Subscriber Discussion

How Many Security Failures Can You Spot In This Case?

Canada, I know you guys up north are known for being polite and all, but this is a little too nice: A kid in Canada walks through airport security with a pipe bomb in his bag, but the half dozen other security failures that go along with it are what is shocking to me. They start before he even got to the airport. (Full court transcript here)

1. Parenting Failure? - This kid is making functional pipe bombs to blow up sheds.

2. Weapons Safety Failure? - The kid was using gunpowder from bullets he stole from his mother's fiance, a law enforcement officer (whose weapons and ammunition presumably should have be secured somewhere).

3. Threat ID Failure? - The security screener at the airport tried to hand the kid back the pipe bomb because he didn't know what it was.

4. Arrest Failure? - The kid was allowed to continue on his flight to Mexico without delay.

5. Hazmat Failure? - The pipe bomb was "set aside" for FOUR days. The airport was never evacuated.

6. Criminal Justice System Failure? - Because on surveillance video he looked "surprised" when the pipe bomb was pulled out, it was determined that he wasn't trying to blow up a plane. He was given a one-year suspended sentence, a $100 fine and ordered to donate $500 to a burn unit.

The kid is lucky this didn't happen on U.S. soil....

If he as much as looked at a Youtube video with a Muslim person in it over the last 6 years of his life, he would have become the newest DHS thwarted terrorist plotter.

I don't know what to make of the most sensational claim, that the guard tried to hand it back to him... Why?

1) Court transcript doesn't show it.

2) Kid never says it, and makes a statement to to the press saying basically what has been reported in the press is nothing like what happened...

3) CATSA doesn't report it. Normally this would carry zero weight but in this case they are admitting other errors and discplinary actions...

4) The kids attorney never mentions it even though it would help erase any doubt that he meant harm...

5) The only person, as far as I can tell, who alleges it is anonymous...

What do you think, Carlton?

I think as with a lot of news stories about security-related happenings this one has an anonymous source saying something that is probably true, but doesn't want to get knocked for spilling the beans.

"According to details that came out in court, the CATSA guard was caught on video pushing the device back to Murphy. Reportedly, Murphy was told 'You can keep it.'" - CBC News

Would be nice if they released that security camera footage though.

Agreed, probably no dice trying to pull a Canadian ATI request as a Yankee?

Not to beat a dead mountie but where are the "court details" if not in the transcript you provided?

Some other court case?

In chambers testimony?

Off-the-record statements?

If it did come out in court there wouldn't be a need for anonymous, and I'm sure everybody would have jumped on it. Maybe time will tell...


This proceeding was not a fact-finding exercise requiring (or even desiring) any submission of evidence - it was a 'joint submission' - what we in the states (primarily on TV) call 'copping a plea'. :)

As such, the young Mr. Murphy was well-schooled prior to this hearing to nod and look appropriately sheepish and such.

Mitigating evidence is only required when determining sentencing. This deal was inked over a meal of P.E.I. potatoes and back-bacon 2 says prior.

I'm kind of curious if the contract security guy did indeed try and give him back his bomb... but that truth simply wasn't needed in this case. I agree with Carlton though... Show Me The MoneyVideo! :)

BTW, I am far more curious as to the facts surrounding the 4 day delay between the 20th and the 24th... Where exactly was that bomb???

Marty, IANAL so I'm sure you know your stuff but a joint submission is not authoritive in any mannner, it still has to be agreed on by the judge, it just makes things way easier because he doesn't have to figure out who is lying.

Mitigating evidence is only required when determining sentencing

The second have of the legal doc is determining sentence and is full of mitigating evidence like

In mitigation, Your Honour, I note that this is an early guilty plea, the offence having 27 happened in September of this year. I also note the youth of this offender. Being 28 mindful of the comments of Beacon and Modny (phonetic), I am satisfied that -- in our 29 respectful submission, that a period of probation, or specifically a suspended sentence, is 30 appropriate.

And even if if the deal is inked on Her Majesties Pearly Parchment, they go thru at least perfunctory mitigation:

I also note that Mr. Murphy was incredibly co-operative with the authorities throughout 33 the investigation. As indicated by my friend, he comes back to the country, he provides a 34 statement, and here he is a short time later, after counsel has had the opportunity to 35 review disclosure, entering a -- a timely guilty plea.

As well as detailing the incident

... He did have some intent with respect to a -- to an old shed on a 8 property that he and his friend wanted to destroy for fun. So his intent -- he had no intent 9 when it came to the airport. And, in fact, you know, one -- one would -- on the video -- 10 on the surveillance video, which I didn’t view but Constable Kirkpatrick described to me, 11 he said it was obvious on the surveillance video, when the object was pulled out of his 12 bag, the shocked reaction that he had...

All I'm saying is that if the kid had handed it back to the guard they would have mentioned it right after the shocked reaction stuff... Why not, the kids not trying to cover for anyone right?

As for where the pipe bomb went, who knows but it sounds like they might have more than one in the back room:

...they’re satisfied that what subsequently was seized was what had been taken 8 from him on the 20th.

