't moving; I'm outta here. I must "swipe" because the "dip" portion of your card reader does not work?[1] I'm outta here. You accept only debit cards? IOH!

Verily, the US gets nuttier by the week.

[1] My walking away instead of "swiping" deprived a certain establishment of ~US$600/month. Management caved after two months, bought two EMV readers. An employee friend told me they'd "had a number of complaints".

PeterMay 31, 2016 8:45 AM

I thought this was already the law in the US.

Some years ago, there was a proposal to move the Customs Plaza in Buffalo to Fort Erie on the Canadian side, because of space limitations. The plan was abandoned, according to press reports at the time, because under Canadian law people can walk away from a check at any time, but under US law, once the visitor has entered the check area (however that is defined), s/he must complete the process. The US Border Agency was not willing to abandon this policy, and the Canadian law could not be changed to accommodate it.

Neal KrawetzMay 31, 2016 8:58 AM

I don't think they are thinking in fictional stories. Earlier this month, a flight attendant (staff that isn't normally screened) got randomly selected for screening. She abandoned her luggage (filled with cocaine) and left the checkpoint.
http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/24/us/flight-attendant-cocaine-smuggling-case/

To me, it sounds like they want to catch people like her, who leave the checkpoint before getting caught with drugs.

However, the real solution would be to check all people -- airplane staff, airport staff, and passengers -- rather than permitting some people to pass through unchecked.

Of course, forbidding people to leave the line can cause lots of problems. What if you have to go to the bathroom badly? (Montezuma's Revenge!) Or you have a toddler who tries running off? (Kids do that.) Or you notice that the line is shorter at the other security checkpoint? (Denver has 3 security checkpoints to choose from.) Or you realize that you forgot something in your car? (Crap! Where's my wallet?) And I've seen lots of people in business suites take calls and step out of line to discuss something important.

blakeMay 31, 2016 9:02 AM

This has moved away from Security Theater to Cargo Cult Security (of course at an airport!).

Someone who does not understand Security does something which looks (to them) like the result of Security, and hopes that the actual Security will magically manifest somewhere.

SJMay 31, 2016 9:22 AM

@Z.Lozinski

I've done this myself, in US airports.

I approached the Security line. Then I remembered that I should have left the pocket-knife in the car. So I walked back to my vehicle, deposited the pocket-knife, and then returned to the Security line.

Barry PolinskyMay 31, 2016 9:32 AM

Hi,
A friend of mine in the navy told a story about traveling in the Persian Gulf. What he said is the following:

1) There's a lot of boat traffic in the persian gulf; so everything from US aircraft carriers, to motor boats, to fishing trawlers, submarines, etc.
2) Being in the US navy is definitely on the top end in terms of hardware.
3) What some of the motorboats would do, ostensibly as 'testing' the naval security of the US fleet, would drive their boats directly at the US navy boats, and turn around at the last second. To see A) What their perimeter was B) How the US would respond C) Training.

Obviously you don't hear about too many incidents of the US Navy firing on people in the Persian Gulf. But it's a game that the people who run the ships in that area, how far they can get. And you can be sure if that the commander of a ship decides to fire on a motorboat approaching it, US politicians aren't going to think twice about supporting that commander's decision.

So my guess is that the law is meant as 'political cover' for the 'commander' of the 'airport security' forces in the event that the commander believes that a motorboat is actually an attack boat.

Clive RobinsonMay 31, 2016 9:55 AM

Was Mr Apple elected to his post?

And if so when does he come up for re-election. A little (a lot) of rraly negative campaigning might demonstrate the wisdom of following through on his sad little dreams...

Sometimes you have to take power back from people that are congenitaly incapable of using it judiciously.

Gary YeagleyMay 31, 2016 10:01 AM

Hello- I remember when flying was fun. Now I dread the idea of it.

David LeppikMay 31, 2016 10:02 AM

@Peter: that is for border checks, not TSA. And at least for airports, it's pretty logical. The plane lands in a foreign country, and you are not considered to have entered the country until you've gone through security. Since you can't go back to your plane, you're pretty much stuck. But at least they have bathrooms. The law in question here would outlaw taking care of incontinence.

WaelMay 31, 2016 10:12 AM

Does anyone have any idea what stories these people have in their heads?

Presumably they see it as suspicious activity. No detailed stories in the conscious mind needed.

What sorts of security weaknesses are exposed by walking up to airport security and then walking away?

Testing limits, creating distractions to reduce heat on another team, conditioning security to false alarms so when the real deal happens security is more prone to fail...

What they need to focus on these days are insiders that smuggle things on planes or tamper with critical navigation systems (HW and SW.)

paulMay 31, 2016 10:14 AM

Even if the scenarios about testing/probing security made sense (which they don't) I'm trying to figure out how this would be done in practice without doubling or tripling the security personnel at airports and imposing hugely invasive south carolina-style bathroom surveillance.

