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TSA May Want to Check Your Coffee at the Gate For Explosive Chemicals

You made it through airport security, finally. You waited in line for 30 minutes, took off your shoes, removed your computer from its bag, put your keys in the dog bowl, removed your belt and ultimately had to pose for the "back-scatter body imaging device" so that the TSA could get a quick, blurry peek under your clothing. Maybe you even got an unwanted groping of your "crotchal area" by the TSA somewhere along the way, to boot.

But you finally made it through, and now you're chilling in the terminal waiting to board your plane, drinking the Starbucks coffee you just bought and -- wait -- why are TSA agents coming over to hassle you yet again while wearing rubber gloves and staring at your coffee?!?!

Threat Level reports that travelers who thought they were through dealing with the TSA for the day may find themselves and their beverages subject to further screening even after they’ve gone through security. In fact, such an encounter was videotaped this past weekend in the Columbus, Ohio airport. In the video (available here), several passengers have their coffee, water bottles and other beverages checked by TSA officers carrying test strips and eyedroppers. 

The passenger who took the video writes here that, after his wife and son returned from the coffee shop in the terminal, the TSA approached them and said they "were checking for explosive chemicals (as we are drinking them)." The TSA's own blog explained here in July 2012 that the TSA has actually performed random "liquid screening" at the gate dating back to 2007:

The test involves a test strip and a dropper containing a nontoxic solution. In case you're wondering, our officers don't place the test strips in your beverages/liquids. They simply have the passenger remove the cap/lid and they hold the strip over the opening of the container. Procedures call for moving the test strip to the side and applying the solution from the dropper to test the strip. If the test results are positive TSA will conduct additional testing to make a final assessment.

Threat Level adds that "passengers cannot refuse screening once they have proceeded beyond the screening checkpoint entrance."

Posted by Bruce Carton on September 6, 2012 at 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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