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.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 9:27am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 11:21am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 5:04pm

      Re: The All Star Team

      PLUS..
      its a gov. job, spread over many locations..
      and not enough in 1 spot, to get a union going..
      The Wages are CRAP..but it better then Mc D..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:04am

    '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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:07am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:14am

      Re: Occam's Razor

      which is more likely: that ... both of these people are dangerous terrorists

      All these checkpoints at airports and other places... have any ever caught a terrorist?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:25am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          DOlz, 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Occam's Razor

          Person one: I have a card that protects me from a tiger attack.

          Person two: There aren’t any tigers within a thousand miles of us and they're in a zoo.

          Person one: True, but I’ve never been attacked by a tiger so the card is working.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Charles Elliott, 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:32am

          Re: Re: Re: Occam's Razor

          There goal isn't protection. It's a feeling of "safety". The TSA is put in place to make us feel safer, and avoid a national panic. That's all they do

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 3:04am

            On paper maybe. According to them and in practice however...

            Somehow I suspect that, were you to ask those on the receiving end of treatment like what's described in the article 'safe' would not be on the list of 'How does the TSA make you feel?'

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 8:55am

              Re: 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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Roger W, 11 Sep 2018 @ 9:37pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Mohammad Nadir Shaikh, 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:18am

    Security

    Crown Security Agency has been providing the security services in Mumbai for last 20 years. For more information please feel free to visit our website or call us at 810-810-7804.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 11:38am

      Re: Security

      I'm sorry Mr. Shaikh, but I most make use of the wonderful community downvote feature to flag this post.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:21am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 12:04pm

      Re:

      They have their own very special health care and their own very special retirement package. Aren't they special?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 1:02pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 2:42pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 9:27am

      Re:

      Note no one has any problem with imagining Pai getting punched in the face.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:37pm

        Re: Re:

        I do, as tempting as I could understand it being, thanks to a mix of believing that violence should be the last resort, and because it would allow him to play the victim card and use it to claim that those that don't agree with him are obviously deranged and violent, and therefore not worth paying attention to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:46am

    Don't worry, we looked into your complaint and it wasn't a mistake or a one off, it's out policy and we did it on purpose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sok Puppette, 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:58am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 11:41am

    yet again we can blame the politicians and courts for allowing this type of behavior to be conducted WHILE GIVING THOSE CARRYING OUT THE BEHAVIOR TOTAL IMMUNITY TO ANY SORT OF REDRESS SORT BY THE 'VICTIMS'!! how in God's name is this making air travel safer by any stretch of the imagination?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 6:05pm

      Re:

      No you can blame the sheeple who allowed the politicians to run rough shod over them .
      They who can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

      You asked for it now you got it

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 11 Sep 2018 @ 11:45am

    Have I missed the memo?

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

    Uh, wouldn't there have to be a delivery before reveling in it could start?

    If not, I have a bridge to sell you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 11:57am

    I see Rocket Raccoon now works for the TSA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 12:30pm

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

    I'll FIFY.

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FedUpPassenger, 11 Sep 2018 @ 12:52pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 2:37pm

    Enhanced pat downs

    I wear an insulin pump and a blood glucose sensor... This gets me the enhanced pat down every time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 2:40pm

    We are looking into the matter to ensure that our screening protocols were followed.

    They've already failed comprehension. I'm pretty sure her reason for complaint wasn't that their agents weren't following protocol, but that the protocol itself is broken/too easy to missunderstand/abuse and needs to be fixed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Angry Ferret, 11 Sep 2018 @ 6:20pm

    Re: 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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:28pm

      Re: Re: Revel in your air safety...

      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...

      And what the fuck have you done other than just that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 12:15am

        Re: Re: Re: Revel in your air safety...

        Funny, if you're the person who left the 'it's your fault' comment above I'd ask you the same thing. Other than blaming others for things they didn't in fact ask for, what have you done about the matter?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:34pm

    I have flown once since 09-11-01. They took my pen knife and made me drink some Gatorade. As I live and breathe I will never fly a commercial airline again, ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 8:04am

    What I wish could be said

    Looking the TSA agent(s) straight in the eyes and saying "Arrest me asshole"......

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 12 Sep 2018 @ 10:00am

    what they should have done

    is beat the agents to death with the leg. They and ICE need disbanding yesterday.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:38pm

    You know how people joke about how security guards were too dumb to be cops? TSA agents were too dumb to be security guards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Smartassicus the Roman, 12 Sep 2018 @ 7:47pm

      Re:

      TSA are too dumb do be prison guards. Trust me. I have a real life example in the family. Nobody talks to it, either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Smartassicus the Roman, 12 Sep 2018 @ 7:45pm

    Just Say No

    If you deliberately walk into a disintegration booth knowing what's coming you can't bitch about it afterward.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    EFF fan, 13 Sep 2018 @ 9:22am

    Papers, please

    It still astounds me that John Gilmore lost his court fight for anonimity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilmore_v._Gonzales) and that the USA joined the USSR as a "papers please" society.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      EFF fan, 13 Sep 2018 @ 9:27am

      Re: Papers, please

      With all of the leaks over the last 11 years, it's also surprising that we STILL haven't seen the Security Directive which requires identity cards (unless I'm mistaken?). Secret laws are another meme the USA has adopted from the USSR, it seems.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.