Botched TSA Pat Down Leaves Traveler Covered In Urine

from the these-are-experts dept

It certainly appears that the TSA might need a bit more training with these new intrusive groping pat downs. MSNBC has the story of a survivor of bladder cancer, who now has to wear a urostomy bag, which collects his urine for him alongside his body, trying to travel via the airport in Detroit. He tried to explain all of this to the TSA folks, and asked for a private room (as has always been promised) for a pat down, after the TSA decided that something was amiss after he went through the scanner. However, at first the TSA claimed there was no private room, then refused to listen to him explain his medical condition and did not heed warnings about how they were going to break the bag. And, yes, you guessed it, the TSA broke the bag, covering the guy and his clothes in urine, which he was unable to clean up until after boarding his plane. TSA boss John Pistole has since called the guy to apologize, but it’s getting more and more difficult to take Pistole at his word when he spews his “trust me, I know what I’m doing” speech:

“After coming to TSA with 26 years of intelligence and law enforcement experience at the FBI, I understand the serious threats our nation faces and the security measures we must implement to thwart potential attacks”

That’s getting tougher and tougher to believe.

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Comments on “Botched TSA Pat Down Leaves Traveler Covered In Urine”

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Pixelation says:

Fool me once

“but it’s getting more and more difficult to take Pistole at his word when he spews his “trust me, I know what I’m doing” speech: “
Before the Iraq war I thought,”I am going to have faith that this guy (Bush) has more intelligence information than the rest of the world”. Now this guy. Fool me once…

interval (profile) says:

Re: Oi

You’re a TSA agen, you are facing a bald, middle-aged white guy telling me he has a colostomy bag (or urine bucket, or whatever) attached to his stomach. He even shows you the bag. Do you:

A) Wave him through relatively secure that your gut instinct is correct: he’s a bald, middle-aged white guy with a medical appliance attached to his body that will fail if you fool with it, and wave him on through.

B) Detain him, check out his story, what you can of background, and then wave him on through because you can never stay one step ahead of the “terrorists”.

C) Grope him mercilessly until his urine bag breaks, then analyze the resulting liquid for explosives because you’re a mindless Gov. droid and the procedures don’t cover “urine bags”.

Well, we all know which choice the Gov. opted for.

David (profile) says:

The problem may be his experience

The point has been brought up, but I have to say, this guy looks through “threat” glasses. He sees the threats we need to deal with, but not the 99.99999% of people who are passing through airports that aren’t.

I understand that for safety sake we need to pay some prices, but someone needs to look at the problem, to find a way that deals with people, not with threats…

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So how would this guy going through a metal detector (what was in place prior to the new scanners) carrying what amounts to a plastic bag and a rubber tube have caused said bag to burst? This was due to the scanner finding the bag and the pat-down bursting the bag.

Sounds like others are scraping the bottom of a barrel to find reasons as to why these searches are defendable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, it couldn’t have. Because before the new policy, TSA agents used a wand or a gentle pat down, not a firm running of hands over the body.

I have 5 lbs of metal in my spine, stabilizing where several vertebrae broke, where disks had been removed.

I dread going through the new screening process because ANY PRESSURE put on that area causes immediate, unimaginable excrutiating pain. And in spite of the medical passport from y=my doctor, there is NO leeway for people with medical problems with this new screening.

The minute one of those goons presses on my back, I will be prepared to sue because I have documentation of the injury, the treatment and why it’s not a good idea to have pressure placed on that area.

And I hope the poor guy in the article sues. There’s absolutely NO reason for the TSA to “forcefully” pat down a medical device or an injury.

Thomas (profile) says:

Just goes to show..

that the TSA doesn’t really train their people nor do they give a rats tushie about hurting people. Probably the only reason they called to apologize is that the news people got ahold of the story, otherwise nothing would have happened.

Next thing you know they will do something even more stupid to someone with a medical appliance and the person will die. I could picture them removing an oxygen tank from someone who needs it and the person expiring.

I’m just avoiding air travel right now; it is way too much a hassle to deal with being groped by strangers.

If more people would simply choose not to fly if they don’t have to the airlines would really complain to the government.

mjb5406 (profile) says:

Original Story...

