TSA Decides The Path To Flight Safety Runs Through A Passenger's Prosthetic Leg

from the TSA:-where-the-'A'-stands-for-'Assholes' dept

Apparently, the intensive training [waits for laughter to subside] TSA agents receive before hitting security checkpoints sends them the message that the more humiliating the search is for the passenger, the safer our skies are. TSA agents can find cash, but not bombs. They can find water bottles, but not weapons. And they can damn sure search the hell out of anyone with a medical condition because those citizens are the most terroristic citizens of all.

Here’s the TSA getting into a wrestling match with a 19-year-old woman with a brain tumor on her way to treatment. Here’s the thuggish agency searching a three-year-old with a rare cardiovascular disorder. Here are the boys in airport blue splattering the contents of a urostomy bag all over themselves and the person wearing it. Here’s the thin blue line between us and air insecurity deciding a portable defib carried by an 85-year-old must be a bomb. Here’s the agency deciding agents’ inability to read a card informing them about breast implants’ ability to set off scanners — handed to them by a breast cancer patient — is just part of the TSA’s proper screening processes.

And here we are now, recoiling in disgust as yet another person is humiliated and invasively searched because their body didn’t fit the profile of “non-terrorist.” (h/t Amy Alkon)

Heather Bowser says she travels several times a year and this is the first time she was asked to go through this type of security procedure.


She was at the Minneapolis/ St.Paul International Airport when she said she was told agents would have to swab the top part of her prosthetic leg. “They swabbed the bottom of my leg and my hands,” Bowser said. “Then they said they needed to swab the top of my socket.”

She said she told the agent no. “I said if you have to swab the top of my leg that means I have to take my pants down and I don’t want to do that,” Bowser said. “That’s part of my body. I felt that was dehumanizing.”

Under threat of arrest, Bowser complied. The TSA agents actually told her she could be arrested for their stupidity. Since they couldn’t wrap their minds around the concept that a prosthetic leg is just a necessary prosthesis, rather than a weapon of plane destruction, Bowser was forced to comply with their stupid, futile “search” or face losing her liberty on top of her dignity.

Bowser has filed a complaint with the TSA’s redress black hole. Meanwhile, the agency has released a defensive statement ahead of the “proper procedures were followed” statement due to arrive sometime in the near future.

TSA is aware of an allegation made by a passenger who was screened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport over the weekend. We are looking into the matter to ensure that our screening protocols were followed. We encourage the passenger to reach out to TSA so we can work with her directly to address her concerns.

Loosely translated, the statement says two things. First, the agency will say all protocols were followed. We know this because that’s the conclusion it’s reached in every other screening debacle. Second, it says the TSA would prefer humiliated victims of TSA searches file complaints that can be ignored, rather than force it confront its failures in public.

Revel in your air safety, fellow Americans. All it’s cost us is our freedoms and dignity.

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Comments on “TSA Decides The Path To Flight Safety Runs Through A Passenger's Prosthetic Leg”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The All Star Team

I imagine that there are some prerequisites for TSA agents hiring. Here’s what I think they might be:

  • Failed application for some other law enforcement agency

  • Turned down by private security

  • Psychological profile expressing sadistic tendencies

  • Low IQ score

  • Expressed desire to associate with people you learn to hate

Then the managers need these additional qualifications:

  • Stubbornness

  • The ability to lie with a straight face

  • Proactive demonstration of behavior toeing the company line

  • Poor listening skills

What more could TSA ask for in an organization committed to harassing the populace without messing up any terrorists plans, they missed the bombs after all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The All Star Team

Last I read many years ago, TSA agents had over a 100% turnover rate (meaning the average TSA agent works for less then a year before quitting/being fired), and many made close to minimum wage. So yeah, you can see why such conditions would breed incompetent security.

Based on some quick googling the salary part no longer seems to be true, but the average salary still seems rather low to me.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Your concerns are groundless. Our agents NEVER make mistakes.'

We encourage the passenger to reach out to TSA so we can work with her directly to address her concerns.

Whereas I’d encourage them to reach out to news agencies, journalists, basically anyone who might be interested in that sort of story, making it as public as possible. The odds of them getting any sort of actual redress would still be low, but it would sure as hell be higher than the odds of the TSA admitting to being mindless thugs again, and if you’re not going to get an admission of guilt then the least you can do is leave a little egg on the other party’s face.

John85851 (profile) says:

Occam's Razor

All thing being equal, which is more likely: that a 3 year-old has a cardiovascular disorder and this lady actually needs a prosthetic limb to let her live her life or both of these people are dangerous terrorists looking to smuggle bombs onto a plane.

