TSA forces amputee to remove prosthesis, separates her from 4-year-old son

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The list of appalling TSA screening stories is growing. Among others I've heard about in only the last two days:

And now this, from the Amputee Coalition of America:

“I had just been put in the Plexiglas screening booth,” said Peggy. “My 4-year-old son was made to sit across from me, crying because they would not let him touch me. Everyone was looking at us. Then the TSA agent asked for my prosthetic leg. I knew they could wand my leg, but he insisted on taking it from me. And if that wasn’t humiliating enough, he asked for the liner sock that covers my residual limb, saying I had to give it to him. I felt pressured to give him my liner even though it is critical to keep it sanitary. I was embarrassed to have my residual limb exposed in public.”

The ACA went on to say that the TSA screener "failed to follow established procedures for screening travelers with disabilities."

My pal John V. Moore and I had a Twitter conversation that got us both thinking and asking a lot of questions. What constitutes proper screening, and how do we effectively balance civil liberties, dignity, and privacy with national security? This is the same debate we've had since September 11, 2001.

Will any of the existing measures stop a terrorist attack? Have they?

Then there is the question of blatant politicizing, with the obvious targets being Janet Napolitano and President Obama.

Sensationalism is another by-product. We had "Don't Touch My Junk" Guy splashed all over the Tee Vee Machine and the Internets.

And finally, as John wondered, are TSA critics okay with wire tapping?

What are your thoughts?

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  • Mel H

    'Take Your Child to Work Day'

    "Daddy, why are you touching that man's pee pee?
    You told me we aren't supposed to touch other peoples' pee pees!"

  • Mel H

    Easy to identify terrorists

    They have no ass. Why don't they have an ass?

    Because they're all laughing them off as they watch Americans lose their freedoms!

  • Mel H

    Easy to identify terrorists

    They have no ass. Why don't they have an ass?

    Because they're all laughing them off as they watch Americans lose their freedoms!

  • Mel H

    Disabled people should be up in arms about this!

    -if they have arm(s)

  • Mel H

    Disabled people should be up in arms about this!

    -if they have arm(s)

  • Anonymous

    This is a godawful issue uniting both left and right, as Thom Hartmann has demonstrated via his insightful interviews. We must continue gathering such examples and speak out against this outrageous and dangerous searches. There IS a health component factor for those subjected to these searches and the TSA agents being subjected to the scatter-off from the machines. Hartmann compared them to those foot x-rays given at some shoe stores during the 50s later found to have health impact. But generally, who will know what caused their cancer? The strip searches are awful but the health issue of the machines, particularly with repeated exposure, are unknown and insidious. We are being terrorized by our government not just Al-Qaida.

  • Hana H.

    Because El Al can respectfully clear me through security without saying offensive things about Muslims, humiliating me for being disabled, or using ethnic slurs, important parts of dealing with the TSA. Half the time, El Al doesn't even make me go through the metal detector, as I am a "low-risk traveler." In about 150 flights, I've been wanded...once (and the woman doing it apologized three times saying that they were doing it to all fliers that day) and patted down all of three times. Remember, again, they were friendly, polite, and never called me a "sand ni**er" like a TSA agent in Boston did, or made me crawl through security because they forcibly removed my prosthetic foot, which isn't even metal and doesn't trip the metal detector, like a TSA "supervisor" in Philadelphia once did. Oh yeah, she joked very loudly about how she should have spat on me after I crawled through the metal detector. This was in 2005. Not right after 9/11. Other than flying out of JFK or SFO, where the TSA's agents are almost always friendly, rational, and polite, I dread getting near an airplane in the US. Also, you do realize that *none* of these measures protect you at all, right? Because they don't protect any of us in the air, and I live in eternal fear that I'm going to get on the flight that is gonna be attacked because these measures don't protect you at all.

