TSA Searches Dying 95-Year-Old Woman For 45 Minutes and Reportedly Forces Her To Remove Adult Diaper

While TSA has finally given into complaints about its staff groping children, it appears undeterred with geriatrics. A family was horrified last week when TSA subjected Lena Reppert, 95, to a 45 minute search and forced her to remove her adult diaper. Reppert is in the late-stages of leukemia and was traveling to her native Michigan to say goodbye.

She was singled out by TSA because she was in a wheelchair. When they found the adult diaper, she and her daughter were given the choice of either not flying or flying without the adult diaper.

The daughter has now filed a complaint.

Source: Telegraph

44 thoughts on “TSA Searches Dying 95-Year-Old Woman For 45 Minutes and Reportedly Forces Her To Remove Adult Diaper

  1. Here is the problem. If you really want some assurance that there is no bomb aboard you have to put up with this for everyone. By admitting you will give kids a pass you have already given a bad guy an opening he could easily drive a pound of C4 through. Skip granny in her wheel chair and you could go much bigger. If you want less risk of a bomb on board you just have to accept more police-state like control.

    Of course, like generals who are always fighting the last war, we are trying to prevent the last attack. Its more costly and less effective but it makes people happy. It is security theater.

  2. We should do it the way Israel does, profiling. Watching people in the airport. Having moles chat people up.

    We should also have a frequent flyer program, a safe flyer program so people who fly all the time get a fast lane.

    None of this makes people happy, it is a really bad show.

  3. I saw this story yesterday. Reading it again today does not diminish the outrage. This kind of thing is going to continue until the TSA puts an adult in charge.

  4. I think the real solution is cost-free, and still provides safety. There are about 29,000 commercial flights in the USA daily. The answer is COPS.

    Hire about 80,000 trained Air Marshals, armed and armored, and put two (or more) of them on every flight. Their average salary will be about $45K per year (Air Marshals starting salary is $40K).

    That is a cost of $3.6B per year: But Americans spend about $42B annually on airfare, so this could be paid for with a simple 8.6% security tax on airline tickets. In fact, the TSA annual budget is already $7B: My approach might not require any new taxes at all, but if it does I think it is fair for the passengers to pay for the security with a ticket tax.

    I for one would be happy to pay 10% more to stop this charade, and have the certainty of security of armed and trained law enforcement on the plane. I think we should provide the air marshals, and use the armored cabin door and lock the pilot and co-pilot in for the duration of the flight. It would let us return to the days of simple walk-through metal detectors and luggage scans.

    As a person that has flown up to eight times in a year, including internationally, under the conditions I have outlined I will take my chances. Nothing they can do will guarantee safety on a frikkin’ plane, just as nothing they can do will guarantee safety on the road, in the mall, in the hospital, in the grade school or in the nursery.

    In a way this inordinate focus on airline security actually smacks of self-interest: 9/11 proved to politicians that this was a way terrorists could get TO THEM, by crashing a plane into Congress or the White House or the Pentagon.

  5. I, for one, feel much safer now with the TSA in charge, what with their efficient use of resources and deftly-handled public relations.

  6. Tony – If I had a pound of C4 in my adult diaper how would armed air marshals prevent me from going into the head & blowing a very large hole in the plane?

    You are right about nothing guaranteeing your safety though. The question that needs to be asked is exactly what are we trying to prevent & what is the best way to do that. The reason the 9/11 guys had success was because we were only trying to stop someone from blowing up a plane or taking it hostage. Competent terrorists are looking for new ways to leverage their skills in the blind spots & voids. We have plenty of those already.

    A lot of the security theater being played out today is just political cover so that after the next event elected officials will pretend nobody could have guessed or pin the blame on some functionary.

  7. @Frank: I am pretty sure C4 is detectable; dogs can sniff it and I have read about material scientists developing a mechanical scanner for it.

    But the bigger answer is, you cannot prevent an attack. Period. The terrorists have millions of dollars. Plastic explosive and liquid combinatorial explosives are very well known and understood by chemists throughout the world. You can make them look like soap, or hard candy, or the handle of your carry on, or your comb, or the case on your laptop, or the battery within your laptop (and still a working battery), or your watch, or whatever else you want. I’ve even heard of them being woven like polyester into fabrics.

