TSA Continues To Embarass The Elderly With Unnecessarily Degrading Search Procedures

from the why-grandma-and-grandpa-don't-fly dept

The TSA is, once again, defending its screening procedures after reports came out of degrading and embarrassing searches performed on three different elderly passengers at JFK, each of which involved passengers with medical equipment that it appears the TSA did not know how to handle in a reasonable way. While the TSA emphasizes that it didn't do a "strip search" on any of the passengers, that seems to ignore the point that, in all three cases, the searches appeared to be highly inappropriate. An MSNBC story about all of this summarizes the three passengers' complaints:
In one case, Lenore Zimmerman, 85, of Long Beach, N.Y., said TSA agents took her into a private room in late November to remove her back brace for screening after she decided against going through a scanning machine because of her heart defibrillator.

"Zimmerman said she had to raise her blouse and remove her undergarments for a female TSA agent," said Schumer and Gianaris' letter.

[....]

In another recent incident, Ruth Sherman, 88, of Sunrise, Fla., was asked about a visible protrusion from her waist band, which she identified as her colostomy bag.

She was "escorted to another room where two female agents made her lower her pants for an inspection. Sherman raised concerns that the agents would disrupt her colostomy bag, causing pain and potential damage," the letter said.

A third woman, Linda Kallish, of Boynton, Fla., said that after she revealed she was a diabetic with an insulin pump in her leg, she was escorted to a separate room where she was told to remove her pants so the agents could check the pump, the letter said, without saying when that incident took place.
The letter discussed above came from Senators Chuck Schumer and Michael Gianaris, asking the TSA to have an "on-site passenger advocate." It seems like that would certainly make some amount of sense, though I imagine getting rid of security theater would be a better solution. But, in absence of that, having someone in authority who actually has the passengers' interest in mind seems like it could be useful.

Even more bizarre, however, is that while the TSA admits that its agents were at fault in the first case above, and should not have removed the brace, it still seems to recommend that passengers be the ones to bone up on the rules:
We recommend that all passengers familiarize themselves with security protocols and inform officers prior to screening if they have medical devices that require special screening. It makes things easier for everybody if all parties know in advance what to expect.
Yes, JFK personnel are receiving additional training as well, but should traveling by plane really require individuals to study up on what inhumane and degrading treatment they should expect before hitting the airport?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Mike C. (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Management vs Employees

    This is a typical situation where management crafts a policy without understanding the nature of what it is they are trying to control and expects everything to line up with their imagined scenarios. Until either (a) the TSA is abolished or (b) all screening exceptions are removed so that Congress and senior officials get screened as well, these sorts of problems will continue to happen.

    In the end, this is why I've eliminated as much air travel from my vacation plans as possible. Between the unknown medical risks of being scanned, potential theft issues, groping issues, general unnecessary delays, etc, the increased speed of travel no longer seems to overcome the "hurdle" of driving or taking the train where possible.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

    DON'T FLY! IF you continue to fly then you give up your rights! With the current way the TSA deals with passengers, I would not fly if my life was on the line. These turds get not 1 cent from me while they allow these agents to continue to treat us CUSTOMERS as terrorists.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

      Re:

      I suppose I could quit my job (which requires flying several times a month).

      Instead, I intentionally opt-out of the stupid body scanners, insisting on the metal detector + pat down.

      I go through this several times a month (to and from my destinations), and usually it's just an annoyance. So far, most of the TSA agents have been reasonable about the process - but I noticed the last guy I got was a bit more "rough" with his hands than most.

      I want to make sure they know I strongly disapprove of their stupid scanners, and they're gonna have to pat me down every single time.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

        Re: Re:

        Agreed. If they're going to scan me, they've got to have the sand to do it the old fashioned way. If I'm going to be violated, dammit, I want to look the person in the eye who is doing it.

        I may want to make snide comments to them about taking me out to dinner afterwards, or asking if my wife can join.

        "So, do you come here often? Yeah, you know what I mean, *wink*. I'll bet you do."

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

      Re:

      These turds get not 1 cent from me while they allow these agents to continue to treat us CUSTOMERS as terrorists.

      Ummm, hey Einstein. Guess what? Some of the customers are TERRORISTS. But it's kind of tough figuring who's who without the "I jihad" t-shirts.

       

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        :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

        Re: Re: Existential...

        Have you ever met a terrorist?

        Do you any evidence they actually exist?

        Or do you only know what you've been spoon-fed Fox News and CNN?

         

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          identicon
          btr1701, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Existential...

          > Do you any evidence that terrorists actually exist?

          Yeah, there's a huge hole in the ground in Pennsylvania and a blank spot in the Manhattan skyline.

          > Or do you only know what you've been spoon-fed
          > Fox News and CNN?

          Nope, I've seen both with my own eyes.

          Moron.

           

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            Misoc, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 3:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Existential...

            ter·ror·ism   [ter-uh-riz-uhm]

            1.the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

            US government officals are responsible for 1,000,000 civilians dead in Iraq and endless drone attacks.

            You decide who the TSA should be searching

             

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              btr1701 (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 9:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Existential...

