The Sippy Cup Saga

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/Torture2 Comments

3e79651b85627d9517b37f0a34f54ba0I don’t know if you caught the story last week, but there was an incident at the Reagan National Airport. 

A mother by the name of Monica Emmerson claims she was threatened with arrest for trying to carry her child’s sippy cup with four ounces of water through a security checkpoint (the allowed limit is three ounces). 

She claims that the security people harassed her, and that she accidentally spilled the water on the floor.

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.

"At this point, I was detained against my will by the police officer and threatened to be arrested for endangering other passengers with the spilled 3 to 4 ounces of water. I was ordered to clean the water, so I got on my hands and knees while my son sat in his stroller with no shoes on since they were also screened and I had no time to put them back on his feet. I asked to call back my fiancé, who I could still see from afar, waiting for us to clear security, to watch my son while I was being detained, and the officer threatened to arrest me if I moved. So I yelled past security to get the attention of my fiancé.

"I was ordered to apologize for the spilled water, and again threatened with arrest. I was threatened several times with arrest while detained, and while three other police officers were called to the scene of the mother with the 19 month old. A total of four police officers and three TSA officers reported to the scene where I was being held against my will. I was also told that I should not disrespect the officer and could be arrested for this too. 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!’

"I missed my flight, needless to say after being detained for over 40 minutes. After the officer was done humiliating me, I was advised that I could go through the security check point in an attempt to catch my flight. The officer insisted that my son and I be rescreened despite us both being detained and under her control the entire time."

The story was seized on as an example of how the TSA is just a bunch of meanies.

Except for one thing.  It looks like Monica (who is a member of the Secret Service, by the way) was lying.

The TSA fought back today, releasing video of what actually happened.  You can also read the official report of the incident (pdf format).

Yes, Monica. Airports do have security cameras.  And it is quite clear (to me) that you did not "accidently spill" the water; you did it deliberately.

Sorry, honey.  The laws apply to you, too.