This morning actor Alec Baldwin sent out a curious tweet to his more than one-million Twitter followers that read, “Flying from Nassau, Bahamas 2 NY. TSA “random selects” my 5 month old daughter 4 a pat down. I am not kidding. #travelinginUSAisadisgrace“
Ignoring the actor’s history of issues with the airline industry, there are a number of issues with this tweet. Sure people tweet about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wronging them everyday. Some days the TSA has wronged them, some days they are maligning the TSA … but when a passenger’s tweet about the TSA wronging their five month old hits more than a million people and is picked up by the New York Daily News and other media outlets it is amazing how quickly journalism fact checking succumbs to a pack mentality.
There are two glaring issues with Mr. Baldwin’s tweet this morning.
The first is Mr. Baldwin’s accusation that the TSA randomly selected his five month old daughter for a pat down prior to departing Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport, in the Bahamas. The TSA has no security operations in the Bahamas and no authority in the Bahamas.
Yes, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a PreClearance agreement for The Bahamas, with operations in Nassau and Freeport, allowing flights departing these airports to arrive in the United States as “domestic” flights. Customs and Border Protection has Officers in Nassau, but passenger screening operations is overseen by the Nassau Airport Authority.
The second glaring issue with Mr. Baldwin’s tweet is his choice of hashtag, #travelinginUSAisadisgrace. I am not sure if Mr. Baldwin is aware, but The Bahamas are an independent nation, under The Commonwealth of Nations, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as their official head of state. The Bahamas have never been part of the United States in any way, shape or form
… so how exactly was this experience with a foreign nation’s airport security related to traveling in the United States or a disgrace for the U.S.?
There are many inconsistencies with the TSA and its front line screeners. There are many ways the agency can improve its passenger experience and in fulfilling its core mission of transportation security, but to trash the agency to such a wide audience and have the media pick it up when they cannot have possibly been involved is no way to bring light to the true issues at hand.
Mr. Baldwin, if you want to complain, please make sure you are addressing the right people, otherwise you’re just screaming into the wind.