Friday, March 28, 2008

TSA and Piercings

Your questions and comments on the incident in Lubbock, Texas have not gone unnoticed. Yesterday, as soon as TSA became aware of the situation, people in our Security Operations office looked into it. They interviewed the four Security Officers who at one point or another, screened or spoke to the passenger - two men and two women (if a passenger requests private screening, they must get an officer of the same sex to screen them there). TSA has also been in touch with the passenger’s lawyer on several occasions.

The bottom line: the security officers followed the procedures for when someone alarms the metal detector and did nothing wrong. But, after looking at the procedure the officers followed, it was determined that the procedures should be modified. An official statement has been posted on our website here.

Lynn

TSA EoS Blog Team

350 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 350 of 350
NoWalmart said...

I received this in an email from the TSA a couple of years ago:
Security requirements issued by the TSA establish a security minimum for adoption by air carriers and airports. Air carriers and airports may exceed those minimum standards by implementing more stringent security requirements. This prevents potential terrorists from "beating the system" by learning how it operates.

So it seems that the Lubbock TSA agents have the ability and authority to do just such acts.

I had originally emailed the TSA because an agent did a similar "I am going to change the rules because I am on a powertrip" sort of move. I never received any sort of resolution - indeed, the TSA response contained exactly what I pasted above.

If the emailed response I received is correct, then the "TSA Policies" say that the Lubbock TSA agents can do exactly what they did.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The procedures are idiotic. Piercings can't hurt anybody, and anyone who's not an idiot knows that.

March 28, 2008 5:58 PM

The piercing itself was not and is not in question, the resulting alarm from the piercing is what raised questions. The TSO's had no knowledge that it was a piercing, only the passenger's word. ALL ALARMS MUST BE RESOLVED. If a pat down of the area does not clear the alarm, it must be resolved through other means, including removal of the alarming item.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
This is what happens when you give people authority they aren't worth of.

March 28, 2008 6:28 PM

Is that the best you can do in an open forum?

Anonymous said...

I've been harrassed by TSA twice. This is not new behavior for them. Most of them are just doing their job, but quite a few of them are just total morons on a power trip.

I hope TSA reads these comments, and knows most of the US doesn't respect them. In our eyes, you aren't protecting us, you are just delaying us.

Anonymous said...

In my experiences with TSA they are very testy, incompetent people who usually spend more time searching people over 60 that securing the airport.

Apologize to the women you humiliated and stop treating people like cattle.

I now avoid flying if at all possible because of the incompetent TSA employees and the companies poor management.

The Occidental Tourist said...

While the indignities endured by Mandi Hamlin at the hands of TSA representatives is distressing, it is unfortunately not uncommon. As the Medical Liaison for the Association of Professional Piercers, I am all too familiar with this story. I have heard it many times before, from different people traveling through different airports in different parts the country. While this is not an isolated incident, it is noteworthy this issue is now garnering sympathetic press.

The Association of Professional Piercers is a non-profit international educational organization dedicated to the circulation of relevant information about body piercing to piercers, health care professionals, legislators, and the general public. Representatives from our membership routinely speak to other professional organizations on how to interact with others with sensitivity concerning body piercing.

Millions of Americans now have body piercings. What was once easily overlooked as a practice engaged in by a small group of individuals has since become commonplace. Health care professionals have had to learn how to address their patients with body piercings, and many hospitals are now proactive in drafting policy to address this issue. To read there is “no specific TSA policy to deal with body piercings” is discouraging, especially when so many other groups, businesses, and organizations have long ago addressed this topic.

On behalf of our membership, body piercers everywhere, and all air travelers with body piercings, the APP encourages the TSA to not only address their lack of policy on this issue, but to educate their handlers to engage the public with respect concerning their bodies and their choices with regards to how they adorn themselves. Only then can we all get what we all want: to get through the security line at the airport quickly, with our dignity—and our jewelry—still in place.

James Weber
Medical Liaison
Association of Professional Piercers
safepiercing.org

Anonymous said...

I am a former security supervisor that was with the TSA in Houston. I found that one of the main problems with the TSA lies with the upper management. They are all too busy flexing their new found power hungry egos to worry about listening to the people who are actually doing the screening or as was my case, supervising the screening. The upper management is too busy trying to cover up things that happen. The TSA is full of racism. All screeners are suffering from this and something needs to be done before the whole system self-destructs. I gave the TSA 4 years of my life and was terminated because I was trying to do the right thing and ensuring that TSO's were doing their jobs. I was blindsided by the TSO's when they got together and fabricated a story about me. Management just patted their little butts and said everything would be ok and terminated me. The world id full of corrupt and crooked power hungry people and it looks like a majority of them has found their safe haven in the TSA.

USAF Man said...

I totally agree this policy and the incident are/were ridiculous. That said, this woman is not the only one who has been subjected to the pain in the butt policies of the TSA. TSA needs to review ALL of their policies and inject some sanity into them. I am a senior U.S. Military Officer and even when traveling ON GOVERNMENT ORDERS and in uniform, with my military ID, I have to remove my shoes, belt, metal and everything else. It's extremely inconvenient and pretty stupid. That said, I'm willing to do it and as long as silly policies are in place, at least TSA is enforcing them in a fairly uniform manner. If the woman decides she's going to pierce her body, then she has to live with the consequences. I'm NOT saying that's right or condoning the TSA policy; just saying others with better cause have to put up with TSA policies.

winstonsmith said...

That said, I am entirely willing to endure (and pay for) reasonable security enhancements that give me reason to believe that I'm getting genuine protection from threats in exchange for what I'm paying in dollars and lost liberty. Everything I've seen about the TSA (including the "official" posts and responses on this blog) only convinces me that what we now have is not worth the price.

Well said Mr. Anonymous. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

If you are willing to wear piercings, then you should be willing to accept the consequences that come with it.

And what consequences might those be? Piercings in "private areas" are normally invisible to the general public, completely covered by normal clothing. The wearer has a reasonable expectation that the piercings will remain private except when he or she chooses to reveal them. In the case of Ms. Hamlin, she also believed she had an expectation of privacy at the TSA checkpoint because she claims to have made repeated flights without incident. She also had a reasonable expectation that her piercings would not cause problems because the TSA has not defined them as "prohibited materials" (at least not in any definitions available to the public).

It only became a problem (and received national attention) when a screener in Lubbock, TX decided to make a problem out of it. The incident revealed that the TSA's policies in this area were inadequately defined, and that the TSOs lacked adequate common sense, common courtesy, and that common decency to implement the inadequately defined procedures in a way that doesn't humiliate or even injure passengers. The TSA has since decided to clarify its policies-- though apparently only after the incident received enough attention to force TSA officials into their usual reactive damage control mode. But the TSA has otherwise decided that the behavior of the TSOs in Lubbock was entirely acceptable (and even commendable because it was "protecting passengers and crews").

So in practice nothing has changed. TSOs are free (and perhaps even encouraged) to "interpret" TSA policies and procedures as they see fit. They have a reasonable expectation that if a passenger is ever upset enough to gain national attention that embarrasses the TSA, their bosses will defend them, proclaim that they did nothing wrong, and even commend them for their diligence. And whether it's nipple piercings or anything else, passengers will still have no way of knowing whether the TSO who processes them will "interpret" TSA policies and procedures to arbitrarily prohibit items they happen to be carrying, or whether they will face public humiliation for it. That's a major failing of the TSA, although the government apparently sees this more of a benefit than a failing.

I suppose the "lesson learned" is that passengers should not bring anything into the checkpoint, whether in their carry-on or on their person, that they are not completely comfortable with some stranger with a badge seeing, inspecting, disassembling, or confiscating. Yes, something changed after 9/11. We have no privacy any more. The tragedy is that we didn't give up that right because the terrorists took it from us by force, but because our Leaders unilaterally decided to take it from us for "national security."

Anonymous said...

Where is the common sense in any of the procedures? From grandmothers wearing underwire bras to nipple piercings, from hair products, baby food and makeup.

This is tyranny! STOP the abuse, you do not have absolute power! Personally i am disgusted beyond belief! I think those TSO's involved should be fired and the TSA sued.

winstonsmith said...

To Anonymous who asks:

"We are so quick to point out cases where the TSA messed up but forget about the NINETEEN guns in one week that were kept off of our planes."

Were these guns tucked into a bottle of shampoo or a 20-oz. Coca Cola? Were they somehow hidden in the soles of a loafer or a sandal or a sneaker? Even Kip Hawley has said that people trying to get guns onto planes are stupid or disturbed, not terrorists. TSA gets and deserves no credit for keeping guns off of planes because TSA's idiotic policies are not the reason these guns were found.


I would like to add another dimension to this question... of those 19 guns, how many were found by the TSA? Were these all found in the US? Were some found outside the US? The statistics that the TSA gives on the weekly website say only that they found this many guns, this many knives, this many artfully concealed items. They don't say that the TSA found them. The TSA does not say what airports they came from. The TSA does not tell us that one of the guns was actually a 1874 Colt Revolver that they lifted from an 88 year old collector who thought that he could bring it aboard because it was mounted in a case. It could just as easily have been the Chinese security services, or the French security services, or the Nicaraguan security services for all that matter.

