TSA Scores Another PR Win With Assault Of Nineteen Year Old Brain Tumor Patient On Her Way To Treatment

from the there-is-a-dumpster-fire-that-never-goes-out dept

The TSA — still reeling from an investigation showing agents couldn’t find explosives in a fireworks factory and mounting complaints about long screening lines stemming from its unofficial work slowdown, one that began shortly after the agency’s inception — has decided to generate more positive PR by brutalizing a disabled nineteen-year-old girl with a brain tumor.

If this sounds like broad satire of the often-thuggish agency rather than real life, read on and be amazed/dismayed. First, let’s take a quick look at the threat to traveler safety TSA agents neutralized at the Memphis International Airport.

The unarmed nineteen-year-old somehow set off the metal detectors. TSA agents swiftly moved in to secure the threat, blowing right past Hannah Cohen’s mother, who tried to inform them that sudden, violent motions were not going to be exactly helpful. (via Raw Story)

“They wanted to do further scanning, she was reluctant, she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother Shirley Cohen.

Cohen told us she tried to tell TSA agents her daughter is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused, but said she was kept at a distance by police.

Hannah Cohen — suffering from multiple physical ailments — reacted badly. She tried to run. The TSA reacted the only way it knows how.

She’s trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere,” said Cohen.

Rather than chalk this up to a big, bloody misunderstanding, the TSA and local authorities worked together to lock Hannah up overnight while her and her family’s baggage continued on to Chattanooga without them. Charges were dropped, but that’s not going to be the end of it. Cohen has filed a lawsuit against the TSA and Memphis law enforcement agencies.

The TSA, meanwhile, took immediate steps to mitigate the damage by stating that Hannah’s parents should have called ahead if it didn’t want their child terrorized and tackled.

Sari Koshetz of TSA released a statement that said, “Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation.”

No apology. No admission that this might have been handled better. No recognition that the agents’ failure to listen to Hannah Cohen’s mother might have resulted in a brain tumor patient covered in less blood and fear. Just a bit of victim blaming where the TSA implies that agents may not have reacted so badly to a metal detector beep if only they’d been informed ahead of time that the alarm would go off and Hannah Cohen would react badly to swiftly escalating screening efforts.

The most ridiculous thing about the spokesperson’s comment is that we’re supposed to believe the TSA will listen to parents of disabled travelers if they call ahead — when it’s plainly apparent they won’t listen to them when they’re STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO THEM.

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Comments on “TSA Scores Another PR Win With Assault Of Nineteen Year Old Brain Tumor Patient On Her Way To Treatment”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Defunding them would free up money to help those in need.”

Except that defunding the wars on terror and/or drugs would appear to be treasonous to the electorate which wouldn’t go far in the campaign to save the children. Besides, there is plenty of money in the pockets of contributors, the key is finding ways to transfer it to the elected’s pockets, which the wars on terror and drugs enable, because they save children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:The angry old white guys would

No, it absolutely positively definitely could – not – be. But fine, I agree, shooting people is not the answer – however, I’d fire every last one of them with a note on their record that prohibits them from working in ANY sort of education, healthcare or security-related job (not even as a night watchman in a scrapyard in Alaska) for their next several dozen lifetimes: they clearly don’t belong near people. They’re welcome to earn their living in an actual job if they can or fucking starve if they can’t.

hmayle (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The war on terror is fake.
The most a “terrorist leader” can expect from a successful terrorist attack is a few high fives from his terrorist buddies.
The people supposedly fighting terrorism get billions of dollars and a blind eye turned towards whatever they do in the name of fighting terrorism.

From that, it’s pretty obvious who has the greater motivation for terrorism.

Tsa says:

Re: Re: Re:

On behalf of me and all tsa agents fuck u how r u gonna say kill us im nice u dont know me i deal with the disabled kids at my airport because i grew up with a deaf family member and a disabled one i talk to yhem n try n help them kust because one makes a mostake dont blame us all i have a family n friends who love me u jerk how about i say that about u i hope God makes u pay for ur statement

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The time to kill this agency has arrived shortly after it was created. By now we are only counting the bodies, the girl is another victim.

If you describe the treatment of people without reveling the place you would easily identify the TSA as some sort of street gang or even some sadistic terrorists. But they happen to have a Governmental green light. The agents did not mistake anything, the mother certainly made it clear multiple times. They just needed a weak person to do what their rotten to the core morals like to do. Firing them is not enough, they should be arrested along with their superiors for the tone deaf response.

