TSA Screening

I recently ran across this this thread over at www.flyertalk.com.  It is an interesting example of TSA screening.  In short, the guy wrote "Kip Hawley is an idiot" on the plastic bag containing his liquid items.  (Note: Hawley is the head of the TSA.)  As a result of this statement he was held an extra 25 minutes at the checkpoint and was interviewed by both TSA and a local Sheriff.  There has been much discussion on the issue with many of the specific issues revolving around freedom of speech.

I have been pondering this issue and think that this may not be as outrageous as some people might suggest.  TSA's job is to prevent terrorist activities on flights.  While stating that "Kip Hawley is an idiot" does not necessarily make you a terrorist, it is an inflammatory statement. 

From a TSA perspective, the statement would certainly raise a flag because there is a question of intent.  One could interpret the above statement in a number of different ways and two interpretations immediately come to mind:

  •  The person has terrorist intentions and the writing on the bag is the message the person wants to provide
  • The traveller does not have negative intentions and was just exercising his freedom of speech.

In this case it was the latter, but it was not clear at the time.  Thus the TSA did the right thing to investigate the situation further to ensure that the activity was not in the latter category.

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