TSA watch: Are screeners preying on sick passengers?

The latest TSA horror story comes by way of Lori Dorn, a human resources consultant in New York.

Dorn, a breast cancer patient, was flying to San Francisco, when she was pulled aside by a TSA agent and told she would have to undergo a pat-down.

“I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor’s information and asked to retrieve it,” she explains on her blog. “This request was denied.”

Instead, a supervisor was called over, who told her a physical exam was required. She explains,

I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared.

She then said, “And if we don’t clear you, you don’t fly” loud enough for other passengers to hear.

And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a TSA Supervisor.

Her post, which being widely covered online, is just the latest in a series of incidents in which TSA screeners appear to target visibly sick people.

As I read Dorn’s troubling account, I couldn’t help but remember the last time I saw someone who was dying of cancer. It was almost exactly a year ago, and I was visiting Hawaii’s Big Island with my family. We stumbled into a coffee shop, badly jetlagging and in desperate need of caffeine, and happened to sit at a table next to someone who was perhaps a few weeks from death.

The first thing I noticed after we sat down was the book he was reading: Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ On Death and Dying.

Then I looked up at him and saw all the signs of late-stage disease. He was bald from the chemotherapy and almost skeletal from the weight loss.

He’d come here to die.

I mention this because in many of these TSA incidents, the passenger is as obviously sick as the guy I saw in Hawaii. You don’t need an MD, or to call over a supervisor, to know that the person standing in front of you with no hair really does have a breast cancer, and poses absolutely no security threat — none whatsoever — to the flight she’s about to board.

And there have been many incidents. Too many.

• This summer, TSA screeners gave passenger Lena Reppert a once-over when she tried to board a flight out of Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Reppert was 95, in a wheelchair, and suffering from late-stage leukemia. She was visiting her daughter for what would probably be the last time. Reppert’s daughter said screeners demanded her mother remove her adult diaper. “I ran with her to the bathroom and stripped her down,” she told FOX News. “I got back to the line and just started bawling.”

• Earlier this year, TSA agents in Detroit botched a pat-down of cancer survivor Thomas Sawyer of Lansing, Mich., leaving him covered in his own urine. Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who wears a bag which collects his urine from an opening in his abdomen. “Every time I tried to tell them about my medical condition, they said they didn’t need to know about that,” he told MSNBC.

• And in late 2010, during the pat-down craze, Cathy Bossi, a longtime Charlotte, N.C., flight attendant and cancer survivor told a local television station that she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down. The TSA screener “put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ “Bossi told the station. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.'”

None of this should be happening. The TSA’s stated policy on passengers with what it calls hidden disabilities seems pretty reasonable. But apparently its implementation isn’t, in some instances.

I want to give TSA the benefit of the doubt on these incidents. I want to believe they really thought the bald cancer patient wanted to blow up the plane with her breast implants. I want to believe the agents thought the adult diaper contained plastic explosives and that the plastic bag was filled with some kind of combustible liquid.

But I’m having a little trouble with that. Folks, what we probably have here is either a profound lack of common sense or — worst case scenario — TSA agents cynically targeting sick people who fly.

(Photo: foshy dog/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    I would certainly hope that these are isolated cases committed by a few overzealous and/or poorly trained agents.  This article certainly does not make the case that this is a purposeful.

    I would point out a shortclip from Wiki about the understandable but still erroneous practice of assuming a causal relationship between correlated events.

    Correlation proves causation, is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to have a cause-and-effect relationship. The fallacy is also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for “with this, therefore because of this”) and false cause.

  • Lisa Simeone

    Yes, Carver, we know about logical fallacies.  No one is claiming or has ever claimed that the SOP manual tells agents to “prey on sick people.”  Good grief, do we really have to keep repeating these disclaimers?

    Unlimited power.  Unlimited authority.  Unlimited control.  It makes people do bad sh*t.  That’s human nature.  

    Again, and again, and again:

    Philip Zimbardo.

    Stanley Milgram.

    Solomon Asch.

    World History.

  • Mbods2002

    They are out of contol, plain and simple.  It’s only an “isolated incident” to folks who haven’t yet been humiliated or seen their loved ones disrespected so.  Why is this agency allowed to be a law unto themselves and be unanswerable to no one? We should all be asking this question of our state represenatives.

  • Karen C.

    Chris, I don’t think these are isolated incidents–those of us who fly regularly see it all the time, the sick and infirm getting extra attention. Nor do I think the TSA is targeting them per se, but those working for the TSA appear to have let go of all common sense in order to follow the rules they need to to do their jobs. What are the physical and mental requirements to be a TSA agent? A quick look around any airport tells me they aren’t very stringent. Could any of them actually run after or capture a terrorist? The agency appears to be mired in the minutiae and have lost sight of the big picture.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    With all senstitivity to anyone who has been harmed, it is critical to understand the problem because only then does a solution present itself.  If these are isolated incidents, say all within the same district, then perhaps leadership needs to be replaced at that level and institute better training.

    Whereas, if this is indicative of a larger problem, then Congress needs to get involved in enacting legislation to limit the powers of the TSA and provide specific and articulable passenger rights.

    For example, authorizing a private right to sue individual agents and/or the supervisors for violating official policy; adminstrative remedies; etc.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    No one is claiming or has ever claimed that the SOP manual tells agents to “prey on sick people.”

    Wasn’t one of the questions, is the TSA specifically targetting sick people?

  • ChrisY

    Lisa, you said “No one is claiming or has ever claimed that the SOP manual tells agents to ‘prey on sick people.'”.  But the third option in the poll is “The *agency* is cynically targeting sick people who fly.” (emphasis mine)

    Those sound basically synonymous to me – institutionalized targeting of sick people.  And I would agree with Carver AND you.  This isn’t the result of an agency establishing a policy of harassing sick people. But it does reflect the result of the unlimited power combined with barely-educated, bottom of the barrel security guards, which is all TSA agents are.

    For an institution to target this particular demographic, there would have to be a motive.  And I don’t think that even the most cynical among us could come up with one. 

    Perhaps if the second poll option removed the word “isolated,” we could have more agreement.  The setup of the TSA is virtually a prescription for this type of behavior.  But it’s not codified in their procedures.

  • Sweepergrl

    I have personal experience with this. Make no mistake, my daughter and I are in NO WAY as sick as this 3 cases. We don’t have cancer. However, we’ve run into problems of our own. This spring I was in a walking boot recovering from a broken foot. It was huge and obvious and I clearly had a hard time walking. An agent asked me to take it off. I reluctantly agreed, but said I couldn’t walk on my foot without it and someone would have to let me lean on them. He asked if I could just hop through the scanners, which I refused to do. I went through the porn scanner, was patted down, swabbed for explosives and had to take my boot off for inspection. This was then repeated by a supervisor. I understand needed to check the walking boot, honestly I do. What I don’t understand is how they could even think it would be okay to have someone hop in her socks across the check point and down to a seating area while they check out the walking boot. Not safe and against their own rules, which state you will never be asked to remove the device and are allowed to ask for an arm to lean on as go you through their area.

    Two years ago, my then 8 year old daughter was patted down. She had heart surgery as an infant. Her sternum is visible through a shirt and it is easy to feel the wires holding her sternum together. I warned the woman before she patted her down. She said she didn’t need to know it, but then focused heavily on that area. She asked for a supervisor to come over who also repaetedly felt my daughter’s chest. By the time we were finally cleared, my daughter was in tears and I nearly so. It was quite unpleasant.

