TSA Chief Asked to Tell Staff that D.C. IDs are American Too

After an airline passenger was held at a checkpoint because she presented a D.C. driver’s license as identification, the head of the Transportation Security Administration has been asked to inform his staff that people living in D.C. are indeed Americans.


Ashley Brandt, a preschool teacher living in the District of Columbia, was stopped and initially prevented from boarding a flight in Phoenix on Feb. 18.

D.C.’s delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), called Brandt to “apologize that a U.S. government employee would question the right of a resident of the nation’s capital to board an airplane,” then took the complaint to TSA Administrator John Pistole.

“While D.C. residents are undemocratically denied voting representation in the House and Senate and full control over their local laws and budget, our residents are American citizens who have all the other rights of citizens, including using D.C.-issued identification to travel by airplane. The undemocratic treatment of D.C. residents by Congress should never extend to similar treatment by federal employees,” Norton wrote to Pistole today.

The delegate said she’s since learned that American citizens of the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands “have encountered similar indignities” from geography-challenged TSA officials.


“The incident involving Ms. Brandt was so bizarre and ludicrous that it has captured press attention and reflects poorly on the management of TSA,” Norton wrote. “I request that you take steps to ensure that all TSA employees are informed now and in their training that identification documents issued by the District of Columbia and the territories must be treated the same as state-issued identification, and to remind them that D.C. residents and the residents of the territories are American citizens and deserve to be treated as such.”

Brandt told the Washington Post that the TSA asked for her passport after rejecting her D.C. license because the District is not a state.



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