According to the original story, TSA agents did NOT break the bag, they broke the seal that attached the urostomy bag’s tubing to his body. Same end result, however… I doubt a pat-down would break a plastic bag, but certainly it could break a seal. I wear an insulin pump that has a similar (smaller) tube attached to me with an adhesive seal, and I can see how an aggressive pat-down could pull the seal off. It’s ridiculous.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why can’t we just give people the option to fly “secure” flights with the current security theatre rules vs “unsecure” flights that just have you do the classic metal detector and bag scan. Then we will see what people REALLY want. We would see everyone fly secure if it SOOOO important to be safe once your on a plane vs being a significantly better target before/at the checkpoint.
Even though the interesting thing is that planes are a poor target now. There’s no way to take them over unless the terrorist to hostage ratio is at least 2:1. Anything less leaves you with a bunch of people already believing they will definitely die no matter what they are told and that’s a good recipe for pissed of mob with little left to lose.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The argument would be that one insecure plane could threaten the lives of thousands of people, including many who had no prior involvement in that flight. This isn’t just to protect the passengers on one flight, it’s to protect all of America. So… no go.”

Maybe you’re just trolling, but sorry, wrong.

There are only two things that have increased the safety of people in planes (and whatever they might be used to fly into) since 9/11.

1) Reinforced, locked doors to the pilot’s cabin
2) As the first in the thread mentioned, passengers knowing if their plane gets taken over, they’re gonna die and fighting back.

As soon as there’s someone trying to break down the door to the pilot’s cabin, the pilots will be on their comms letting ground control know what going on. Minutes later, there’ll be a fighter jet alongside the plane ready to shoot it down if necessary.

No one on the ground will be any safer because a TSA agent breaks some guy’s urine bag.

Give me a choice and I’ll take the “unsecure” flight where I don’t have to deal with minimum wage rent-a-cops on power trips (apologies to the genuine hard-working security officers who are actually doing their jobs correctly by treating passengers with dignity).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“apologies to the genuine hard-working security officers who are actually doing their jobs correctly by treating passengers with dignity”

There is no such thing. People work for TSA because they no other options, not because they really care. Besides, if you had that job because you care and you genuinely want that job, how long would it be before you got fed up with a never ending stream of people pissed at you for doing that job?

No apology necessary. We need policy changes not apologies.

interval (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Do you get all your stories off reddit?”

I don’t read reddit, however, if its true, what does it matter? And you do know this story is true, don’t you? I’m not even going to bother to post a link. Mr. Urine bag has been in interviewed by many major news outlets. You won’t have to go far to find a link to the video with his interview in it.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:


Why does the US Government feel the need to go through such invasive, uncomfortable and costly measures on US citizens and visitors who carry passports that identify them but leave the borders wide open?

If terrorists want access to US soil they could just walk into this country anywhere along the border with Mexico – hundreds, if not thousands of people do it every single day. My intuition tells me the next terrorist attack won’t involve a person on a plane at all, but we’ll keep spending our resources defending the dreaded boogeyman of the sky.

I suppose if a terrorist uses a tanker truck next we’ll see ground transportation get new security measures that will raise the cost of anything moved in a truck. Knee jerk reactions and ridiculous spending in the name of “National Security” shows that the terrorists have already won – to a degree.

However, what really concerns me is the scope of the focus and attention spent on airlines which leads me to think that terrorists will concentrate on a new method of attack that simply avoids all of these air-related security measures. I can only hope that I’m wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why??

Sadly, you’re not wrong.

In NJ, the Turnpike runs right next to a major power generating station, several petroleum processing/storage facilities, etc. All it takes is one small terrorist cell with cars and hand-held rocket launchers to knock out vital infrastructure. If they take out the power generating station most of Nj and probably half of NYC will go dark.

And it could/most likely would lead to a repeat of the failure cascade of a few years ago that left NYC and a good part of the Northeast dark for nearly a week.

The train tracks run next to the Turnpike as well, and many of the tanker cars transport the oil and other chemicals to/from the refineries. There is no security in place to protect these facilities.

They are a bigger, more immediate threat to anyone in the NY/NJ region than any individual or group flying out of JFK, LGA or Newark.

There are so many more immediate threats to our citizens than air travel. Why the heck doesn’t anyone else see this?