Terrorists could shut down any airport for a day simply by getting a dozen people to shout "Crud! I should have left my leatherman in the car!" and walking away from the checkpoints.

boogMay 31, 2016 10:15 AM

Weldon Forsythe:

...making my plan a partial success by killing several dozen people at the security checkpoint...

Seems like increased tension at security checkpoints due to people's fear of going anywhere anymore would be a pretty big win for the bad guys. Not only are people terrorized, but security might be harder as more people are stressed out and nervous just waiting in line.

Then again, I admit that's just another story - not a good foundation for policy.

TatütataMay 31, 2016 10:21 AM

Say I have a sudden and imperious call from nature while I stand in line for "security" checks. You know, Montezuma's revenge, the kind of stuff you get by traveling.

So my choices are:

1) Go to jail, do not pass go and collect $200.

2) Respect my bowels and soil my trousers on the spot, and get on the plane with them.

Or even more realistically, I travel with my very young offspring, who needs an urgent change of nappies. [Who then goes to jail? The toddler or the parents?]

Sorry for the potty references, but it's really fighting sh*t with sh*t.

Joanthan DukeMay 31, 2016 10:48 AM

@SJ: I’ve done the very same thing. Gotten the front of the queue only to remember that the Swiss Army Knife was still in my pocket (along with the keys for the rental car!).

I stepped out to pop the knife into an envelope to mail home and to return to the keys to the rental agency desk in the terminal.

So, for being forgetful, I’d be arrested. Don’t ask how I managed to keep the keys-I really don’t know, though I do seem to have a bad habit of trying to keep the keys…About 20 years ago, I got all the way to my destination airport from Hawaii with the rental keys in my pocket.

Good thing I don’t fly through or to New York state at all.

Dirk PraetMay 31, 2016 10:54 AM

@ Tatütata,@ Neal Krawetz

Say I have a sudden and imperious call from nature while I stand in line for "security" checks. You know, Montezuma's revenge, the kind of stuff you get by traveling.

Depending on which state you're in, you can invoke the Restroom Access Act, AKA Ally's Law. You would however need a document signed by a medical professional attesting that you use an ostomy device or suffer from Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, other inflammatory bowel disease or medical condition requiring access to a toilet facility without delay. Some states also include pregnancy as a covered medical condition.

In all other cases, I would recommend soiling yourself on the spot. It would provoke massive indignation from bystanders and no underpaid TSA drone likes to clean up sh*t. The anarchist approach, introduced by the late Sid Vicious - bass player with the Sex Pistols - would be to relieve himself while being subjected to a rectal.

The obvious workaround for anyone up to no good would be to get or forge a document attesting he/she is suffering from Crohn's.

TatütataMay 31, 2016 10:57 AM

I realize that I used very much the same words as an earlier contributor. It's a coincidence, honest!

hawkMay 31, 2016 11:16 AM

I expected this. In several states I have seen DEA / State Patrol put portable signs on highway warning motorists up ahead to expect random stop and searches. Then they watch for people to get off at the next exit so they can slam their face into the pavement.

"Why did you get off at this exit? You must be guilty. "

Recall they charged Martha Stewart with perjury for pleading not-guilty.

DanielMay 31, 2016 11:39 AM

This has moved away from Security Theater to Cargo Cult Security

Apt analogy and one that did not occur to me. Thanks for sharing it.

DanielMay 31, 2016 11:53 AM

Apple said, adding that his deputies currently have no legal grounds to question such a person.

The sheriff is wrong on that score.

While it is technically true that in US law that the deliberate avoidance of an encounter with a law officer is in and of itself not probable grounds for a stop it doesn't take much more, only a tiny bit. The legal term of this is "flight" but it is a legal term of art and encompasses much more than what one might imagine as flight.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-1036.ZO.html

There, SCOTUS upheld a stop simply because the person fled in a "high crime area". Given the historical deference that courts have shown both to borders and airports in particular as sensitive areas I find it difficult to conceive of how dropping out of line at an airport would not meet SCOTUS very lax standards.

PetterMay 31, 2016 12:09 PM

To follow their logic it would be illegal to abort your travel as soon you discover SSSS on your boarding pass.

HollywoodMay 31, 2016 12:13 PM

The movie is Unbreakable, with Bruce Willis as a security screener at a sports arena, if I'm remembering correctly. He gains the supernatural ability to sense peoples' intentions based on brief physical contact, but he isn't quite sure his powers are real yet. So when the bad guy runs away from his line up, Bruce chases him down, and at the last moment as he escapes, Bruce spots a pistol on his hip. Conclusion: let's blame Willis for this. :)

Dirk PraetMay 31, 2016 12:17 PM

@ Daniel

There, SCOTUS upheld a stop simply because the person fled in a "high crime area".

