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TSA Forces 95-Year-Old Cancer Patient to Remove Adult Diaper

TSA Forces 95-Year-Old Cancer Patient to Remove Adult Diaper

We heard a lot about TSA last fall, when the decision to install “enhanced” security technologies and more extensive searches left people asking whether full-body scans or pat-downs constituted an invasion of privacy, and whether the potential discomfort or embarrassment they might cause was worth the public security benefits.  Many people alleged that the innovations were too uncomfortable and invasive, and questioned whether people truly consented when they bought their airline ticket.

The hubbub about scans and searches has mostly died down.  But TSA continues to humiliate people as they go through airport security.  A woman, Jean Weber, filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that her 95-year-old mother was asked to remove her soiled adult diaper as security officials completed their pat-down.  Weber’s mother was flying to Michigan to be with her family during the last stages of leukemia, and was traveling through the airport in a wheelchair because she could not walk.  She was detained and searched extensively, but during the search, officials say that “they felt something suspicious on (her mother’s) leg and they couldn’t determine what it was.”  They then asked the mother and daughter to leave, remove the mother’s adult diaper, and return to complete the search.

Understandably, Weber and her mother described the 45-minute ordeal as traumatic.  ”Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this,” said Weber.  But TSA defended its employees’ actions.

“Wheelchairs trigger certain protocols, including pat-downs and possible swabbing for explosives,” said Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for TSA.  ”The TSA works with passengers to resolve any security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner.”

Weber, however, wants less invasive security methods for elderly people who are unable to walk through the security gates.  ”Nobody should feel the way I felt that day,” she explained. “I’m not angry. The rules need to be changed.”

Protecting air travelers is one thing, but did security officials really need to humiliate a 95-year-old cancer patient and her daughter?  This situation is far more clear-cut than debates over pat-downs and full-body scans: for people who are elderly or infirm, there need to be different rules, or at least machines that are capable of determining that even though a wheelchair is made of metal, it is not an explosive.

After all, as Weber said, “I’m not one to make waves, but dadgummit, this is wrong. People need to know. Next time it could be you.”

Photo from redjar’s Flickr photostream.

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600 comments

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1:41AM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

Oh, here we go again! Scott, please give the nonsense a rest. Really getting boring reading your somehow "secret" knowledge of conspiracies and inside information that refutes everything else. This article needs to die a natural death.......it's old.

12:26PM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

The underwear bomber was a farce. Please look at the facts. The young man involved was drugged and his handler a 50 year old sharply dressed Indian man, who lots of witnesses said was a very bizarre match suddenly vanishes without a trace. He took the 'bomber' onto the plane saying that this man needs to get on the plane but he doesn’t have a passport. The stewardess told them that he cannot get on the plane without one and he said it's ok, they do this all the time. There was another odd guy stood up videoing the bomber the whole time. I am beginning to think there are no such things as terrorists and that they are all false flag staged events. Every 'terrorist' event that you research turns out to be faked. Take a look. Pick any one of them.

7:32AM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

You never know. Remember the underwear bomber.

4:21PM PDT on Aug 29, 2011

Complete violation of privacy.

9:40PM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

Thanks. I knew Charles was next, unfortunately. What a DORK. I thought there was a sister who was next after him......Anne? Who cares, actually. I think William is a good guy, so too bad he couldn't be next.

7:19AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

@ Diane L. William is 2d in line, 1st is Prince Charles, Williams Father, eldest offspring of Elizabeth II.

4:05AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

Chris, I doubt that the X-rays (body scans) are excessive to the point of causing birth defects in the first place. You assume way too much. It's also my understanding that William is not the "future" King....he's actually 3rd or 4th in line? Who cares. They also probably did NOT fly commercially. Don't you think they have a private plane?

3:20AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

William and Kate wowed the crowds in Cailfornia. Hmph - bet they never had an abusive pat-down or a genital fondle - like hands down their underclothes. Yeah - I bet they never had a full body cancer-causing x-ray to get into the States. Imagine the future King & Queen of England producing a deformed heir to the throne caused by an over-dose of x-rays at LA Airport. But why weren't they accorded the same abusive treatment as other Americans and Brits? If they are so 'down to earth' as reported in the gushing press, why were they not treated the same as us?

1:31AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

As a home care worker, I can assure everyone that the elderly don't want problems with people, especially at that age. They would rather be humiliated in public by being strip searched than to cause trouble and deal with possibly getting angry people to push them around, or arrested, etc... And at that age, being a cancer patient, they don't have the energy... They're more like 5 year olds that way with their innocence.

I guess I will never understand why people want to put frail old ladies through the rigmarole like this... It's just because they "saw a mass" in the crotch area, they felt compelled to strip search... Too bad it wasn't a turd, just saying...

Just because the TSA workers "are just doing their jobs" doesn't mean I agree with that procedure. Now, if they have CNA's or Personal Care Workers doing that job, maybe it's not that bad, because it's a sensitive thing to perform. Many of the adult diapers won't close after you've unfastened them. Adult pull ups aka disposable underwear have to be ripped at the sides to have a look, unless you want to transfer them to a bed, roll her over, take her pants down or lift her dress all the way up...

It's just elderly people don't fight with it because they were raised NOT to question authority. Me being the rebel I am, well... I guess that's why it's better if TSA workers were better able to determine who would or wouldn't be the type to hijack the plane. Just remember, in this country, you're INNOCENT til

1:24AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

I do understand your viewpoints, James. I just don't agree with you. I talked on the phone today with an online friend that I've never met, but hope to now that she's in my area. She's a military wife and flies frequently. She said she's never been subjected to abuse when flying, either commercially or on a military plane, and yes, they use as much security on those flights as does Alaska, United or Air Blue or whomever. She's been "patted" down and scanned, and feels far safer for having had it done, but does admit that before she even gets THAT far, she's had her I.D. checked at the gates of the AFB from which she's flying if it's military.

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