Were any of these guns loaded? Were any of the carriers of these "dangerous items" found to have any intent to do anything to the plane or any passenger on the plane? Define "artfully concealed" for me please... that's a vague term.

Anonymous said...

Let them know we understand they were following the procedures put in place to keep us safe.

Actually, we don't understand anything about why the TSA's procedures are put into place. They continually tell us that they keep us safe, but when we question things that are incomprehensible (such as the liquids and shoes stuff) the answer always is "it's classified, so you'll have to trust us." For that matter, we can't always know whether they're actually following the procedures because so many of them are vaguely defined and give TSOs almost unlimited arbitrary authority. The only thing we know is that whatever the TSOs do, if it's egregious enough to be embarrassing to the TSA, the damage-control squad will defend them.

Americans are not a trusting lot, since we became Americans rather than remaining British subjects because a certain monarch called George proved himself entirely untrustworthy because of his well-documented abuse, humiliation, and bullying. So "trust us" doesn't work, especially when it comes from officials serving another George whose administration has given us ample reasons to distrust it. The TSA officials who get upset because surveys consistently show that the public hates the TSA seem disconnected from reality.

Maybe another way to look at it is to say that we the public will be "understanding" of the TSA when they "understand" that we have the right to be treated with respect. Then the security process will be easier (and possibly more effective) for everyone. But the sort of "respect" compelled through intimidation and bullying isn't what I'm referring to.

nano said...

The officers were wrong in this but don't blame the TSA, blame the officers in question, its up to them to use their judgment... don't go blaming the whole agency...

Anonymous said...

I flew out of the country awhile back. To Mexico, went thru Memphis airport for customs. I was so very disappointed when things were missing from my suitcases and bottles broken that were wrapped tightly in clothing. I wrote to TSA about it and they said sorry about your luck basically.

I do think security has greatly improved, but destroying and stealing thins from luggage is a problem.

Anonymous said...

Hey blog team -- there's a lot of us out here that have put a lot of time and effort into creating constructive feedback to the TSA on this blog. What is being done with it?

Nothing. I have come to the conclusion that this blog is the TSA's "designated free speech zone." It's similar to the way the administration deals with protesters at political events. They set up a "free speech zone" well away from the event, and particularly well away from any media. Protesters are then free to rant and rave to each other while leaving the event and its stage-managed media coverage undisturbed.

The TSA's management knows they have a very serious image and PR problem, and that the traveling public is angry and resentful. I suspect they attribute that to profound ignorance and stupidity that prevents the public from fully appreciating either the gravity of the Global War on Terror or the dedication and diligence of the TSA in fighting it. So their solution was to set up this blog as a "free speech zone" where the angry public can rant and rave in their ignorance and stupidity, with occasional official posts and responses thrown in as bait. I guess the theory is that providing a "free speech zone" will let the public harmlessly exhaust their vitriol so they'll perhaps be more docile and easier to herd when they darken the doorstep of their checkpoints.

When the TSA officials and TSOs read our comments, they just shake their heads because they reaffirm their conviction that the traveling public are incorrigible dolts who deserve to be herded like animals, yelled at like children, humiliated like prisoners, and urgently need TSOs to teach them lessons about Respecting Authority. And when we read the official TSA bait, we just shake our heads, reinforce our own convictions about the TSA, and then give the officials more comments to laugh at.

The Bush administration has a "low-side compliance" interpretation of the First Amendment. We still have the right to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for grievances (subject as always to necessary restrictions for National Security reasons). But that in no way implies any right to be heard.

Anonymous said...

So Lynn, The officers did nothing wrong and TSA will protect them because of the fear of their lawyers. I think the repeated common comment is where did COMMON SENSE go to? One more defense of a rule written by an ignoramus and followed by same will make me puke. Why don't you guys and gals pull your heads out. The only reason people act like this is because their supervisors and bosses provide opportunity and protection for them to do so. I was on a flight with three connections. I was a smoker at the time so I went through security each lay-over. The last one located an old swiss army knife in my rather large brief case. I sure am glad I didn't have my nipple rings in. I probably would still be in jail.

anonimous
offended
concerned

sick of government employees acting as though they have power instead of a cushy job.

I am sure all comments must be approved by the blog author.... How else do you sensor anything without monitoring what the minions are up to. We will probably all be identified through our ISP and be on a list at all airports. Good luck getting through security now.

Chance said...

"Question for moderators -- is anyone capturing the suggestions being offered on this blog for analysis? "

"Interestingly, I have yet to note a response from the TSA that indicates that our suggestions have been noted or are being considered. Question for moderators -- is anyone capturing the suggestions being offered on this blog for analysis?"


If you look at the "Horay for bloggers" post, and the "MacBook air" post, you do indeed see that ideas, comments and suggestions are being studied, and some are being implemented. Just a couple days ago I took an idea submitted on the blog and posted it to our internal "idea factory" where suggestions are commented on and evaluated for possible implementation. That being said, this is still a large government organization, and even if an idea is a good one there may be legal, regulatory, budgetary, or plain old practical reasons it can't be implemented. Even when they can, this is a large organization, and change doesn't come overnight.

"Lots of barked orders, unnecessary yelling, etc. See my post about Flint MI, Orlando FL, Atlanta GA and Pensacola FL for details."

"- "STOP THE YELLING. Ahem, stop the yelling." (Wish I could take credit for that one.) There's a concept in human relations called the "minimum effective response." It boils down to use the least level of response that gets the job done. IOW, don't yell when a simple explanation in a civil tone of voice will get the job done."


I have to comment about this. I just flew through Atlanta and several other airports the week before last, and yes, there was yelling. With the number of people there, and the noise level it would have been impossible for me and others to hear the instructions without the yelling. Maybe I'm just not sensitive, but it didn't bother me in the least.

Chance - EoS Blog Team.

Anonymous said...

Being screened to enter a plane need not be as invasive or embarrassing to be effective. we're traveling, not trying to visit prisoners... the tsa needs to get it together quickly

come on! said...

"Regrets the situation in which she found herself." Nice weasel language, here TSA. God forbid you actually apologize. No, you have to make it sound like the situation suddenly appeared and that no one had anything to do with it. "Regrets the situation TSA created for this passenger" would be more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

@chance "I have to comment about this. I just flew through Atlanta and several other airports the week before last, and yes, there was yelling. With the number of people there, and the noise level it would have been impossible for me and others to hear the instructions without the yelling. Maybe I'm just not sensitive, but it didn't bother me in the least."

Is yelling a prohibited behavior for TSOs? May I yell at TSOs without any negative response from them? If the answer to both is no, explain why the contradiction exists. Are TSOs superior beings to me?

Arashinokage said...

First I would like to commend the TSA for creating this blog and wish other agencies would take your good example. I just found out about this thanks to an article on MSNBC. It's an excellent idea, and it's rather sad that so many people have a rather disenfranchised or alienated view of our federal government. In light of this, I would like make a post:


"Any while you geniuses are at it, how about explaining how ANY object small enough to be contained in a NIPPLE PIERCING could possibly be a danger to a plane -- not that you'll do this, because you're all a pack of liars and cowards."

I think this person undoubtably feels that false accusations will bolster his claim of incompetence. Sorry you feel that way sir. However, I would request you and anyone else who has an issue to read this (from the Houston Chronicle), quote:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/drugquagmire/603860.html

"[b]Couriers have had heroin surgically inserted into their buttocks or breasts.[/b] Water-soluble cocaine can be impregnated into clothing and wigs or molded into ashtrays and handicrafts, then turned back into powder."
end quote

and

from BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3098746.stm

quote "A bomb strapped to a horse has exploded in a market in north-eastern Colombia, killing at least eight people, including a two-year-old child." end quote

It would not be a far stretch for an enemy of the USA to find an ostracized woman who is disenfranchised and politely suggest a numerary sum of money in exchange for implanting RDX/C4 in her chest (either for transporation or for a suicide bombing on an aircraft).

I should emphasize that the alleged behavior of male TSA employees should not be condoned, but that ultimately they followed appropriate procedure, which is what would have prevented a potential catastrophe in the first place. It's clear in retrospect, the TSA reviewed it's policy and determined it could be improved, and thus did so. One should never fault an entire agency for the actions of a few individuals. To be certain those individuals at the very least should be reprimanded, and the TSA should not be loathe to execute it's reprimand as the federal government has a tendency to do with it's poor performing functionaries.

In summary, I once again commend the TSA for creating this blog. Well done. Procedure was followed (further kudos), but assess the allegations, determine the nature of the crime (if any), punish the guilty.

Anonymous said...

I understand the need for additional security in this time of truely sick individuals. However, I'm more afraid of abuse by TSA than the sickos. As a matter of personal choice, if the trip I need to make is two driving days or less, I'll drive. Even at today's fuel prices, the convenience of time is not worth the potential for grief by TSA. Saoory airlines, you are the ultimate losers.

