Listen to this tale of horror, told by citizen journalist Bill Adler, about overbearing TSA agents picking on a poor mom at a security checkpoint — all because she accidentally spilled some water:
If you travel enough, you’ve seen it all — and possibly some of the awful things that can happen while traveling will have actually happened to you. But nothing I’ve read about or experienced comes close to what Monica Emmerson experienced while at Reagan National Airport on June 11th while traveling with her 19-month-old toddler. This isn’t one of those Catch-22 bureaucratic snafus; this isn’t about rules being applied to the letter. This story is mostly about what can happen simply because the authorities in charge decide that they’re going to exercise their authority because they can, regardless of whether it’s legal or right or makes any sense at all.
And if this can happen to a former law enforcement officer with the United States Secret Service, it can happen to anyone.
Is your curiosity piqued? Read on to see what happened to the poor woman:
The incident started when Monica, who left the Secret Service to raise a family, was stopped while going through airport security because there was water in her son’s sippy cup. The sippy cup was seized by TSA. Monica wanted the cup back because the sippy cup was the only way her son would drink — and it was a long flight between Washington, DC and Reno, Nevada where she was going for a family reunion. If you’ve ever had a toddler you understand about sippy cups.
So she was willing to spill the water out. Drink the water. Anything — all that she wanted was to be able to have a cup that her 19-month-old toddler could drink from.
Here’s what happened in Monica’s words:
“I demanded to speak to a TSA [Transportation Security Administration] supervisor who asked me if the water in the sippy cup was ‘nursery water or other bottled water.’ I explained that the sippy cup water was filtered tap water. The sippy cup was seized as my son was pointing and crying for his cup. I asked if I could drink the water to get the cup back, and was advised that I would have to leave security and come back through with an empty cup in order to retain the cup. As I was escorted out of security by TSA and a police officer, I unscrewed the cup to drink the water, which accidentally spilled because I was so upset with the situation.
. . . .
I apologized to the officer and she continued to detain me despite me telling her that I would miss my flight. The officer advised me that I should have thought about this before I ‘intentionally spilled the water!'”
It’s a fantastic story of overbearing behavior by government officials. The first commenter sums up the outrage:
I can’t believe this: a woman is accused of “deliberately spilling water.”
I know. It’s outrageous! The story was widely linked across the Internet as an example of our totalitarian TSA.
Oh — there’s just one more thing . . .
The woman deliberately spilled the water.
Yeah, apparently Monica Emmerson forgot about security cameras. But the TSA didn’t, and has posted the relevant video on its website, at this link.
The relevant portion of the video is at :58 on the linked video — but because I care about you, the reader, I have downloaded the video and edited it to include the relevant few seconds:
Although a TSA official is standing in the way, you can tell her action is deliberate. She even shakes off the final few drops.
You can read the TSA incident report here.
To his credit, Adler has done a new post informing readers about the video. To his shame, he does not clearly say in his update that the video flatly contradicts Emmerson’s story.
As I say in the title of the post: don’t believe everything you read.
P.S. The TSA should not have made her miss her flight over this. Had she related the story honestly, she would have my sympathy.