    This is not as isolated as what the TSA would have us think. Do I think they do it on purpose? No. I think they are all under trained people with more power than common sense.  My heart goes out to these people are are so significantly ill and yet have to fight through TSA experiences.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RJW3MG33BEOK4G5L6QFQKBSH7Y CarmenA

    I don’t necessarily think the TSA agents despise sick people in particular.  (I tend to think they despise the rights of all people equally :) )

    However, I think they have to show that they are doing “something” (ie, giving a pat down or body scan to a minimum number of people by day), and they probably (consciously or unconsciously) feel they will have less chance of confrontation if they choose passengers who look less likely to react angrily – ie, sick people or children.

  • Guest

    This summer at OHare I watched a TSA agent interact with a non-English speaking elderly woman in a wheelchair, who was attended by some airport or airline employee. The TSA agent decided she did not look like her ID picture so he asked for more documentation, which was provided. He still didn’t think she looked like the picture. Because of the configuration of the lines and the screening desk, I was able to see the picture and the woman clearly. She was very obviously the person in the pictures.

    He finally let her through. Yay for common sense, but maybe he should get his eyes checked.

  • Ddjwms

    Just last week, my (elderly) husband who has a bad knee had his cane taken by TSA and was told he had to walk on his own through a body scanner (at other checkpoints, he has been furnished a TSA cane while his was scanned, but this checkpoint did not offer one)  For some reason, his cane was very delayed–maybe being exta checked, and he was left hanging onto the screening device asking again and again for his cane so that he could walk on.  Finally after several minutes, one young man came over and offered his arm until the cane was returned, but it was a painful and frustrating wait for my husband.

  • Asiansm Dan

    In my opinion, first it’s a training issue first and secondary, it’s an attitude issue. When you use a Cop/Sheriff look-alike Uniform on an insufficient trained employees, you could get 2 problems : the employees will behave  like they have certain power as a cop/sheriff . The Uniforms create the hostile attitude from the public when people feel the agents don’t keep up to the professionalism required by the Uniform they wear. I see most of TSA agents around the world dress with very handsome uniform with tie and with respectful language and manner.  Training is a continuing processus, not just at the beginning and stop there.

  • Jeanie

    I’ve always said that TSA agents are former schoolyard bullies.

  • Elmo Clarity

    Just to play devil’s advocate for a moment, I could understand extra attention being paid to terminally ill passengers with the thought, “They are about to die so what do they have to lose blowing the plane up?”  To me though, this is a crazy attitude to take.  A similar approach was taken by the FAA in not allowing people taking anti-depressants to get a pilot licenses.  Since they take the medication, they are depressed and thus could become suicidal.  Never mind the fact the medication help prevent that (for the most part) but the person who is depressed and not on medication so they can get a license is a greater threat for using the plane to commit suicide.  So, using that logic, shouldn’t the TSA be screen everyone for mental illness too?  You take medication for depression or other mental illnesses, you get extra screening?

    As I see it, the bottom line is not so much the agency as a whole, but the little “Hitlers” that get in power and want to exercise their own level of screening knowing that nothing will happen to them when they violate the agency stated policies.  I see this in other areas that are not as sensitive as what is happening with the TSA, like a corporate owned store manager enacting their own rules in violation of the corporate policy.

    Bottom line to me is these TSA agents and supervisors are crossing the line and need to be dealt with.  As Carver mentioned, the people need to be able to file charges against agents that violate stated policies.  Make the individual agent accountable for their actions.  Give the people that right and watch how fast these “isolated” incidents go down.

  • frostysnowman

    Every time I fly at ATL there are always three or four elderly people in wheelchairs or using walkers or canes waiting to go through the special line to get special attention.  I see them getting pat downs and wince at how humilitating it must be for them.  The worst was the day it was a group of older men wearing military uniforms – it seemed like they were on their way to some type of reunion – all lined up for special inspections, all using walkers or wheelchairs.  Terrible!

  • Raven_Altosk

    Gonna share a little story here…

    Last week at IAH, I was in the “Elite Access” TSA line. A woman ahead of me was asked to step through the “backscatter” machine and she declined. She was pulled aside by a male TSA agent who shouted, “Female Assist!”

    A few moments passed, but no one came over to take the woman for her pat down. They held the rest of us in line–thus giving me a perfect view of what transpired next.

    A female agent came over and waved the woman off to the side. The woman asked for a screening in private. The agent replied, “There’s a wait for the booth so unless you want to hold up everyone else, we gotta do it here.”

    The PAX refused a public pat down again. Another agent sent me through the metal detector, and as I waited for my bags on the xray, the woman was taken to the “private” screening area which really isn’t. The “walls” don’t prevent people from seeing what’s going on, since one part is wide open.

    As I was putting on my shoes, I heard a shriek. Two other agents went over and the female agent performing the screening came out of the booth. She told them–very loudly–that she had just touched “a freak.” She went on to tell the other agents that the PAX “had boy parts and was dressed like a girl!”

    The other two agents (both male) thought this was hysterical. Meanwhile, the female PAX was still in the booth.

    It’s obvious to me–a third party, just passing through–that this woman was a pre-op male-to-female transsexual. While I realize this isn’t as common as some conditions, you’d think the TSA would train their agents to recognize this and to not embarrass the PAX.

    I don’t know what happened after that, but one of the two male agents radioed for airport police…

  • AirlineEmployee

    How many terrorists have we caught ?????
    Disgusting and unecessary.  No child, disabled person or elderly should go through this torment – stop harassing Americans and start Profiling !!

  • Tom Brollini

    Again, to quote (m/l) Ben Franklin: “Those who give up liberty for security, will have NEITHER”!

    I didn’t spend 26 years in the military, fight for this country & pledge to uphold the Constitution from all enemies, foreigh & DOMESTIC, to have this country become Nazi light.  These Gestapo agencies, laws & executive orders, that abrogate our Constitutional freedoms, have to end!

    If not, we will at best, become another Euro/socialist country with little in the way of personal liberty.

  • dr. angelface

    in other words, overgrown playground bullies.

  • dr. angelface


  • dr. angelface

    thank you.

  • Marvin

    I have a feeling the emphasis of the article and the comments are missing an important point.  From what I’ve observed, most of the TSA agents are young, minimally educated, and poorly trained.  That’s where the problems lay.
    It is also my impression that the officers are drawn from a level of our society that experiences very little “social power.”  The sudden empowerment of these TSA agents over members of the public engenders in these young agents, an element of satisfaction and social revenge which results in the many stories of bad judgment and arrogance which appear in Elliot’s blogs.  

  • johnb78

    I’m reluctant to vote for any of the options above. I don’t think the TSA as an agency is cynically targeting sick people – but I do think the fact that it hasn’t provided its agents with explicit instructions as part of their job specification not to target people in the kind of situations that you outline is a disgrace.

  • johnb78

    I’ve clicked “like”, but that isn’t the right term. That’s an effing disgrace. Once again, I’m outraged that the TSA doesn’t do basic bloody gender diversity awareness training as part of its training…

  • johnb78

    You’re absolutely right. See also: hospitality security staff.

  • Clare

    Has anybody reading this ever heard of Kurt Haskell?

    I’m not changing the subject.  Haskell and his wife, both attorneys, were on the Northwest Amsterdam-Detroit flight with the underwear bomber on board.  Remember that it was that particular “terrorist threat” that brought us these TSA cancercausing-scanners and grope-fests. 

    While waiting to board that flight in Amsterdam, Haskell accidentally overheard a discussion with an airline employee about allowing a guy who turned out to be the underwear bomber onboard the plane, ALTHOUGH HE DIDN’T HAVE A PASSPORT.  It later transpired that the airline permitted him to board because US GOVT OFFICIALS WANTED HIM TO.