Anonymous said...

It seems that this very reasonable person was mistreated. She offered to show the officials her piercing, what more is required? There is no way she would have been able to hide anything the size of a nipple ring that could do any serious damage to anything. I feel bad for her because I have had piercings there and it is VERY painful taking them out. Good job TSA, your policies are very reasonable and knowledgable about the very people they are supposed to protect.

Anonymous said...

I recently travled from Las Vegas to Burbank, CA for a couple of days. I was and still am apalled by the rudeness and inconsideraion of the TSA at the Burbank Airport. Upon my return trip back to LAs Vegas I was approaching the checkpoint, put all my bags and belongings inti the screening machine and removed my wallet and ticket from from briefcase and carried in my hand through the metal detector. Prior to entering the metal detector I was stopped by a female TSA person, who made the following statement "I am only going to tell you this one time sir, put your wallet and your ticket in your pants pockets and free your hands OR YOU WILL NOT be traveling today!"
Now, first of all, I have on a pair of slacks with no rear pockets, so how do I conform with this request? I had to stuff the objects in my front pockets and was yelled at by the TSA Employee for not putting the wallet and ticket in my rear pocket. As I began to reply I was then subjected to being harrassed by this TSA Employee. After a minute and a half of being berated I was finally let through. What is really unbelievable is the complete lack of not only professionalism but the lack of uniformity and standards followed at every airport.

Trollkiller said...

Ayn R. Key said...

Sorry, trollkiller, those nipple shields are noticably thinner than a 2.2 mini-gun as you linked to. You still fail to find something of the same size.


Please tell me how a TSO could tell how deep a nipple shield is when it is under a bra? That gun is only .4 inch deep. That is less than a 1/2 in deep.

The total size of that mini revolver is 2.2" long, 1.4" high and .4" wide. It weighs .7 oz.

Sorry a nipple shield is close enough to the size of that weapon that a woman could easily slip one into her bra and claim it is a piercing.

Unfortunately what I found that will fit the description showed the nipple shield on an actual breast. I doubt the blog team will allow the link so I sent it to your aol account.

coolingstar9 said...

Screening is the must to ensure safety, constantly review the checking procedure also a good practice.

Anonymous said...

Anyone listening at TSA? Here is the first paragraph from the first blog posting: "

Wow! The number of comments on our blog has been amazing. Many of the posts during the last 24 hours are exactly the types of questions we hope to answer and the conversations we hope to begin with the traveling public. Some have been downright mean and cranky but that’s okay too. For most people, this is the first chance to reach out directly to TSA and tell us about your experiences and we very much want to hear from you."

Paragraph sounds like you are inviting the public to ask questions and start a dialogue ... some serious (and not so) questions and suggestions posted here - not a peep from TSA to date.

Ben Arnold said...

Some quick comments --

1. True to form, the TSA trots out a female spokesperson (this time, it's Lynn -- where is Ellen Howe???) to placate the public every time thereis a "female" issue. -- Sorry -- Most of us see right through this.

2. If Gloria Alred hadn't gotten involved, we, the people, wouldn't have gotten this far. The TSA just couldn't hunker down and wait for it to blow over. Thank you, Ms Alred.

3. To Anonymous at March 30, 2008 11:06 AM: I wouldn't call your excellent post "suggestions," I call them "requirements." We, the people, have to stay in the TSA's face until all of this becomes reality.

4. To Anonymous at March 30, 2008 9:17 AM: The screeners are REQUIRED to change gloves every time a passenger requests it. Please do this! I do, and many others do as well.

Anonymous said...

did those 19 guns they found in the bags of a terrorist? probably not.

were those 19 guns found in the bags of an innocent harmless traveler? probably not.

bottom line is you dont know whos sitting next to you on a plane. it could be some psycho, or someone with a mental disorder who decides to go crazy.

and guess what, your 30,000 feet in the air with nowhere to hide. thats why i think its a pretty good idea to keep these dangerous objects from boarding.

Anonymous said...

I think the TSA followed proper procedures, just get over it, there will always be someone crying about something if she has a knife stuck in the crack of her ass and got through security it would have been the TSA fault when they stop someone because the wand detected something its their fault. waa waa waa people get over it its a matter of security just deal with it unfortunatly this is what the world has come to you can either die on a plane being blown up or you can get over it and take out your damn nipple ring. This is ridiculous. I say no apologies needed from them, they did what was right. Someone always wants their moment in the damn spotlight.

Anonymous said...

I fly every week, i am very happy with the job being done by the TSA. Anything that will make us safer works for me. We in this country have already erased 9/11 from our minds. We must give something for the extra protection.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Now, Trollkiller, you tell me that you know the woman, who was considered a threat to aviation, was left alone to remove the piercings and you tell me that you know this from her account of the incident.

I’ve read several accounts and nowhere do I read, in her words, that she ever said she was left alone. Her attorney’s statement said that she was taken behind a dark curtain to remove the piercing in private. However, “private” in the mind of the TSA means the passenger together with a screener.


I am sorry I did not mean to leave an impression that I know this lady.

The nipple ring lady's account BEFORE the lawyer got involved. Paragraph spacing and bolding is mine. I also made one edit for an F-bomb. Would hate to see this one get deleted for HER words.
************************

I was leaving Lubbock after a nice visit with my 88 year old great uncle. I was wearing a tan hat with AVALANCE hockey on the front, a blue Nike shirt, my blue and gray sport windbreaker, and blue jeans with a hole in the right knee, and my tennis shoes.

I proceeded to the security line, went thru the first screening lady with my ID and boarding pass.
I grabbed a tray to place my shoes and phone into. The guy behind the x-ray machine proceeded to go thru the speech about, do you have liquids, shampoo, lotion, etc. I told him I had some lotion. He asked to open my bag and to please take it out.

I opened my bag, took out the lotion still sealed in the zipped lock bag, handed it to the gentleman and he placed it in a round plastic container they had available for running thru the x-ray machine. I zipped up my bag, placed it on the conveyor and followed it up with a big plastic container where my shoes and phone were placed.

As I walked thru the security doorway, there was no sound at all. I was asked to step over to the side and have a seat, for I was to be wanded. As I’m asked to be seated I notice them really looking at my bag in the x-ray machine.

Actually, there was a group of people gathering over there to take a look. I asked if my stuff would be brought to me, a lady said yes after this gentleman takes a look inside my bag, from a different location.

I watched my items go from the conveyor, to a table, where I watched another gentleman, from a distance, go thru my bag.¬

As I was sitting in the chair, I was asked to place my left leg up, where she wanded my lower leg and my foot. The same was done on the other leg. I was then asked to stand, with my arms out and palms up. An 80-year-old lady was wanded as well. I moved over so she could have my seat. She was having trouble walking because she had socks on and the floor was slippery. She had, had a hip replacement, that’s why the security doorway went off for her.

I proceeded to assume the position, she wanded my backside, and then started with my front side. As she was going over my left breast the wand went off, she started reaching with her right hand, I looked at her and said “I have a nipple ring; in fact I have one in each of my breasts.

She asked me to wait just a minute she had to go get someone else. She brought over a gentleman, I told him the same thing. He said, “Just a moment, let me go ask someone else.” He came back and said, “I’m going to stay right here because I want to hear what he has to say about this.”

He also said, “you should have just done a pat-down. Another gentleman came over,
He said, “Ma’am you are going to have to take those out.”
I said, “I cannot, but I will show them to you.”
He said, “Just a minute let me go ask this guy.”
He came back with someone else and that gentleman told me I have to take them out.
I said, “I cannot, but let me show them to someone.”
He said, “Wait just a minute.” He walked away and brought over Greg.

As all 3 guys were roaming the area anxiously awaiting Greg’s words of wisdom.
Greg arrived and said “I’m sorry ma’am but either you go inside this private area over here or you go back out of the security area and remove your piercing.”
I said, “Let me show them to someone, what’s wrong with that?”
Greg said, “I’m sorry, but we can no longer do that.”

I said, “Fine, I’ll go in the private area”
My items were then brought over to where they would be taking me, behind a black curtain and placed on a table. As I walked over I had tears running down my face. I’m feeling humiliated at this point, oh but it gets worse. At this point, I have 1 gentleman and Greg standing outside the black curtain along with 2 women officers.

I take one piercing out and walked over and showed them.

One of the women started reaching for it, I told her she couldn’t’ touch it. Yes she had the blue gloves on, but she’s handled so many things from other people, why would I want her touching what just came out of me and germing it all up. A gentleman got a paper towel for me to place them on because they wouldn’t just let me place them in my pocket. So I walked back behind the black curtain and proceeded to take the other one out. I was unsuccessful. I came out and said, “I’m sorry, but I cannot take this one out.”

Greg said, “I’m sorry ma’am, but if you don’t take it out I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the security area.”

I said, “Fine, then get me a pair of pliers and I’ll yank the f***er out.”

Greg went and got some pliers, handed them to me, I went back behind the black curtain and took out the remaining piercing. Yes I needed a pair of pliers to take this piercing out.

