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WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration is testing beverages that have been bought by travelers after they’ve been screened at checkpoints and are waiting for flights near the airport gates.
The ongoing policy was brought to light by a traveler at an airport in Columbus, Ohio, who uploaded a video to YouTube this week.
The video, taken over the Labor Day weekend, shows TSA security staff near a departure gate, asking people to check their drinks for explosives.
The video has generated a lot of discussion on the Internet, including criticism that the TSA has again gone too far.
But according to NBC News, the agency says the policy of randomly checking drinks near airport gates is not new, and has been in place for about five years. The TSA says it’s part of efforts to constantly carry out random security measures.
Vendors and employees at airports are not screened every day, raising concerns that explosives can be brought into the airport and passed off to passengers. TSA has not said how often workers are screened.
The procedure of testing liquids beyond security checkpoints is described in a TSA blog posted this summer.
TSA agents use a test trip that’s opened across a beverage container to determine whether there is anything beyond its original contents.
The TSA started placing limits on liquids that passengers could bring through airport security in 2006, following a bomb plot in Great Britain that involved liquid explosives. Liquids and gels must be 3.4 ounces or smaller to be brought aboard a plane.
The TSA has come under public scrutiny in recent years, for a variety of security measures brought to light by the public.
In some cases, senior citizens have been pulled aside and told to undress, so they could be fully searched. Earlier this year, the TSA apologized for the actions of some of its screeners.
The agency initiated new policies for searches of children in 2011, after complaints. Children under the age of 12 may now leave their shoes on.
WTOP’s Mitchell Miller contributed to this report. Follow Mitchell and WTOP on Twitter.