              > US government officals are responsible for 1,000,000 civilians
              > dead in Iraq and endless drone attacks.

              That's cute and all, but it's a complete non sequitur in regard to the question that was asked.

               

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            xebikr (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 10:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Existential...

            "Yeah, there's a huge hole in the ground in Pennsylvania and a blank spot in the Manhattan skyline."

            Both of which could have been prevented if only we had been in the habit of humiliating the elderly prior to the attacks.

             

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        el_segfaulto (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

        Re: Re:

        Yes, keep living your life terrified of the terrorist boogeyman. 9/11 was a tragedy, but one that will not happen again and the TSA has nothing to do with that fact.

        Pre-9/11 - A hijacking occurs, the passengers know that if they just go along and don't make any noise they'll get a trip to Cuba and a cool story.

        Post-9/11 - A hijacking occurs, the passenger know that they will be stains if they don't actively resist.

        All of the (pathetic) attempts to blow up planes after 9/11 got past the TSA and were stopped by passengers. We had a perfectly fine screening process before 9/11 and I see no reason why we can't go back to that.

        And finally...the TSA would NOT have prevented 9/11! None of the terrorists had freakin' bombs on them. A simple lock on the cockpit door would have saved us a lot of time, money, harassment, and civil liberties.

         

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        Beta (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

        Re: Re:

        Some of the people who walk down streets are terrorists. Are you in favor of searches of everyone who walks down your street?

        The basic question is what you're willing to give up in exchange for how big an increase in safety. The TSA searches represent a huge expenditure of money and erosion of personal rights in exchange for a moderate protection against a laughably narrow range of threats of vanishingly small probability.

        Honestly, it's as if you think there's a secret terrorist cell someplace where people say "let's kill a bunch of Americans exactly the same way we did last time-- oh, wait, we can't, never mind, let's do nothing." I don't know who's stupider, the fictional terrorists who can't think of a crowded place to set off a bomb, or the citizens willing to give up everything for protection against them.

         

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          el_segfaulto (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 4:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Smartest thing I've read in awhile. Take an extra intarweb out of petty cash.

           

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            TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 5:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            SOPA and PROTECT IP make taking an extra intraweb out of petty cash because Beta may, perhaps may, possibly, while of of his mind or otherwise impared link to some entity on his intraweb or the other intraweb that possibly, perhaps, just might, be could be or ought to be infringing a hollywood copyright, as any links to terrorism must because they've made more than enough movies and tv shows about terrorism that simply being one, these days, would be infringing.

            I know it all leads in circles but that's the whole point. Get people so dizzy they can't tell the difference.

             

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        Chris, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 4:44pm

        Re: Re:

        EHH! WRONG! You've been watching entirely too much Fox News. There are not terrorists aboard or even trying to get aboard planes on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. We are not in any more or less danger of a terrorist attack than we ever have been.

        What we have is ridiculous spending of tax dollars on smoke and mirror tricks to make the public believe we are safe from terrorist attacks.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 3:01pm

        Re: Re:

        All for yur safety nerd

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:27pm

    TSA = The Stupid Asshats

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    And being prepared means nothing...

    After all, remember this story about a woman who brought with her material explaining everything for the TSA... and was promptly ignored and gro... felt u... enhanced chest patted to feel the implants.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111003/12305416186/tsa-force-breast-cancer-patient-to-submit- to-patdown-refuse-to-let-her-show-id-card-about-implants.shtml

    Wait... come to think of it that was JFK too. Way to keep up the high standards!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

    Ron Paul has publicly stated that he would get rid if the TSA. Stop whining about it if you are going to vote for a candidate that supports TSA security theater. Voting for a candidate that supports it means you support it too.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

      Re:

      What I hate about all these comments about "Ron Paul has said X" is that, from my experience, the politicians always say they will do X...then proceed to not do it. Case in point, in Ireland, the Opposition (what we call the major political parties that are not currently in office) kept stating that "If elected, we won't increase taxes, or do X and Y" etc etc". Of course, once elected, they proved to be even worse than the previous government, and that was almost fucking impossible to achieve.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

        Re: Re:

        I'd rather vote for someone who says they'll do something than someone who remains noncommittal, like every other Republican candidate, or someone who has the power to put a stop to it and does nothing, like Obama. Ron Paul is the only choice in 2012.

         

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          another mike (profile), Dec 13th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I go by what they've already done. That's their record. Paul is already a Congressman, where is his proposed bill to abolish the TSA? The President doesn't control funding or appointments to office. That's Congress' job. If he's going to get rid of the TSA, he needs to do it now while he's still a legislator.

           

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        aluminum falcon (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 3:44pm

        Re: Re:

        The only thing is that Paul (even his critics admit) that his voting record in office has been consistence with his election platform.

        Either Paul is the worlds most honest politician or the world's greatest actor for keeping it up for so many years.

         

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      btr1701, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:31pm

      Re: Lies

      > Ron Paul has publicly stated that he would
      > get rid if the TSA.

      Yeah, and Obama publicly stated he'd get rid of Gitmo, too.

      Anyone who believes anything that a politician tells them is a special kind of fool.