As I was back there I could hear the TSA members that were multiplying outside the black curtain, snickering on the other side.

I almost popped my head around the corner and I was going to ask them what was so funny, but all I wanted to do was to get home.

I said, “There I have it out, happy?” I then tossed the pliers on the table. The 2 women officers came behind the black curtain. The one who previously wanded me, was standing there watching. The other woman was going to wand me again. I was asked to be seated, one more time, with one leg at a time being extended for her to go over the lower leg and the foot.

After that, I was asked to stand up to be wanded one more time. I stood up, arms out palms up and I was gone over once again. As they went over my front side again

I said, “Oh wait, I didn’t take out my belly button ring.”
The woman officer who was wanding me said, “that’s fine, we can see that one.”

So I’m thinking, then why couldn’t I have just pulled my shirt up 10 more inches for you to see my piercings? After the wanding I was then told, by her, that she would be patting me down. I stood there, arms out palms up as she patted me down from head to toe.

She said, “Ok, thank you.” The 2 women walked out from the black curtain and said ok she’s good to go. I then put my piercings in my pocket, walked back behind the black curtain and used my undershirt to blow my nose.

Yes I’m still crying at this point. I hear one of the guy’s say, where did she go? One of the women said she’s back behind there. I then walked back (4 steps) to the table where my stuff was. Put my shoes on, put my jacket on, grabbed my phone, picked my bag up and proceeded to walk out of the security area.

As I walked out I walked toward Greg and the other 3 guys who had all gone to get each other and I said, “thank you for humiliating me.” This was really gestured towards Greg and I’m sure the other guys knew that. Since I looked right at him. He said, “I’m sorry ma’am.”

I walked to a little deli across from my gate and got a soda. I then sit down at a table, to try to gather myself, facing the security area. I see Greg walking my way.

I stop him and say, “ Can I get your name?”
He said, “Will you be filing a complaint?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “I’ll go get you a card.”
I said, “Fine and make sure your name is on there.”

He came back with the complaint card, handed it to me, tore a piece of paper in half and proceeded to write his name on it. He handed that to me and asked for my name?
I said, “Why do you need my name, your not filing a complaint on me.”
He said, “So I can check up on this.”

So I gave him my name. Then I asked him if he had a book of rules in his back pocket?
He said, “No and they are not subject to view by the public only the TSA employees.”
I said, “Well then your lying to me, that rule doesn’t exist. If you don’t have proof then you’re lying.”

I sat down and he walked away.
When I got home, I cleaned my piercings to replace them and they wouldn’t go back in. I WAS NOT going to force them in. My nipples had already closed the holes. That’s why I couldn’t take them out!

I felt humiliated in front of so many people and made a fool of by the TSA employees.

I feel that this was a case of discrimination. Just because of my appearance or the clothes I’m wearing doesn’t mean they should single me out.

I looked thru the TSA website where I came up with lots of information. First of all this was a great read for me:
Hidden items such as body piercings may result in your being directed to additional screening for a pat-down inspection. If selected for additional screening, you may be asked to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to the pat-down search.
Guess this is what Greg didn’t want me to know. He and others wanted to humiliate me.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't a "visual inspection" constitute a FORM of resolution?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist...

Anonymous said...

I am finding this whole Body piercing thing extremely ridiculous! Please when I fly I use my brain and I don't wear the watch that I like so much,or the belt with the big buckle, etc. My friend knows that when he flies he has to have his special card with him because of an metal implant. He knows without it he is not getting on the plane.
I believe everyone should take a moment and think about one question and one question ONLY..........
What is more important the safety of ALL passengers, or her body piercing?
Duh??? No brainer!!!

BigDad said...

TSA is arbitrary and gives me no comfort. Just this past month I witnessed TSA agents in Atlanta totally abusing an old man from Germany who was clearly grumpy and simply old and not cooperative. The agent was so out of line even his supervisor came over to watch. I asked the 'watcher' if he was the supervisor, which was confirmed. I stated: "It is obvious that this old man is confused and obvious that the agent causing the issues was on a power trip." Nothing was done. Eventually, the TSA people got tired of chasing nothing and let the guy go.

Anonymous said...

This whole liquids thing is such a farce, especially since I am now reading that the airlines are going to crack down on the weight of our luggage. Don't they realize that these toliteries weigh far more than our clothes???? As, if they loose my luggage, these are the items I need the most. What's next????

Donna

Anonymous said...

Ok maybe I am a little slow here, Lynn, but I still havent heard how nipple rings are a threat. Or any other piercing for that matter. Are nipple rings somehow a loaded bomb? And when you remove them from the skin, you somehow unarm them as you place them in a little plastic bag?

Are they a tiny bomb device that can be made to make a bomb/gun/or anything else? If so, then why did you let this woman take her nipple rings on the flight? Lets also not forget that you let her navel ring stay in. It's the same kind of metal.

What was it about removeing the rings from the skin that made them safe enough?

What safety did you gain in taking these measures?

Please don't bring 9-11 into this. Living here in NY, I did not breath any easyer or feel any safer knowing this woman had to take her rings out in order to come home.

And when did piercings hit the list of things that had to be removed/couldnt board with?

When have you ever heard "Plane forced to crash into building. Crew taken over by loaded nipple ring"??

Your people crossed the line. As far as following procedures...what procedures were in place that did not allow nipple rings in the first place?

So from now on, as I sit on my flight, I will be worried to death. Did the person sitting next to me somehow board the flight wearing loaded nipple rings?

Jim Huggins said...

Chance:

As someone who has to speak publicly for a living ... there's a subtle difference between speaking loudly and yelling. I'm not sure which you heard, and which others have heard, but ... it's entirely possible that your comment and theirs aren't incompatible.

Anonymous said...

How very rude, inappropriate and sexist to have a nipple ring removed. I sure hope the next man with a penis ring also has to remove that and I bet this nonsense will stop

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted by what the TSA did. I am a person who has several piercings and would never stand for being told to remove them in front of some person who has little to no training. I worked for a police department for 9 years and had to be certified every year on the legal way to deal with pat searches, strip searches and removal of all jewelry.
I think that all 4 people should be at a minimum put on desk duty be forced to take a sensitivity course and retrained on what to do and how to have some tact while doing it.
If the TSA thinks that this is the way to treat a growing population of people then maybe they need some training as well. I have never set off an alarm because of my body piercings and my gut reaction is that this was done in order for them to have some fun that day.

Davek said...

TSA is a waste of time and money. We are NOT SAFER today than we were 20 years ago when we didnt have all the additional “security.” The terrorists have won because we are changing the way we live and living in fear of another attack. All of today’s security policies are simply to provide the masses a FALSE sense of security when it is really just an inconvenience to us all. TSA is actually causing more of a danger by having THOUSANDS of people stuck in long lines at the airport for 2 hours prior to flight departures. The acts of 9/11 will never occur again because the people of america NOW KNOW what terrorists are capable of and will not allow anyone to take over a plane like they did. The reason the 4th plane did not hit its intended target is because the heros on that plane realized the intentions of their attackers when they heard about what happened to the other 3 planes (R.I.P.) and they took matter into their own hands and stopped them. The best thing that has happened in the Airline industry since 9/11 is the reinforced cockpit doors. Other than that, the rest is just an inconvenience to us all. Lets get back to the days when we truely lived in freedom and without fear!

Anonymous said...

I hope this woman takes the TSA to the cleaner's in court. This woman is a UNITED STATES CITIZEN! The TSA should be ashamed for defending these abusive actions.

Stephanie said...

Being that I'm from Lubbock, the incident upsets me a little. Lubbock officials have always been good as far as I saw, but I think the woman should have been allowed to privately show a female security person that the metal was really piercings. To have her remove the piercings with pliers was unusually cruel and painful no doubt, on top of incredibly embarassing and humililating, given that the male security officers were snickering. I completely understand protocol and taking security measures, but THAT was not necessary as far as I'm concerned.

Traci from Texas said...

This is just another reason why I would rather drive for 15 hours than take a plane. Between the TSA and the rude airline employees, the hassles are just not worth a few hours saved. The TSA employees did not follow policy. or they would have offered the passanger a "pat down". The TSA employees need to be fired for abusing their power.

Anonymous said...

I just went to vegas with my three year old to cirus circus for spring break any way on the way home yesterday American Airlines terminal would not let me self check so I waited in line 40 minutes to be told the reason why I could not self check in is because my flight was changed to United at 930 and I needed to check in with them another 40 minte wait I checked in to run up to the security gate to be pulled out of line after waiting 30 minutes and told I needed extra screening that my airlines selected me at this time it was 930 mind you I got to the airport at 7am any way we were walked into another line 30 people deep that all had been pre selected as well. I asked the screener please American changed my flight to united it leaves in a half an hour we are going to miss our flight. She looked at me and stated this was not her problem I needed to take it up with the airline I asked if anyone could screen us seperatly by the time we got to the front of the line it was now 925 no one cared at all I ran once finished being screened WITH MY THREE YEAR OLD IN TOW TO THE END OF THE AIRPORT to find they had just shut the plane doors the airline stated it was not their fault I was late I started crying please can you not open the door and let me in the plane was still attached to the jet way she said no again its your fault she stated my fault I cried I stood in line at the American terminal 40 minutes to check in to find they switched my flight to United were I stood in line another 40 mintues to check my bags another 30 mintes at the security gate to find I and my 3 year olds had been pre selected for individual screening were we stood nearly 30 more mintes I begged for help no one helped me. We had to wait nearly 4 more hours to get a flight home that day to LAX they were so cruel to us!!!

