The Transportation Safety Administration — you know, the goons at the airport — are tired of catching congressional crap for making little old ladies and U.S. soldiers take off their shoes at airport security gates. So they’ve come up with a brilliant idea: offer companies an opportunity to develop and submit a weapon-detection system that can find bombs, guns and/or knives in a pair of Air Jordans without forcing the potential perp to show us the heel holes in his tube socks.
We air travelers all have to subject ourselves to the humiliating shoe-removal process thanks to asshat Richard Reid who, in 2001, tried to blow up his feet and the airplane he was on with some matches, plastic explosive and Dr. Scholl’s foot powder.
A notice on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site describes the program in characteristically ungrammatical TSA language (or T-bonics, as I like to call it):
[TSA] invites voluntary participation to a qualification test program leading to a list of qualified sources for shoe weapon inspection [technology] that can inspect footwear for weapons without passengers having to remove or divest them from their feet.
In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security clarified its shoe-screening policy. Screeners supposedly are instructed to encourage travelers to remove their shoes before entering the metal detectors, but passengers are not required to do so. So even if they tell you to, you really don’t have to — unless you want the special cavity-check security procedure.
Having experienced the delay created by General Electric’s phone-booth-sized device that hits you with a puff of air and then tests whatever blows off for explosive residue, I can’t wait to see what the goobers at TSA come up with in the footwear weapon detection technology department.