I'm not entirely sure Illinois v. Wardlow would apply here because, technically, TSA screeners are not police or law enforcement officers. They're not allowed to carry guns and in 2011 Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) even introduced a bill that would put an end to illegal impersonation protocols like TSA agents dressing in police officer-like uniforms with official badges.

Bated BreadthMay 31, 2016 12:26 PM

Government security "ideas":

That awkward moment when you read the headline and forget whether you're on schneier or fark.

chris lMay 31, 2016 12:31 PM

I've gotten to the ID checker and been told "Oh, there's no precheck at this checkpoint (despite the big sign), you have to go to the other end of the terminal" and gotten out of line to go to the other end because the walk plus pre would still be substantially faster than the regular line.

Fendall HawkinsMay 31, 2016 12:37 PM

The article does a nice job of highlighting the backwoods goobers that the fusion centers spooked into this laughingstock. Let's thank our homeland-security heroes who keep us safe from incontinent old ladies and Peace Corps kids with the drizzly shits:

- Delusional Bible-humper Craig Apple;

- Bart Johnson, promoted to White Man's Welfare from his state cop job planting plaster packets of fake coke on hapless motorists;

- Dimbulb port-mobster Frank Commisso and fantasy terror commando Frank Mauriello.

CIA Nazis in the fusion centers whip the peckerwoods into a frenzy of fantasy derring-do because to them, the more repressive capacity, the better. They know they can flip the switch from anti-terror to counterinsurgency at will, next time people exercise their right of assembly.

Bated BreadthMay 31, 2016 12:50 PM

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax," said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!"

Snarki, child of LokiMay 31, 2016 12:55 PM

"Say I have a sudden and imperious call from nature while I stand in line for "security" checks. You know, Montezuma's revenge, the kind of stuff you get by traveling."

REAL terrorists would just bring a small vial of Ipecac, and make their escape while everyone is trying to get away from the projectile vomiting.

The fact that in a crowded, confined space, it's likely to set off a 'chain reaction' is just gravy. So to speak.

DanielMay 31, 2016 1:19 PM

@Dirk

I have no idea about the status of TSA agents but Apple wasn't commenting about the status of TSA agents, he said "his deputies" do not have any legal grounds and my point is that under current SCOTUS precedent his deputies likely do, in fact, have legal grounds to stop someone.

In other words, his argument is that the legislature needs to give the TSA authority to do X because Apple cannot do X. But that premise--that Apple cannot do X--is suspect and is most likely not correct.

Once you realize he already has the legal grounds to stop people, then this legislation can be seen for the security theater it is.

/note that does not imply I agree that normatively he should have the legal grounds to stop someone. I am disagreeing with his description of what the law actually is, I am not making a claim about what the law should be.

AnonMay 31, 2016 1:22 PM

It's easy enough to explain:

The TSA are inane enough to an SSSS code directly on your boarding pass where you can see it, and hence terrorists(whatever that word means anymore) can abort if they see it.

Instead of fixing the boarding passes so the codes no longer tip off the suspect and only issue Blinkenlights for the screens on their computer terminals, they want to solve the "problem" (which, again, they created) by simply outlawing not going through security after you get a boarding pass.

They however prefer the no back-out solution as it gives them even more power which they can abuse.

Clive RobinsonMay 31, 2016 1:26 PM

@ Tatütata and like minded individuals,

All this talk of the "brown stuff hitting the fan" makes me think if you have Monties revenge just tell the brown shirt he's two options. 1, accompany you to the proper facilities or. 2, You will dump in the que. Also mention noro virus or some such and breath in his face as you say it, then start to gag as if about to vomit.

timMay 31, 2016 1:45 PM

One of the reasons the gate staff are supposed to check your boarding pass is to make sure you are boarding the correct plane, as getting this wrong is really inconvenient *for everyone*.

Ah no. Their only job is to make sure you have a valid ticket and identification that matches it. Their job isn't to inform you that you are going to the wrong terminal.

Case in point: Airport lounges are frequently not in the same terminal as your departure flight. If their job was to enforce that you are in the correct terminal - than many of these lounges would be idle (SFO and LAS are two such examples).

LucasMay 31, 2016 2:00 PM

I'm not sure what kind of terrorist would think "ok, I can't blow myself up on the plane, so instead of blowing myself up right here and now, making my plan a partial success by killing several dozen people at the security checkpoint, I will make my plan a complete failure by calmly walking away and going home."

A suicide bomber might not think that, but a smuggler definitely would. There the choices are:
(1) Lose a bunch of expensive drugs, not get paid, and go to jail, or
(2) Not that.