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely in shock over this. To expect someone to take out piercings from private parts of the body is absolutely insane. Also, some people have permanent metal items inserted in their bodies as a result of medical procedures or conditions - how in the heck are they to remove that metal? I personally have permanent steel stitches from a surgery and I cannot get verification from the physician who performed the surgery as he is dead and the hospital where it was performed at no longer has the medical records. I will not go thru having an X-ray done in order to be able to fly. This is just another example why I choose to drive cross country instead of flying with all of these insane Republican ideas.

Anonymous said...

The TSA is set up to stop people from getting onto a flight with a weapon, but stopping someone with piercings is just boneheaded. When on the Airplane you have a weapon handed to you everytime you ask for a drink. ((Pour it in the plastic cup, no thanks just give me the can.---Break the can in half and press the metal to a nice edge,...now you have a cutting knife that can slit your throat.))

THe standards in which the screening is done needs to be looked at again, and revised. I am not saying stop the security process but the TSA as well as the airlines needs to look closely at the things that are stopped and the things that are allowed to pass.

Anonymous said...

In my travels and dealings with TSA I personally find them rude and insensitive. IF the purpose of this Agency is protect AMERICANS and the traveling public, I find it apalling that the majority of employees I run into are foriegn. I have had dealings with those that have barely and understanding of english and there are TSA employess that have no regard for the personal property of those who travel. I have had my bags ransacked and items taken from checked bags. i have seen people humiliated and I have seen those who simply walk by with no checks at all. i have been in an airport that you might as well walked in naked the way you are treated by TSA employees. it is my opinion that with the simplest of freedoms that we as Americans have sacrificed those that do wish harm upon us have a measure of victory knowing what we go through just to board a plane. Yet we have no regard for our boarders other forms of transportation have no safegards at all. Lets face it we have more people in this country and they dont belong here and have broken the law yet nothing is being done and they do use all modes of tranportation. All in all I think the TSA is nothing but a beauracratic power grab that is a waste of taxpayer dollars that could be spent more efficiently to preserve our safety. Besides if someone does get through your mainline and does do harm, the TSA will be the first to wash its hands of any blame or take any responsibility for their negligence.

Chance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As a TSA employee I must say even we were and still are disgusted with the policy we have to follow. Do we have common sense? Of course we do but if we use it we are wrong because someone gets their feelings hurt.

The statement she was 'forced' to remove them is totally false, she was given the choice...she chose to remove them and fly because as the policy applies we have to resolve all alarms.

If she had been carrying drugs or a bra full of plastic explosive would you people complain then? No, you would say good job for finding it!

We are damned if we do and damned if we don't so think of our position before you so harshly judge us. It is you that put us in this position after all.

Anonymous said...

>>The comment about the Pacemaker and the metal knee, please don't be sarcastic with such an issue.<<

If the TSA showed a modicum of common sense, this wouldn't even be an issue. I'm one of the posters who's poked fun at the TSA over removal of metal surgical implants, using exaggeration to make a point. If you take the apparent set of procedures to their logical extreme, cutting off someone's leg over a titanium knee is where you end up.

Bear in mind that the flying public has had to endure TSO's confiscating baby formula, a passenger having a sterile feeding tube rendered useless by a TSO insisting on opening it, medicine being confiscated, etc.

Given the agency wide reputation for lack of common sense, I could picture someone with a metal implant (like mine) being given a lot of grief, and the whole situation dismissed as "just following procedure."

"You all call us idiots, for doing our job and following rules."

Though I have never called a TSO an "idiot" here, I did refer to one as an "ignoramus" in one post. "Mindless bureaucrats" is another them that comes to mind. I see a widespread lack of common sense in not only the rules, but also the behavior of the screeners themselves. Some examples:

When a screener ruins a sterile medical device, is that following the rules? How is that doing one's job?

When my checked bag is searched, but not reclosed, allowing my belongings to simply fall out, is that following the rules? How is that doing one's job?

When I walk up to the metal detector and the screener yells "TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES AND PUT THEM IN THE BIN. PUT ANY NOTEBOOK COMPUTERS IN A BIN. KEEP YOUR BOARDING PASS AND PHOTO ID IN YOUR HAND AT ALL TIMES", is that following the rules? How is that doing one's job? How am I supposed to remove footwear, pull out notebook PC's, pull out ziploc bags, handle bins, etc. one handed in order to keep my boarding pass and photo id in hand at all times? If this is following the rules and doing one's job, please post the relevant link.

Here's my perception as a passenger -- I walk up to the checkpoint, just wanting to get through security and be about my journey. The TSO's, OTOH, like to play "gotcha", make up their own rules, are just looking for an excuse to start throwing their weight around, and generally treat the passengers like idiots at best and criminals at worst.

As I've said before, the TSO's are in charge at the checkpoint, and set the tone of the interaction. I don't care if the last person you dealt with was a complete doofus, I expect to be treated with common courtesy, and I also expect some reasonable level of common sense.

Consequently, that screener that expects one to juggle footwear, bins, notebook PC, ziploc, etc. one handed in order to "keep boarding pass and id in hand at all times" -- yes, she is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Well this is a concern I have.

What about people who have diplomatic immunity. Do they get screened the same way regular passengers do? If the detector beeps do they get the option of removing say nipple rings or getting a pat- down? Are can they simply say 'Oh it is just nipple rings' and because of there diplomatic immunity they are believed and sent on without ever knowing what made the detector beep simply because of their immunity?

If that is the way it goes. I see a big problem coming one day soon.

Anonymous said...

Racial profiling especially in the small airports. I frequently fly all over the country. It never fails that I get special treatment. It is because I'm black, there is no doubt. When will this stop.

Anonymous said...

Until TSA actually stops a terrorist attack the traveling public is going to think it is just a waste of time and money.

Watch the video of Mohammed Atta going through Boston and being hand wanded, look at how he was just patted a little bit and sent on his merry way so as not to upset or hurt feelings.

Then watch him fly a plane he hijacked with a BOX KNIFE into the world trade center killing innocent people.

What if the person doing the hand wanding had been like the screener in Lubbock and not let him through until that alarm was resolved?

TSA is not an all knowing, all powerful agency...the traveling public need to remember they are simply people trying to do a thankless job as best they can given the procedures they have.

They don't all make sense and they aren't always the best but they are in place for a reason. Live with it or find another means of travel.

Anonymous said...

What they did to that poor lady was criminal. I have traveled a lot and the TSA is totally out of control. They are rude, and have no compassion for the travelers. I don't know what it is going to take to stop these animals but something needs to give.

Jim said...

I travel a lot for work. Last year alone, I cashed IN 100,000 miles from my frequent flyer program (ASA). Granted, I do travel mostly west coast. In the past year, the farthest east I’ve gone was Detroit. I have to say that TSA, in my experiences has been
A: Professional
B: Courteous
C: Respectful
D: As quick as possible.

Now, granted, if I know the rules, I follow them. Tell me no liquid over 4oz, I follow (I do wear contacts and MUST have my solution, but I buy the small size for travel). I carry at LEAST one laptop everywhere I go – I know how to get ready for the security gate. I wear slip-ons when I travel – not only for the security gate but for the fact that I put on house shoes on in the plane for comfort. So, what’s the big deal? Granted, I’m a frequent flyer, and I DO get special gate access, but then again – I travel with KNOWLEDGE.

I applaud TSA for making my life as easy as possible when I travel.

Anonymous said...

Please, you have got to be kidding about abusing, violating and all the other rediculous comments being made. The piercing was not the problem, the TSO is bound by the regulation to NOT visually or physically inspect the nipple part of a womans breast. The passenger was afforded the opportunity to remove the piercing in private without being molested or any other rediculous comment that will come after this. TSA is now modifying the rule to allow the passenger to additionally expose themselves to the TSO. This was an option in the early inception of TSA, but was removed due to passengers stating they were forced to expose themselves. Now we are back to square one. Stop calling for the TSO involved to be fired, she did her job with respect for the passengers privacy while maintaining a secure environment by not allowing an unknown item into the area. Sorry, but not all passengers are telling the truth. It is amazing to see the lack of knowledge being sent out about TSA's requirements and employees. I deal with thousands of passengers a day and treat them with respect, but due to the ignorance of some I to am disrespected and stereotyped by the unknowing. I stand tall and will still believe in what I do. I hope that we can all just treat each other with respect.

STSO DP

mark said...