"Joe did you see the pipe bomb from the other day? The pvc one? No the one with the threading end caps? Here it is, this must be it..."

My point is not to argue legal principles, but to point out that this hearing was largely for show. The outcome had already been pre-determined.

If Mr. Murphy had been inclined to plead not guilty to the charge, then the 4 days of unnaccounted for bomb, the fact that they let him board the plane anyway, the allegation that Murphy tried to give back the bomb, etc would all be mitigating evidence that Mr. Murphy's lawyer would surely introduce - causing further embarrasment. This is well-understood by all parties and would be the Crowns primary motivation for being one of the agreeing parties in the joint submission. Especially since it was fairly easy to determine that this was just some punk kid doing punk kid things and not some homegrown jihadist.

Of couse the judge has to sign off on any agreement, and in rare instances a judge might even reject a plea agreement if they are moved for whatever reason to do so. But this is not at all common - and even more rare for any judge to reject a mutually agreed upon plea in a high profile, internationally embarrasing incident with everyone watching.

I would pay a hefty sum to have an audio clip of Marty Major saying "This is well-understood by all parties and would be the Crowns primary motivation for being one of the agreeing parties in the joint submission"

If Mr. Murphy had been inclined to plead not guilty to the charge, then the 4 days of unnaccounted for bomb, the fact that they let him board the plane anyway, the allegation that Murphy tried to give back the bomb, etc would all be mitigating evidence that Mr. Murphy's lawyer would surely introduce - causing further embarrasment

That's what I'm saying, everything you mention there (and others, whether embarassng or not) was 'surely introduced', except the giving back of the bomb...

P.S. If you end up recording some stock legal audio clips, I would love to have a couple classic faves:

Objection your Honor! Leading the witness! Overruled!

Your Honor may I approach the bench? If it please the court...

What I want to know Mr. X is were you lying then or are you lying now?

and of course the timeless:

Objection, badgering the witness! Mr. X is not on trial here! Well maybe he should be!

Firstly, you are not wrong. As a matter of fact you are 100% correct. But....

When Mr. Murphy's lawyer is negotiating with the Crown prosecutor (a point in time referenced by my potatoes and back-bacon canadian slam) what would you imagine his posture would be?

Given 1: He knows his client is a dumbass, and has stumbled his dumb ass into a potential world of shit.

Given 2: He also knows (and knows the prosecution knows) that the evidence (which we both mention above) seems to indicate that Mr. Murphy is simply a dumbass, and not a terrorist.

Given 3: The fact that the contract security people let the kid fly indicates that they did not know the thing was a bomb. This is embarrassing.

Given 4: The 'contention' that the security people tried to give the bomb back to Mr. Murphy allows us to infer two more things... 1. It would be further proof that the security people did not know it was a bomb (embarrassing), and 2. It would be further proof that Mr. Murphy was just a dumbass, and not a terrorist.

Givens 1 & 2 are the ones that are spoken about over the traditional canadian meal described above.

Givens 3 & 4 - while unassailably valid considerations - are not spoken about over that same meal. Because this is not the right forum for Givens 3 & 4. Because there is no need for them to be spoken about - if both parties recognize the benefits (to both parties) of not speaking about them.

Now, Given 3 will most certainly be spoken about. But that is coming later once the 'fact finders' get done finding their facts. Various heads will begin rolling shortly thereafter.

But Given 4 is the elephant in the room that nobody ever wants to acknowledge.

Mr. Murphy, et al. certainly does not want to provoke the elephant by telling it that it is only standing on 3 legs instead of 4 - as long as Mr. Murphy and the elephant have an agreement that the elephant will not kill him, but instead, will let him leave, not dead.

The Crown most certainly wants Given 4 (whether true or not) to simply go away. This may not be possible now, as shown by our last many posts. :)

Ok, I'll grant that's a plausible scenario, but

do you based on what we do know, think its the most plausible?

Without question.

I mean 'Yes, I do."

The previous quip was a little extreme.

Me too, now...

Security personnel placed the pipe bomb in a so-called “forfeit” bin along with seized items such as scissors and toothpaste. Sources tell CBC News that many security staff saw the pipe bomb. One security guard who saw the device said it was obviously a pipe bomb.

“People don't carry a lead pipe with two caps on each end around with them,” the guard said. “I mean, it is the perfect picture of what a pipe bomb looks like. And that is what triggered me, when I saw it. It was so realistic that it scared me."

Pipe bomb wrapped in ‘head shop’ bag

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.

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.

Despite this, the pipe bomb sat in an office for four days, until Sept. 24, when it was finally noticed by a CATSA official who called the RCMP. The Mounties arrested 18-year-old Skylar Murphy from Spruce Grove, Alta., when he returned from Mexico on Sept. 27.

Murphy pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive device and was given a one-year suspended sentence, a $100 fine, and ordered to make a $500 donation to a burn unit.

When contacted by CBC News, Murphy sought $600 for an interview, saying he wanted the money to pay the fine and the donation. CBC declined to pay and no interview was granted.

Like I said before, we tend to trust people too much here. But in this case, the consequences were nominal compared to 9/11 which obviously comprised lots of security failures, with both countries to blame.