After facing a barrage of media criticism for an agent’s decision to confiscate a cupcake from a woman’s carry-on baggage at New York La Guardia airport on Christmas Eve, the Transportation Security Administration dug in and defended the action. The controversy has not subsided, though, and the TSA’s own “Iraqi Information Minister” (good ol’ Blogger Bob) addressed the issue in his blog yesterday.
I wanted to make it clear that this wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake. If you’re not familiar with it, we have a policy directly related to the UK liquid bomb plot of 2006 called 3-1-1 that limits the amount of liquids, gels and aerosols you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Icing falls under the “gel” category. As you can see from the picture, unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.
First off, I do appreciate the clarification that this wasn’t what we first think of when we hear the word cupcake. If you click on the link above you will see that the cupcake in question was more like cupcake frosting mixed with cake in a jar. Nevertheless, did it really constitute a threat?
Here are two very real liquid related incidents from the past. This is why we have limitations on liquids, gels and aerosols.
1995 “Bojinka Plot” in Asia where Ramzi Yousef planned to use liquid explosives to bomb 12 passenger carrying aircraft bound for the United States. This was one month after his test on Philippine Airlines Flight 434 where a smaller “liquid” container killed one person.
The 2006 foiled liquid explosives plot in the U.K. This plot demonstrated a real threat and is the catalyst for TSA’s liquids restrictions.
When you think about it, do you think an explosive would be concealed in an ominous item that would draw attention, or something as simple as a cute cupcake jar?
The fear-mongering infuriates me. I am not as mad at the agent (though agents do have some discretion in making allowances–the cupacke traveled without issue on the passegner’s outbound flight from Boston) as I am at the mindless liquid ban itself. To those saying the agent could have swabbed the cupcake for explosives–security lines are already too long and having an agent stop and closely examine every “liquid” item detected (and you do know, I hope, that many banned liquids slip through undetected each day) would take too long.
But how sad that frosting has become a threat to national security and the TSA continues to attempt to justify its security theatre by playing into the fear of the American public.
This latest TSA antics simply show that the organization continues to aggrandize its power and influence at the expense of common sense and real airport security.