Friday, June 15, 2007

Sippy cup terrorism

Give unlimited power to the Transportation Security Administration and you get ridiculous scenes like this:
Monica Emmerson was traveling with her 19 month old toddler when she was detained at Reagan International Airport and threatened with arrest because her toddler had a sippy cup with tap water in it.
I thought immediately that she was disobeying the liquid controls but...
TSA's rules allow passengers to take up to three ounces of liquid on board; they also allow parents to take milk or baby formula on board in larger quantities than that, if declared to TSA. But the question that she was asked by TSA --was this "nursery water" in the sippy cup?-- was an unanswerable one, since there's no such thing as nursery water in the TSA regulations, and it's not a generic term.

Monica Emmerson was detained for 45 minutes. She wasn't questioned about possible ties to terrorists. Her carry-on items weren't rigorously searched -- or even searched again. Neither the police nor TSA took any action that indicated that they throught she might be a security risk. She was just detained, harassed and threatened with arrest. All because of a sippy cup with water in it.
She missed her flight.

Update: An anonymous commenter as a TSA employee posted the rebuttal to this claim. Had a hard time seeing the second video but someone luckily youtubed it:

It really does look like she deliberately spills the water from the cup on the floor (1:03 in). The commenter also said she made her flight. If that is the case, I stand corrected and apologize to the TSA employees and turn my ire on to the mother who behaved more than badly.

The reason why these stories take off and become iconic is because so much of what has happened since 9/11 has been so badly done, mismanaged, politicized. We are no safer than we were before 9/11 due to the massive incompetence of the Bush administration. So many people have suffered with idiotic no-fly lists and officious behavior of employees of indifferent corporations that these stories carry weight and match our experiences on so many different levels.

This story may dissolve down to a tantrum of a misbehaved and frazzled mother, but there are many other tales of woe and irritation that are true that will fill in behind it.

And that's the real story.

Update 6/19: NTodd of Dohiyi Mir offers his experiences as a frequent flyer dealing with TSA employees.

Update: Join the Sippy Cup Protest noted by Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof.


Sorghum Crow said...

aaaaaargh. Nursery water? Nursery water? Maybe they should install a dictionary at every security checkpoint.
And I wonder if the 19-month old has joined the half million people on the no-fly list.

ellroon said...

Well... I have seen special special bottled water on the baby aisle, so I'm assuming that's what the TSA bozos meant.

And I'm sure the 19 month old baby is on the list. He caused an 'incident', didn't he?

Anonymous said...

TSA has posted the surveillance video footage and incident report to Go check it out!

Anonymous said...

The video was posted by TSA in response to the ridiculous, speculative and false information that has been circulating around the net regarding this incident. Folks, the policies are what they are for now. I recently attended a demolition range demonstration of what a very small amount of explosives, liquid or other, can do. After viewing this, the flying public should feel fortunate that ANY amount of liquid is allowed on-board the aircraft. I have read some blogs where the woman in question stated she accidently spilled the liquid contents of the cup while attempting to drink it. The tape clearly shows the woman deliberately dumping the liquid on the floor creating a slipping hazard for anyone walking by. The second falsehood is the amount of time the woman claims she was "detained". Look at the tape, folks and use your common sense. If anything, the flying public should be upset at the woman for attempting to flaunt her status as a federal agent to bypass security measures. Oh, and "yes", I do work for the TSA.

ellroon said...

Thank you for the info. Off to look at the video.

Anonymous said...

1) The video shows the woman walked out by ONE TSA person than the TSA person LEAVES.
2) The video shows the woman pouring the water onto the floor and shaking the sippy cup.
3) The video shows the woman turn around and try to enter through the exit only lane.
4) The video shows ONE female police officer stop her.
5) The video shows the woman take her child (for what reason) out of the stroller.
6) The video shows a second police officer arrive on bike.
7) The video shows the woman cleaning up the water she spilled.
8) Also after just alittle over 11 minutes the woman is DONE with the ordeal (not the 45 minutes of being detained)
9) The report states that she went back though security a second time and allowed to fly.

TSA is NOT the sole and primary people responsible for this occuring. SHE argued with the police.

I've seen people banned from flying that day because they talked back to the poilce at the airport.

ellroon said...

Saw the first video, but the second has given me all sorts of fits. Will try again. And thank you for the breakdown of events.

ellroon said...

Post updated.