    Barring weapons on the plane is a good idea, but with about five years training in Kung Fu (and I have known people that have it) a plane could be taken over and passengers killed and taken hostage with literally bare hands. The 9/11 hijackers used box cutters because they could and it was convenient, not because they were absolutely necessary to the operation. Without any intent to denigrate Martial Artists, intensive martial arts training (which I dabbled in, once upon a time) does not even require that students be able to read.

    The even bigger picture is that our rights come before our safety. You have the 14th amendment right to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure and detention, and your desire to travel is not sufficient “reason” to believe you are a terrorist. Nor is your race, or religion.

    So if flying is dangerous, we should do what we can within people’s rights to alleviate that danger. A dog that sniffs an explosive is a valid reason (IMO) for somebody to be searched to determine whether the dog made a mistake. The dog is a sensing device, like a metal detector. If the dog or the metal detector raises an alert, that is, IMO, sufficient reason within the 14th amendment to conduct a search for a substance that would trigger the alert.

    Beyond what we can do within people’s Constitutional rights, I think the people have to accept the risks, or change the Constitution. Our government is not supposed to just change the Constitution because they want to do something, which is what has been happening, wholesale, in the name of “safety,” for the last ten years or so.

  8. This treatment is not new and has been going on for several years. Five years ago we traveled with my 75 year-old mother-in-law, a polio survivor, from Salt Lake to Ontario, CA. Due to her post-polio syndrome condition she wears leg braces and uses a walker and was using one of the airport provided wheelchairs for transport to the boarding gate.

    When we got to the TSA line, you would think she was Osama Bin Laden himself. She was asked to get out of the wheelchair (theirs, remember), stand, take off her leg braces and go back through the scanning contraption – alone, and without the walker or anyone assisting her. Mind you, if she takes off her leg braces she cannot stand upright, either with or without any assistance, and she certainly cannot walk. Their solution to achieve airline security was to create a physically impossible situation for the passenger to comply with. Total idiots with no idea of physical limitations of individuals in her situation and the daily trials they endure.

    Fortunately, a TSA supervisor with an ounce of common sense was finally summoned to the scene. He closely inspected the removed braces, questioned her for several minutes, and had a TSA agent push her again through the scanner.

    The lights still flashed and the alarms rang, but I think they finally became frustrated with the situation (now going on for nearly 20 minutes) and could see that she really didn’t pose any threat. Her leg braces were apparently not of the explosive variety they feared and we were finally allowed to pass.

    Maybe the TSA of five years ago was the kinder, gentler, variety, as we did find someone who could think through a situation and not insist on blindly following a set of rules for which there is often no reasonable solution. Except to not board the flight.

    Sounds like it is worse today.

  9. My wife and I were in the airport a couple of years ago and saw the TSA insist that an elderly woman with a prosthetic hand remove the hand so that they could inspect it. We stood by and guarded her possessions at the end of the inspection ramp since they just grabbed her and “escorted” her to an inspection room. Who trains these people? Sick.

  10. Apparently there is not only a maximum IQ requirement for being hired by TSA, but a requirement for callous stupidity as well. To paraphrase Lewis Black, “The enemy may be ruthless, but they are not masters of disguise.”

  11. I read they were considering putting these draconian measures in place for train travelers. Maybe the geniuses who thought of this ought to read up on the actions of the French Resistance during WW-II. Resistance fighters did not need to board no stinking train to blow it up.🙄

    I think I found a job for that former client of mine with the 44 IQ. She can go to work for the TSA.

  12. Stupidity in the name of security politic is no virtue. However, those “evil doers” as Bush called them will stop at nothing, even blowing up Grandma.
    The solution is simple. Everyone coming to the checkpoint should strip naked and be prepared for cavity searches. Oh…..wait. Can you swallow C4 with a small timer attached? Lets add full body X Rays to the mix.

  13. “callous stupidity” ?

    Really, what makes you say that? What sort of “smarts” does it take for the TSA agent to know who is and isn’t carrying contraband, chemicals, explosives, etc?

    The fact that a person is ‘x’ years old doesn’t preclude them from trying to commit a terrorist act willingly or not.

    Is the system we’re using good? No, it isn’t. It has a lot of flaws, flaws that are mostly based on the fact that people demand security but aren’t willing to pay the price. They understandably don’t want to be searched, groped, molested, or even inconvenienced. They demand that we ignore profiling, something that has proven effective for decades. Something that is rewarded when it comes to serial killers and common criminals but not when they profile shows a preponderance of non-whites. What does that leaves us with? Random searches ignoring anything like age, gender, clothing, destination, behavior, etc, etc or strip searching everyone. Neither one is very good.