If the piercings made the detector go off TSA had the right to make her take them off. I am not a fan of TSA, but I do go by the law.

Roy said...

These screeners were deligently performing their duties! Heck, give um a promotion and a raise for following the rules! You want to fly, take your all artifacts off before coming to the airport. If not, you can always take a bus.

Anonymous said...

"Bragging about the number of firearms discovered is nothing but a PR attempt by the TSA to justify its existence while each day brings another horror story of the mistreatment of passengers by some of its totally repugnant screeners."

YEAH! Much better to have the guns on the plane. Then we'd have some REAL horror stories!

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone,

These nipple piercings were clearly a danger to our freedoms and letting her on the plane would only have emboldened our enemies. They hate us for our nipple rings! 9-11 changed everything! Hurr...

Anonymous said...

She tripped the metal detector, she needs to be required to take off anything that might be tripping it. I've had to take barrettes out of my hair. No difference. If she's embarrassed to have a nipple ring, she shouldn't have one. If she's not embarrassed to have one, she wasn't humiliated as some bloggers have stated (and I'm sure her lawyer will claim).

Anonymous said...

I really don't mind all the restrictions we have to go through to get on an Airplane.The only one that really bothers me is the taking off of your shoes.I can understand most people taking off their shoes but little old ladies and younger children is just plain stupid.I realize your tsa agents have a great responability in doing their job,but some of them are just plain rude if they hate their job that much why are they working their.Bottom line be a little more friendly and everyone will be better for it.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get this information that 19 guns a week are found on people by the TSA? If even one should ever be found, it would make headline news anf the fool carrying it would be looking at serious jail time. Live in the real world please.

Tim said...

I find it interesting that the tone of this statement is incongruent with the overall tone of the previous posts in this blog. I think the TSA is hoping we'll forget about the TSA employees who humilitated this lady with the equivalent level of sexual harrassment that would get them instantly terminated and provoke lawsuits at any corporation in America. But, the TSA, instead of terminating them, will continue to trust them as screeners, which, to listen to the TSA, if it isn't done correctly, all the planes will fall out of the sky. The TSA doesn't want their screeners to think they can lose their jobs due to unhappy fliers, so these screeners will be let off with no more than a slap on the wrist.

Anonymous said...

The woman knew before she went to the airport that she was going to be screen by TSA for metal objects, it was not new. While there probably is a better way of handling the situation, she has no one to blame other then herself. I commend the TSA workers for following the procedures that have been set forth, but now it is time to take a look at the regulation and see what corrections can be made. Let's all take a step back and breath, and to be so fast to punish others. Rules are not changed in the middle of a game they are changed afterwards once it is realized the current rules don't work.

Anonymous said...

The consistent theme here is that the TSO's can do no wrong, it's the policy that needs adjustment.

Isn't that what you have supervision on duty for? Couldn't a supervisor have the intelligence and the authority to comprehend that a piercing poses no threat and waive the removal requirement, then get the procedure changed?

Why do you have the mindset that only after a disaster occurs can you be prepared to alleviate the next one?

Steve in Arizona

ujungsenja said...

yeah, idiot procedures i think.

Anonymous said...

I being a younger woman am appalled at the fact that now any time I think of boarding a plane I have to go through a process that will humiliate and disrespect my privacy as a human.. TSA has gone just a little to far for my taste.. Pretty soon they will tell you you can not board unless you are of a certain race..

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Chance --

Good to hear that ideas expressed here are going somewhere. Thanks for that response. Also, I just caught the new message about re-doing the checkpoint experience. I have to tell you, that is exactly the sort of change to the system that I've been hoping for. As soon as I read the "people, process and technology" part, I recognized my favorite process engineering methodology.

At the risk of belaboring a point, I would like to respond to you comment "I just flew through Atlanta and several other airports the week before last, and yes, there was yelling. With the number of people there, and the noise level it would have been impossible for me and others to hear the instructions without the yelling. Maybe I'm just not sensitive, but it didn't bother me in the least."

Admittedly, the yelling part is a pet peeve of mine, so I have a low tolerance for it. However, I do try to differentiate between being yelled "to" and being yelled "at".

Unfortunately, too often (as I've experienced in Orlando and Atlanta) you still can't understand the yelled instructions. Most people don't know how to project their voices, so the voice "splatters" and intelligibility suffers. In Atlanta, in particular, the yelling was one of several factors that combined to create an overall negative experience.

One thing I've learned over the years is that, regardless of one's motives, yelling is typically associated with the emotion of anger and elevates the stress levels of the people involved. (Both the yeller and the yellee.) That's why I've made various suggestions about lessening the need to yell to be heard, and suggesting voice lessons as necessary to teach people to project without coming across as yelling.

The other side of the coin is the unnecessary "yelling at people". I've beaten that horse pretty extensively relative to experiences in Flint MI and Pensacola FL, so I'll try not to elaborate too much. Suffice to say, the TSO's involved there weren't yelling to be heard, because the noise levels didn't require it. Consequently, the yelling comes across as an intimidation tactic. That's one aspect of the checkpoint experience I wish the TSA would center on.

That also relates to my suggestion relative to using secret shoppers. Sending people who don't have that "insider's perspective" through the system could help smoke out areas for improvement.

Thanks for the response. I like it when a dialog gets going on the blog, because it allows for an exchange of thoughts and ideas, and makes the blog less a place to "just vent".

Have a good one...

Anonymous said...

This incident is further proof that intellect is not allowed in the TSA. The TSA is not about protecting Americans, but rather harassing Americans. The screeners were not correct in what they did. The policy should never have been in place and would not have been in place if the TSA had a clue. TSA is strictly a bad security theater show. The TSA response to this situation demonstrates a complete lack of decency and ability to take responsibility. The reason there has been no apology is that the TSA is very proud of what they did. I fly in excess of 100,000 miles a year and regularly see the stupidity that TSA passes off as security. I've encountered one TSA employee with the guts and brains to make a rational decision that was against "official policy".

I'd sign this, but the TSA would definitely retaliate, and they are not accountable to anyone.

SeeSaw said...

Anonymous (March 31, 2008 6:11 AM)
said...
... Pretty soon they will tell you you can not board unless you are of a certain race..

I think you are really stretching it here...
If anything, the TSA will add to the directive that allows people to pat down their own hats, by allowing people to wand themselves, and clear their own alarms.

SeeSaw said...

Nano said:
The officers were wrong in this but don't blame the TSA, blame the officers in question, its up to them to use their judgment... don't go blaming the whole agency...

I am not really sure who is to blame here. If the officers had used their judgement, and allowed a private viewing of the offending nipple rings, and then Ms. Hamlin hired Gloria Allred to sue because she was forced to bare her breasts...well then everyone would be in an uproar because the officers didn't follow policy. This is just a losing situation no matter how you look at it. The officers saved themselves, and their jobs, by following the policy that TSA had in place.

Anonymous said...

The TSA statement ends with

"We appreciate her raising awareness on this issue and we are changing the procedures to ensure that this does not happen again."

If people with far more intellect than those allowed to create TSA policies had been allowed to review all of the TSA policies this would not have happened. TSA management demonstrates such a lack of sound judgment that it is ludicrous to think that TSA makes us any more safe. I doubt all claims of success by TSA based upon their repeated shows of incompetence. I suspect that each claim of a success is a deliberate lie to attempt to justify their existence. The TSA is the payload of terrorism.

Anonymous said...

The officers were wrong in this but don't blame the TSA, blame the officers in question, its up to them to use their judgment... don't go blaming the whole agency...

Normally that would be true. But if you read the TSA's official response, you'll see that the whole agency (or at least its management) stands 100% behind the "officers in question," defending them as having done nothing wrong and even commending them for "protecting passengers and crews."

The "officers in question" may have perpetrated this particular incident, but the real fault is with the whole agency. Its policies, procedures, and culture encourage the sort of behavior the "officers in question" displayed and continually insist that TSOs can do no wrong. It's a systemic failure.

The agency's culture also includes complete insulation of the management chain from any accountability for failures. When something occurs that is sufficiently embarrassing to require disciplinary action, it's always the "few rogues" who bear the entire responsibility. Once they've punished the quota of low-level flunkies, they declare the problem solved and go on with the culture that encouraged the "rogue" behavior. That's exactly what happened at Abu Ghraib-- punish a few privates and declare the problem solved. And Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have clean hands and pure souls, even though it was their policies that encouraged the "rogues" to "soften up" detainees. Of course you can't removely compare the Lubbock piercing incident with the severe abuses of Abu Ghraib detainees. But it's the same principle of insulating the officials who set the policies and procedures that encourage mistreatment of "enemy" passengers from any accountability. This is the root cause of many problems with the TSA. It starts much higher than the TSA itself.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Were these guns tucked into a bottle of shampoo or a 20-oz. Coca Cola? Were they somehow hidden in the soles of a loafer or a sandal or a sneaker?"

No to my knowledge they were not.

The problem with shampoo and Coca Cola bottles is not guns, it is liquid explosives. It has been demonstrated that even small amounts of liquid explosives or binaries can do great damage. Check YouTube if you don't believe me.

