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Blacklisted: A Terrorist Threat, The Grannie In The Diaper

Aja Dang |
July 3, 2011 | 2:37 p.m. PDT


Has TSA gone too far with some travelers? (image courtesy of Ddees.com)
Has TSA gone too far with some travelers? (image courtesy of Ddees.com)
Let’s face it, the Transportation Security Administration is not a popular group of people. From questionable pat downs of children, to humiliating a 61-year-old bladder-cancer survivor to tears after a rough pat down caused his urine bag to spill all over his clothes, the TSA has many people up in arms over its screening processes. 

That being said, as a daughter of two flight attendants and a frequent traveler myself, I would gladly strip down naked and do lunges through the security line with bells on if it meant myself and my family would arrive at our destinations safely. However, this most recent incident is even causing this TSA support to question its procedures. 

Jean Weber has filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained, extensively searched and was ultimately forced to take off her wet adult diaper before proceeding to her gate. 

The elderly woman, who has not been named, is wheelchair-bound and was flying to Michigan to be with her family during the final stages of her battle with leukemia. 

“My mother is very ill,” Weber told CNN. “She had a blood transfusion the week before, just to bolster up her strength of this travel.”

The incident occurred at Northwest Florida Regional Airport last week, after TSA officers “felt something suspicious” on the woman’s leg during an initial pat down. Since the woman was not strong enough to walk through the metal detector without support, an officer wheeled her through a glass partitioned gate where the pat down took place. 

After alerting Weber of the issue, officers took her mother to a secure location for a more extensive search. 

Weber said a TSA officer came out and told her they needed her mother to take off her wet depends because it was impeding their investigation. 

The problem? The woman did not have an extra set of diapers on hand and although TSA offered to pick up her checked bag to get them, the ordeal would have caused her to miss her flight. According to Weber, the only options were either to remove her mother’s depends or don’t get on the flight. 

Weber then wheeled her mom into a restroom, removed her diaper and the search was completed.

To no one’s surprise, Weber’s mom passed the inspection. 

That’s right, an elderly woman, in ailing health, who cannot walk and was flying home to see friends and family on her final days, was not a terrorist threat. Thank you for clarifying that TSA. 

This isn’t the first time adult diapers have caused a stir in the security line. Last month, a doctor claimed that TSA screeners at the Detroit airport harassed his mentally disabled son after they needed to inspect the “puffiness” caused by his adult diaper. The family was on their way to Disneyland. 

TSA has stood behind the actions of their screeners in both incidents and Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokeswoman in Miami, insists they were just doing their jobs.

“TSA cannot exempt any group from screening because we know from intelligence that there are terrorists out there that would then exploit that vulnerability,” she said

I get it, I do. In fact, I would much rather them offend people while doing their job instead of them dilly dallying around all day, easily allowing someone to walk through security with a bomb in their underpants. Oh, wait... 

While rules won’t change over night, there needs to be better regulations about how to deal with the mentally and physically disabled that won’t mortify the person being checked and their family members. 

“Nobody should have to feel the way I felt that day,” Weber told Detroit News. “I’m not angry. The rules need to be changed.”

TSA, maybe it’s time to utilize a little common sense into your security searches. If a person can’t walk, communicate or pee on their own, it’s probably a good bet that Al Qaeda isn’t going to trust them to to fulfill a terrorist attack. 

Until it figures out how to make searches of the disabled more efficient and less humiliating, the TSA is officially Blacklisted. 

Reach columnist Aja Dang here
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Stay tuned for the next "Blacklisted" column in two weeks.



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