    Do you have a better idea for security? One that isn’t “callous and stupid.” While Tony C’s idea has flaws it is at least an idea. Combining his idea with profiling would probably be a benefit but nothing is 100% effective.

    Insulting the individuals doing their job as directed is immature and small minded.

  14. Questions to ask of anyone on these issues:

    1) Where are your boundaries in this? What sort of search would you finally say is too much? If it could be shown that the body scanner XRay machines cause x cases of cancer per year, how high would x have to be before you said they should be stopped?

    2) What would your response be should a plane be hijacked/crashed/blown up and it was shown that the event could have been prevented had the search equipment not been removed? What would the rest of the American Public say?

    3) Given 1 & 2 above, exactly where do you think searches are going to stop?


    The problem is framed incorrectly.

    We frame it as a cost benefit analysis trading off costs of the search versus costs of the hijacking, but that’s unfair because, as humans, we naturally place the cost of the hijacking/death/9/11 as infinitely high. (And yet, what other value can we give it?)

    But when placed against an infinitely pricey risk, what cost can be considered too great?

    And so the result is a race to the bottom. Spend everything. Give up all freedoms. Must stop plane hijackings.

    There is some “the only way to win is not to play” way of avoiding the Kobayashi Maru, but I don’t know what it is, and I don’t even know how to cheat.

  15. As an engineer, I was taught that people often try to solve political problems with technology, and that is often (if not usually) futile. The political problems remain.

    Still what do you do once it’s been shown how trivial it is to take down an aircraft and how much bang there is for the buck?

    Other solutions: bags fly on a completely separate aircraft, people get used to wearing “airplane clothes”, tyvek disposable washable x-ray friendly clothing and booties. (somethink like what this pan am stewardess was sporting back in 2001: http://up-ship.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/2001glossy3.jpg)

  16. 2manyusernames,

    Yeah, I do have a solution. Do away with the TSA altogether and repeal the Patriot Act. As a logistical matter it is impossible to secure an airport – too many people coming and going simply to make things work at all to make them perfectly secure. In fact, airport employees pose the greatest risk to airline security as not only are they coming and going all day, they have access to sensitive areas that passengers do not. We should go back to using metal detectors, x-rays and mechanical sniffers/dogs for baggage. Combine this with a system of spotters in airport common areas like the Israelis use. It’s cheaper, just as effective, far less intrusive and not an open violation of your Constitutional rights to be free from search and seizure absent a warrant unlike the current grope down and strip system.

    On a personal note, if you don’t like what I have to say? Don’t read the posts. The TSA behaves like a bunch of mouth breathing morons as evidenced by stories just like this one. I’ll say it again: forcing a sick old woman to humiliate herself because of irrational paranoia is callously stupid. If you have a problem with that? That’s your problem. Security theater is immature and small minded and if you take this personally because you happen to work for the TSA? Good. You should. You’re part of the problem with our ever eroding civil liberties in this country, not the solution. The TSA is an intrusive and abusive organization that does nothing to add real additional security to airports. It simply takes your rights, abuses people needlessly and randomly, and gives the illusion of doing something that more passive – yet equally effective – security measures could actually accomplish.

  17. @Budda — “Yeah, I do have a solution. Do away with the TSA altogether and repeal the Patriot Act.”

    This is the first non-retarded comment you’ve made in a month.

  18. Absolutely. But first the manufacturers and the TSA would have to admit they are dangerous. And that would cut into Michael Cherthoff’s profits. What’s a few more workers with cancer if he can make a buck and help violate the Constitutional rights of citizens?

  19. Keith Olbermann just named John Pistole, TSA chief, today’s “Worst Person in the World.”

    The statement by the Pistole’s TSA on this case is one for the books: “We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure.”

  20. I know it is already too late to get the story straight but the headline and the story cut out some important facts.
    The story isn’t “federal agents ordered [woman’s] elderly mother to remove her adult diaper,”. The elderly woman had a soiled adult diaper, the TSA alerted the woman’s mother to the problem, and the woman didn’t have a spare diaper for her mother to use. Were TSA agents supposed to allow the woman to remain in her own waste? I’m not saying the daughter was negligent in not preparing for her mother’s travel, because there may be more to the story. (I’m also not commenting on why the mother’s family members would make their wheelchair bound, incontinent, dying 95-year-old relative fly to Michigan, rather than getting their own asses on a flight to Florida. Maybe they were older and sicker.)