I'd go with (2), personally. Not sure how much drug smuggling is going on in Albany though.

Nick PMay 31, 2016 4:06 PM

@ Snarki

"REAL terrorists would just bring a small vial of Ipecac, and make their escape while everyone is trying to get away from the projectile vomiting.

The fact that in a crowded, confined space, it's likely to set off a 'chain reaction' is just gravy. So to speak. "

That's sick and brilliant at the same time. Had to give it to you on that one. :)

yupMay 31, 2016 4:11 PM

@Neal Krawetz

However, the real solution would be to check all people -- airplane staff, airport staff, and passengers -- making sure that their own personal decisions don't involve any unnecessary harm to others...

VatosMay 31, 2016 4:19 PM

I remember reading about a robbery that was done by triggering an alarm, day after day and then leaving. The alarm was eventually deemed defective and turned off, at which point the thieves broke in

@Anura
Surely, the flagging process should be random. Otherwise you might end up with the people who "look guilty".

@Weldon
If the goal is to create terror, then blowing up the plane in the air surely has to be preferable to an incident at an airport

BrianMay 31, 2016 4:22 PM

They could be doing this to probe the "random" algorithm used to select people for additional screening.

nopeMay 31, 2016 4:30 PM

@Snarky P

As far as I know, ipecac is now banned in the states if you're not a farmasist. Something to do with ritual fasting, I think...

WaelMay 31, 2016 5:17 PM

@Tamer Salman,

any mysterious input to the system might reveal a weakness.

That's called "Primitive fuzzing" of the security-line I/O system in the hopes of exposing exploitable weaknesses to smash the stack, if you catch my drift ;)

CuriousMay 31, 2016 6:37 PM

I can't help but think that "security" might be a word being shoe-horned into an expressed rationale, for ultimately justifying some other non-expressed concerns (wanting more power) or needs, or rather for simply achieving a desired effect for some reason (to effectively detain and prosecute people, or who knows, to even shoot people unprovoked.)

As for the notion of someone possibly exposing weaknesses in security, I think such a basic problem simply lack substance to be deemed a rational. Sounds like bs to me, akin to the notion of there being "unknown unknowns", as if being justifiable paranoid, as if simply knowing you are right to be paranoid, as if having magical foresight, or, as if pretending that knowledge about threats somehow shows itself to US authorities alone.

I think if someone were to guess, gamble or try randomly find the opportunity to pass through security one time with some dangerous item, calling such an activity, or such a hypothetical problem, "the exposing of a weakness", would seem like bs imo, and more like ironic distancing, in which the idea of someone getting past security is more about the fear of some place's security having a weakness, which ofc could have *nothing* to do with anyone actually trying to pass through security with a dangerous object.

An other idea, that someone would seek to try to pass through security with a dangerous object, and then to pass though, have nothing to do with exposing anything, as if the act of exposing something could even be a hypothetical motivation. With this concrete example, the idea of anyone "exposing a lack of security" becomes pure fiction and something irrational I think.

I am tempted to conclude that the only weakness that can exposed by walking away from airport security, is when there would be no security AND more importantly, if the absence of security was to be a secret.

Another problem: Simply imagining an example of someone wanting to maybe pass through airport security with a bomb AND while also carrying a device that detects bomb-detection-devices from a distance, if that person detects bomb-detection-devices and walks away from it all, I'd claim that the very idea of someone detecting someone else's security is hardly a weakness that pertains to security as such. At the very least, one must not confuse the idea of someone being able to *detect* bad security at some location, with someone *gaining knowledge* (i.e *all* knowledge) about some location's real security, else the notion of "exposing" anything (being a convenient metaphor in language) really ends up being an exaggeration that in turn should merit no truth in retrospect.

I think the idea of someone being able to learn everything there is to know about the location of real security by walking away from airport security, becomes such a fantasy of an idea, that it in turn makes the idea of "security being exposed" (as an act or even the mere theoretical possibility) a philosophical impossibility when trying to combine that basic idea with logic, language and rhetoric.

I looked for the word "exposed" and "exposing" in the article and found none, though one sentence apparently show how they think someone will want to be "probing for weaknesses".

According to the article, the man was quoted as saying "We just want to be able to stop them,", which in itself seems very much like wanting to have more power for the sake of it.

It seems unclear to me, if they actually want to improve security by having lawful means to detain anyone walking away (or perhaps being accused of trying to) from airport security, or simply wanting a 'superpower' to be used without having to be held accountable in any way for such use.

It seems to me, that the only "weakness" they would want to prevent by implementing such a law and if wittingly having bad or non existing security: is being reprimanded or being punished if ever over reacting or somehow end up doing something "wrong", or possibly if ever being accused of being criminal, cruel, unfair, disrespectful, annoying, or unreasonable.