Anomalous Cowherd says:

The calling ahead suggestion is likely useless. The person you speak to on the phone maybe won’t pass on the message or won’t communicate the appropriate information or the screening people will misinterpret what to do. They’ll get advanced warning of someone they anticipate will cause a problem so maybe they act the same way or worse. “Call ahead so we know to be compassionate and not beat up defenseless passengers.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I highly doubt they even have a procedure in place for passing such call ahead phone messages on. I’m skeptical you could even get ahold of someone peripherally related to the screening process on the phone. As you suggest, worst case scenario they interpret it as someone calling in a threat.

Anonymous Coward says:

The baggage is assumed secure?

Whatever happened to the assurance that your baggage doesn’t fly if you don’t?

I thought it was a fundamental security measure to make sure they pull your baggage if you don’t board the plan. This seems even more prudent if you’re being held for security reasons… wow.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The baggage is assumed secure?

That’s the joke that is the TSA. At best they are nothing more than security theatre, like Tim said they couldn’t find explosives in a fireworks factory so how are they supposed to keep track of someone’s baggage that they are abusing? It’s far more important that they protect us against those dangerous brain tumor patients and molest the attractive women they see going through the line because they might have a bomb in their bra or panties than it is to actually provide security.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The baggage is assumed secure?

The TSA is responsible for screening baggage, not the airlines.

It stands to reason that if they consider someone such a threat that they’re going to assault and detain them, they should also ensure that the person’s baggage is not loaded onto the plane. It’s not a matter of convenience for the suspect, it’s common-sense security of the sort that the TSA is theoretically interested in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The baggage is assumed secure?

Baggage is screened before the passengers get to the checkpoint. At the time they’re screened, the baggage is in the hands of the airline. The AIRLINE is not supposed to load any baggage of anyone who didn’t board the flight. Otherwise anyone could check baggage, go through the checkpoint without issue, and then not fly. BOOM!

Anonymous Coward says:

So outraged

When I was in the service I was taught that it was our DUTY to protect the weakest among us from enemies foreign and DOMESTIC. I took an oath. If the TSA is going to abuse handicapped children in front of us then it is our DUTY to protect the weakest from abuse. I think Mr. Arlo Guthrie said it best…

“And if three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement. And that’s what it is, the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar.”

I took an oath to defend the weakest so I WILL be supporting this family in their fight against tyranny. I took an oath to defend the weakest so I WILL encourage others to defend the weakest. I took an oath to defend the weakest so TOGETHER we can stand up and tell our legislators and courts and appointed officials to stop the abuse of the disabled, and the weak, and the indigent and the stupid. If we don’t do it TOGETHER who will stand up for us?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So outraged

You may have the strength to stand for the weak, and that is commendable, however you will find little support from the majority of the electorate. They are literally too busy asking their government thugs what they can have if they vote them into office.

On the bright side, the weaklings that are still begging for government handouts and protection are not likely to provide any real resistance for they have been properly institutionalized to avoid anything that might risk their table scraps. They are like dogs fighting over table-scraps and anything that comes along will be bitten to shreds before they find out a better way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It has now gotten to the point

the true sadness of this statement is that the moment the DHS/TSA were created we were already at this point and no one cared.

This is not the first person abused by the TSA and will certainly not be the last. In fact we will not last the night before another human being is treated this away again. And again not even through the next day before it happens even a 3r, or 4th time.

this time we got a story, but most other times, we do not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And did the family inform anyone that she’d have issues PRIOR to being checked? Has she had issues before? They’ve supposedly been doing this for 17 years. Or should the TSA have just stood around calmly when someone who just failed a security check went apeshit? Do YOU know what really happened, or just what this lawsuit happy family has said?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Do YOU know what really happened, or just what this lawsuit happy family has said?”

I know precisely as much about what really happened as you do, and yet you feel very comfortable accusing the family of being “lawsuit happy” and money-seeking.

I see no reason why I should feel any less comfortable accusing the TSA of being thugs. At least I can point to past TSA behavior to support my opinion, where this family’s past behavior appears rather more positive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So, you’re claiming the physical injuries were directly the result of family members hitting her? Maybe I should read the story again.

Oh … wait a sec. Here it is.

“She’s trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere,” said Cohen.”

I guess you are full of shit then – yeah?

Anonymous Coward says:

There’s absolutely no reason that the airlines shouldn’t be providing their own security at airports. Security was actually much better when that was the case and people weren’t molested or worse every time they wanted to fly.

