27 June 2011

95-year-old woman in wheelchair has to remove her adult diaper for a TSA inspection

Here's a summary of the story, from the Northwest Florida Daily News:
Jean Weber of Destin filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained and extensively searched last Saturday while trying to board a plane to fly to Michigan to be with family members during the final stages of her battle with leukemia.

Her mother, who was in a wheelchair, was asked to remove an adult diaper in order to complete a pat-down search...

Weber’s mother entered the airport’s security checkpoint in a wheelchair because she was not stable enough to walk through, Weber said... She said her mother was first pulled aside into a glass-partitioned area and patted down. Then she was taken to another room to protect her privacy during a more extensive search, Weber said...

She said security personnel then came out and told her they would need for her mother to remove her Depends diaper because it was soiled and was impeding their search.

Weber wheeled her mother into a bathroom, removed her diaper and returned. Her mother did not have another clean diaper with her, Weber said.
I have a 92-year-old mother, somewhat impaired, who is reluctant to make a final plane trip to see her 93-year-old sister because of the hassles of air travel.  Reports like this one totally enrage me.  I know the counterargument, elucidated in the article by a TSA spokesman:
Koshetz said the procedures are the same for everyone to ensure national security. “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.
It's the same mindless logic that punishes children for having an aspirin at school or requires a grizzled octagenarian to show an I.D. in order to purchase a bottle of wine.  Americans are increasingly being forced - and conditioned - to accept the pronouncements of bureaucrats without question.

Via Reddit, where the story has garnered over a thousand comments.


  1. Your last comment suggests that bureaucrats have control over what intrusive policies they enforce. We're responsible, collectively. Politicians exploit and manipulate public fear to expand the police state, but we're getting by-and-large what we've voted for. Our representatives can reign in intrusive security measures and protect civil liberties, but our population is too ignorant and cowardly to ask for that.

  2. Yeah, but at least the US isn't a socialist nanny state like those European countries!

  3. So TSA does searches at random and occasionally get an elderly person or a child everyone complains.

    If TSA profiles their searches everyone complains.

  4. Am I the only one who noticed that her diaper was described as "soiled", but that her daughter didn't bring her a spare, clean one? TSA might have done her a favor.

  5. Yep, this one goes off the bad end of the bell curve....

    But as reported in the Washington Post

    "Weber, a waitress, said she was told the diaper would have to be removed so the agents could finish their pat-down. They had not packed any extra diapers in their carry-on because her mother has never needed backups before.

    “She had to remove them,” Weber said. “She would not be cleared with those Depends on.”

    TSA officials said the agency’s inspectors did nothing wrong and followed proper procedure. Spokesman Nick Kimball also said the officers did not force Reppert to remove the diaper.

    “While every person and item must be screened before entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner,” Kimball said.

    Officials offered to pull their luggage off the plane so Reppert could change into a clean diaper, but Weber said she feared her mother, a retired nurse, would miss her flight.

    “She is frail. I had arranged for these times because it’s the time she was the strongest every day,” Weber said. “I just did not want to put her through some kind of wait.”

    However, Weber said the agents would not allow her to remove the diaper in the screening room — so she had to take her mother to a restroom outside the security area, and then wait in line to be screened again. The second time, Weber said she triggered an alarm herself because she was upset and crying.

    They tested her purse for chemicals while her mother finished her pat-down in private, she said. By then, she had lost her pass allowing her to escort her mother to her gate and asked airport workers to take the woman.

    “It was a traumatic moment for me because I know my mother is very ill and hopefully I can get up to see her before anything happens,” Weber said.

    TSA has tightened security after a Nigerian man was charged with trying to ignite explosives he had hidden in his underwear on a flight to Detroit from Europe on Christmas Day 2009."

    Yes, this was a true clusterf**k.

    And not to blame the woman or her daughter or condone the TSA, but nearly every female between the ages of 13 and her fifties knows to **carry extra protection** with her in case of accidents, early or heavy menstrual periods. Having an extra diaper along at least would have made the remainder of the trip better for elderly woman.


  6. Of course she had to remove her diaper. The evil bitch obviously was out to get the TSA zero tolerance, gourd brained idiots. Just because you are unable to walk and are about to die should not exempt you from an intrusive and embarrassing search; unless, of course, you are black or Arabic looking.
    It has been clear to me for almost a decade that the terrorists won exactly what they wanted.

  7. Apparently the Depends undergarment was "wet and firm" and agents felt something suspicious but couldn't determine what it was. Here is a slightly more detailed (and recent) version of the events. I'm not defending the agents' actions, just offering a bit more detail, according to CNN.


  8. Still waiting for the "TSA catches terrorist" article..


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