This now reminds me of the game Eve online, in which non playing characters in spaceships police the space in the center area of the universe. The police can't prevent crime between players, but the security npc's always punish a player as good as they can. So there would be this idea of sorts: more punishment to cover bad security.

SoWhatDidYouExpectMay 31, 2016 6:55 PM

It is all about influence, intimidation, and control.

When someone walks away, that is all lost. Simple minds equate that with guilt of the walker rather than being satisfied that the security efforts did their job.

Dirk PraetMay 31, 2016 7:10 PM

@ Daniel

He and his deputies likely do, but I don't think they are the folks in charge of the screening or have enough manpower to control the entire area. Since so far all attempts to extend the authority of the TSA have failed, this proposal may be the beginning of a work-around of some kind.

@ Hollywood

The movie is Unbreakable, with Bruce Willis

That is one possible answer to Bruce's question.

@ Neal Krawetz, @ Lucas

To me, it sounds like they want to catch people like her, who leave the checkpoint before getting caught with drugs.

And that's the second one. Sometimes smugglers get cold feet or are tipped off by airport insiders that they have been singled out for additional scrutiny. They then bail out and leave their luggage.

@ Clive

just tell the brown shirt he's two options. 1, accompany you to the proper facilities or. 2, You will dump in the que.

The power of sh*t to make a strong point should never be underestimated. In November 2014, protesting French farmers dumped & sprayed manure all over government buildings. Conversely, the IDF is known to use a product called "skunk" for crowd control.

@ nope, @Snarky, @ Nick P

As far as I know, ipecac is now banned in the states if you're not a farmasist.

Any even remotely capable operator should be able to get his hands on some over the internet. Drinking salt water will work too. Alternatively, they could go for strong stimulant laxatives such as Dulcolax and Senokot. The question however remains in how far this could be a successful strategy as my personal experiences left me mostly incapacitated during the act and not really able to do anything else.

The fact that in a crowded, confined space, it's likely to set off a 'chain reaction' is just gravy.

As Dr. Gregory House already said: "Monkey see, monkey barf". As usual with interesting science projects, I will generously contribute to the legal defense fund of whoever sees fit to try this out in a US airport of his/her choosing.

WaelMay 31, 2016 8:33 PM

@Dirk Praet, @Clive Robinson,

Conversely, the IDF is known to use a product called "skunk" for crowd control.

Seems you missed this thread... The atrocious stench description on the wiki link you shared isn't dissimilar to some notable descriptions here.

Now I know what the military version smells like and how long it lasts for. Apparently the antidote is tomatoes, just like for a skunk's spray.

Coyne TibbetsJune 1, 2016 12:23 AM

Too bad there's not another source: The TimesUnion site is playing two adds simultaneously, on top of each other, at top volume.

Clive RobinsonJune 1, 2016 1:10 AM

@ Dirk Praet, Nick P, Snarki, Wael,

The earliest version of the "Chain Chunder" I've heard about comes from the Austrailian Comedian Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna).

He claimed that he used to smuggle a bag of Heinz Mixed Vegtable Salad (chopped carrots, peas etc in a dilutrd salad cream sauce) onto the aircraft and put it in the air sickness bag, then some time after the inflight meal, whilst he still had a spoon, he would do a fake vomiting scene into the air sickness bag with lots of attention grabing noise.

Having got attention and some sympathy, he would then use the spoon to eat the vegtable salad with it's very prominent diced carrot out of the sick bag. He reckoned that it started a chain reaction that within five minutes even the pilot would be vomiting...

And for those wondering why it works, well it's a "monkey brain" survival mechanism. Monkeys and most other primates eat in groups the most likely cause for vomiting is you've just eaten something poisonous. Therefore if one member in your communial group starts, it's quite likely you too have eaten poison, thus it's in your own best interest to get it out of your system before it poisons you...

The important bit though is the "diced carrots" as Billy Connolly once observed about "street pizzas" is you will always see chopped carrots in there, even if the barfee had not eaten them... He then went on with a very funny five minute rant about imaginary stalkers sneaking up on drunks and forcing handfulls of chopped carrots into them (as it was filmed no doubt there is a UckTube video of it). He also had a sketch about tourists in Rome drinking pints of Crème de menthe...

