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TSA Agent Stops Reporter Because He Didn’t Know Washington D.C. Is Part Of The United States

Facepalm

The Washington reporter for an Orlando television station was initially stopped from getting on a plane because he didn’t believe that the reporter’s Washington, D.C. Driver’s License was a valid form of identification:

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s something most students learn in elementary school — the United States is made up of 50 states and the District of Columbia. But Cox Media Group reporter Justin Gray found out it’s a lesson that an Orlando agent with the Transportation Safety Administration seems to have missed.
Gray, who lives in Washington, D.C., was flying out of Orlando International Airport when a TSA agent said Gray’s District of Columbia driver’s license wasn’t a valid form of identification. Gray said his license is legal and up-to-date, but the TSA agent didn’t seem to know what the District of Columbia was when Gray arrived at the security checkpoint over the weekend.

When Gray handed the man his driver’s license the agent demanded to see Gray’s passport. Grays told the agent he wasn’t carrying his passport and asked why he needed it.

The agent said he didn’t recognize the license.

Gray said he asked the agent if he knew what the District of Columbia is, and after a brief conversation Gray realized the man did not know.
Gray was able to get through security and then stopped to complain to a TSA supervisor.

Critics of the TSA said that what happened to Gray is a sign that the problems at TSA are bigger than just not knowing geography.

“They simply have not been either applying or maintaining standards for good personnel,” said Douglas Kidd, with the National Association of Airline Passengers.

Here’s the report:

Obviously, this is a sign that at least some TSA Agents aren’t properly educated as to what a proper form of identification is, and yet another sign that the entire agency has done little more than make air travel incredibly inconvenient and unpleasant.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. There’s a lot of stories out there of people from New Mexico running into similar problems.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  2. lounsbury says:

    Yes. Even better is the imposition of their cartoonish idiocy on flights to USA or transiting USA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. ernieyeball says:

    Go around and ask people what country New Mexico is in. I have worked with adults all my life who would see someone’s truck with NM plates and ask out loud what they were doing working here. (Here being any one of the 14 States I worked in.)
    The Land of Enchantment started using *New Mexico USA* on plates a while back.
    I doubt if it has helped much.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    @ernieyeball:

    I’m sure a good portion of it is idiocy, but I think you can give some people the benefit of the doubt that they just see “Mexico” and go with that.

    On the phone with a new campaign volunteer, I was initially asked why my campaign didn’t hire someone here in the states. I realized that the volunteer was confusing “Indiana” with “India.”

    I don’t think that person was stupid or didn’t know Indiana was a state, but rather they just glanced at a word and their brain filled in the rest.

    Since the TSA agent’s job is to accurately check IDs, I can’t give him a pass, but for many others I try not to call people out for geography errors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  5. James Joyner says:

    Well, DC clearly isn’t a state. How can it be part of the United States?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. Matt Bernius says:

    Obviously, this is a sign that at least some TSA Agents aren’t properly educated as to what a proper form of identification is

    Or the agent in question might have had a brain fart. Seriously, it happens from time to time for the reasons that @Neil Hudelson mentions. Hell, personally, I spent the better part of a day once pronouncing a street name “EEE-Glay” because for some reason I was looking at the work “Eagle” and some synapses were not clicking.

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I don’t think that person was stupid or didn’t know Indiana was a state, but rather they just glanced at a word and their brain filled in the rest.

    Based on personal experiences responding (and readings responses) here at OTB, I find this happens far more than we usually want to admit. It’s just that a lot of the time those initial reactions are correct.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Matt Bernius says:

    @James Joyner:
    Woah! Embeded video in a response?!

    Is that some super secret Editor-in-chief/CEO power that you’ve been keeping hidden all this time?

    Or are you just using the function?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. James Joyner says:

    @Matt Bernius: I just pasted the embed code into the comment box. Can’t everyone do that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Go around and ask people what country New Mexico is in. I have worked with adults all my life who would see someone’s truck with NM plates and ask out loud what they were doing working here. (Here being any one of the 14 States I worked in.)

