Saturday, November 16, 2013

Man Builds Bomb with Post-Airport-Security Materials

This video has started to make the rounds.  I've seen it posted on Gizmodo, Reddit, and more.  I wanted to make a few comments...on the comments.

The chemistry and setup is very straight forward.  This demonstration could be described as a "simple" example by a non-determined individual.  However, many are misunderstanding the implications on our actual safety and the TSA's purported goals..

"It's just a firework."
"Well, it wouldn't harm anyone except for some ringing ears."
"that explosion has way more bark than bite."

First, we've all heard of people making dry ice bombs with two liter bottles.  It's a similar method, in a plastic container, and no fire.  Here's the latest example of a dry-ice bottle-bomb arrest in LA. (It was done for fun, and just happened to be at the airport.)  Nevertheless, the charge is possession of a destructive device, and he faces up to 6 years in prison.  So to the people who argue the "FRAGGuccino" isn't dangerous, the LAPD disagrees with you, and says this about the less dangerous bottle bombs "This is a serious pipe bomb filled with shrapnel; it is a destructive device.”  There was also a fatal bottle bomb incident in LA in 1992.

Second, I don't know much about the type of mug used in this video.  What I do know is that the container makes a huge difference.  No one makes play-doh bombs.  The containers strengths  and it's ability to hold pressure are important factors - think pipes and pressure cookers.    I also know that I own two Thermos brand mugs made of stainless steel, are airtight, and seal VERY well.   I wouldn't be deathly afraid to approach either of these containers if I knew they were under pressure.  If two-liter bottle plastic shrapnel is fatal, I don't want to take my chances with stainless steel.  Am I concerned about FRAGGuccino on my next flight?  No.  I already know I'm not safe from a determined individual.  However, I take cold comfort in the low statistical probability of being harmed by a terrorist.  While this isn't the most powerful IED I've ever seen, I think we should acknowledge the proof of concept and examine the differences between security and security theater.

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