As for throwing up on officers of the law... I put my hand up to that one, though it was not due to anything liquid or solid I'd conciously taken in. It was back in the days when Norovirus was not well known about, and for those who have had it badly you'll know why I call it "gnawer virus" (vecause it chews your guts). Any way there I was cycling to work and it came on, so I'm head down having a chat as it were with a litter bin. Any way this young police officer makes the mistake of getting close and tapping me and start asking me if I'm alright. As I look up and open my mouth to say no, the virus sees a good oportunity to claim another victim thus out of my mouth came not the word, but shall we say a visual representation in a projectil physical form. It was only by luck that most of it missed the police officer as it sailed in a nice parabola into the gutter and only his highly polished shoes got splattered. Needless to say I ended up in the back of a wagon, but one from the ambulance service not the police, it was my bike the police put in a waggon, which I got back after spending three days in hospital.

Which all goes to show icky as it is to even think about, there is a great deal of hunour to be obtained from shared adversity.

WaelJune 1, 2016 2:04 AM

@Clive Robinson,

Therefore if one member in your communial group starts...

You seem to have a peculiar penchant for 'Monkey Brain'... Starling analysis. How do you explain yawning? If someone yawns, the group yawns! Works with laughing as well, to a lesser extent.

Wouldn't it be cute if one person decides to leave the security line and the rest (in thier monkey brain's best interest decide to leave? How many handcuffs will they need?

Speaking of yawning... Strange, I'm sleepy.

Joe KJune 1, 2016 10:36 AM

They can call it Freddie's law:

According to the charging documents submitted by the Baltimore police, at 8:39 a.m Lieutenant Brian W. Rice, Officer Edward Nero, and Officer Garrett E. Miller were patrolling on bicycles and "made eye contact" with Gray, who proceeded to flee on foot "unprovoked upon noticing police presence".

WaelJune 1, 2016 10:40 AM

@Greg,

As the mad king said: "Screen them all!"

Screen them all, Hff will know His own.

Sort: 19 15 18 20
Kill: 11 9 12 12

19 - 11 = 8 = h
15 - 9 = 6 = f
18 - 12 = 6 = f

WaelJune 1, 2016 12:41 PM

@Greg,

Screen them all, Hff will know His own.

Rats! I messed up big time...

E(Kill) = Screen
E(11 9 12 12) = 19 3 18 5 5 14

Map (11 to 19) = +8
Map (9 to 3) = -6
Map (12 to 18) = +6

god: 7,15,4

E(god) = E(7,15,4)
= (7+8, 15-6, 4+6)
= 15,9,10
= o,i,j

E(god) = oij

Screen them all, Oij will know His own.

Nick PJune 1, 2016 1:14 PM

@ Clive Robinson

Nice expansion on the idea. That comedian trick is nice.

@ Wael

Yawning's apparent contagion is possibly a mechanism to identify group members susceptible to manipulation. Then, alpha's like myself can manipulate everyone into doing something benefiting the group's survival by focusing on whoever yawned. They become the cannon fodder that absorbs the initial attacks by wild beasts. My real warriors, who didn't yawn, then drive spears into them. That scenario also provides a temporary, maybe 72 hour, cure for yawning among the group members that were previously less alert.

Note: As usual, you heard this scenario on Schneier's blog first. Do tell me when it gets reinvented by a sociology or anthropology Ph.D.. ;)

WaelJune 1, 2016 2:05 PM

@Nick P,

Then, alpha's like myself can manipulate everyone into...

Can you manipulate me into becoming financially independent?

Do tell me when it gets reinvented by a sociology or anthropology Ph.D.. ;)

Nice explanation. Will keep an eye out for you. I'll add it to your "Shield Amplifier" idea ;)

Dirk PraetJune 1, 2016 6:04 PM

@ Wael

Seems you missed this thread... The atrocious stench description on the wiki link you shared isn't dissimilar to some notable descriptions here.

It would indeed seem I missed that one. Probably dates back to one of my leaves of absence last year.

WaelJune 1, 2016 6:08 PM

@Dirk Praet,

Probably dates back to one of my leaves of absence last year.

For sure. You took an unannounced sabbatical. You gotta wait seven years before your next stunt :)

John LevineJune 1, 2016 8:15 PM

Yes, county sheriffs are elected in New York, and it sounds like Albany County could use a new one.

But Albany is a small regional county-owned airport, and what would be much more effective would be to write to the county airport authority and let them know that if we're going to be arrested if we realize we have to pee while we're in the security line, it's not far to the airports in Burlington, Syracuse, and Newburgh that don't assume their passengers are criminals.

GladJune 1, 2016 11:59 PM

@Dirk Praet

Excellent points! Now that you've mentioned it, I recall that ipecac is not actually a banned substance, but it's just not being mass produced anymore.

Good to know that any remotely capable operator has ready access to a potentially life-saving substance while the rest of those rubes will be stuck with leaded chests ;-)

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsJune 2, 2016 12:07 AM

@ Wael ; @ Nick P

Nice explanation. Will keep an eye out for you. I'll add it to your "Shield Amplifier" idea

Wasn't aware Nick P had developed such a device.