The problem with shoes is shoe bombs such as Richard Reid's or using shoes to hide prohibited items and other such things, such as the switch and wire hidden in a shoe discvered in Alaska. Why hide a switch and wire? Perhaps the person was just odd, or perhaps it was a trial run in smuggling IED components on board.

People always complain when they have to do things like take off their shoes, or discard their liquids. Yet if a liquid explosive or shoe bomb took down an airliner, God forbid, then TSA would be slammed for not doing enough. Where is the middle? Personally I'd rather remove my shoes.

Ayn R. Key said...

As expected, I was one of those who Chance didn't respond to when the blog team actually chose to respond to comments.

There is a disturbing habit in the TSA to never admit wrong. Even though the TSA was clearly in the wrong on this, instead of saying that policies weren't followed, they are saying that the policies are being reviewed for change.

Even though the TSA has been demonstrably wrong one more than one occasion, they do not ever admit to being wrong. That is why even though it is documented on this issue how the TSA was wrong, even though it has been demonstrated by chemists how the 3-1-1 rule and binary liquid explosives the TSA was wrong, the TSA will not budge on either because that would mean admitting error.

That is why Chance won't respond to me. Responding to me means admitting the TSA is wrong about something. The TSA is not allowed to be wrong, so therefore my comments are ignored.

Why this resistance to admitting wrong? Is it because admitting error is a sign of weakness? Some people actually think that, usually government agents of a law enforcement mentality. Even though clearly wrong they will never admit it because they mistakenly think it will make them appear weak.

That is one of the reasons the TSA is so despised an agency. They'd rather tell us obvious lies, show utter contempt for our intelligence, then say "whoops, our bad."

Ayn R. Key said...

Another prediction on my part has come true. Given that the TSA is so clearly in the wrong, and given that the blog team never respond to old entries, a new innocuous entry was quickly posted so they can put this one behind them rather than respond to it some more.

Anonymous said...

Re: "I'm quick to point out cases where the TSA oversteps its (barely defined) bounds because there's no oversight, no appeals to higher management or authority, and no arguing with its agents lest you be detained on suspicion of terrorism. As an illegal entity infringing our 4th Amendment rights, they need to be brought down (peacefully!) through the only system we have that sometimes works: the courts."


Unfortunately your claim that the TSA is an "illegal entity" rampling on your "4th amendment rights" has no legal merit. Don't look to the courts for help in you plight, as they have consistently held that searches done with regard to airline security are completely constitutional. They are administrative searches done to prevent prohibited items and people of ill intent from boarding airliners. Even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the ones who declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional) have upheld the government's power to conduct these searches: "where an airport screening search is otherwise reasonable and conducted pursuant to statutory authority, 49 U.S.C. § 44901, all that is required is the passenger's election to attempt entry into the secured area of an airport." TSA regulations place that "attempt" at walking through the magnetometer or placing items on the belt t be x-rayed.


See: United States v. Davis, 482 F.2d 893, 908 (9th Cir. 1973); United States v. Hartwell, 436 F.3d 174, 178 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 127 S. Ct. 111 (2006); Marquez, 410 F.3d at 616; Biswell, 406 U.S. at 315; 49 C.F.R. § 1540.107

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the comments supporting TSA's actions are solely from people who think that piercings are "bad" and "alternative" and the people who have them don't deserve to be treated like human beings. Nice.

Seattle Screener said...

Quotes from Anonymous..

The reality is that most TSOs are professional, respectful, and conscientious about doing the best job they can under the circumstances in which they operate. Unfortunately, the minority of TSOs who are arrogant, ignorant, stupid, or outright bullies is large enough to give all of them a bad name, and to lump the agency right alongside the IRS and FEMA as the most despised and distrusted.

I beg to differ with the premise that the problem TSO's are a minority. In my recent flying experience, the screening environment has been unnecessarily hostile more than half the time. Lots of barked orders, unnecessary yelling, etc. See my post about Flint MI, Orlando FL, Atlanta GA and Pensacola FL for details.


By counterweight: many, many flyers (particularly frequent fliers) are unnecessarily hostile towards TSOs, whether it is deserved or not. Perhaps you did have a bad experience in Omaha, or four bad experiences in Pensacola. I was not the TSO that mistreated you, so dont take it out on me.

It only takes one power tripping TSO to turn a checkpoint into a hostile place, and the TSA needs to realize that and act accordingly. I'm bloody tired of TSO's that act like schoolyard bullies, and the TSA failing to take corrective action.

I disagree that an entire checkpoint environment is changed because of one bad employee, however I agree that corrective action is slow to take place. Many officers police their own, however the biggest impact that can be made is input from the passengers. Management (at least here) takes negative comments about TSOs very seriously, so if you have a problem, FILL OUT A COMMENT CARD and leave it with a supervisor. They do take action.

To reiterate my expectations as a law abiding airline passenger, citizen of this country and former Naval officer:

- Professionalism, ordinary civility, and common courtesy.
- To be treated the same way the TSA expects me to treat their personnel.
- Basic operational competence.
- Realistic, common sense rules, clearly stated.
- To be treated as a law abiding citizen until my actions prove criminal intent. (A misunderstanding of poorly explained rules is not evidence of criminal intent. Artful concealment would be.)
- Accountability for actions and for failures to act.
- To have my belongings treated with due care and respect.
- To be offered assistance when needed.
- To have means of redress if the above items don't happen.


First off, I agree with your assessment. However, parts of this statement are made with no understanding of how TSA operates beyond your perception. Just because you do not see TSOs being held accountable for actions perceived as negative does not mean they are not held accountable.

With these expectations stated, the TSA really needs to do its own homework and figure out to maximize security while minimizing the appearance of being a bunch of bullies on a power trip. The TSA needs to proactively analyze the situations it encounters and look for ways to improve the situation, instead of just doing damage control after the press gets involved.

Such is the nature of "administrative security". That is, we're limited in our ability to screen passengers based on civil rights, and a desire to accomidate passenger's perception of "freedom". That isnt a bad thing, of course, and though I hate to use the term, "it is what it is". Point of fact, those people who claim we are already invading the travelling public's civil rights have likely never been patted down by a police officer.

- All TSA personnel must wear name tags in plain view at all times when on duty.

This should be done now? It certainly is at every airport I've travelled through.

- The "we looked in your bag" notice must show the location, date, time and identify the TSO who searched the bag.

This is a great idea.

- Bring the belongings of anyone selected for additional screening to that location.

Again, this should be done now. Those who are not doing this, are not doing their job properly.

Anonymous said...

Those agent should be fired, they clearly sexually harassed the poor girl.
No one deserves to be treated this way.

Anonymous said...

To sum up, the same abuses that occurred when TSA was stepping women out into stairwells and making them disrobe, when TSA was demanding women disrobe before stepping through a metal detector or allow male officers feel up their underwires and breasts, just recurred with the excuse that a piercing set off the metal detector.

TSA should be very cognizant that those of us who have seen our female coworkers and family members harassed sexually in this way will and do intervene. If TSA expects passengers to just accept treatment which in every environment other than Congress is a crime and results in substantial fines and possible jail time then they have made a serious mistake.

The last two times I had to intervene in this kind of sexual harassment one officer was "removed" (he may have been terminated or may just have been moved out of that airport as we never saw him again), and a lot of paperwork barely stopped corporate attorneys from getting involved.

And just because you're officers are harassing a family instead of business travelers doesn't get them off the hook. While being bored out of our minds by the endless queues and stupid that TSA has implemented, business travelers have lots of time to watch for mistreatment and abuse of other passengers.

Jim Huggins said...

Seattle Screener writes:

Just because you do not see TSOs being held accountable for actions perceived as negative does not mean they are not held accountable.

I realize this is probably impossible, but ... why not find a way to hold TSOs publicly accountable?

I know this creates all sorts of problems. Most employees don't like having their job performance evaluated publicly. But I'm in a job where my job performance is rated publicly all the time, with or without my consent And so I learn to perform better, partly because I know that lots of people are watching.

If discussing individual cases is impossible, why not do it anonymously? TSA calls out passengers all the time, such
as the one who tried to bring brass knuckles aboard, or its "week at a glance" statistics. How about along with telling us how many guns were confiscated this week, you announce how many TSO were disciplined for violating procedures ... or highlighting a TSO who was disciplined for particularly aggregious behavior? It would certainly show that TSA is serious about improving its own performance.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"A nipple ring is obviously more of a threat than a Gulfstream, at least in the eyes of TSA. If you have access to a private plane, air taxi, or charter service, your nipple rings are free to travel unhampered."

Wow! Is this true? Would TSA care to respond is this true and if so how this makes our air space safer?

Anonymous said...

Ted said...

"I'm just thankful that we don't have combat-dressed troops with Uzis every 100 feet, or similar going through luggage with bayonets, as happens in other corners of the world!"

Actually Ted it isn't so bad. Through all the international airports I've traveled through - not one of these troops has pointed a weapon at me or said anything discourteous. I'm not afraid if one comes up to me to ask questions.