    Oh yeah. I'm a Muslim woman. The dark brown swarthy hijab-wearing kind. I speak Hebrew fluently (and I'm sure that helps, though sometimes they see I live in the States and ask me to answer questions in English...this is part of how their security screens, by keeping you on your toes) and I hold an Israeli passport which clearly identifies me as a Muslim. In other words, a country that allegedly oppresses me (and doesn't have a perfect human rights record, either...about the same as the US, honestly) can let me get on a plane without humiliation and hatred.

    Oh yeah, the cops in Israel don't ask me what I'm planning to blow up. Here, that's apparently what passes for humor in Sacramento.

  • http://kyrafrost.blogspot.com/ Kyra

    I am a qualified ADA expert, supposedly, but I can't even imagine where it would fit here. Someone with a disability does not even have to disclose to an employer after being hired if they have a hidden disability - supposedly their right to privacy is supreme. If El Al can have the safest airline in the world without this kind of screening, why can't we? They say we have too many flights, but as much time as all of this takes...

  • http://twitter.com/shivabeach Shiva

    This is complete BS. Obama needs to straighten these people out or get rid of them. Arrogance of people in charge

  • http://www.healthspanews.com Verite Reily Collins

    What is disgraceful is the way that authorities are so arrogant about this distasteful screening. As a British travel writer, I tried to get verification of the stories, before writing to warn my readers. Contacted the authorities, but all I received was an email from a C Keefe, pointing me towards the TSA's rules - when all I wanted to know was, were stories true or false, as I wanted to write about them for http://www.healthspanews.com

  • Hachmom

    Yet another reason why I refuse to fly unless I should chance to be crossing an ocean some day....With the travel time to and from airports and all the hassle at the check in, plus the greater expense, I'll stick to trains and busses.....

  • http://massmirage.tumblr.com/ Mass Mirage

    I agree that this was insane,these specific instances. But, this is a new policy , right? And I have to imagine most of these TSA workers are pretty embarrassed about their new job requirement. What bugs me is how everyone is griping so much asking things like "how is that person being chosen, they look privileged and well mannered" (gasp) ! Then they turn around and say obviously no we can't do racial profiling. I don't get this logic. Because I too agree that we shouldn't base policies that plant seeds of racism. But then if we agree on that, how do we get pissed at being patted down and checked out thoroughly regardless of our race ? Age seems to be a far better indicator from what I know about it. And circumstances with prosthetics, wouldn't that be exactly what a suicide bomber would use to their advantage? Shouldn't these be the things we want TSA people to check out, just in a more polite and efficient way? Or is it really just so bad that I simply need to take a flight tonight and shut the hell up?

  • http://beardog321.wordpress.com/ beardog321

    I wonder when I fly back east for Christmas, and I go through one of those scanning machines, will they make me take the titanium in my neck, at C-5 and C-6 to examine? Or will I be interrogated by the TSA Gestapo about the hole drilled in my skull a few years ago for a brain biopsy? Who knows, I might be hiding something down there? Or I could rip out the titanium plate out of my neck and use it as a box cutter? It would be kind of messing getting to it though, as it was anterior placed at C-5 and C-6.
    You know, the TSA and US government is reactive to everything, and they seem to be focused on one thing, Hi-Tech alone will protect us. Rather then being proactive, and thinking outside the box, they go for these billion dollar scanners that former Homeland Security chief Chernoff is now lobbying for as their lobbyist. The military-industrial complex has morphed it's way over to the DHS.
    I'm not even going to mention my leg brace for my left knee which is missing it's ACL, as I tore it a while back, and it's now completely gone. I'm putting that in checked baggage, as it would be a pain in the ass to remove it at the airport, and then put it back on. I'll just walk carefully. These people are penny-wise and pound foolish, and to be honest, I think a penny is way too much for them, as commonsense seems to be a rare commodity. I've never thought them folks to be the sharpest pencils in the draw, but their current spade of actions validates it.
    I do enjoy reading your posts, as they are short but to the point. No fluff, or like my posts, which are constant run-on sentences.