It reminds me of the 80GHz wide band microwave crowd/people cooker. When watching a demonstration I immediately thought, "Hey, quick, grab a galvanized trash can lid and reflect the source beam back to the source.", and I wondered whether it would be wiser to reflect the source back to the transmitter or at the vehicle captain.

Does this sound like Nick P's "Shield Amplifier"

WaelJune 2, 2016 1:05 AM

@name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons, @Nick P,

Where have you been? I feared you were doing a nickel here. Which reminds me: have you seen @Buck around where you were? Last I saw him he was working on an email challenge @Nick P shared... Perhaps I need to put his picture on some milk cartons...

Wasn't aware Nick P had developed such a device.

He proposed it back in 2013... Memory failed me: it's an 'amplifying shield'.

whereby some of the shielding around the wires is actually something that amplifies the signal

Nice concept. Same category as "Transparent Aluminum" :)

Does this sound like Nick P's "Shield Amplifier"

In principle, yes. The difference is his device attacks the hardware - not the driver.

DroneJune 2, 2016 2:31 AM

So what's new here? Attempting to avoid an encounter with law enforcement is grounds for apprehension. If you are pursued to that end and flee, that's grounds for arrest. The next time your local sheriff’s department sets up a sobriety check point, try pulling a u-turn and to back the other way and see what happens...

This is a non-story.

Clive RobinsonJune 2, 2016 3:48 AM

@ Drone,

This is a non-story.

Actualy it is.

As far as I'm aware the US is not yet officially a police state, and you have a right as an individual to move freely in a public place unless you are actually guilty of a crime (that is actually under sentance). Doing so is not a crime, and it is only for "public safety" reasons that you and all others can be denied that right.

To be detained by the police your actions have to be such that they can clearly articulate that they are a "public safety" or "criminal" issue. If they can not then they are in all probability acting illegally.

It has been successfully argued in the UK and other places that "stop and search" without articulable cause is not just illegal but socialy undesirable as it is discriminatory and causes amongst other things racial and religious tensions.

There is another issue for reasons why people avoid the police and would be wise to do so, and that is "quotas". Politicians decided in their usual numbskull way that police officers had to demonstrate their effectivness, and that means they have qyotas for arrests convictions etc etc. The logical fault with this reasoning is that if crime is low or resources are insufficient, then a police officer is not going to meet his quota. Which means he is incentivised to our state a belief on "public safety" etc. Which in effect somebody who goes near him is going to be randomly pulled to fill his quota. Thus the more distance you keep between you and a police officer the less likely it is you will be selected.

Your argument is effectively that if people behave in a rational way, they are guilty of a crime... Does that actually make any sense?

Mic StandJune 2, 2016 3:57 AM

@Drone: that's not true. If you avoid a sobriety checkpoint (random screening) then you draw attention to yourself and increase your chances of being stopped and tested. If you're sober, then you've only wasted your time and LEO time. You have not committed a crime.
If you walk away from the checkpoint as proposed by Sherriff Apple, then he doesn't care if you're innocent: he's decided that you're guilty and are going to jail.

Mic StandJune 2, 2016 4:09 AM

On the idea that terrorists might try to 'fuzz' the system by walking away: the Sherriff is probably aware that gangs of shoplifters sometimes place decoys - who are obviously putting items into pockets to attract the security team's attention, then replacing those items and walking away empty-handed. If your shop security team is incompetent, this successfully draws attention from the far-more-subtle genuine thieves. Sherriff Apple perhaps thinks that airport security is operated like shop security. If he's right, then we're doomed.

Dirk PraetJune 2, 2016 5:52 AM

@ Clive, @ Drone

Thus the more distance you keep between you and a police officer the less likely it is you will be selected ... Your argument is effectively that if people behave in a rational way, they are guilty of a crime.

Exactly my point. For the average Joe who has done nothing wrong, the best case scenario is that the encounter is a total waste of your time. In a worst case scenario, you have committed a crime you weren't even aware of and you get belittled, fined, arrested, beaten or worse.

It's hardly any different if in your naivety you have actively solicited a LEO's assistance: in 9 out of 10 cases there will be exactly nothing he can do other than tell you stuff you already knew and reluctantly write that down in a short report you may require for insurance purposes. With a little bad luck they'll accuse you of wasting their time. That is of course unless you are an attractive female.

In short: it is a persistent myth that the police is your friend. Unless you have really good reasons to involve them in anything, the only logical thing to do is to stay away from them as far as possible as nothing good can possibly come out of it. If an encounter is inevitable, act as dumb and subservient as possible, don't let them provoke you, avoid any type of conversation and consent to nothing. Your silence is the only thing that cannot be used against you.

