We have conflicting stories surrounding this incident. The 90-year-old’s son claims that when TSA screeners spotted an anomaly in his mother’s bra, they had her come to a secondary screening room where they instructed her to take off her shirt and bra. Afterwards, according to the son, his mother was left shaken.
The anomaly they had picked up on was a hidden pocket sewn in her bra that served as a hidden compartment for extra cash in case her wallet was lost or stolen. Of course, the TSA would get paranoid over such a thing. They wanted to make sure she wasn’t hiding anything illegal in there.
The TSA, however, have a different story. They claim that they would have never instructed anyone to remove clothing. According to them, the elderly woman began removing her clothes voluntarily and was promptly ordered by TSA security to stop. TSA spokesman Mike England told the Daily Mail:
“Preliminary findings indicate that at no time during the screening process did the passenger remove her clothing nor was she requested to. In fact, when the passenger, of her own volition, began to disrobe, she was immediately stopped by the TSA officer conducting the screening.”
So, whom do we believe? As much as I criticize the TSA for their very existence, I’d have to say that more than likely, they didn’t force the 90-year-old to remove her shirt and bra. They do pat-downs, not strip searches.
Having said that, I wouldn’t put it past a TSA agent to violate official policy. After all, they’ve been known to snicker and make jokes about people’s X-ray images. They’ve been known to steal travelers’ valuables. And they also have an impressive 95% failure rate when it comes to identifying drugs, weapons, and explosives coming through “security.” In other words, they’re pretty worthless.
Which leads to my next point that this incident – whether this elderly traveler was strip-searched or not – was totally uncalled for. There should have been no secondary screening. There should have been no body-scanning. There should have been no presumption of guilt. In short, there should have been no TSA.