Thursday, January 16, 2014

Well, kudos to the kid at YEG...

...for pointing out a massive hole in Canadian airport security. .

What does CATSA, the last stage before the departure gate, do with an actual bomb?

Sigh. Well, thankfully the young man wasn't shot or tased.

Just wait for the new security surcharges and second set of scanners common in  other countries.

Oh good lord. (update 17 January)
Sources in Ottawa told CBC News that Murphy arrived at the airport with the pipe bomb wrapped in a bag from a "head shop" that sells drug paraphernalia. The bag had pictures of marijuana leaves on it. The wrapped bomb was inside the camera bag.
After the pipe bomb was caught by the scanner, the security screener looked at the images on the bag and assumed the pipe bomb was some kind of drug pipe. The inspector then swabbed the pipe bomb for drugs, but not for gunpowder. It tested negative for drugs.
Souces say the pipe bomb was reported the same day to the management of Garda, the security firm hired by the Canadian Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to screen passengers at Edmonton International Airport.
You couldn't even propose this as a training scenario. This is Python-grade.

I have some thoughts on why this happened:

- something  to do with the mundane nature of the work;
- familiarity with explosives being outside the range of experience and inference of almost everyone especially subcontracted airport screeners;
- or the simple fact that when faced with an actual bomb, a kind of cognitive dissonance happened on the part of the screeners who forgot everything they were supposed to do and/or could not acknowledge the reality before them.

But still. Holy shit. 


e.a.f. said...

just another reason to not go with the lowest bidder. the screeners ought to be federal government workers or military.

Boris said...

e.a.f. Military or government workers would get just as bored dealing with thousands of routine passengers ever day, staring at screens highlighting laptops and looking for hand lotion bottles, swabbing the odd on. "Randomly selecting" passenger for inconsequential bodyscans. One pipebomb in hundreds of thousands of travellers? It could just as easily have been missed if the person in front of the X-ray machine was chatting to his mates or zoned out. The CATSA screeners are really the last and worst line of defence against threats. I'm sure there's been other things brought through that have escaped their notice.