Comrade MajorJune 2, 2016 6:34 AM

@Dirk Praet
If an encounter is inevitable, act as dumb and subservient as possible
Dumb, but not subservient. Its good strategy to deal with not only police, but in many other situations.

Subservience is provocative. And police system in US is not prioritize your rights...

HermanJune 2, 2016 6:58 AM

Even worse are the transparent plastic bags that stuff you buy at Duty Free gets stuffed in. Those bags do not get screened. So the obvious way to smuggle something onto a plane is to re-use one of those bags from a previous flight.

Nick PJune 2, 2016 9:08 AM

@ name.withheld

I developed the concept back when I was studying TEMPEST and TSCM. The TEMPEST shielding was supposed to stop leaks coming outward. Maybe coming inward but they said less about that. ;) The TSCM was about catching all kinds of bugs. One site said 10+GHz transmitter can be built for less than a WiFi dongle and is undetectable on most spectrum analyzers. That got me thinking how I could apply unconventional spectrum to bug computers.

My method for developing attacks is to look at trusted parts of the design to subvert them. So, I noticed the shielding of regular and TEMPEST resistant cables was what made people trust them for critical systems. In the Great Seal Bug, the device was modified so it collected ambient sound and radiated it when hit by microwave. I decided one could similarly modify a cable to shield most frequencies but amplify one (eg 10GHz) either continuously or upon a trigger. Hence, my amplifying shielded cable that did the opposite of what buyers or users (if planted) suspected.

Shared it with people privately on occasion but only posted it here around 2013. A little later, someone leaked this scheme. I just smiled at that one. :)

biscuitsJune 2, 2016 1:36 PM

This is sad and doesn't surprise me.. land of the (perceived) free. I can't even get behind people supporting troops. When are people going to stop taking it and protest. If everyone starts smashing the security stuff and just walking through, what can they do? We have more numbers and it's getting kind of stupid. Waiting in line to be violated. Lovely.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsJune 3, 2016 12:53 AM

@ Wael,

In principle, yes. The difference is his device attacks the hardware - not the driver.

Ha ha, that's funny. That means it is not a software design issue/problem.

As to my whereabouts, let us just say "Russia" under a quasi witness protection scheme (I jest, kind of). And, I have not heard from Buck.

As I suspected, same-old-same-old, seems that one whom questions dissentingly has gone missing. Kind of skeptically thinking it is for the better.

RandalJune 3, 2016 9:45 AM

Checked baggage can't walk away. That's before the security checkpoints, right?

michaelJune 4, 2016 3:40 PM

all this when only %0.00001 of americans die at the hands of terrorism every year. i think peoples' paranoia are getting in the way of their priorities.

Thomas_HJune 6, 2016 9:14 AM

RE: the "brown" stuff:

Unfortunately, they will likely come up with an amendment to this law that will find people peeing, puking, or defecating while queuing at a security checkpoint guilty of detonating a biological or chemical (depending on pungency) weapon in a public space, after which the guilty party is hauled off by officers in hazmat suits, children below the age of three exempted.

BrianJune 6, 2016 8:07 PM

I live in Albany County, NY. It's an unusual county in that it has a large number of legislators >30 and gets little attention as the activities of the NY state legislature, governor and other things tend to draw the most news.

So they are desperate for media hits.

They also have serious problems to distract people from (like a bankrupt nursing home) and a penchant for nanny-state activity. In the past, after losing a bunch of weight, the legislative majority leader pushed an anti-transfat law that affected a few local bakeries. The scuttlebut was that donuts were his vice previously. They pushed through an anti "cyber bullying" law that was clearly unconstitutional.

Roger WolffJune 7, 2016 12:04 AM

> So my guess is that the law is meant as 'political cover'
> for the 'commander' of the 'airport security' forces in
> the event that the commander believes that a motorboat
> is actually an attack boat.

This nowadays happens too often. Lawmakers decide to make a law to enable officers with "good judgement" to arrest people who are "dangerous" in another way.

Computer laws prohibit "accessing a computer without authorization". Did you ask permission to access this site? NO? You broke the law! Because the law is so broad, the "corner cases" become tricky.

Police were annoyed that they could no longer fabricate stories to explain away why they used violence on suspects. So they had a law installed that made it illegal to film police officers. The intent was to apply that when the filming was dangerous or impeding an investigation or something like that. But immediately the police start arresting normal people who simply document the goings on around an arrest without being dangerous or impeding the investigation.... But because the "no filming" law, they are breaking the law, and that gives the police a free hand in: "you're a criminal that needs arresting".

You're not a criminal. You just remembered "just in time" that you needed to leave your pocket knife in the car. So you go back to the car. Now you ARE a criminal. You broke the law.

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