TSA Mythbuster

by on August 9, 2007 · 4 comments

While I’m on the subject, my favorite TLF reader sends me this “mythbusters” page on the liquids ban from the TSA’s website. Here’s their explanation of why terrorists couldn’t combine multiple bottles of liquid:

We also paid close attention to the idea of terrorists combining multiple small bottles in a larger container or combining many small bottles together after going through the checkpoint. Due to the extreme volatility of liquid explosives, the international consensus was that those scenarios don’t represent a significant threat. Thanks to this unprecedented international cooperation, 67 countries, a great majority of the world’s air travelers are under a common set of security rules for the first time.

Can someone explain what this is supposed to mean? Are they saying that the liquids in question are so volatile that they’ll evaporate/explode the moment they come into contact with the air? I find it hard to believe drug stores would be selling such explosive liquids, so they must mean evaporate. I admittedly haven’t taken chemistry in a while, but I find it hard to believe there exist liquids that evaporate almost instantly from 3-oz containers, but can, in larger quantities, be reliably mixed with other liquids in an airport lavatory, with no equipment, in order to make a bomb powerful enough to take down an airplane.

Oh, and the explosion video is available on that site. It strikes me as pretty useless. No details are given about what was mixed, how it was prepared, or in what quantities, and we have no close-ups of the blast site either before or after. I’m sure that Sandia labs has chemists who know how to blow stuff up, but that hardly proves that a terrorist could do the same thing in an airport lavatory.

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