A businessman was detained when he tried to go through airport security with a message scrawled on his plastic bag of toiletries.
"Kip Hawley is an Idiot" said the Baggie carried by Ryan Bird. His ire was aimed at the director of the Transportation Security Administration, the agency in charge of security at the nation's airports.
Bird was detained by sheriff's deputies at the airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for 25 minutes on Tuesday. Since then he has become something of an Internet celebrity among bloggers with varying views of his action and the TSA.
Bird, a senior executive for a manufacturing company who travels weekly, said he is frustrated by the TSA's rules and by overbearing security personnel.
"Way too many of the TSA rules are knee-jerk reactions to noncredible threats," Bird said Thursday in a telephone interview. "Bottled water was never a threat; toothpaste was never a threat."
Bird's supporters, posting on Internet forums and blogs, say they're also annoyed with airport security. A smaller number of his detractors say it's childish to bait screeners and potentially hold up the security line.
The TSA on Tuesday lifted a ban on liquids and gels in carryon bags that had been in place since Aug. 10, when British police said they broke up a plot to use liquid explosives to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic Ocean.
Passengers are now allowed to take drinks and other liquids onto airplanes if they bought them in airport shops located inside the security checkpoint. Air travelers also can carry on toiletries in containers of three ounces or smaller if they are in zip-top Baggies no bigger than a quart.
It was just that kind of Baggie that got Bird crossways with airport security officials. Inside were his hair gel and toothpaste. On the outside was the message critical of Hawley.
Bird first described the incident on an Internet forum called Flyertalk.com, saying that a TSA supervisor told him he had no free speech rights inside the airport's security checkpoint.
TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said Bird was free to express his opinion, and there is no prohibition on writing on bags.
"The passenger was never detained by TSA. Local law enforcement briefly interviewed him and determined he had not broken any laws, and he was allowed to fly," Clark said.
On the Net:
Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.gov
Bird's posting on Flyertalk.com: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?p6440005
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