Agency Says Protocols Were Followed
An elderly woman from New York who opted out of screening by a
body scanner before her flight says she was "injured and
humiliated" by what she called a "strip search" which caused her to
miss her plane. But TSA says on its blog that no strip search
Lenore Zimmerman, 84, was in a wheelchair and carrying a walker
when she entered the security line at KJDK Tuesday for a 1:00 pm
flight to Florida, where she spends the winters. The Associated
Press reports that the woman felt like the scanner would interfere
with her defibrillator, so she opted out of the scanning
She says she was taken to a private room and made to remove
clothing including her pants. She says she banged her shin during
the process, which because of blood-thinning medication she takes
caused her to bleed "like a pig," in her words. She says that the
enhanced screening process caused her to miss her flight, and that
she had to take one two hours later to get to her winter home in
TSA says all protocols were followed in the case. In a statement
published on the agency's blog, TSA says Ms. Zimmerman was
contacted and offered an apology because "she feels she had an
unpleasant screening experience."
But the posting from "Blogger Bob" asserts that TSA does not
include "strip searches" in its protocols and "a strip search did
not occur in this case. We're currently gathering information and
reviewing the screening of this passenger, but we wanted to share
what we know so far."
According to TSA:
"A review of CCTV (Closed
Circuit TV) indicates the passenger opted out of advanced imaging
technology and requested a pat-down. It is TSA’s policy that
screening procedures are conducted in a manner that treats all
passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy.
"CCTV shows that the passenger
arrived at the ticket counter at 12:19 p.m. for her 1 p.m.
scheduled flight which left early at 12:50 p.m.
"She entered the checkpoint line
in a wheelchair, walker in hand.
"The passenger opted out of
advanced imaging technology screening, requested a pat-down and
told the officers that she was wearing a back brace or support belt
which required private screening.
"Private screening was conducted
by two female officers. The item was removed, re-screened, and the
passenger was cleared for travel. Nothing unusual was depicted on
the CCTV as the passenger and two female officers entered and
exited the room. The wheelchair attendant assisted the passenger in
departing the checkpoint area for the gate.
TSA says that "terrorists remain focused on attacking
transportation through tactics such as concealing explosives under
clothing. Further, as evidenced by the Christmas Day 2009 attempted
bombing, concealed anomalies under clothing must continue to be
resolved and cleared as part of the screening process to ensure the
item does not pose a threat to the safety of the traveling public.
Terrorists and their targets may also range in age." The cite a
group of elderly men who were planning on using toxic ricin against
U.S. citizens, U.S government and officials.
For her part, Zimmerman says she does not plan to get back on a
plane until April, when she returns from Florida to New York.