Terrorism, old ladies, and strip searches

Are old ladies given to fibbing about their experience at airport security?

Two separate octogenarians say they were strip searched at JFK airport in New York. One 85-year old says she was strip searched. The next day, an 88-year old said she was forced to pull her pants down in a search.

The TSA doesn’t exactly say the women are lying, just that the events the women said happened, didn’t happen.


“TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience; however, TSA does not include strip searches in its protocols and a strip search did not occur in this case.”

TSA blogger Bob Burns provides the latest on his investigation here.

He also suggests the arrest of four men in Georgia on terrorism charges is proof you can’t take the elderly lightly when it comes to security.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Quite the credibility contest:

    “In this corner, the challenger. You know her as the loveable, the somewhat needy, the not unknown to exaggerate, the chronologically and cognitively differently abled – Granny Goodstory!”

    And in this corner, the reigning champeen. The shamer of more than three ounces of shampoo! The uniformed one that makes you take your shoes off! The placer of the infamous terrorist Ted Kennedy on the no fly list!…The Terrible TSA!”

  • Bonnie

    Good to learn there is a TSA blog, interesting. CCTV?

  • jay sieling

    “TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience;”

    The classic ‘non-apology apology’. I just presented the topic of apologies to mend relational transgressions in an interpersonal communication course last Friday. An effective apology has three elements: admit the act was wrong; sincere “sorry”; and offer to make amends. The TSA attempt is among the worst efforts. It takes no responsibility for the situation and shifts the burden to the other person. “apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant experiences”. Pathetic attempt really.

    Oh, and saying “it isn’t part of the protocol so it didn’t happen” is hardly a watertight bit of logic. A bit of a flawed syllogism. “Speeding is breaking the law; I am a law abiding citizen; therefore I was not speeding (when the radar gun clocked me going 70 in a 55) It did not happen”.

    TSA doesn’t need another PR nightmare. Even if these two octogenarians perceived the pat down as more invasive than necessary there is a better way to respond than with a non-apology denial.

    At the very least I now have another example to use in class. Which is good, because I was getting tired of using Tiger Woods and Herman Cain!