TSA Detains Woman Over ‘Attitude’

TSA agents detained a woman for having the audacity to drink her water rather than hand it over for testing.

ABC News (“TSA Detains Woman Due to ‘Attitude’“):

A woman who claims the Transportation Security Administration detained her from her flight because the agent didn’t like her attitude has posted a video of the confrontation on YouTube.

The 22-second video has 45,000 views as of Monday morning. It is posted under the name AirportVideoofTSA. The person who uploaded the video writes, “I was not allowed to board a plane (even though I had already been through airport security) because I drank my water instead of letting the TSA “test” it. The TSA agent finally admitted that it wasn’t because they thought I was a security risk-it was because the TSA agent, Louis Godeaux, was mad at me!”

Though the audio is garbled, the exchange goes like this:

Woman: Do you think I’m honestly a threat? Do you think that?

TSA agent: No, no, no but with your attitude . . .

Woman: Wait, let me get this straight, this is retaliatory for my attitude? This is not making the airways safer, this is retaliatory.

TSA agent: Pretty much, yes. [Inaudible]

Woman: Is that legal?

TSA agent: Yes it is.

ABC News contacted the TSA which said, “In our initial review, we concluded that this individual was screened in accordance with standard procedures.”

While shameful, this is hardly surprising. Many of us predicted that turning airport rent-a-cops into Federal Law Enforcement Officers would do little to improve the public safety but a lot to increase the sense of authority of the screeners. Arrests and harassment for “contempt of cop” are routine and seldom accompanied by negative consequences for the officer abusing his authority.

FILED UNDER: James Joyner, Law and the Courts, Quick Picks,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. Michael says:

    We can never forget 9-11. We are reminded of it every time we buy an airline ticket.


  2. Bill says:

    My wife and sister-in-law left today for the Philippines. They’re transporting their mother’s ashes back home for burial. So far smooth flying.


  3. Herb says:

    “In our initial review, we concluded that this individual was screened in accordance with standard procedures.”

    Yeah….that’s the problem.


  4. Franklin says:

    Still awaiting compensation for my confiscated snow globes …


  5. JKB says:

    Well, we can hold on to the fact that the TSA is less efficient and less able to find test devices than private contractors. The private firm’s employees were 65% more efficient.

    Now, let’s consider the foolishness of having the agency that is suppose to set the standards and test compliance also running the scanning operation. Make the rules, audit compliance of your own operation.

    Oh, and do you think the private contractor employees concentrate on baggage screening and not try to be Barney Fife or conduct bureaucrat attitude adjustments?


  6. mike says:

    The cops detain people all the time for their “attitude” – it is called contempt of cop.


  7. Tano says:

    These people are human too. They have to deal with hundreds, perhaps thousands of people a day (in all kinds of moods, often harried or nervous), and then along comes some a**h*** who is not interested in helping everyone by moving the line along, but just wants to cop an attitude with them. I sympathize.


  8. Franklin says:

    Geez, Tano, always here to defend the TSA. You’d almost think you work for them or something.

    Of *course* they’re human, nobody said anything that resembles opposition to that statement. The problem is that they both are human AND have way too much power for their training. Which means the power gets abused.

    But you’re right, on the level of where to place the blame. It’s not the guy thumbing through my dirty underwear that created the TSA monstrosity. So in that sense, I can sympathize. That doesn’t mean he gets to hold me off a plane because I looked the wrong way at him.


  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I’m no fan of the TSA, quite the opposite in fact, but at a certain level this yarn sort of reminds me about a case I handled several years ago, where an employee managed to record a conversation in which his manager went ahead and admitted to various conduct that would have violated the FMLA along with an alphabet soup of other workplace laws. It turned out however they were in cohoots and had staged the whole thing.

    Read the account again, specifically:

    Wait, let me get this straight, this is retaliatory for my attitude? This is not making the airways safer, this is retaliatory.

    Who actually speaks that way? Um, nobody. Nobody you or I know. It’s too practiced. Too leading. Too scripted. Isn’t it?

    IOW, color me quite skeptical of this story. It’s too convenient. Too much of something that obviously would be fodder for the media. Too obviously something that would paint TSA in a very bad light.


  10. bill says:

    southpark did a great skit on the tsa, this year i believe. “reverse cowgirl”, don’t let the kids watch.