WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Wisconsin man who wrote “Kip Hawley is an Idiot” on a plastic bag containing toiletries said he was detained at an airport security checkpoint for about 25 minutes before authorities concluded the statement was not a threat.

Ryan Bird, 31, said he wrote the comment about Hawley – head of the Transportation Security Administration – as a political statement. He said he feels the TSA is imposing unreasonable rules on passengers while ignoring bigger threats.

A TSA spokeswoman acknowledged a man was stopped, but likened the incident to cases in which people inappropriately joke about bombs. She said the man was “a little combative” and that he was detained only a few minutes.

The incident has ignited some chatter on Internet travel Web sites. More than 83,000 people have clicked on a FlyerTalk.com forum devoted to the episode, and the forum has grown to include 30 pages of comments.

Bird, the vice president of a company that manufactures industrial equipment, said the encounter occurred at Milwaukee Airport on Tuesday, the day the TSA eased restrictions on carry-on liquids, gels and aerosols.

Bird entered the airport checkpoint with a see-through resealable bag containing small containers of toothpaste, deodorant, mouthwash and hair gel – in keeping with new TSA requirements.

“My level of frustration with the TSA and their idiotic policies has grown over 2 years,” he said. “I’m frustrated that poorly trained TSA people can pull random passengers out of line and pat them down like common criminals. The average traveler has no recourse.”

Bird put the marked bag in a plastic tray along with his shoes and cell phone. A TSA screener saw the bag and went to get a supervisor, who grabbed it and asked Bird if it was his.

“It was obvious that he was already angry,” Bird said, adding that the screener told him, “You can’t write things like that.”

The supervisor told Bird he had the right to express his opinions “out there” – pointing outside the screening area – but did not have the right “in here,” Bird said.

The supervisor called a sheriff’s deputy, who checked to see if Bird had any warrants for his arrest, Bird said. Bird asked the officer if he was under arrest, and was told that he was being detained, he said.

A supervisor said he was going to confiscate the bag, but after Bird refused, he just photographed it, Bird said.

Bird said he filed a complaint about the incident with the TSA.

A TSA spokeswoman said she could not confirm whether Bird had filed a complaint, but described the incident as insignificant.

Screeners looked at the bag to “make sure it wasn’t anything like a bomb threat,” she said. She said the man was “a little combative” and that a law enforcement officer came over, briefly interviewed him and determined that he hadn’t broken any laws.

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office said the TSA did call the sheriff’s office to report an upset customer at the checkpoint. A deputy went to the scene, interviewed all of the participants, ran a wanted check on the man, and referred it back to the TSA after determining no crime had been committed, Deputy Darice Landon said.

Landon said the original call came at 2:21 p.m., and it was unclear how long the man was detained. There is no indication that he was combative, she said.

You have GOT to be kidding me. I guess the truth really does hurt…


This is exactly the reason why the initials TSA really stand for TERMINALLY STUPID ADMINISTRATION.


I was under the impression it stood for Thousands Standing Around. :wink:


They should rename it. TOTSSAPTES - Thousands of the Terminally Stupid Standing Around Pretending to Enhance Security



Has a nice ring to it. :slight_smile:


You would think they would have better things to do in their time like oooh I don’t know maybe try and find a bomb?


Here is the thread by Ryan Bird. May be they should make bumper stickers that say, “Kip Hawley is an Idiot” and “TSA stands for Thousands Standing Around.” Terminally Stupid Administration is right.

Edit: For some reason, you can f President Bush, but you can’t even call Kip Hawley and idiot?!?! I thought America had free speech? It’s like criticizing Darwinism. You get hushed up for pointing out its problems. It’s like what that Chinese scientist said. "In my country, you can criticize Darwin but you cant criticize the government. In America, you can criticize the government but you cant criticize Darwin. Come on TSA! Get a life! This isnt communism. America was founded because some of the people living there hated being told what to do. They wanted freedom. We do too.


You can’t get arrested for saying that unless it’s a threat or your combative. Be happy you don’t live in a country where if you say something bad about the government you get arrested. Such as Turkey.


Hmmmmmmm… I see an opportunity for some entrepeneur to print up a shitload of those bags and hand them out FREE to travelers at airports.

“Need a clear plastic bag for your toiletries? Here ya’ go compliments of the ACLU!”


I know and I am happy to have won the cosmic lottery (I was born in the US). It tics me off to see the TSA acting like this. I lived in a country that had a president “elected” for 30+ years in a row!


…And to think all the Democrats (and some Republicans) thought that taking airport security out of the airlines’ hands, and into the U.S. Government’s hands would make it better. Let’s increase taxes to pay for more TSA agents to look clueless. While we’re at it, let’s raise 'em some more to pay for a health insurance plan operated by the least efficient business in the land, the** U.S. Government.** Hell, raise 'em some more so there’s money in the Social Security account for those of us under 35, in lieu of letting us invest our money in the “dangerous, risky, irresponsible” stock market. It’s much safer in the hands of the U.S. Government. :angry:


My previous post (just above this one) is proving to hold more truth all the time… Here’s one example of your tax money at work.

I love my country, but I despise the greedy idiots who control it. All of them. Deprivatizing airport security was perhaps the dumbest knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 that there was, and definitely the most under-publicized one.


You really think paying a bunch of immigrants $5.15 an hour would make things safer? Looks like things at EWR are a bit lax for sure. I’d have a good look at whoever is in charge of security at this airport, put him (or her) on notice and make sure ALL of the screeners receive more training.

I’m sure they’re constantly testing checkpoints throughout the system and found EWR to be especially weak. If they reported widespread problems around the country, then I’d suspect a problem with TSA.