    Haskell has subsequently talked countless times with the FBI about what he saw/heard, and is of course involved as a witness in the trial, which is going on right now in Michigan.  He’s also repeatedly talked with the press about what he’s learned: this was a set-up in order to create a “need” to implement these TSA procedures in the name of “security.” 

    Do a little reading of your own with an open mind, and you’ll probably reach the same conclusions I did: Haskell is an ordinary American professional guy who was in the right place at the right time, and discovered what apparently nobody was supposed to know.  This isn’t a “security” issue; it never was.  It’s all about control. 


  • Lisa Simeone

    Clare, yes, and we’ve discussed Haskell several times on this blog.

    Whether the incident with the Crotch Bomber was a false flag operation or just rank incompetence on the part of intelligence agencies, it was used as a convenient excuse to implement the strip-search scanners, which were already in use by Customs & Border Patrol, and whose manufacturers were just itching to get them used everywhere. Money, money, money.  It’s all about the money for people like Chertoff.

  • Raven_Altosk

    And the money. How much does the government contractor who provides the security equipment make off the taxpayers? Better yet, how much money has that contractor contributed to politicians? And, to which politicians? 

    Enquiring minds want to know…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001543071869 Elatia Grimshaw

    the tsa are a bunch of neanderthal thugs.

  • Lisa Simeone

    Sweepergrl, I’m so sorry for your experiences.  They are, unfortunately, all too common, the claims of naysayers and TSA apologists notwithstanding.  Proof:


  • Lisa Simeone

    Filing a lawsuit is cold comfort.  Most people in this country can’t afford the time or money for protracted legal battles.  Phil Mocek was left with $34,000 in legal bills!

  • Lisa Simeone

    ChrisY, I didn’t word the poll.  And Carver has been reading and commenting on this blog for enough years to know exactly what we’re talking about.

  • ChrisY

     I would argue they are more like the bullied – those who were never very bright  (look at education requirements for TSA agents) and never quite fit in.  When you create an agency and hire hordes of people out of thin air, you’re going to get the folks that up to that point were basically unsuccessful in life.  People weren’t exactly lured away from successful employment into the TSA.  This is their dose of power to exact some form of revenge on anyone who happens to pass through.

  • Lisa Simeone

    Here are a few answers:

    Lockheed Martin gets $72 million TSA contract

    OSI Systems Receives Approximate $12 Million Order from U.S. Transportation Security Administration to Upgrade Aviation Security Checkpoint Equipment

    A big manufacturer of airport screening equipment, the UK-based Smiths Group, has seen annual revenue from its detection gear business rise after 9/11 from about £130m to £574m last year – an indication of the costs that have been passed on to passengers.
    That’s almost a five-fold increase. 

    And Charlottesville Daily Progress carries a front-page AP aticle reporting that the 12 members to which Congress has been reduced for the Super Congress that will determine budgetary priorities for years to come consists of senators and representatives from the states with the biggest military contractors: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co., and Boeing Co.

  • ChrisY

    We know you didn’t “word the poll”, which, like above, puts words into my mouth like you did to Carver.

    But almost 40% of the respondents to the poll (as of this writing) DO agree that “the agency is cynically targeting sick people who fly”.

    That belies your assertion that people don’t believe the agency tells its agents to prey upon sick people.

  • Carver

    The ability to sue for federal civil rights violations have empowered even the poorest Americans to  gain relief.  The fee shifting provisions allow attorneys to craft contingency type arrangements where they only get paid if they are victorious and they get paid from the other side.

  • Carver

    I agree that profiling is the best answer. However, it is a dirty work in American thinking, given how it has been misused.  I am not optimistic that profiling will come in the near future.

  • cjr001

    TSA guidelines allow anybody to be targeted without any pretense of a reason. Agents work on behalf of TSA, and they love the power that TSA gives them.

    We’ve seen it time and again with these stories that TSA agents target whomever they choose. The young, the old, the sick, the pretty, the wrong religion, the wrong skin color.

    All are targeted on the whim of whomever is at the security checkpoint.

  • cjr001

    To be fair to the FAA, people on such medications sometimes stop taking them for whatever reason. They forget, they no longer care, or they flat out think they no longer need such medication.

  • cjr001

    It goes beyond diversity awareness training. In this situation, it’s basic treating people with respect training that is severely lacking.

  • Elmo Clarity

    To me, it’s not the targeting that is the problem, but when they target someone, like the examples of the sick people here, and then *VIOLATE* the TSA stated policies in the extra screening, is where the real problem lies.  If a passenger is required by an agent to do, or is denied something the published TSA guidelines says they are entitled to, that screener should be punished for violation of the passenger’s rights.

  • TSAisTerrorism

    We are told repeatedly that these “pat downs” are not sexual in nature.

    We are told repeatedly that these “pat downs” do not touch genitals.

    We are told repeatedly that these “pat downs” are performed by people of the same gender so that they are not sexual in nature.

    And yet, we have female agents fondling the male external sex organs of an innocent passenger simply wishing to board an airplane.

    This story makes obvious that a) these “pat downs” are indeed sexually charged, b) they are intended to touch the genitals of innocent people, and c) the gender of the screener is irrelevant.

    TSA stupidity rears its ugly head, not to mention this woman’s dignity was irrevocably violated. Thank God we have TSA “keeping us safe”. Good Lord these people are idiots.

  • cjr001

    In the end though, Carver, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the only ones who truly win in many of these cases are the lawyers who get paid.

  • TSAisTerrorism

    Which is precisely why the sick, the infirm, the dying, the children, and the women are targeted in such disproportionate numbers. They are perceived as weak, and therefore easy targets to these things that previously held no power.

    They are able to seek out those most easily bullied, and do so, with impunity. The TSA employees, in general, are a pathetic group of thugs. 

  • Elmo Clarity

    True.  But the real problem with this type of rule are the people who know they should be on them yet don’t get the prescriptions because they would lose their license or not be able to get one in the first place.  Those people are the greater risk than the ones taking the meds and then stop as you say.

    Personally, I would much rather fly with a pilot who knows they have depression and are taking the meds, than to fly with a pilot who is depressed and not taking them.  

  • Eric

    I don’t really think they are targeting sick people.  Or at least the TSA at large isn’t.  I think they are hiring un-educated people with few job skills, giving them two hours of training, and dumping them in the terminal.  and some of these people are either to stupid, or to power crazed to act professionally.

  • Patty1955

    I noticed on our last trip that TSA agents were letting skinny people go through the scanner, while us overweight people had to go through the full body scanner. Maybe because skinny people would have a harder time hiding things, but still it was clearly discrimination

  • ButMadNNW

    Um, if the US government so badly wanted that guy on the plane, why didn’t they make sure he had all the proper paperwork so there wouldn’t be an attention-drawing hassle?

    Just wondering.

  • Donna Palen

    TSA will give anyone who questions their authority a more thorough check through….and that goes against common sense as a terrorist wants to just get through with the least trouble possible, so they won’t raise a stink with the TSA officers.  But the TSA seem to go after the more vulnerable, the sick and the ones with young kids.

  • Sunnykm

    Does anyone else feel uncomfortable about the wait and approval process after you leave the x-ray scanner?  A couple times after leaving the scanner and waiting for the go-ahead from the TSA agent with the headset communicating with the x-ray “reader” I have gotten a physical pat down.  Both times I have felt very uncomfortable with the situation as I don’t know what the x-ray reader actually said (a further inspection?) or if the TSA agent just wanted to pat me down.  

    While waiting at one airport the TSA agent was commenting about my figure and my dress, and then got word I needed a further pat down that included her hand up my legs–it was awful and I felt violated standing out in front of all as she ran her hand over my body.  And I also thought she was liking it.  It really left me shaken.  