Every politician and government official that supports the TSA, every TSA employee that goes along with what the TSA does, every citizen that supports what the TSA does to people should be forced to go through the exact same treatment that this girl and so many others have been forced to go through with no real legal recourse to go after those that abused them and after they’ve been put through that treatment they should all go directly to jail until the TSA is shut down permanently and declared illegal. It’s long overdue!

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s absolutely no reason that the airlines shouldn’t be providing their own security at airports. Security was actually much better when that was the case and people weren’t molested or worse every time they wanted to fly.

No, you’re wrong, there’s a very good reason. The taxpayers are paying for the TSA abuse. If the airlines did their own security, they would have to pay.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Government beyond crooked.

If you are going to disqualify a group because there are a few loose nuts in the crowd then you should consider ending it. There is no place on earth were a few nuts have not gathered. Additionally, trash talking a group then claiming you are not their enemy does not place you in a good position. If you can already talk trash most are not even interested in the risks of finding out and will just call you enemy instead.

Plus, the Militia is NOT the governments enemy unless the Government makes it an enemy. The Government is not the United States, the People and those that form the states are. This means that the true King of any Nation are its people, not its leaders. To add more insult to your ignorance the 2nd makes it clear why the citizens should keep and bear arms because the citizens are the true Army of the Union and should be ready and able to protect the nation from all enemies foreign or domestic.

If you have a beef with the Militia or Government then you have a beef with America itself for both are part of America’s heritage!

I hope I go to my grave never having to take a life or experience a war, but it looks people like you have to wait until the government is carting your own loved ones off to the death camps before you can see what is coming or lend you voice against tyranny.

Trails (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Government beyond crooked.

If you have a beef with the Militia or Government then you have a beef with America itself for both are part of America’s heritage!

So is slavery. Te strength of America comes from questioning itself and improving its position.

Your appeal from authority “respect our heritage” bullshit is much more anti-American than someone slagging militias.

ECA (profile) says:

oK...who DID WHAT??

1. who IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS company??

2. WHO is getting PAID for this company..These ARE NOT government workers..

3. Would it be advisable to RUSH a terrorist? in a LINE of people??

4. I always THOUGHT that the Waiting line was a BETTER target then any Airplane..

5. Go ahead and CALL the TSA.. how long will it take to get the RIGHT INFO to the RIGHT person??
Why not have a few people wondering the line, seeing IF’ ANYONE NEEDS ASSISTANCE???
WHY not have another LINE for medical assistance?? This is for those in wheel chairs, and Crutches, and NEED extra care..?

I think these folks are ONLY there to give Gov. a bad name..
This is an Incompetent Agency and group of people. They have NO idea HOW to do any of this.
WHAT is the TSA responsible for? the List is very strange.

Tin-Foil-Hat says:

Re: oK...who DID WHAT??

People in line are a popular target for terrorists. In Israel people waiting for a bus. Iraqis waiting to vote have been attacked. They also like to send another into the ensuing chaos to blow up people and ambulances when they arrive. The low number of terrorist attacks in the US is luck. There’s an ocean separating the US from terrorists and terrorist influences. It’s the reason countries in Europe experience more attacks. The US exacerbates the problem for other countries. They can fly into an area, stir up shit and then go home leaving everyone else to deal with the consequences of that instability.

Do you think Israel that experiences terrorist attacks all the time uses the same methods as the TSA? They do not.

DB (profile) says:

The TSA spokesperson claimed that calling ahead would have some benefit.

A good reporter would test out this claim, rather than blindly repeating the “party line”.

The wording was “to learn more about”. Would it include any actionable information? Would it include information that could be relied upon?

I don’t believe that it would. It’s been widely reported that that the TSA screeners repudiate the information on the TSA website, even after being shown the printed output. “That’s not the way we do it here.” For years after the imposition of the 100ml (3.38 fluid ounces) limit on liquids, screeners were still rejecting any container over 3 ounces because they believed that was the limit. The training has improved so that specific issue is no longer common, but “medically necessary liquids” are still widely blocked by screeners that apply made-up limits.

Chris (profile) says:

Minor editting nitpick

Title says that the girl was “on her way to treatment”. The article says, in the second sentence, “The 19-year old was headed home to Chattanooga after treatment for a brain tumor at St. Jude Hospital June 30, 2015.” An earlier article I read indicated the same.

This is the outcome we should expect when a country wants security (theater) and pays the front line like school lunch ladies, while the schmucks who never come into contact with the public rake in big bucks for overpriced and ineffective ‘tools’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Minor editting nitpick

This is the outcome we should expect when a country wants security (theater) and pays the front line like school lunch ladies, while the schmucks who never come into contact with the public rake in big bucks for overpriced and ineffective ‘tools’.

