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?

Filed Under: elderly, jfk, privacy, searches, tsa


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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Dec 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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