    My point?  We, the travelers, should be able to see a green light or hear the approval from the x-ray reader so we know that we aren’t being given an unnecessary physical pat-down.

  • Carrie Charney

    By the time the suit gets finished, after the first hearing and all the subsequent hearings if the defendant fights the claimant’s victory, the sick person probably won’t live to see any money. It is not worth the end-of-life hassle.

  • Fishplate

    Bad publicity doesn’t seem to harm the TSA, but certainly they react to huge fines against the agency and it’s administrators.

  • Beccaoshaughnessy

    I had a similar experience at O’Hare last year. My company had used an agency to book my flight and they had spelled my last name wrong by one letter. My last name has 13 letters and it was a matter of two letters next to each other on the keyboard. I didn’t know about it until I checked in. I told the check in agent, who told me one letter was no big deal, especially in such a long last name. Sure enough, when I showed my license to the TSA agent, they refused to take it and made me go get my ticket reprinted with the letter updated. At the airline counter the second time, the lady kept telling me it was no big deal. I had to tell her over and over the TSA sent me back. I ended up barely making my flight.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iam-Wendy/100002138363206 Iam Wendy

    I do know that the TSA repeatedly harasses anybody that requires any type of medical assistive device (including adult diapers)… every time. I wear an artificial leg. The ONLY way I could ever get on an airplane without physical assault (back before I needed a plate in my wrist and a new hip joint) was to take my leg off, put it on the conveyor and hop through the metal detector. I learned that the TSA never confines their searches to the area that alarms – EVER. So my knee alarms? Go for the breasts. The TSA just doesn’t target sick citizens: they target anyone that valiantly tries to live otherwise normal lives with the help of some sort of medical assist. There is currently no way to get the equipment certified -there is no way to fly without being assaulted EVERY TIME. So I don’t fly. Flying While Anything-But-100% is the new Driving While Black.  

  • Carver

    No, not really.  There are of course anamolous cases, but there are both complex and simple attorney fee shifting provisions to ensure that any recovery and its associated attorney fees are fair.

    In CA for example,, there is a schedule for statutory attorney fees which the court uses to provide attorney compensation in certain cases.  It is not particularly generous to attorneys.

    You may be thinking about class action lawsuits. In those cases the attorneys generally make out better than any indivual plaintiff except for the lead plaintiff.

  • Carver

    Terminally ill people can present a problem for the fair adminstration of justice.  One option of course is provide for expedited procedures for terminally ill folks.  For example, evictions take about three months because its an expedited procedure.

  • Carver

    That brings up an intesresting point. Are TSA agents hired locally and remain in the locale.  That might cause TSA checkpoints to be different in different regions.

    The TSA agents in the Bay area are different from the ones in LA and very different from the ones in LGA.

    I wonder if that might partialy explain the widely divergent TSA experiences.

  • ghost

    Personally, I would like to think they would simply create a quiet area where they could talk to the passenger and not “make them prove their claim”.  I would think after a small conversation, it would be obvious what’s happening and why.  On the other hand, I could see terrorists using terminally ill people to bypass screening.    

  • JeffNJ

    No, they don’t need to pat you down. Run a metal detector, use a metal wand if needed. Otherwise, good to go.

  • JeffNJ

    We do actively profile – we profile the sick, disabled, and medically challenged.

    We profile American citizens of all groups.

    We profile teenage girls.

    We profile elderly.

    We profile those with big hair.

    We profile every f’ing one of us for no good reason at all. There have been no successful suicidal airline passengers on US domestic flights using NON-METALLIC bombs in over 48 years. That is a chance I can live with to keep the Constitution and stop having a BS country that is scared of its own shadow.

    No one is outraged at over 8000 handgun deaths a year that kill exactly 8000 more people a year than suicidal airline passengers on US domestic flights with working non-metallic bombs.

  • JeffNJ

    Great question. Kurt Haskel is about as non-nuts as a witness can be. However, he may have misinterpreted or misidentified what and who he saw. BUT…What is an absolute fact is:

    – the Visa was granted to the guy over the objections of the State Dept. The State Dept testified to congress that the intelligence agencies asked that he be given a visa, although they all knew his father had reported that the underwear bomber had travelled to a training camp.

    – the passport issue is interesting. We will either see a valid passport in the trial (which would discount an assumption of Kurt Haskel’s) or we may not. If we do not see a working, valid passport – which the Dutch police have claimed that the guy had one – then that will add significant support that someone helped get him on the plane…ignoring the obvious help of the intelligence community which said testimony is online, etc. and indisputable.

  • Fisher1949

    TSA is a jobs program creating an
    illusion of airline security. After nearly a trillion dollars over eight years
    they can’t cite one success. Meanwhile 60% of the freight in the cargo hold
    remains unscreened, half of that from foreign shippers.

    Add to that the 52 TSA screeners
    arrested this year for serious crimes, including two last month, one for rape
    and the other for murder. Of these, nine have been for sex crimes involving
    children. They can’t prevent crime within their own ranks, but we’re supposed
    to trust this agency with airport security.

    There is no excuse to harass and
    humiliate this woman simply for the “crime” of flying. The guards at
    Treblinka were just doing their job too and sadly even had those who excused
    their atrocities.

    This is a clear failure in
    management and explains why so many abuses are occurring. Pistole and the
    senior staff of TSA have failed miserably in managing this agency and it must
    be abolished.

    TSA Crimes and Abuses


  • AirForceVet

    Since when have we been “guilty until we prove we are innocent”?!  The government taking away our rights and freedoms.   We do NOT deserve to be “handled” by former McDonald’s employees on their “power trip”.   I went through a checkpoint in front of the metal detector and asked the TSA agent “do I need to remove this pull-over” and she said “no, it’s not necessary”.  I walked through the metal detector and it did NOT go off.  The next TSA agent (only about 10′ to 12′ away from agent #1) said “sir, please put your arms up, I need to inspect you”.  He then proceeded to THOROUGHLY pat me down.  He then said “had you removed that pull-over, this would not have been necessary”.  I said “I asked that agent (pointing at agent #1) if I needed to and she said no”.. and he repeated himself “had you removed that pull-over, this would not have been necessary”.  I said “well maybe you should tell her (agent #1)”.  He didn’t respond.    Many of these TSA agents are a-holes on power trips.  And the government, in the name of “Homeland Security” (ala “Nazi Germany”) are going overboard and taking away our freedom and liberty.   And for those of you that say “this is for your safety”… where does this STOP??!!  Will it be okay for “Homeland Security” to tap your phone without a warrant?  Wait!! They already are!   What about questioning Americans about their patriotism?  Wait!!! They already are!  What about imprisoning people without “due process”?   Wait!!!! THEY ARE!!   

    “When they arrested them.. it wasn’t me, so I did nothing.   And when they search their house.. it wasn’t mine, so I did nothing again.   And when they tapped my neighbors phone… it wasn’t mine, so I did nothing.   Then they came after me.. and there was no one left to stand beside me to defend me.”    As the government, in the name of “Homeland Security”, begin taking away our rights and infringing on our privacy, we must stand up and say “NO”.  The government must represent US and NOT the government or big business!

  • marlio

    I;ve about decided the TSA is just as evil as the Government. These people are not only ignorant, they are evil, in my opinion.  Im afraid the niphilim, spoken about in connection with the sumerians are in our govt and part of tsa, the less functional ones.  No one with any common sense or decency would do the things the tsa does, and I plan never to fly again, until they get rid of these sick, invasive, unconstitutional procedures, as well as the people who put them in place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    The answer is definitely profiling: search people who are suspected of a crime.  Search people only when there’s a warrant.  The TSA is blatantly exceeding Constitutional boundaries on search and seizure, and clearly causing serious harms to the non-suspect travelers whom they are violating.  Shame on the TSA for abusing a cancer victim and inflicting pain on her – but every one of the TSA’s illegal suspicionless searches is a travesty and an injustice and a slap in the face to everyone who fought and died for the Bill of Rights.