TSA incompetence is not because of inadequate pay. It is because they have no reason to exhibit competence. The supervisors have no reason to screen would-be workers for competence. The policymakers have no reason to set standard procedure in a way that encourages competence and compassion. Raising employee pay would not resolve the problems caused by operating the TSA according to its current procedures.

Whatever says:

It’s easy to stand back after the fact and go “tut tut, bad TSA”. However, you have to consider the story if you write it from the other side.

On a day where thousands of people have gone through security without issue, this girl shows up and seems a bit shy and scared. Training says you need to look for people who are skittish or scared to be scanned, as they may be hiding something. This girl set off the metal detectors, and when asked to step the side for further inspect instead chose to run.

Now, reading that story (minus all the “feel bad” stuff about cancer patient and all) what do you expect the TSA to do? Let everyone who runs just go? She set of the metal detector. What would you say if this cancer patient happened to have a gun or a knife on her? Should they just let the runners go and hope for the best?

For me, the blame lies with the parents / guardians who failed to be UP FRONT about the issue. Come to security, and before things even start explain the situation and ask to remain with the girl as she goes through. Guess what? PROBLEM SOLVED.

Easy to blame the TSA, harder to admit the parents failed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m kind of with you on this. It is sad that a disabled person was injured after she tried to run. However both this article and the rawstory source don’t describe in any detail how the agents approached the woman. I think the mother could have done more to let tsa and her daughter know what would happen going through the metal detector. However I wonder if the agents just stopped listening to anyone else the second the alarm went off.

When I have gone through security and either I forgot to remove something from my person or bag. Only one agent addresses me in a calm demeanor and says to step to the side.

It could be the agents in this case were jumpy and reacted badly. Could also be that they did everything right but started escalating when she ran.

Either way it is entertaining to see so many comments go off as a knee-jerk reaction to the wording of this article. I thought Tech dirt readers and writers were more level headed and logic oriented than this.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“it is entertaining to see so many comments go off as a knee-jerk reaction to the wording of this article”

I can’t speak for the TSA defenders, but the anti-TSA reaction is, I think, not primarily because of how the article was worded, nor is it exactly knee-jerk. The reaction is informed as much by the history of TSA behavior as by this incident in particular.

The TSA long ago lost the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous Coward says:

USA land of the

….land of the sheep, and home of the afraid!

And that my friends is why we are in this mess.

The majority of people are terrified by terrorists, guns, knifes, mass shooters, suicide bombers, ghosts, things that go bump in the night, deamons, lightening, asteroids, zombies, and a bunch of other crap that will never personally affect them.

Those same sheep are not afraid of cardiovascular disease, cancer, automobiles, crossing the street and a bunch of other crap that is very likely to affect their lives.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…we’re supposed to believe the TSA will listen to parents of disabled travelers if they call ahead”

You misunderstand. The TSA does not want people to call ahead so that the agents will know how to behave, they are supposed to call ahead so that the passengers themselves know how to behave and what to expect. It’s not about service, it’s about compliance.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: [drive rather than fly]

Fly and you might get robbed, molested, and/or beaten by an agent of the government…

Drive and you might get robbed, molested, and/or beaten by an agent of the government…

Boy am I glad I live in the good old US of A, where stuff like this could never happen rather than the hellhole that is the US where it happens on a regular basis. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

A lot of comments on this site are very sad . A government agency has been put in place to do the best they can to help protect. Social media is not always true so I wouldn’t believe everything without truly knowing the truth. I’ve never been to an airport where people are intentionally beating up on handicap passengers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This family has been flying with this woman for 17 years. You’d think by now they’d know the drill. From my experience, anyone who has special needs who asks for special treatment from the TSA, gets it. 1.73 MILLION passengers fly domestically in the US EVERY DAY, and how many of them have issues? A handful. These people were supposed to intuitively know this woman had issues? It’s a money grab by the woman’s family, nothing more.

countryboy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Help me out here — you’ve never actually seen it (TSA beating someone at the airport); therefore it does not happen. No doubt you’ve never seen a drone strike, yet there is a significant possibility they are actually happening. There are most likely many things you’ve never seen (pick up the front page of the NY Times) yet others would agree they are “happening.” Head in the sand?