When I learned the qualifications and pay of baggage screeners before 9/11, I always had an uneasy feeling of insecurity. Yeah, deprivatizing the system may have been a knee-jerk reaction, but standards have changed for the better and I somehow feel better than I did before.


No one can hold the TSA in lower esteem than I.

However, in general, the average TSA screener I’ve had contact with post 9/11 is a FAR sight better trained and more professional than the incomprehensible knuckle draggers I had dealt with in the past.

Prior to 9/11 I always had the feeling that the average screener was one paycheck away from welfare, as most couldn’t have gained employment at McDonald’s! The minions at St. Louis and Philadelphia spring most immediately to mind as the epitomes of rude, surly and uncaring time-servers (you couldn’t call them workers!).

But, that’s what you get when the job goes to the lowest bidder and all they pay is minimum wage.


No question that security was less than stellar before 9/11. What I don’t like is the fact that the government seems to search for people who CAN’T work in a business that actually relies on results to stay afloat. Sure, there are some wonderful hard-working TSA employees who are diligent and skilled at what they do. The problems begin at the top, and trickle down through the system.

If the government wants a say in who screens pax and baggage at airports, can they (instead of the airlines) not set up contracts with private companies who can** compete** with the understanding that performance will dictate which ones get the contracts for screening at our airports? Those that actually pay MORE than minimum wage will most likely attract a better brand of worker, and therefore win the contracts. This isn’t something that should be viewed as simply an economical decision. No, paying workers more doesn’t guarantee a better product, but the competition for efficiency will require a little more investment by the security firms. Wasn’t this country’s economic plan built on the premise that competion improves product and service quality?

The current situation has us paying TSA employees as much as these private companies would, but the end result looks pretty similar to those we would get with those “minimum-wage immigrants.” TSA has no contract to lose, and while misses like these could cost employees their jobs, there is no ultimate accountability. It will go up the ladder until it reaches the political world, then all discussion of accountability quickly becomes a pissing match.

I have great respect for both of your views, but I have to disagree on this topic. :smiley: I can only pray that I’m wrong about the efficiencies of the current system.


Not a problem, that’s why they have horse races.

The only point you’re overlooking is that the government is required to solicit bids for service contracts and award them to the lowest qualified bidder.

Regardless of the “qualified” label, the lowest common denominator is always profits and the easiest way to increase profits in a service industry is to reduce wages.


“Hmmm…I think I remember seeing this in my handy-dandy TSA Screener Awareness booklet. That figurine is praying toward Mecca with a bomb in his left hand. Yep. That’s definitely it. Sorry, pal.”



Talk about retarded…


While I do agree with all sentiments regarding TSA hiring, Goverment policy, or lack thereof regarding TSA and Airport security, I respectfully must disagree with you on flaming them for this incident.
When looking at this incident, as a single incident, yes it may seem like nonsense and unnecessary. But when taking into account the sensitivity that engulfs todays very real security threats in our airports, airplanes, and planet in general, there is a time and a place for political statements - especially derogatory ones. And an airport is NOT the place for this kind of crap. Seven years ago? Nobody would have cared. But because any kind of nut with a mission, and there have been many non-terrorist types that have posed extreme potential risks on flights, and in airports- believe me, many which you don’t hear about, that anyone with a thinking brain would just suck it up like a man, follow the rules - right or wrong as they may be - and catch your damned plane. It is no different then telling the police officer that just pulled you over for speeding that his captian is a prick! Now where would that get you? (tongue-in-cheek, of course :wink: )
Go outside and protest, write your congressman, send a damn chain mail, but don’t do it in an airport.
To me this guy gut exactly what he wanted - attention, by a provoked action. And this is one of the kinds of “watch” type things that the TSA drills into their peoples heads to watch for. Put yourself in their shoes for just one second. What if this guy, who you don’t know when he is coming through your checkpoint proudly displays his bag with that statement and you let him go. Then by the gate he gets in an uproar and starts chanting “TSA SUCKS, TSA SUCKS”, or even gets further into the plane and starts running up and down the isles inciting a riot because he hates this guy. Well, now you have passengers, many of them who are already stressed or uneasy about flying - for whatever reasons - possible delays, or diversions of flight, etc…And you just got fired for letting this bastard throught your line!
Read between the lines guys, there is so much more than the rhetoric and frenzy regarding anti-TSA/Governement. For everyones safety, sanity, and peaceful travel - just suck it up and do your part when IN the airport.
Everyone has a right to their opinions, and i respect all of yours, and the goofball in question here. But be smart about how to get your message across, or you lose yourself in the cause.

Have a great day everyone 8)


Thanks for the input Neil, a fair and reasoned reply.

But we can still fault TSA for sensitivity, or the utter lack thereof.

I’ve ranted previously about my physical limitations that preclude removing my shoes easily and my need for a chair, something TSA apparently doesn’t own.

But the most recent contretemps with TSA among my family is a case in point.

Eldest daughter, a new mother just returned to the workforce, was travelling on business from EWR to MCI. As she is breastfeeding our new grandson, she was carrying her breast pump with her while her son remained at home.

She arrives at the security line and is asked to step aside while they discern the purpose of this “suspicious device”.

TSA: So what is this thing?

Daughter: It’s a battery operated breast pump.

TSA: What’s it used for?

Daughter: Pumping my breasts.

TSA: To make them bigger?

Daughter: No, to milk them for my baby.

TSA: Oh yeah? So where’s your baby?

Daughter: If I had my baby with me, I wouldn’t need the breast pump.

TSA: I don’t understand.

Daughter: Call your supervisor, or better yet, call for a female agent.

Eventually resolved, but the fact remains that a modicum of training on the part of TSA would have prevented it from ever occurring.