The Latest Terrorist Threat

Photo: xlibber

The best strategy I have found for reducing the aggravation of security screening is to pretend I am a terrorist and think about where the weaknesses are in security, and how I might slip through. I think I figured out a way to get a gun or explosives into the White House during the George W. Bush administration. I only got invited to the White House once, however, so I never got a chance to test my theory for real on a return visit.

Traveling to Ireland recently, I learned of the latest anti-terror prevention method that the Irish have put into place. In addition to taking laptops out of your carry-on bag and putting them in separate bins, security personnel in the Dublin airport also demand that you take another item out of your carry-on for more careful scrutiny: umbrellas. For the life of me, I cannot think of what evil I would do with an umbrella, or even more to the point, what evil I could do with an umbrella that would be prevented by having me take it out of my carry-on and put it directly on the conveyor belt. I asked the screener why umbrellas go directly on the belt, but her accent was quite thick so I couldn’t understand her answer. I thought I heard the word “poking” in there somewhere.

Learning about the possible dangers posed by umbrellas has dramatically reduced my utility. Now, every time I fly on a domestic U.S. flight, where the treatment of umbrellas in security is far more cavalier, I will spend the entire flight in fear that a rogue umbrella has made its way onto the plane.

One thing is for sure: if I ever see a passenger pull an umbrella out of her carry-on while a flight is airborne, I will tackle her first and ask questions later!

Rob R.

Apparently you have never seen the Penguin's antics in the old Batman comics!


lol- well played sir

Stephen B.

You realize, don't you, that these so-called security measures are designed not to increase security but to increase the non-terrorist traveler's belief in security.


Or, is it possible they are trying to keep the public's fear of terrorism high.


If you didn't think "ricin coated pellet shot out of modified umbrella-airgun" you fail at life.

Phil D.

Georgi Markov, 1978.

Fritz Mills

This comment is not on topic, and not for posting. This is the only way I can communicate with you. Your new Web site is completely broken. The home page only comes up once in about seven refreshes. This story took at least 15 refreshes before I got anything other than a blank page or a "timed out" message. The "about" page, which presumably has a contact link, has yet to load. It's probably on the 20th refresh attempt.



Perhaps they are worried about this type of umbrella?

Barry W.

Apparently you're not old enough to recall the Umbrella Assassin:


Kills rain, kills people. To borrow a phrase from another blog, this is truly an example in "Markets for Everything":!5024699/mary-poppins-has-nothing-on-the-unbreakable-fighting-umbrella-john-steed-however

Eric M. Jones

The Billionaire...Billion-air puppet-masters who control everything have their own private jets. Not like you and me. Well, okay, not like you.

I've always thought it would be great guerrilla theater to screw around with the TSA...but they have effectively squash any humor by not letting you on the plane. Still, I think it would be fun to put a smashed up $5.00 violin through the Xray or get them to open it and scream that my Stradivarius has been destroyed.


In the Philippines they don't allow umbrellas to be carried on planes at all, at least for domestic flights. I always figured that some influencial polictician had a financial interest in airport umbrella stands.


Georgi Markov was killed by a poison-tipped umbrella.


Steven, easy:

Simon C

Many airports i've been to have a lounge or duty free shop after the security checkpoint. Especially ones which take advantage of the no liquids rule.
After passing through its absolutely fine to buy a heavy glass liquor bottle and take it onto the plane as carryon.
After that I assume it would be the matter of a few seconds to smash the bottle wrap a shard in some tissue or a shirt and procure a weapon slightly more dangerous than a pair of nail clippers.

Jack Springman

Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was killed in 1978 in London by an assassin using a poison tipped umbrella. (Would fit with 'poking' response of security screener. Begs the question whether the screening machines can detect poison, or whether umbrellas can now be put to other devilish uses.


I've long wondered, what's stopping a terrorist from just detonating a bomb in the middle of the queue for the security screening? On a busy travel day, they could easily take out more people that way than by going through the trouble of bringing down an aircraft. And then what would be next? We'd all have to arrive at the airport wearing Spandex?

They should just end this charade and let everyone get to the gate quickly with their dignity intact. You're still far more likely to die in your car on the way to the airport.


Dublin airport security is ridiculous! They took my very small double pointed bamboo knitting needles (smaller than a pencil). I asked if they were more dangerous than a pen or pencil and got some mumble of a reply. Then they threw out a small bottle of shampoo because it was in an unmarked container but let me keep a conditioner bottle (clearly labelled) that had been refilled with face wash.


Clearly you haven't seen enough of The Avengers. Mr. Steed could easily get control of a plane armed with his trusty brolly.