On Sunday the TSA defended its search of an elderly woman last week at a Florida airport. The 95 year old woman was forced to removed an adult diaper and submit to a pat-down search before she was allowed to board a flight to Michigan so she could be with relatives before passing away from leukemia.
“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,” the TSA said following a complaint by the woman’s daughter, Jean Weber, and extended coverage of the incident in the alternative media. “We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure.”
In April, the federal agency faced criticism for subjecting a six year old girl to a pat-down search. Selena Drexel said that the family was returning home from a vacation when their daughter Anna was selected for a pat-down. The Drexels posted a video of the search on YouTube.
TSA director John Pistole went on the defensive last week in response to public outrage over the intrusive pat-down of the child. Appearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Pistole explained the pat-down was ordered because the child had moved while passing through a naked body scanner. He told committee members that “we have changed the policy (so) that there’ll be repeated efforts made to resolve that without a pat-down.”
Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano also defended the pat-down of the child. “Nobody likes to see those kinds of things… even though it was done professionally according to the protocols,” Napolitano said about the incident that occurred at New Orleans International airport.
Napolitano said the invasive TSA procedures could eventually be scrapped if air travelers are willing to submit to biometric ID cards.
“So here’s a couple of things we’re working on,” she said. “Number one is expanding trust and traveler programs, programs where people will get biometric cards. They’ve already supplied information. We know they are safe to travel. We can move them through the system. That’s going to be expanded this year. That allows us to remove a number of people I think from the screening process.”