Nezwar Hindawi says:

Okay, now that we’ve gotten all that “righteous indignation” out of our systems, let’s look at what really happened. At a security checkpoint, a woman, for reasons not known to the TSA, failed a security check, and then started running. At a checkpoint, designed to search for bombs and guns, what would YOU do? Calmly listen to the woman’s (at 19, she’s not a “girl”) mother while waiting for the “boom”, or try and stop her? The agent did the right thing. The parents did not. At almost EVERY TSA checkpoint, there will be a line monitor, who’s checking IDs and bording passes. Had they explained that the woman might have issues, and needed special treatment, odds are great that she would have gotten it. Instead, they not only didn’t prepare her properly to pass through the metal detector (again, THEIR fault), didn’t notify anyone ahead of time (like, even a MINUTE ahead of time) that the woman may have an issue, when they KNEW she would. While what happened to her is regrettable, in many other countries she would have been shot. Dead. And this all comes out a year after it happens? Bet someone’s looking for a money grab…



The TSA are there to protect us, the people who trust our lives to air chauffeurs thousands of miles in the air. There are too many people who believe that rules are for everybody but them. We are very vulnerable way up there in the air and extra precautions must be taken. Believe me, if that mother took as much time trying to explain her daughters condition as she is taking bashing TSA, none of this would have happened. I sympathize with their mishap, but I am on the side of passenger safety.

Anonymous Coward says:


TSA can be a threat to passenger safety. The government put in place a “security” scheme, system, person, etc. that doesn’t actually provide real security and at the same time drains the country’s resources (both individual and government based).

People tend to get complacent because they have a false sense of security. The result is more problems and less security.

I would argue that most people feel that while life is priceless the chances of it being taken out with a terrorist attack is so low that you don’t spend what the US government did on tsa. Instead put in place real security like the cockpit doors. Not security theater like the TSA only allowing 3oz of liquid.

Dirkmaster (profile) says:

Who let all these TSA apologists in here?

Victim blame much?

How exactly would you prepare a person like this for the TSA treatment? And why couldn’t the TSA have just listened to the mother? Is that so hard, really?

And as for being vulnerable up there, Doris, get a grip. The TSA haven’t stopped a single thing. You aren’t safer, you are more cowled. Scaredycats like you are why we are slipping into a police state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Who let all these TSA apologists in here?

“How exactly would you prepare a person like this for the TSA treatment? And why couldn’t the TSA have just listened to the mother? Is that so hard, really?”

Put the person into prison and give them a bunk mate named bubbles that likes to grope his fellow inmates.

I can see it now mandatory… “training time” in federal prison before you can fly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Right now hundreds of poor web developers

are being instructed to add a checkbox: “do you or your dependent have any special needs?” onto every reservation web page on the Internet.

As much as I dislike the TSA, I guess I will have to be the one to remind everyone: There IS a history of special needs persons being used as ordinance delivery systems.

So there is at least SOME blame to be spread around beyond the TSA. Airlines have always provided assistance to special needs passengers. So I’m kind of wondering where the airline was, and if they weren’t there, why not?

Really it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do security screening separately for these passengers. I would expect that the TSA probably ran it by their insurance adjusters years ago. I think it is safe to assume she got her ass kicked because it was cheaper to kick her ass than pay for separate screening. Which pretty much makes her the Ford Pinto of airline passengers.

But hey look at the bright side. At least her surgery will be paid for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I once went on a date with a girl, but as soon as she saw me take out my Samsung Galaxy, she broke off the date claiming she sexually identified as an iPad.

Yeah, I don’t know what the fuck either. Anything gets a free pass unless you’re straight, then you’re considered a religious nutjob/a loveless freak and a loser/actually secretly gay. And you can’t call people out on this dumb as fuck troll logic either, because they play the “right to be not offended” card.

I don’t see this getting better, probably not in your lifetime mate.

Melissa Warner says:

T. S. A= the shittiest assholes

IDK who’s worse at mistaking crazy for stupid: cops, TSA, rent a cops or most teachers who shouldn’t be allowed near a classroom muchless near anyones kids. TSA is proving more and more like fucktards run amok and just as clueless about the law as anyone in law enforcement how would these menace to society like it if the roles were reversed I can’t I’m surprised they blamed the victim for there stupidity and having an IQ between a jar of pickles and a clump of dirt. One of these days there stupidity is going crash land on there retarded ass and sue them to the point where there great great grandkids are still paying for there moronic asses and there bad choices in judgement LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSERS I HOPE YOUR KID IS DISABLED AND GETS THE SAME TREATMENT AND INJURIES YOU INFLICTED ON THIS DISABLED WOMAN

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