  • Eric

    What REALLY bothers me is that the makers of these scanners won’t allow independent testing.  Several universities have asked to have a machine on loan to independently verify the companies’ claims as far as radiation exposure.  In every case, those requests have been denied.  Why?

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Seriously, TSA?  Just stop.  No one believes in your fake security theater anyway.  We’ll let you keep your jobs and your fake badges and your worthless equipment and your boondoggle of funneling billions of dollars to a jobs-for-the-untrainable program.  You can have my security fee.  Just stop hurting people.  Not a day goes by that you don’t damage someone else: you are inflicting pain and sexual humiliation and needless medical risk on innocent people.  Just stop HURTING PEOPLE. You know, you can’t not know, that all this make-believe has nothing to do with safety and that no one can shield us from these vanishingly small risks.  You know that you’re tormenting rape survivors, humiliating transgendered people, training little children to be easy prey for sexual predators, and you know it’s all for nothing.  What could be wrong with you TSA leaders and employees that you’re willing to damage people, to inflict serious pain on another human being, just so you can pretend that your “procedures” aren’t a worthless lie?

  • older but wiser

    This is typical of low paid, relatively uneducated people who are put in a position of power. Unfortunately, it is true that power corrupts. You can see it from politics to police to security screeners. It somehow makes them feel more important than they really are and the sick are just easy targets.

  • Marvin

    One of these postings reminded me of an incident I experienced… that has a macabre humorous aspect.

    I was going through the line and asked if it was necessary to take my shoes off.  The TSA officer said, “No, it’s not necessary, but then you will have to go through a special screening.”

    “What’s that entail?” I asked.

    She replied, “You will have to go over there (pointing to a row of seats) and take your shoes off.”

  • MichelleLV

    This just keeps reinforcing that I believe TSA targets only people who will not be a threat because they are just a bunch of losers who really don’t want to find a real threat. It is easier for them to target the weak for the easy power trip.  Most are just high school graduates (if that) who are tired of working in retail.  At least the acquaintances I know who work for the TSA. 

    They used to provide at least a sense of security now they are nothing but bullies who are backed by a very flawed system.   10 years is enough!!!!!!  It is to the point that I think we would be more secure if they did not exist and that is just f-in sad. 

  • Mark K

    The “new and improved” software in some of the scanners does exactly what you request.  

    There is a small panel to your left as you go through the machine that is clearly visible.  It either lights up completely green if nothing was detected, or a gingerbread figure appears with the area of interest highlighted.  I have been through these machines in DEN and IAH once each.  The one in IAH lit up and the TSA guy touched only the area indicated on the panel (my left outer thigh).  I was NOT sent for the full body grope.  There was a dime caught in the lint in the pocket.  In DEN, I got the green screen and nothing else.  

    The other thing I noticed with these machines is there is no communication between the agent and someone else.  Does this mean there is no longer anyone sitting in a dark room drooling over the images and within the machine is the only place the image is inspected and only by software?  I can hope.  

  • Sadie Cee

    It was hard for me to choose an option as to my mind the entire TSA machine is out of control.  Everyone who presents at the screening area is a target for ill-treatment.  

    After reading the comments here and witnessing the humiliating treatment  inflicted on my own husband in Detroit two years ago, I believe the time has come for all good men and women to do something.  I cannot bear any more; it has gone far enough. 

    Let’s face it.  The travelling public is being bullied and the time has come for us to stand up to the bullies.  Instead of standing by and silently watching the public abuse and degradation of another human being, every pax in the vicinity could start chanting “SHAME” or some such thing?  Would everyone be denied boarding?  Would we all be arrested?

    At the very least, could we not declare individually a one-month moratorium on all but essential flying?  Business and emergency travel would be deemed essential; flying to vacation destinations would not be.  Once the reason for the decline in revenues is known, without any doubt the airlines would use their enormous clout to exert political pressure on the legislators. 

    As for me, I say again that I will not subject myself to groping by anyone.

  • Mark K

    Most of the airports I go through have a majority of TSA agents who are old, apparently working to supplement their retirement, and can carry on intelligent conversations within the confines of their job.  I can’t speak to their training because in most cases I have not seen them do anything that would require training.  

    In comparison, those airports with the younger TSA crowd I have been through seem to have more confusion, more activity that doesn’t appear to make the process smoother, and are much louder yelling about how you are to undress and be ready.   

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m right with you Iam Wendy. I had steel rods and pins placed in my spine earlier this year. Now I can’t fly without setting off the metal detector (my home airport doesn’t have nude-o-scopes, not that I’d go in them anyway, what with my family cancer history). This means every single time I fly, I have to get sexually assaulted – EVERY SINGLE TIME. Why? Because I have metal parts in my body.

    The airport is no longer safe for anyone who is disabled or has any kind of medical condition.

    It’s disgusting.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s not what they do. In the real world, TSA agents don’t make conversation with passengers. They just shove their hands between our legs until they feel they’ve proven to themselves we’re not carrying bombs in our hoohas.

    As for terrorists using terminally ill people – maybe you can see it in your imagination, but we live in the real world. In the real world, no terrorist has ever tried to use a terminally ill person to blow up a plane in America. How do we know? Because if they had, one of two things would have happened:  1) the TSA would have caught them, and taken out full-page ads crowing about their success, or 2) a terminally ill person would have blown up a plane.

    Neither of these things has happened. So, we are spending 8 billion dollars a year molesting millions of innocent travelers trying to prevent something from happening that has…um…never happened.

    Makes a lot of sense, huh? Welcome to Amerika.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Hey, Carver, just curious – still wanna question my belief that these atrocities are happening?

    Clearly they are – and here is yet another report. So your attacks on me over the fact that I believe it’s happening seem kinda silly now. Not to mention cruel…especially given that I’m a crime victim myself.

  • BostonBill

    While I’m no fan of the TSA, I think there might be an entirely defensible reason for these recent atrocities.

    These sick passengers may actually be triggering radiation sensors at the TSA checkpoints as a result of their chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The high levels of radiation might be interpreted by the TSA agents as an attempt to get radioactive materials (e.g. a dirty bomb) past the TSA checkpoint.

    I think the TSA should use a bit more common sense when patting down a clearly ill passenger who has set off the radiation sensor, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past a terrorist to feign illness to sneak radioactive materials past the TSA checkpoint.

  • http://twitter.com/travelingiraffe Crissy

    My mom had knee replacement maybe 7 or 8 years ago and has traveled by air about a dozen or so times.  She has never had an issue with the TSA.  It’s anecdotal, but so are all the other stories.  

    A line or a paragraph in a manual about hidden disabilities apparently is not enough though.  Perhaps the TSA needs to spend more time on this in training.  However, the problem is that there are soooo many different types of illnesses and treatments that there is no way TSA agents could ever get a grasp on it.  Which means you have to rely on common sense and that ability of the agents to listen when someone says they have a medical condition and then make reasonable accommodations.  Maybe the TSA should have the agents who made these mistakes and hopefully learned from them speak at TSA training.  

    But what I find even more problematic is that the supervisors don’t seem to be much better.  I don’t know how the TSA chooses to promote people  (if it’s civil service I know their hands are tied in many ways), but when the agents don’t have common sense the supervisors are the ones who should be stepping in.  

