Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

Next on TSA's agenda: Exploding cupcakes

Pity the Transportation Security Administration, having to devote time and effort (paid for, as some would be sure to point out, with taxpayer dollars) to defend a recent decision to forbid a cupcake from being taken past an airport screening check-point.

But that is what the agency was compelled to do after the media picked up the story of the confiscated cake this week, and the incident quickly devolved into Cupcakegate.

But as a post on TSA’s blog points out, this cupcake was a cupcake in name only.

As evidence, the agency posted on its blog site a photo of what most people think of as a cupcake, and a photo of what actually was confiscated—a “cupcake in a jar” that more closely resembles one of those premixed jars of peanut butter and jelly that groceries sell to lazy PBJ-makers.

As the blog post explains, the large amount of icing (which qualifies as a gel under TSA guidelines) in the jar appeared to exceed the 3.4-oz. limit, so the item was confiscated.

Simple enough. The blog admits that the incident “may seem like a silly move to many of our critics...” But it also notes that “when we can’t be exactly sure of what something is, every officer has the discretion to not allow it on the plane.” In other words, screeners should err on the side of caution. That is what they are trained to do.

We’ve been through a few airports lately, and we have to say that screeners have for the most part have been reasonable. And this is coming from someone who has had bars of his Trader Joe’s fair-trade dark chocolate dug out of a carry-on and swabbed for explosives.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Not entirely. Explosive chocolate bars are nothing new. They debuted almost 70 years ago. The Germans equipped saboteurs with explosives masquerading as bars of chocolate during World War II. Exploding cupcakes? Sure, why not?

So, look. Anyone who travels with any regularity eventually pays the price for today’s security, whether it’s a pat-down, a hand-search of a bag, or confiscation of an item. That’s just the way of modern air travel.

And though it’s inconvenient and sometimes irritating, it’s a necessary evil—like dental work. Feds do a lot of that kind of work—jobs that need to be done whether everyone likes it or not.

With a little luck, maybe more members of the citizens they serve will figure that out.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Jan 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM


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