Monday, June 27, 2011

The Airport Screening Madness Has to Stop

In what is possibly the most shameful act of airport security, TSA screeners in Florida forced a 95-year-old woman to remove her adult diaper in order to be patted down. The elderly woman, who has leukemia, was on her way to visit family members in Michigan. Because the TSA screeners couldn't determine if what was in her diaper was an explosive material or not, they forced her to remove the diaper. According to the woman's daughter, Jean Weber, who was traveling with her mother, the screener said that the problem was that the diaper was ""wet and firm and they couldn't check it thoroughly."

TSA says, "TSA cannot exempt any group from screening because we know from intelligence that there are terrorists out there that would then exploit that vulnerability...The TSA works with passengers to resolve any security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner. We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure."

The woman was in a wheelchair and crying during the screening, which took 45 minutes, in part because it took time to remove the diaper. She did not have an extra adult diaper with her.

This is so incredibly wrong that I don't have the words to express my anger. But you know what's also bad about this and other similar TSA mess-ups? If the Transportation Security Administration does not have the imagination and intelligence to figure out a way to respect the dignity of elderly passengers, young children, people with disabilities and others during screening, then TSA does not have the imagination and intelligence to make air travel secure. TSA's inability to think is frightening, not just because it degrades our liberties, but because it shows that they can't imagine what terrorists might do. This incident shows, once again, that TSA's blind adherence to "procedure" makes them blind to who and what is around them.

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