Latest TSA Flub: Uh, Is DC License Valid?
Agent wasn't sure whether it was acceptable form of ID
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff | Suggested by DanPaul
Posted Feb 27, 2014 12:00 PM CST
An identification security screener with hand raised calls for a TSA screener at Denver International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 in Denver, Colo.   (AP Photo/Peter M. Fredin)

(Newser) – A ridiculous TSA story has once again gone viral: Ashley Brandt was baffled last week when a TSA agent in Phoenix was initially unsure whether she could let Brandt through airport security with just a District of Columbia license. "I don’t know if we can accept these. Do you have a US passport?" the agent said, according to Brandt. A manager who was called over quickly set the record straight—DC licenses are perfectly acceptable forms of identification, and in fact Brandt had no trouble when she flew to Phoenix—but a tweet from Brandt's boyfriend quickly went viral, the Washington Post reports.

"Holy. [Expletive]. TSA @ PHX asked for gf’s passport because her valid DC license deemed invalid b/c 'DC not a state,'" he posted. Some who noticed the tweet had their own stories of having trouble using licenses from Guam or Puerto Rico. DCist notes that commenters on the Post article also offered up similar stories ("The young TSA officer wanted to see my passport because she thought my District of Columbia driver's license somehow was from the nation of Colombia"), but Mother Jones is rather unimpressed with the "controversy": "I get it: We all hate TSA, and TSA agents sometimes do dumb things," writes Kevin Drum. "But honestly, folks. Chill. Not every minor inconvenience in the world deserves to go viral."

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Crazy Horse
May 12, 2014 10:08 PM CDT
How many of these TSA screeners were flipping hamburgers at McDonalds before getting jobs as "federal officers?" TSA was in such a rush to fill those jobs post 9/11 that virtually anyone who didn't have a past felony conviction could get hired. Just look at the reports of stealing, misconduct, and inappropriate behavior at checkpoints (like lewd comments directed at a passenger who had a vibrator in her carry-on bag). They're uneducated, ill-informed, and excessively abusive to passengers passing through check points.
Apr 6, 2014 4:05 PM CDT
You'd also be surprised how many people don't know that New Mexico is a US State. NM Engrs used to order catalogues of design hardware and often received a catalogue written compleatly in SPANISH as if we were part of Mexico> Esp. true of Eastern co's so I suspect same is true of Western states> they know nothing of Eastern USA, esp a state like AZ where Republicons are prevalent
A Noni Mouse
Mar 22, 2014 1:16 PM CDT
It's an honest mistake. I didn't know DC issued licenses either. I would have thought it was a state thing, too. I polled my friends and family. People from the west coast and quite a few from the Midwest didn't know. Most east coasters knew due to proximity and familiarity to DC. It's not a "moron" issue like most are trying to say. It's a TRAINING, EMPLOYEE RESOURCES, and EDUCATIONAL issue. TSA should be "training" on all acceptable forms of ID and where they can be issued from for the US. And, there are A LOT of kinds of IDs to know and places to know, both foreign and domestic. Just each US state alone has at least a dozen forms of birth certificates, old and new, short form and long, mini and full size, replacement and original. Where's the readily available "employee lookup tool" for TSA agents in the field when they are in doubt? There is no excuse in this day and age of smartphones, tablets, computers, and heightened security responsibilities for a TSA agent to not be able to type in a location and ID type and pull up valid PICTURE examples of acceptable forms, let alone not be able to type in a person's name/gender/dob and verify who they are and all the valid IDs and who issued them for US citizens. Now add geographical and political complexity to it. Try looking at a list of all US states and territories yourself. I can guarantee you will find at least a few places you didn't know about that were allowed to issue US licenses and IDs. I've yet to find someone who can list ALL US states and all us territories by memory. That would be OUR US "education" and "political" fluxuations at fault. Did you know that District of Columbia (DC), Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands (there are also Spanish and British Virgin Islands), American Samoa (only 5 of the 16 "recognized" Samoan islands), Guam, and NINE other islands from both the pacific ocean and Caribbean sea grouped together under the title of Minor Outlying Islands are all considered US territories? And let's not go into the various names they can all be called or were called over the years that are legally acceptable. You're killing me, Smalls. Instead of calling someone stupid for trying to do their job and erring on the side of caution, I say we should work on simplifying and fixing the system.