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?