It happened last year when Frank Hannibal was questioned by a TSA agent at LaGuardia airport about his “all-natural” peanut butter that he was trying to carry on with him. He joked to his wife and twin daughters that the TSA were “trying to confiscate his explosives.” That obviously didn’t go over too well with the TSA agent who was baffled and concerned about the layer of oil that sat at the top of the peanut butter, a notable inconvenience of all-natural peanut butter, but one that has nothing to do with explosives.
The TSA agent reacted by calling the police, and Hannibal was detained for about 25 hours, during which time he was ironically fed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, probably not made with peanut butter of the “natural” variety, but rather the partially-hydrogenated soybean oil variety and jelly infused with high-fructose corn syrup and sodium benzoate. He was being charged with “falsely reporting an incident,” which is a felony.
Eventually, Hannibal was free to go, and the TSA graciously returned his peanut butter. The Queens district attorney decided not to prosecute him, but Hannibal thought it was utterly ridiculous that he was treated like a terrorist for making a joke about his peanut butter. I admit, he probably should have just kept his mouth shut, but he is from New York. They do seem to have a hard time keeping their mouths closed in these types of situations. They don’t mince words. I’m not insulting them. It just seems to be their nature, and all it takes is one brainless TSA agent (is there any other type?) to ruin someone else’s travel plans by landing that person in jail for something he didn’t do.
Now, Hannibal is bringing a $5 million lawsuit against the TSA agent and the police officer who detained him. His lawyer Alan Levine said that “it’s a sorry state of affairs in this country when sarcasm is considered a felony.”
The TSA is too busy groping people and harrassing passengers about cakes, cupcakes, pies, gravy, candy and peanut butter to notice the swords, guns, drugs and explosives that do get through:
“According to one report, undercover TSA agents testing security at a Newark airport terminal on one day in 2006 found that TSA screeners failed to detect concealed bombs and guns 20 out of 22 times. A 2007 government audit leaked to USA Today revealed that undercover agents were successful in slipping simulated explosives and bomb parts through Los Angeles’s LAX airport in 50 out of 70 attempts, and at Chicago’s O’Hare airport agents made 75 attempts and succeeded in getting through undetected 45 times.”
A lot of good the TSA is doing keeping that peanut butter out of our airports. The last thing we need is a passenger blowing up a plane with all-natural peanut butter.