    Supervisors should have common sense, an ability to adapt to the situation and the ability to protect their workers while making these “adjustments.”  I know that saying protecting their workers may not be popular, but I think it’s important to workers to know that when they’re making a mistake to know that their boss will bring them back to reality without throwing them under the bus.  That’s how good relationships between bosses and subordinates work.  Of course the boss should then take corrective action – it may be just speaking to them and showing them the error of their ways or it could be sending them back for retraining.     

    Of course bosses could just go and demand and order and throw people under busses, but I think that only sets an example for the workers to do that to the public in turn.  

  • Carver


    Why would you willing pick a fight with someone who you claim (repeatedly and falsely) said horrible things to you and who you further claim (again false and repeatedly) denies that you and your mother were victims.

    I guess all of that waililng and gnashing of teeth was just posturing, an attempt to bully others into submission.

  • cjr001

    Yes, I probably am applying the results of class actions to all cases, since class actions get the most attention.

    I’ve received any number of mailings over the years about how I can claim my $10 (or less) from a class action having dealt with some company or other, yet I know that the lawyers will be getting millions.

  • cjr001

    And shame on our president and legislators for not putting a stop to it, and our courts for giving the thumbs up as well.

  • MeanMeosh

    I agree generally with what Carver says.  I don’t think it’s so much a concerted T&A effort to target sick people, but a combination of poor training, incompetent employees, and inconsistent application of the T&A’s own rules and regulations.  In other words, this is exactly what happens when you give a bunch of burger flippers badges and guns and don’t train them properly.  The T&A’s constant dismissal that anything is wrong with the process doesn’t help their credibility either.  I mean, when was the last time a screener was disciplined for over-aggressive tactics?  It seems like every time a new passenger abuse story comes out, the victim gets a form letter that basically says “proper procedure was followed, now please shut up and bend over like a good citizen”. 

  • Claire

    The annual TSA budget is $8.1 billion. Some agents are stupid. Some are smart about some things but lack good sense on the job. Some are smart and over-qualified but bored, so they jerk passengers’ chains just for amusement. Some are crooks who pilfer passengers’ belongings (I had a watch lifted at a security checkpoint in Houston). Some are slightly sadistic and/or on a power trip, and also in a position where they can harass and humiliate travelers. Again, we pay $8.1 billion for this overblown agency. By contrast, the National Park Service, charged with America’s most cherished public lands, is allocated $2.9 billion — and unlike the TSA, partially pays its way through entrance, passes and revenues from concessionaires.

  • Tom Brollini

    Thanks for your service!

    Absolutely correct in all you say. 

    Funny how people forget how totalitarian regimes started out by restricting & removing rights & freedoms from the people by these little incremental steps.

    Next step – PAPERS PLEASE



    Those who give up liberty for security will soon have neither! (Ben Franklin)


  • LeeAnneClark

    And you call ME a bully? ;-)

    I’m not picking a fight. Just asking a reasonable question: if you still stand behind this statement (your words):

    “Fact:  Yes, there are numerous reports on the internet about TSA abuses.  There also  numerous reports on the internet about alien abductions, bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster,  and Elvis. The existence of these reports is a fact.  The veracity however of the reports is not a fact but a conclusion subject to differing opinions….What you are missing is the very basic point that while you BELIEVE that thousands of abuses are being committed bythe TSA, you dont KNOW that for a fact. Dogmatic statements to the contrary, don’t you know better
    than to believe everything you read.”

    Just wondering if you still maintain that these reports, including this one, should be viewed in the same light as bigfoot. It’s just a question, Carver. No need to get all worked up.

  • Brooklyn

    No, profiling is not the answer – it will target people with dark skin, people
    who speak with an accent, little old ladies in headscarves, infrequent flyers
    and so on.  We need to save EVERYONE from the TSA; we all have rights and they
    are being violated.

  • Brooklyn

    Those Eurosocialist countries you hate have a European Court of Human Rights that has outlawed the most invasive “counter-terrorism” practices that our own government thinks are OK – there are no Guantanamos in Europe, the backscatter scanners are either absent or limited to passengers headed for the US (because OUR government wants them) and the staff at security points are polite and well trained. The military mentality is exactly how we got into this mess – the wars that made terrorists target us in the first place and the right-wingers that took our rights away. Want someone to blame? Look in the mirror!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Reason #7,000,0001 that it’s none of the government’s business what our genitals look like or feel like.  The *police* were called?!  Last I checked, it’s not illegal to cross-dress or to exist in any stage of transsexual transition.  Every year, thousands of babies are born with ambiguous genitalia.  It appears to be TSA’s mission to out and ridicule these and any other anatomically non-normative travelers.  Shame on you, TSA.  Shame on you.

  • Michael K

    Maybe the survey should have one more option: “These incidents are a pattern reflecting poor hiring, training, and leadership practices.”  (i.e. no cynical intent is needed to explain it).

  • LeeAnneClark

    I don’t believe they are testing for radiation. They are testing for the chemical components of explosives. People who work on farms and might have fertilizer residue on their skin or clothes are at risk of false alarms, not cancer patients undergoing radiation treatments.

    As for a terrorist feigning illness to sneak radioactive materials past the TSA – I’ll offer the same argument that I offer when people say “but a terrorist MIGHT use a baby to smuggle in a bomb” or “a terrorist MIGHT use an elderly person to carry a bomb”: has it ever happened? Is there one single case of a terrorist attempting to board a plane on American soil using a child, elderly person or sick person to sneak a bomb onto a plane?

    NO. There is not. How do we know? Because IF it had happened, there would have been one of two outcomes:  1) the TSA would have caught them, and then held a ticker-tape parade to crow about their success, or 2) the TSA would NOT have caught them – and a plane would have been blown up.

    Ask yourself this: if terrorists are so hellbent on blowing up Americans, why the obsession with planes? Why wouldn’t a terrorist just walk up to a TSA checkpoint wearing a bomb vest and blow hisself to smithereens? He could take out hundreds of passengers, and dozens of blue-suited goons standing around doing nothing…all without having to allow an infidel to touch his junk. Doesn’t that sound easier than coming up with all these hackneyed ways to get PAST TSA?

  • noah

    Out of curiosity, do those who think that TSA is systematically targeting sick passengers also think that the TSA practices are “security theater.”  I tend to subscribe to the security theater view, which is exactly why I don’t think this targeting of sick passengers is systematic.  That would be truly inconsistent with the security theater perspective.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I agree with you…for the most part. On the other hand, I think there ARE some TSA agents who intentionally target sick and disabled people. Why? Because they CAN. These are people who’ve never had power before, and suddenly they have power over all kinds of people. Bullies prey on the weak.

  • LeeAnneClark

    What I really don’t understand is why the American Disabilities Association is not doing anything about this issue. There can be no doubt that TSA practices disproportionally affect the disabled. For example, someone like me – I have metal parts in my body and my home airport does not have body scanners, so I must go through a metal detector every time I fly somewhere – and I set it off every single time. This means that I must go through the full, enhanced “pat-down” every single time I fly. Not the 3% of the time that the TSA claims, but EVERY SINGLE TIME. That means that every time I board an aircraft, I must have my genitals touched by strangers.

    It’s even worse for people with artificial limbs or other prostheses. They will also have to receive enhanced screening – EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    It’s a disproportionate impact, and it needs to STOP.

  • LeeAnneClark

    The reason I think *some* TSA agents are targeting sick people is because they are an easy target. Healthy people are more likely to give them trouble, whereas the sick, elderly and disabled are more likely to give in to their disgusting practices. This, in my opinion, DOES tie in with the “security theater” view – it means they make it look like they are busily keepin’ the Depends-bombs and fake-leg bombs off planes, without having to bother strong people who might actually give them a hard time about what they are doing.