If you immediately jumped to the conclusion that both of them are terrorists in disguise trying to sneak past security, then you too should join the TSA!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Occam's Razor

None that I’m aware of, which funnily enough highlights how little they actually do for the public.

That they can be so abysmal at their stated job and yet we still don’t have planes going off like fireworks in the skies on a weekly basis just highlights how much of a useless waste of money and resources the agency is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 On paper maybe. According to them and in practice however...

Their annual budget is nearly $7.6 billion. If we spent that on road traffic safety instead—not theater, but redesigning to avoid/mitigate collisions—we’d probably save thousands of lives every year. There are effectively 11 9/11s annually on American roads (33,000 deaths), and near 0 deaths from terrorism.

Roger W says:

Re: Occam's Razor

Well, I’m pretty sure we can use Baye’s theory here.

And arrive quickly at the conclusion that because positives are so much vastly less common than negatives, if someone is positively identified as a threat, it is at least 99.99% likely that they are not a threat.

Which is a step up from the “we haven’t screened you” 99.9999% likelihood I suppose.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The only way we will see TSA reform is to force Congress to lose their special lines & treatment, not allow the computer to alert them its a Congress person.

Our leaders are so detached from reality b/c they live in a bubble where they don’t have to suffer the stupid laws they impose on us.

If they had to live like a regular person… someone might punch Pai in the face after having to deal with ‘normal’ comcast support.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, that first part isn’t true. They get a reimbursement for healthcare premiums to buy plans on the open market because republicans tried claiming democrats wouldn’t buy their plans through Obamacare.

These premiums are in line with the heathcare compensation provided to employees in corporate headquarters of large companies. This benefit is provided to all the other staffers in congress as well.

Just because your job doesn’t provide healthcare doesn’t mean it wasn’t and isn’t an expected benefit in many areas.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Interesting. I did not know that, must be new. Regardless, they get better care than the rest of us and I doubt they have huge deductibles, some are 5k – 10k per fiscal year, like most corporate minions. And I doubt they have to contribute anything from their paycheck.

People need health care, they do not need insurance. Insurance is a middleman skimming off the top and providing little to no benefit. The negotiating lower premiums for large groups is one of their talking points, but that whole method of price determination is completely arbitrary. Dont have their crappy insurance? .. you will pay more. Prices are not based upon anything.

Sok Puppette (profile) says:

If you’re going to search everything that could be a bomb, then you do indeed have to search a prosthetic leg. There’s a lot of dead space in there that could be used for explosives. A person with a prosthetic is as likely to be carrying a bomb as anybody else, and if that person happens to want to carry one, then anyplace that’s guaranteed to be unsearched is an obvious place to put it.

The mistake is in thinking that it does any good to search everything that could be a bomb in the first place. The whole exercise is pointless.

Erin B Mullin says:

Re: Re:

If you understood the structure of a prosthetic leg you would know that the “dead space” you speak of does not exist. Even it were a fake prosthesis for purposes of smuggling, the “dead space” would have to be in the lower portion. I have been forced twice recently to pull my pants down to expose the socket of the prosthesis. The socket can clearly be felt through the pant leg so I don’t know what the purpose was other than to leave me feeling violated.

FedUpPassenger says:

TSA - Let's play Simon Says!

Good afternoon TSA kiddies, we’re here to play a game of Simon Says…

Are you all excited that you get to play a game instead of your so-called jobs?

(Empty-headed-head-nods abound unanimously)

Okay, here goes.

Hold your breath!

ah-ah-ah – Johnny 12, I didn’t say Simon Says – go hang yourself.

Simon-Says Hold your breath!

Okay, that’s it folks, thanks for playing.

Anyone that stops holding their breath must also go hang themselves, because Simon is never going to tell them to breath again.

Angry Ferret says:

Revel in your air safety...

We didn’t exactly vote for DHS and TSA. After the 9/11 attacks our elected officials rushed these changes through without our consent. And when exactly have we had the chance to unwind these departments? The government will see to it that we never get the opportunity. Your statement is insulting and ignores the countless lawsuits and endless FOIA requests that have been filed. The very story you commented on is itself a voice of opposition to these agencies. Stop acting as if we had a choice and be thankful there are victims and lawyers willing to challenge these vile institutions. Aside from slinging condescending insults from your safe space, what have YOU done to change the status quo? Be the change you want to see or GTFO…

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