Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stay calm. They are working on a solution. Stay calm.

That's the sense I get reading this oatmeal-ly op-ed in the NY Times. The author quickly summarizes the last 6 months of bad TSA publicity. Then she provides her relative's story:

One of my relatives, a distinguished federal official, recently sent a letter of complaint to the T.S.A. about her experience submitting to a body search at Washington’s Reagan airport after the scanner reflected the shadow of the ostomy bag she wears on her abdomen.
Fearing that would happen, she had printed out the notification card on the T.S.A. Web site, as she wrote, “so as to discreetly inform the T.S.A. agent of my medical condition. The agent would not even look at the card. ... The screening agent then did a hand search of my groin, breasts, under the waistband of my slacks and around my ostomy bag. ... Does having an ileostomy now make you a terrorist suspect?”
She has been rethinking how long she wants to work for the government in a job that requires a lot of air travel and says she would consider joining a class-action lawsuit against the T.S.A.

So you'd think there might be some angry words for the TSA to follow. Nope. She ends by quoting Chief-Groper Pistole at length:
John Pistole, the T.S.A. chief and 26-year veteran of the F.B.I., said he called Tom Sawyer, a 61-year-old bladder cancer survivor who had his urostomy bag dislodged, and urine spilled on him, after a rough T.S.A. search in Detroit last November.
“I asked him to come in and provide some personal perspective that could be used in training to give greater sensitivity,” said Pistole, who flew Sawyer from Lansing, Mich., to Washington.
He said they are trying to move past a “one-size-fits-all” program and implement a “risk-based, intelligence-driven process” by the end of the year that would have more refined targeting. If passengers are willing to share the same information they give to airline frequent-flier programs, he said, maybe some day they will be able to “keep their jacket on and their laptop in their briefcase and hang on to that unfinished bottle of water.
“I’d like to get to the point,” he said wistfully, “where most people could leave their shoes on.” 
Ya' know that little card your relative printed out to discretely alert the TSA to her very personal medical condition (which, by the way was picked up because someone was looking at her naked)? Those were put out in response to poor Mr. Sawyer's incident. There were also promises of sensitivity training for TSA agents. A lot of good that did! (Oh - and I told you so.)