       

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    Beta (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

    think it through

    '...Senators Chuck Schumer and Michael Gianaris [are] asking the TSA to have an "on-site passenger advocate."'

    What authority would this person have? Who would pay this person's salary? What kind of behavior would get this person fired, and by whom?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:36pm

    passenger advocate must be paid by other dept

    What good is a passenger advocate at the airport who is beholden to the TSA for his/her paycheck. That's like having a privacy advocate at ATT paid for by the NSA. I'd like to represent myself, thank you very much.

     

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      Dementia (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:04pm

      Re: passenger advocate must be paid by other dept

      I would rather there not be a need for anyone to represent me or anyone else. The TSA is not a deterrent, it simpnly a political response to try and show that something is being done, when in actuality, nothing is being done, other than the dismemberment of the constitution.

       

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    Rikuo (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    The passenger advocate would be Dennis Leary, and he'd be paid to merely say "Shut the Fuck Up! Next!" "Shut the Fuck Up! Next!"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    The letter discussed above came from Senators Chuck Schumer and Michael Gianaris, asking the TSA to have an "on-site passenger advocate."

    Good idea: Transparency and accountability.
    Bad idea: Easily bribed "advocate".

     

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    I'm thinking of putting a sticker on my suitcase. A TSA logo surrounded by the words: "Fire the scum"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 2:26pm

    The TSA is a rogue department.

     

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    william (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    That's right TSA.

    It's not because that your agents are incompetent, misfit high school drop outs that you found on the street randomly who doesn't receive proper training.

    It's the people being push overs and bend over whenever the agents tells us to. I mean, it's totally our fault that we are such sissies and our rights are being violated by people who get paid by tax money.

    I apologize for being spineless.

     

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    John Nemesh, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 4:44pm

    Driving 1600 miles this Christmas

    I am driving from Seattle WA, to Las Cruces NM this fall instead of flying. I prefer to endure a 28 hour drive rather than the impersonal, rude, and downright NASTY treatment I get when I fly. Between the TSA's Gestapo tactics and the fact that I have to LEAVE the airport terminal to enjoy a cigarette, I have decided that if I have the choice, I will drive myself, even if it costs more money and time. I will fly again once the TSA is abolished, or if I have no other choice.

     

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    Mr Big Content, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    All We Need Is One Colostomy-Bag Bomber ...

    ... and all you snivelling, lily-livered cowards will be screaming to know why Homeland Security let innocent Americans die.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 5:50pm

    Let me see now. I have a pacemaker, metal heart valves. The two of them make me audibly go tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-toc.

    Does all of this screening mean I have to strip off in the middle of an airport just to prove that I'm not a bomb?

    Hmmm, stuff your private room, how about right here, right now? Let's get to it!

    (Same crap happens in Canada, and I threatened a screener with that and he decided to take the medical evidence that such things were actually inside me along with his little picture of my insides and outsides rather than have to suffer through that. I did have to talk to a very nice RCMP officer in the lounge as I waited for the plane to get going who thought it was the funniest thing she'd heard in years. I'm probably on Air Canada's no fly list now but I don't care as I don't fly on them, made that mistake once and never will again.)

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 12th, 2011 @ 7:28pm

    But but but someone might call me soft on terrorism and I will loose my position of power if I point out the obvious - the TSA is a bad idea that has run it course.

    It was created in a vacuum when people felt we had to do something. So rather than say this whole thing is crap, we add another layer of people who can fail to do their job of making the first tier of people do their job they way we intended, and then we can create a 3rd tier of oversight to the issue. How many more layers do we add before we just admit we are putting more more shit on the shit pile?

    They used DHS funds to buy $900 snowcone makers in Michigan, and a whole bunch of failed tech sitting in warehouses. More tech keeps arriving because they have never considered adding a simple clause to a contract of - If your item does not work as promised, your paying us back and taking your tech back.
    We never hold them accountable for these things, and when you try you get promises of investigations and such, but do we yet have answers to the radiation dose from pornoscanners? Do they have a system in place to make sure the pornoscanners are working correctly and not delivering a dose outside of spec? I'm tired of the "great idea" with no follow through, how can you hand billions to a company with untested unvetted machines using radiation on people and not have the simplest question of - is this dangerous? - answered in a clear rational way?

     

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    argh, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 11:02pm

    check the frigging bags

    So what should happen? I say don't touch my leg, there's a colostomy or catheter bag there. And TSA is going to wave me though and say "we care and see you must have a tough life"?

    Get over it. These are allexception cases which have turned out to be non-issues so far. BUT, if the TSA were to allow someone through who blew up the plane with a bag they claimed was full of human waste, you'd all attack them saying they should have know better and we should shut the incompetet boobs down.

     

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    Some Guy, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 12:22am

    The answer to all the world's problems

    It is astonishing that we are at the point where we consider creating more expensive bureaucracy to limit another out of control bureaucracy a good idea.

     

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    Amy Trenton, May 15th, 2013 @ 8:48am

    I hate reading stuff like this. I believe the elderly should be treated with utmost respect, and not degraded. Ridiculous.

     

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