    LOL
    I’m willing to bet that there are millions of Americans who do not believe that California is in the United States. Heck, millions of Republicans do not believe that Obama is eligible to be president he was born in Hawaii.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  10. Matt Bernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    I just pasted the embed code into the comment box. Can’t everyone do that?

    I’m not sure — as I’m not “everyone” anymore. But seriously, I think that’s the first time I’ve seen the “code” button.

    This. Changes. Everything!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @James Joyner:

    I just pasted the embed code into the comment box. Can’t everyone do that?

    And now… the floodgates have opened.

    Bring on the HTML code, forthwith!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. ernieyeball says:

    @Matt Bernius:..I think that’s the first time I’ve seen the “code” button.

    I’ve seen it before but I can’t make it do anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. John Peabody says:

    Remember- they said that only Federal Officals could make travel safe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. Tillman says:

    @James Joyner: Wait, really?

    Let’s test this. No I can’t get it to work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. ernieyeball says:

    @Neil Hudelson:..I think you can give some people the benefit of the doubt that they just see “Mexico” and go with that.

    You can go with that if you want to. I’m talking about guys that I have worked with standing two feet from the plate and saying “New Mexico! How do they get to work here?” And then give me an argument when I try to tell them that New Mexico has been a state longer than Arizona. I can’t count the times I have had to drag out my Rand McNally Road Atlas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. ernieyeball says:
  17. @ernieyeball:

    Have any of them complemented you on how well you speak English?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. ernieyeball says:

    @ernieyeball: Don’t see anything imbedded even though I clicked on the code button.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. @ernieyeball:

    The HTML code tag just puts the contents in a fixed space font and keep doesn’t remove extraneous whitespace. Like this:

    #include <stdlib.h>

    int main()
    {
    printf("Hello, World!\n");
    return 0;
    }

    It’s so you can stick source code in a post without the browser messing up the formatting. It doesn’t actually do any sort of execution of it though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. ernieyeball says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Have any of them complemented you on how well you speak English?

    Yeah. The Canadian Citizen whom I worked with in Houston.

    http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/whoVwhom.asp

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. ernieyeball says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The HTML code tag just puts the contents in a fixed space font and keep doesn’t remove extraneous whitespace. Like this:

    #include

    int main()
    {
    printf(“Hello, World!\n”);
    return 0;
    }

    It’s so you can stick source code in a post without the browser messing up the formatting. It doesn’t actually do any sort of execution of it though.

    όλα αυτά ήταν ελληνικά για μένα.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. @ernieyeball:

    όλα αυτά ήταν ελληνικά για μένα.

    Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. wr says:

    Maybe instead of using Picard’s face palm all the time you could start re-using the picture from the post on Americans liking soccer? I know that would make me happy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    Testing, testing…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Neil Hudelson says:

    Hmm, the commenting software immediately removes the youtube embed code that I paste in between code tags.

    I’m going with administrator magic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Storm Dragon says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The code tag has nothing to do with making embeds work:

    http://www.w3.org/wiki/HTML/Elements/code

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Can someone let my comment out of moderation?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Franklin says:

    @Stormy Dragon: It appears to have removed your extraneous whitespace. Unless you don’t believe in proper indentation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. press watch says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Que?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @ernieyeball:

    όλα αυτά ήταν ελληνικά για μένα.

    Sorry, that’s Greek to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. James Joyner says:

    @Tillman: I used the edit button and used strike instead of del. But I haven’t tried it logged out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. James Joyner says:

    Testing logged out

    Nope. Embed code strips out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Jim R says:

    Tax dollars at work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Tillman says:

    Honestly, it might not be the best thing if we allowed video embeds to every commenter here anyway. If we did, I’d be tempted to post this hilarious but disgusting Robot Chicken sketch all the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    A friend of mine used to amuse himself by asking if he could pay with Hawaiian money. Three times out of four he’d be refused….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. bk says:

    Unbelievable

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Actually, there are *MANY* of us who question if the occupants of certain governmental buildings in Washington D.C. are even from the planet EARTH, let alone the United States of America!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0