TSA criticized for tweeting picture of a passenger's luggage

TSA criticized for tweeting picture of a passenger's luggage

An employee of the Transportation Security Administration is being criticized for posting a picture of the contents of a passenger's luggage on Twitter, The Washington Post reports

A spokeswoman for the agency posted a picture of a bag containing $75,000 on her Twitter account, which is being criticized as an invasion of the passenger's privacy, according to the report. 

"If you had $75,000, is this how you'd transport it? Just asking! TSA @ #RIC spotted this traveler's preferred method," the spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, wrote on the caption of the picture.



Farbstein told the paper that she posted the picture of the luggage because it contained an unusually large sum of money. 

"The carry-on bag of the passenger alarmed because of the large unknown bulk in his carry-on bag," she said, according to the report. "When TSA officers opened the bag to determine what had caused the alarm, the money was sitting inside. Quite unusual. TSA alerted the airport police, who were investigating." 

Twitter users quickly criticized Farbstein for posting the picture of the passenger's luggage. 




A TSA spokesman told The Hill on Wednesday evening that the agency's workers at the Richmond Airport opened the bag containing the large sum of money because they needed to identify the source of a large bulge that was identified by X-ray machines. 

"When conducting airport checkpoint screening, if a carry-on bag alarms, TSA officers must resolve the matter," the TSA spokesman said in a statement. "To do so, they open the bag to determine what caused the alarm. In this instance, the x-ray image of a bulk was not able to be identified without opening the bag. Once the officer opened the bag, the bulk turned out to be a large sum of cash." 

The spokesman said it was important to check to the contents of the bag because "TSA officers routinely come across possible evidence of criminal activity at airport checkpoints.

"Examples include possible evidence of suspected illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips," the spokesman said. "When contents of this nature are detected, TSA is obligated to notify its law enforcement partners for them to handle as they deem necessary."

The TSA spokesman said the money was turned over to law enforcement officials and the employee of the agency who posted the picture of the bag on Twitter took pains to protect the idenity of the passenger who it belonged to. 

"The photo of the bag carries no personal identifiable information related to the individual who brought it to the checkpoint," the spokesman said. 

The TSA statement did not explain why the employee of the agency decided to post the picture of the bag's contents to Twitter. 

This story was updated with new information at 10:40 p.m.