    Keep in mind, bullies are usually lazy as well.

  • LeeAnneClark

    This is one of the most powerful posts I’ve ever seen about this issue. As a victim of their horrific abuse, and a victim of a long-ago rape, I am one of the people they have damaged. Thank you, Sommer. Your words help me to feel validated – that my pain is real, that what they are doing is indisputably, undeniably WRONG, at the most basic human level.

    Thank you.

  • Bob

    How recent are all of these stories? I ask, because a few weeks ago I got selected for the millimeter wave screening at 3 different airports. I always opt out of those, and unfortunately, that means that I receive the dreaded freedom fondle. In all three cases, the TSA agent asked if there were any medical devices or sensitive areas of my body that he should be aware of. 

    In all three cases, the screener was respectful and looked like he wished the rules were different, too. It’s a shame that there are some bad apples there because I think most TSA agents really try to do their jobs the best that they can. Personally, I think the whole thing is security theater and makes airline passengers extremely uncomfortable for zero security benefit. 

  • Sommer Gentry

    I will take that on.  I claim the SOP manual tells agents to target sick people.  This is because sick people have non-normative anatomy: amputations, braces, implants, ostomies, and for each of these, a sick person gets his own special form of TSA torment lined up for them, described in great detail in the precious and secret SOP manual.  The part that makes the TSA’s actions “cynical” is that the TSA has absolutely no method to clear these items even after they’ve humiliated and abused the sick person.  There’s no way for TSA to check the contents of an ostomy bag, and they don’t try.  There’s no way for the TSA to differentiate between a medical appliance and a dangerous object.  I heard a security expert give Congressional testimony verifying that these things can not be discerned just a few months ago.  So, yes, the TSA is cynically targeting sick people.  They harass sick people for no security benefit – only for the theatrics of it all.

  • cjr001

    Hey, MeanMeosh, what do you want to guess TSA’s response has been to the women that prompted this article?


    “”We strive to treat every passenger with dignity and respect. In this
    case, that may not have happened … All passengers may request private
    secondary screening. While an initial review indicates that proper
    screening procedures were followed, we regret that this passenger did
    not have a positive experience.” ”

    If TSA truly regretted this situation, then Pistole and Napolitano would’ve thrown themselves off of buildings long ago because of thousands of stories out there just like this one.

  • cjr001

    At this point, I wouldn’t trust the courts to help out, as they’ve done next to nothing lately to safeguard the rights of Americans.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Totally agree with you that the whole thing is security theater that makes passengers extremely uncomfortable for zero security benefit.

    As for the timing, these reports have been coming out for years…and have gotten exponentially worse since the “enhanced pat-down” was instituted in November of last year. New reports come out on a regular basis. The one in this story obviously just happened.

    I personally have been subjected to two humiliating and abusive sexual assaults in the past few months – one in March, and one in July. Not every grope-down has been so abusive – I’ve taken several other flights in which the grope-down was done reasonably respectfully, even if they did mean that I had to allow a stranger to touch my body in intimate ways that I found uncomfortable. But for those two particular flights, the gropes involved full hand-on-genital contact, done abusively, and involved public humiliation as well (for example, screaming “I can’t screen this lady! She won’t let me screen her!” when I flinched every time she jammed her thumb up in my vagina).

    In another case I was wearing a medical device (a large back brace due to recent back surgery) that I was instructed NOT to remove…and yet the TSA agents initially demanded that I do so. When I refused, they made me go through two complete pat-downs, one by a regular TSO, the other by a supervisor, which involved pressing so hard on the brace over my recent surgical wound that I cried out in pain, even though I specifically told them NOT to push on that area.

    I wish I could believe it’s only a few bad apples. Unfortunately, my personal experience says otherwise.

  • Joe M

    Those assessments often do not fit those who are targets of bullies. 

    Individual TSA agents may have been the target for a bully and are exacting revenge.  But you’re doing no justice to them or actual victims of bullying by making that generalization across the board.

  • Joe Farrell

    No – filing a lawsuit stops the conduct – especially if the individually is personally liable in egregious situations – 

  • Daisymae

    Exactly!  In addition, John and Janet keep circulating their “evidence” that terrorists are planning to use prosthetics and medical implants to smuggle bombs onboard airplanes.  In that way, they literally target people with prosthetics and medical devices.

    John Pistole is the mouth of the TSA.  His words are just as responsible (or even more so) for the actions of the individual agents as any written manual.  It is unlikely that many of these illiterate and semi-literate agents have read the manual but they certainly have heard their fearless leader pontificating on the dangers of all those sick and disabled people.

    Yes, TSA is targeting sick and disabled people.

  • Daisymae


    Did you see that one of the women who posted on the ACLU list had the same experience that you had?  The agent shoved her thumb into her vagina…through her jeans no less.  Can’t imagine how much force it must have taken to do that.

  • Daisymae

    Most likely these judges are receiving kick backs or are somehow indebted to politicians or other powerful people who have a financial and /or political interest in all this.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Probably about as much force as the agent who did it to me. Trust me – it was horrifying. And apparently we’re not allowed to show any type of reaction – every time she did it I flinched ( because it HURT), and she would jump back, throw her hands out and scream “I can’t screen this lady! She won’t let me screen her!” Finally she stopped the whole process and told me that they were going to have to escort me out of the airport if I wouldn’t let her “screen” me. I kept demanding that she call an LEO, but she wouldn’t, she just kept threatening me with escorting me out of the airport. I refused to leave – I was NOT going to miss my plane – and she finally called over a supervisor, who then proceeded to grope me ALL OVER AGAIN, including all the parts that had already been groped. This one at least didn’t shove her thumb up my hooha, so I just stood there and took it, trying not to flinch.

    But then, when I was trying to gather up my things to leave, the supervisor kept trying to TALK to me! I asked her if I was now “cleared”, and she said yes, so I said “Good, then I have nothing more to say to you, and no interest in hearing anything you have to say to me. Goodbye.” She kept after me as I put my shoes on and collected my belongings, though, and I just kept repeating “Goodbye. I have no desire to talk to you. Goodbye. I have no desire to talk to you.” Then I just walked away from her.

  • Daisymae

    Horrible!  So typical of sexual predators that they have to convince themselves that you “liked it” or it was “for your own good.”

    I’m so sorry that happened to you.  This is why I am so terrified to fly now.  Fortunately, I do not have to fly for a job.  I am simply missing out on my God-given right to travel around my own country.

    My husband and I both have disabilities and I am too frightened to put myself in that vulnerable position.  So no more flying for us.  I dread to see when these predators will branch out into places we cannot avoid.  I don’t know what we will do then.

    My heart goes out to you and your mother for all you have had to endure from these criminals.

  • http://twitter.com/elegant_erica Erica Richardson

    TSA responded to Lori’s incident on the TSA Blog and apologized, but to me that rings hollow.

    Specifically, regarding Tom Sawyer… He accepted the personal apology from TSA chief John Pistole, who told Mr. Sawyer there would be more training to help airport screeners better understand the medical condition.

    However, Mr. Sawyer recently reported that nothing has changed.

    Hollow is as hollow does.

    After seeing repeated stories of incidents involving travelers with medical conditions, I am becoming more and more convinced that, one of these days, the TSA is going to be responsible for the death an innocent person. We should be scared more of that than terrorists.

  • Nobody12345

    Please stop stereotyping people suffering from depression as suicidal and dangerous. 

  • Linda Bator

    Umm – in case you didn’t notice — profiling HAS been called harassment by those being profiled!  DUH!

