More examples of TSA security screening outrages keep rolling in. The stories seem to focus on people with medical conditions, who are being handled by TSA officials in ways that violate standards of common decency.
No to mention the Americans with Disabilities Act and even the TSA’s only published procedures.
A case in point is the bladder cancer surveyor named Thomas Sawyer who was left covered in his own urine by a TSA “enhanced” security pat down. Sawyer wears a urostomy bag that was picked up by the body scanner, causing him to be singled out for further attention. According to MSNBC:
“Before starting the enhanced pat-down procedure, a security officer did tell him what they were going to do and how they were going to it, but Sawyer said it wasn’t until they asked him to remove his sweatshirt and saw his urostomy bag that they asked any questions about his medical condition. “‘One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.’ “The security officer finished the pat-down, tested the gloves for any trace of explosives and then, Sawyer said, ‘He told me I could go. They never apologized. They never offered to help. They acted like they hadn’t seen what happened. But I know they saw it because I had a wet mark.’
“Humiliated, upset and wet, Sawyer said he had to walk through the airport soaked in urine, board his plane and wait until after takeoff before he could clean up.”
Then there was the case of the breast cancer survivor that was forced to remove her prosthetic breast. MSNBC reports:
“Cathy Bossi, who works for U.S. Airways, said she received the pat-down after declining to do the full-body scan because of radiation concerns. “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.’ ‘ “Bossi said she removed the prosthetic from her bra. She did not take the name of the agent, she said, ‘because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.'”
The attitude of TSA officials seems to be that one has the choice not to fly if one does not care to be subject to this kind of treatment. Sharon Kiss, whose pacemaker shows up on the body scan and causes her to be subjected to the enhanced pat down, compares it to not accommodating people in wheel chairs with ramps and such, because, after all, “they can choose to stay at home.” Businesses are required to make such accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
President Obama, who because of his office and his private plane is not subject to TSA pat downs,was a little more sympathetic, albeit just barely, but suggested that, “But at this point, TSA in consultation with counterterrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing.”
That statement seems to suggest a chilling reality of a federal government that is detached from the concerns of ordinary Americans. The idea that airline passengers should just suck it up and endure the assaults on their dignity by officials of their government further suggests a lack of understanding about how Americans tend to react under such treatment. One would think that after the “shellacking” that occurred during the recent midterms, the Obama administration would have learned its lesson. The lesson may have to be repeated.
Sources: TSA pat-down leaves traveler covered in urine, Harriet Baskas, MSNBC, November 20th, 2010
TSA forces cancer survivor to show prosthetic breast, Suzanne Choney, MSNBC, November 20th, 2010
Obama: TSA pat-downs frustrating but necessary, MSNBC, November 20th, 2010