    But the story is not that the TSA agents searched the diaper, or ordered the mother to remove the diaper so they could search underneath the diaper. It’s not to hard to imagine that the agents were simply discreetly advising the daughter of her mother’s problem, which the daughter was unaware of.

  21. @frank: The story I heard (from my wife, who saw it on TV) is that the elderly woman was flying to Michigan not just to see her relatives, but to see the places she grew up one last time. She was a native Michigander.

  22. @anon: We frame it as a cost benefit analysis trading off costs of the search versus costs of the hijacking, but that’s unfair because, as humans, we naturally place the cost of the hijacking/death/9/11 as infinitely high. (And yet, what other value can we give it?)

    The cost of 9/11 was about 3000 lives. In principle I agree that a life’s value is immeasurable in dollars; but so is the value of guaranteed freedoms. So it doesn’t make a difference how much it costs in dollars or how much it saves in dollars. We have the right to be free from search without warrant, we have the right to be free from warrant without plausible evidence of wrong-doing, and we have the right to be considered innocent of crimes until we are proven guilty of a crime.

    These rights do not come with a price tag attached. Within my philosophy, at least, although I have the right to risk my life, nobody else has the right to risk my life and then just pay up if my life is lost. Billionaires should not get a pass on reckless endangerment or manslaughter, they should go to jail.

    We cannot really put numbers and do a cost-benefit analysis on the value of freedom versus the value of life, these values are determined by each person individually. There is no objective measure.

    The TSA procedures should be up to the citizens. In order to conduct these searches, they actually require a constitutional amendment, or a partial repeal of the 14th amendment, and the result will be the wholesale legalization of the general police state we have seen emerging in the last decade, and an end to all of our freedoms, including free speech.

    So to me THAT is the real question, and the cost-benefit analysis is: How much liberty will we trade away for greater safety? I don’t think either can be measured in dollars, but any gains in safety are at the expense of liberty, and recently we’ve been on a cowardly spending spree, giving up our civil liberties left and right.

  23. http://epic.org/privacy/airtravel/backscatter/epic_v_dhs_radiation.html

    Documents Obtained by EPIC Through Its Lawsuit
    On June 24, 2011, EPIC released documents obtained from DHS as a result of EPIC’s lawsuit.

    The disclosed documents include agency emails, radiation studies, memoranda of agreement concerning radiation testing programs, and results of some radiation tests.

    The documents raise new questions concerning the radiation risks posed by the TSA full body scanner program. The records demonstrate:

    TSA employees have identified cancer clusters allegedly linked to radiation exposure while operating body scanners and other screening technology. However, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters – safety devices that would warn of radiation exposure.

    The DHS has publicly mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST “affirmed the safety” of full body scanners. NIST stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test full body scanners for safety, and that the Institute does not do product testing.

    A Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the “General Public Dose Limit.”

    A NIST study warns airport screeners to avoid standing next to full body scanners.

  24. The Isralies have it right.
    Next week I HAVE to fly. I’ll go through the X-ray thing, but if ONE person lays a FINGER on me I’ll turn on my (footless) heel and walk out!!
    I can’t believe how stupid the TSA is–subjecting people to a strip search.

  25. I insist that the TSA come to my garden & take all the thorns off my roses.That would make my life so much safer. PROFILE THE GOD-DAMN MUSLIMS YOU NITS THAT’S WHO WE’RE @ WAR WITH !!!

  26. I’ve seen a lot of questionable people let right onto planes, no questions asked! Then an Irish woman in her 90’s get’s stopped because she’s in a wheel chair. The problem is that the TSA employees have absolutely no street smarts and no interpersonal skills what so ever. The pay is so low that they are all borderline autistic and can’t really get any other job. I don’t know who the heck came up with such an idea to have these overgrown children grope and sexually assault caucasian people at will. Perhaps it is a sick joke on society and someone is having a laugh! Not me!

  27. The only real solution is to get rid of the TSA and DHS.
    Then get us out of war and the middle east.
    Then limit who we let in our country

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