According to the Seattle Times it was like Christmas in August at Sea-Tac.
Several janitorial employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said Friday that a search of the garbage near security lines was "like Christmas."At other airports authorities threatened serious disciplinary action against employee trash pickers, though it's not clear that the severe strictures were ever enforced before travelers accommodated to the new security rules and the bonanza disappeared.
"It was like shopping," one man said. Pricey perfumes, lipsticks, unopened toothpaste and bottled spirits were among the most common hauls, he said.
But the goods were all but gone Friday when savvy passengers packed their toiletries in their checked luggage instead.
"It was just a one-day sale," an employee said.
Today's Air Security Trivia Quiz: Assuming all the items confiscated by TSA had been properly disposed of instead of taken home by airport workers, how far would the contraband reach if all the individual containers had been laid end-to-end?
A. From Earth to the moon and halfway back again.The correct answer, based on Madison Guy's back-of-the-envelope calculations, is C.
B. From New York City to Omaha.
C. From New York City to Washington, D.C.
Back-of-the-envelope Calculation Methodology: Figure roughly 1 million passengers brought liquids or gels with them to the security lines before word got out to leave this stuff at home or put it in checked baggage. Estimate combined length of items carried by average passenger, keeping in mind that some normally check all their baggage, and some don't. Figure this averages 1.2 linear feet for each passenger. Divide 1.2 million linear feet by 5,280 feet per mile. Result: 227 miles. NY to DC distance via Yahoo Driving Directions = 232 miles. Close enough. Washington it is.
None of this answers the real question: Why now? Since Al Qaeda terrorists first planned to use liquid explosives in the 1994 Bojinka plot over the Pacific, have we been vulnerable all this time? Has this laissez faire attitude toward bottled water, perfume and lip gloss been endangering air travelers for years? And even the nutballs in London -- they've had them under surveillance for 18 months and they just confiscate liquids now? Why were they OK on Wednesday and potentially lethal on Thursday?
Maybe this has something to do with it. Associated Press reports that the Bush administration was trying to divert bomb-detection money as recently as this year.
Lawmakers and recently retired Homeland Security officials say they are concerned the department's research and development effort is bogged down by bureaucracy, lack of strategic planning and failure to use money wisely.Which leads to this Bonus Quiz Question: How confident are you that Michael Chertoff and his Bush administration cohorts know what they are doing?
The department failed to spend $200 million in research and development money from past years, forcing lawmakers to rescind the money this summer.
The administration also was slow to start testing a new liquid explosives detector that the Japanese government provided to the United States earlier this year.
A. Highly confident.
B. Somewhat confident.
C. Can you spell Katrina?