  • Linda Bator

    Just went thru one in Detroit 2 days ago – the agent had me turn around to see the 5 areas lit up that she would patdown, and was cosniderate and nonsexual at all times.  My arms and hands have a rash, and the scanner may have had a problem with that — she was never rude or confrontational, and wanted me to understand the reason before I agreed to it.  Not a problem at all.  The better trained they are, the less problems there are as well.

  • Humiliated in Vegas

    I am almost reluctant to make this post, but 2 weeks ago I had such an unpleasant experience with a TSA “pat down” that I guess this is as good a place as any to mention it. Let me first say that I am a middle-aged male consultant who travels frequently, over 2 million miles so far. I don’t commonly have problems with the TSA or any type of screening. I should also say that I don’t want to use the scanners because of both radiation and privacy concerns.

    I was going through the Las Vegas airport and asked for a search instead of the scanner. They had me wait until a male TSA agent came over and we went over to a screening area. The agent asked me if “I had any sore or sensitive areas that he should be aware of”; I responded, I guess partly in jest, that most peoples’ genitals were sensitive, but since I expected he wouldn’t be touching them there wouldn’t be any issue. He then said, in an intimidating voice, twice, “do we have some kind of problem here?”. I guess at this point I probably should have requested another screener. I politely said no, and he proceeded.

    As he ran the back of his hand up my right thigh, he not so gently “whacked” my right testicle, painfully. I was shocked, and he then proceeded to do it again on the left side. He then looked at me with a sneering expression, knowing that I couldn’t prove anything, and almost daring me to do or say anything. Given the way he hit me, and the way that I flinched in response, there is NO way this could have been accidental. Needless to say, I was both shocked and in pain.

    It took all of my self-control not to pile onto him and start punching, but I knew that would only get me in trouble. I briefly thought about going to a  supervisor or the police, but I had no proof, and I had to catch my flight. So I just got out of there as quickly as possible.

    I can’t tell you how upsetting and humiliating this process was. In my mind the only correct response would have been pounding this guy. I feel I have no recourse and these thugs can do whatever they want to us. I ask any man reading this, how would they react if someone deliberately hit them in the testicles, twice? Unbelieveable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    I am so sorry that this immoral traitor physically attacked you in such a vile manner.  You did not deserve to be treated this way.  No one, no one ever, deserves to be treated this way. I apologize most profusely, because these things are being done to innocent people in my name, supposedly to protect me, and being done with my money!  We all are paying for him to hit you in the testicles for no reason, and I’m sick with anger and at my wits end about how to make it stop.  It would help if you would file complaints far and wide, with TSA directly, with your congressional representatives, with ACLU, with the U.S. Travel Association, letter to your local paper, and so on.  I’ve done all these things and I think public pressure will make a difference. 

    If you watch the Andrea Abbott arrest video that TSA released, you can see the screener slam her hands into a 14-year-old girl’s vagina so hard that the girl flinches as she’s lifted off the floor.  This bully hit the girl 4 times in the crotch.  TSA, stop hurting people!

  • Lisa Simeone

    The bad apple theory doesn’t fly.  I have documented thousands of cases of TSA screeners assaulting passengers.  Have posted the link here many times.  Here it is again:  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3NEI5VPR3OHW6EUIOQC54YZFEE Joseph Daniels

    This seems common practice for me in the USA.  I’m USAF retired due to disability from Viet Nam plus various metal parts from two severe accidents.  It is so common for me that I just let them do their thing including offering to show gluteus maximus surgical scars from my left side hip replacement.  Always offer to do this in public not their little cubical. Since my shoes, usually sandals, are off all the surgical scars on my right foot and shortened right leg are clearly visible.  This after using my USAF Retired ID card and passport for Identification.  I’ve been offered scanning but refuse since I have had so much medical radiation and will have more.  If TSA has the nerve to ask I’ll show them my buns and do it while everyone around can see them.  Way more important people, e.g. nurses and doctors, have seen my nether regions, I really want to embarrass TSA.  Real thank you from our government serving the country.  Even more interesting is that travels have taken me to Europe, North Africa and Asia where I have never been treated like the TSA does to me and many others.

    Does anyone have a real idea of how often real threats are caught by TSA?  Not the little stuff but real threats are found.  Also how often do TSA searches cause travelers to miss flights?  How do the airlines handle this?  So far I have missed flights in the 1980’s and in 2009 due to TSA but it comes close often.

    Now about the time I ended up kneeling on terrazzo floor at O’Hare because Dolly Dimwit Trainee did not know what a CPAP was and my doctor’s letters (plural) were inside the case.  A supervisor helped me up and apologized.  Went through the same drill at the gate when the TSA started doing random secondary checks.

    Life while traveling by air is so exciting.  First travelers have to get to the plane.

  • Daisymae

    It’s an outrage that these dimwitted lowlife thugs have the power to treat one of our nation’s veterans like this!  Thank you for the incredible sacrifices you have made for our country.  I’m deeply sorry that our government is so ungrateful for your service.

  • Joe Reynolds

    One does have to remember a person with little time to live buying a large travel insurance policy and blowing up a plane so the remaining family members will reap the insurance payment. They figure they are going to die anyway. TSA people could be more human however and explain this. I think most people would not be so resistent if they would think in this direction.
    TSA could be more considerate.

  • Celt12377

    This story is completely false on a number of levels.We’ll start with the basics:- Airlines are required to transmit passenger lists to the United States prior to their departure, as per the TSA Secure Flight program- Abdulmutallab would have been required to provide his passport number to the airline prior to receiving his boarding pass- Passenger security screening at Schiphol Airport is conducted at the gate for all non-Schengen Flights, passengers must provide a passport and boarding pass to clear securityNow onto to the not-so basic aspects of this story being completely false……entering the United States as a refugee falls under the US Citizen & Immigration Services Section 208 of the Immigration & Naturalization Act, as created in 1952Under USCIS Section 208 Abdulmutallab would have been required to fill out substantial paperwork proving refugee status. This paperwork cannot be filled out the same day as a flight, and certainly not at the airport. Paperwork, like all governmental paperwork must be processed and proper documentation will then issued to the person seeking to enter the United States with refugee status.If Abdulmutallab were seeking Asylum status in the United States, he would have been required to already be in the United States, with a legal entry, then beginning the asylum status process.Airport and airline staff aren’t authorized to overrule United States immigration laws. Airlines are very careful about passports and visas, as any airline that transports a person to the United States (or any other country) without proper documentation is not only required to cover the costs of flying the person out of the United States for deportation, but also faces significant fines levied against them.No airline wants to deal with deportation or fines.All relevant information pertaining to the rules and regulations regarding USCIS Section 208, INA, have been verified with Chief Ron Smith of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, DC.It has previously been established that Abdulmutallab held a Nigerian passport and a valid Visa to the United States issued in June 2008, valid through June 2010. With more than 6 months left on Abdulmutallab’s Visa to the United States his legal status to board the flight would not have been challenged by the airline.As the facts surrounding Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Delta Air Lines Flight NW253 continue to unfold it is important to be factual on important issues, such as those pertaining to security issues.Happy Flying!

  • SusieQ42

    I am a breast cancer survivor. I was traveling alone in August of 2011 after a grueling four months of chemo and six weeks of radiation. I was frail and bald; however, I was singled out from hundreds of people for a random “search” in an Orlando airport. I was in tears and humiliated. The three men who were TSA agents were rude and mean. There was a lady TSA agent who gave me a paper towel (they didn’t have tissues) and was nice to me. It makes me sad that we have allowed this practice in our country. Everyone, from flight attendants to passengers were kind and gracious, but the TSA agents were terrible.