Airport supercop OKs passenger with bomb equipment and hollowed-out shoes (Update: ABC has new details)

Yeah, that headline’s a bit unwieldy. But it gets the job done.

Did I mention the passenger had an Arabic name?

The report states that a man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop.

A search of the man’s baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man’s shoes and determined that the “entire soles of both shoes were gutted out.”

No explosive material was detected, the report states. A police officer was summoned and questioned the man, examined his identification, shoes and the clock, then cleared him for travel, according to the report.

A TSA screener disagreed with the officer, saying “the shoes had been tampered with and there were all the components of (a bomb) except the explosive itself,” the report says.

The officer retorted, “I thought y’all were trained in this stuff,” TSA officials reported.

The FBI looked into it and declared it a “non-event.” The passenger was probably a government agent, dispatched to test security at the airport as part of Homeland Security’s “How Goddamned Stupid Are They?” program. The next test reportedly will involve a guy in a turban wearing an As-Sahab t-shirt with wires coming out of his pants.

Thanks to Martin of National Terror Alert for the link.

Update: The Blotter talked to the FBI and tracked down the passenger. Sounds like overzealousness by the screeners and underzealousness by the cop:

A spokesman in the Houston FBI office said the computer was an old model purchased at a flea market. The spokesman said the shoes were simply worn out, not “hollowed out” to conceal explosives.

But at the airport checkpoint, screeners were convinced they had found a possible terrorist…

TSA screeners have now complained the officer did not even run a computer background check on the suspect before clearing him.

According to the TSA report, the Houston officer, J.O. Reece, told the screeners, “Next time ya’ll need to call the boom squad and not me.”

The passenger says he lost his truck driving job after the FBI cleared him. Er, why?