More than two dozen complaints recently surfaced against Transportation Security Administration personnel at one airport. Each of the complainants suffers some disability and were allegedly mistreated by agents as they attempted to board a plane at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Ariz.
One of the most egregious examples involves an octogenarian in a wheelchair who was forced to disrobe after a metal detector alerted staff of a possible issue. Despite assuring agents that she was no threat, staff members made the breast cancer survivor remove her prosthetic breast for inspection.
The 82-year-old was left completely exposed and vulnerable, leading her family to express their outrage.
According to one grandchild, the woman “posed absolutely no risk whatsoever to anyone’s safety and should not have been subjected to such invasive … treatment.” That sentiment was included in a formal letter of complaint that concluded that such “degrading treatment is more appropriate for prisoners.”
The most outrageous aspect of this incident is how incredibly common such abuses are — especially within Sky Harbor. With complaints totaling more than twice the national average in 2012, the airport also saw a more than twofold increase compared to the previous year. At least eight of those complaints were filed by breast cancer survivors and followed a similar narrative.
Local media began looking into the airport following an accusation that TSA agents forced an injured Marine to walk on his prosthetic legs through the airport terminal’s body scanner. Numerous other complaints continue to pour in from across the nation, many of which allege that agents blatantly ignore a passenger’s expectation of privacy, often through degrading and demeaning tactics.
The agency’s typical response to such accusations is to send an impersonal apology and close the case without further review. Even its own website, however, clearly states: “[p]assengers with prostheses can be screened without removing them.”
While tasked with spotting potential threats after 9/11, TSA agents quickly gained a reputation for their invasive policies. Additionally, the agency routinely eschews common sense by targeting almost everyone except those who look and act like the terrorists responsible for that attack.
Defined by an abuse of power and lack of critical thinking, the TSA is truly at home within our federal government.
–Western Journalism staff writer
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