Rob says:

Way too fixated on our nether regions

The TSA’s fixation with our nether regions, to the exclusion of any other means of reducing air terrorism and to the ignorance of externalizing he costs of their methods is kind of like a crazy neighbor who snaps. He hears about a rabid squirrel in the neighborhood. Starts shooting at squirrels in his yard. Cuts down all his trees. Cuts down your trees. Trees fall on power lines, cut off your electricity and phone and cable but “that’s the price you pay to be safe from the rabid squirrel.” “Freedom isn’t free”. Trees fall across the street. Gotta keep the kids indoors lest something falls on them. Burn down a few houses, “we can’t afford to let our guard down!”

Membiblio (profile) says:

By the People, for the People.

I’d like to see Pistole fired or forced to resign over his “Flying is a privilege” statement. I pay the airline well to fly – the TSA does not provide a plane and crew to me – big difference. What’s next? Nutritional food is a ‘privilege’? Access to essential information infrastructure is a ‘privilege’? Read my mind Mr. Pistole (“**ck you sir”).

It’s hard to blame or get mad at someone trying to help you regardless of how they fumble. The TSA’s heavy handed, uncaring approach is simply wrong and I blame Pistole. When they discover that they serve the public and approach security with a humble service oriented demeanor it’s going to be hard to resent or blame them regardless of their fumbles.

Instead of a team effort it’s become a ‘us against them’ attitude both for the traveler and for TSA employees. We’re all Americans, all Citizens, all responsible. Until the TSA recognizes their position and responsibility – I hope they bear the brunt of America’s anxiety over their attitude and I hope that American’s continue to elegantly and persistently make their resentment known.

We can do better than Mr. Pistole, read my mind Sir.

rec9140 (user link) says:

Just say no

No one is saying no to this whole mess in the ONLY way to get this mess cleaned up from the start.


Call up SW, AA, Delta/NW, JetBlue… and tell them

I am CANCELLING my reservation because of these security procedures.

I’ve made my choice.. I will fly no more. I love to fly, would love to have been a pilot.. NO MORE..I got what will be my last flight in before this nonsense started.

When the airlines are ready to go under, which other than SW won’t take long. These people will beat a path to DC to get this stuff curtailed back to sanity.

Until you get the airlines to feel the pain of NO $$$ then your not going to get any where.

scarr (profile) says:

(S)He was asking for it.

The TSA’s message is that we don’t have to fly, so by choosing to fly, we’re agreeing to their security protocols being imposed on us. I think it’d be effective in countering this thinking by simplifying their position to “s/he was asking for it” (or “you were asking for it”, as the case may be). It isn’t inaccurate with their stance at all, but points out how absurd their behaviour and attitude are.

Alias (profile) says:

Covered in urine

I am paralyzed from the chest down. If this incident happened to me after explicitly attempting to inform them of the issue, I would be absolutely enraged. This type of callous insensitivity to one’s medical requirements is inexcusable and a frickin apology from Pistole’ just doesn’t cover the humiliation and extreme inconvenience involved.

Absolutely disgraceful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Now the TSA has established a protocol that disabled travelers will be selected to receive the pat down method instead of being able to opt for the scanner.

If you use a wheelchair, cane, other assistive device, a service or seeing eye dog? Welcome to gropeland.

Oh ACLU, are you out there? That’s just plain discrimination.

hmm says:

step 1
Turn up for the flight in an ultra-skin tight spandex suit that leaves NOTHING to the imagination!
step 2
Travel with an embarassingly enormous salami down their skintight pants….

Approach the pat-down area, giggle like a schoolgirl and say “careful son, my little guy has a bit of a hair trigger if you know what I mean!”

or after the pat-down ask to speak to a supervisor…then ask to speak to HIS supervisor…when the higher level guy arrives ask him if the pat-downs come with a happy ending…say you’re willing to pay!

ббб says:


so few ppl would choose the ‘unsecure’ flights, that the flight would schedule about once a month, and the ticket price would barely cover the costs of the oar.

anyway, the privatize everything ppl would probably prefer the government-does-nothing-useful tsa be replaced by a privatized tsa as successfully demonstrated by 103/lockerbie

ббб says:


interesting thing is that planes are a poor target now.
suicide bombing a teaparty protest would earn more virgin goats in paradise, especially since bunches of baggers would pull out their weapons to ‘defend’ themselves against an (actually vaporized) enemy.
however, unlike parah stalin, i will not tweet a map of “ripe targets”.

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