When traveling domestically I'm always worried about what rule do I not know about this time. What's gonna' be said to me. Call it fear ... but 'tis real and I'm probably not the only one out there.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if you wear metal in your body, and want to fly, you should be able to remove it.

Just pull out your titanium hip for inspection by the friendly TSOs.

Anonymous said...

Ben Arnold said...

"4. To Anonymous at March 30, 2008 9:17 AM: The screeners are REQUIRED to change gloves every time a passenger requests it. Please do this! I do, and many others do as well."

Ben - it would be great if we could get a regulation number or link to website on this policy. I'm a bit afraid of asking if I don't have some official basis for asking.

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy how the words "we apologize" or "we're sorry" are apparently not part of your repertoire. You regret the situation she found herself in? Wow, and you wonder why so many of us dislike the TSA. Please, I get enough corporate doublespeak in my daily life. If you want me to trust and believe you try talking to me like I'm an intelligent person. And APOLOGIZE.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is the real policy for piercings?

It seems that is might have been this:

Piercings are permitted as long as they do not trigger the metal detector, or are cleared by visual or pat-down inspection. TSOs are not permitted inspect genitals or nipples with a pat-down or visually, so genital and nipple piercings must be removed if they detected.

This is what they did when "the security officers followed the procedures for when someone alarms the metal detector and did nothing wrong", and this is what TSA stands behind 100%, so it must be the rule.

Take notice, metal wearers. TSA may not make it easy to learn and follow their capricious, unwritten rules, but by their actions we shall know them.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"A nipple ring is obviously more of a threat than a Gulfstream, at least in the eyes of TSA. If you have access to a private plane, air taxi, or charter service, your nipple rings are free to travel unhampered."

Wow! Is this true? Would TSA care to respond is this true and if so how this makes our air space safer?

March 31, 2008 4:09 PM"

19,000 airports and landing fields in the country, TSA holds court at 450. The rest are under a program called "Airport Watch", pilots get training for it. Go to any General Aviation building and check it out.
Chance brushed off my last inquiry.
What's even more interesting to me is that many Air Force bases have GA. All you need is a pilot or a pilot's license and file a flight plan.

Anonymous said...

That is one of the reasons the TSA is so despised an agency. They'd rather tell us obvious lies, show utter contempt for our intelligence, then say "whoops, our bad."

That problem actually goes well beyond the TSA. When have you ever heard anyone in the Bush administration, from the Commander-in-Chief on down, admit to making any kind of mistake? When someone is conclusively caught with a hand in the cookie jar, the standard tactic is to first denounce whoever caught the perpetrator. Or they'll blame whoever is at the lowest level and thus expendable. Then they lie, prevaricate, obfuscate, and change the subject, or if all else fails invoke "classified" and "National Security" to smother the discussion once and for all. Or preferably they'll just ignore the whole thing until it goes away. Whatever it takes to avoid going anywhere near admitting the possibility that they've made a mistake. The administration is always right, and it's always someone else's fault when something goes wrong. That's the administration's standard operating procedure.

The TSA is part of the Bush administration, so it's not surprising that its entire approach would reflect the administration's "infallibility at all costs" ethic. So of course they'll respond to the Lubbock incident with an insulting press release stating not only that the TSO did nothing wrong, but was doing an excellent job of "protecting passengers and crews." And it's not surprising that the TSA responses to legitimate questions on this blog parrot the official line that everything they do is the right thing to keep us safe.

I only hope that the TSA will become more respectful, accountable, rational, and effective when the Infallible Decider leaves office next January.

Anonymous said...

"The statement she was 'forced' to remove them is totally false, she was given the choice...she chose to remove them and fly because as the policy applies we have to resolve all alarms."

So the choice is painfully remove them or lose a $500 nonrefundable plane ticket? Nice choice there.

When people plan to fly, they've usually invested a good deal of time and money in the process, not to mention time-off work, other travel plans, other connections, etc.

"Do you want to fly today?"

Bullies.

Anonymous said...

I am a TSO and let me tell you that I don't want to see/clear genitalia! I have piercings under my clothing and they have never set off the metal detector (thank goodness because I don't want my co workers looking at me)

Anonymous said...

"When have you ever heard anyone in the Bush administration, from the Commander-in-Chief on down, admit to making any kind of mistake?"

There has been a recent admission about early alcohol abuse and then finding God, or a God complex. Nothing that really explains the current mess, at least as far as I can see. History won't be gentle with recent events and the man at the helm.

Anonymous said...

A message to TSA, Blog Staff and any other government epresentative.

Based on the posted comments here the travelers of this country are not buying into the official Nipplegate statement made by TSA.

It is clear that something went wrong for Nipplegate to have happened. Policy is developed by senior leadership and implemented by the workers in the field. If the policy was correct then the senior leaders are at fault. Seeing that the statement absolves the TSO's then that only leaves senior leaders being at fault.

The only reasonable position to take is that senior leadership is not up to the task of formulating policy and should be replaced.

Congress has passed legislation that has made the TSA possible and seems unwilling to rein in the abuse of power that is experienced daily by the citizens of this country at the hands of TSA.

The only real solution to start a corrective action is to vote out any politician who will not stand up to the TSA and allows them to trample on the Constitution as they do now.

I can only encourage all blog readers to communicate with their representatives and demand change.
When the noise grows loud enough change will happen.

decaffeinated said...

I have several questions about this issue:

1) are there a lot of job openings for nipple ring screeners? If so, can males apply?

2) let's suppose that the TSA will only let females gaze upon those rings. In that case, can lesbians apply to be nipple ring screeners?

Thanks in advance for your replies!

Anonymous said...

Here is something of interest, read this on another forum.


http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/messageview.php?catid=55&threadid=819818

blogger said...

"That problem actually goes well beyond the TSA. When have you ever heard anyone in the Bush administration, from the Commander-in-Chief on down, admit to making any kind of mistake? When someone is conclusively caught with a hand in the cookie jar, the standard tactic is to first denounce whoever caught the perpetrator."

And the Clinton Administration was angelic and honest. Or was that "is" honest.

Anonymous said...

As a female who has several hidden piercings, I take full responsibility of the fact that they ARE metal. Whether they be titanium, silver, gold... whatever..Whether they be 18 guage, 20 guage 22 guage and or 1-3 inches long is of no significance. You get pierced, YOU take on the responsibility that comes with it.

YES.. before you all shoot me, the treatment of this woman WAS indeed disgusting and uncalled for, a simple visual iunspection by a FEMALE TSO SHOULD have been sufficiant for her to be able to determine no imminent threat was there, and the woman should have been allowed to board with no further issues. BUT, it DID happen, and SOME things need to change, BUT again, the woman should take some responsibility for it as well. I have had several MRI's, been in several government buildings with metal detectors, had some xrays, and YES even flown a few times, ALL WITH my piercings unbothered. I simply change them out to a silicone/plastic piercing until I get to my destination or testing done, then change it back. THAT SIMPLE, with NO HARRASSMENT.. and NONE the wiser....

Anonymous said...

The TSA continues to act like little more than common thugs. Most rational citizens would conclude (and rightly so) that while nipple rings might be a bit racy, they don't pose any threat whatsoever to security (national or otherwise).

Let's save some money and get rid of the mostly-useless TSA.

Anonymous said...

So, how are they going to change the procedures to accommodate leaving piercings in less visible places?

Are they going to let agents pat down or look at people's genitals and nipples?

Chas S. Clifton said...

In other words, the officers did the "right" thing, but TSA has determined that it was the wrong thing.

Ah, bureaucratic doublespeak. "We have changed our procedures, but we refuse to admit that the previous procedure was wrong."

Anonymous said...

Well with the policy changes. I hope this doesn't swing the other way.

Because I'm assuming that a policy change means now they can look at a woman's breast to inspect what set the metal detector off.

So I hope that some TSA agent doesn't do the exact opposite of what happened in Lubbock Texas, in the near future, and tell some lady. I have to look at your breast and you have no other options but to comply with the physical inspection, or you want to be allowed to board the plane.

TSA agents can abuse any rule they choose too regardless of what the policy says about treating the public with respect and dignity that TSA says that the agents are suppose to follow.

Policy doesn't mean anything if TSA Agents don't follow all of their own rules and just simply pick one of the rules and tells the public that is the one you must comply too or you can't board the plane.

The option to remove the item that caused the metal detector to beep is still going to be there as part of the TSA policy.

All the options need to be given to the person. Not just one of them.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "BUT, it DID happen, and SOME things need to change, BUT again, the woman should take some responsibility for it as well. I have had several MRI's, been in several government buildings with metal detectors, had some xrays, and YES even flown a few times, ALL WITH my piercings unbothered. I simply change them out to a silicone/plastic piercing until I get to my destination or testing done, then change it back. THAT SIMPLE, with NO HARRASSMENT.. and NONE the wiser...."

BRILLIANT! - Someone in control of their own space and destiny.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I have ever actually seen TSA employees acting professional. Acting like hyperactive high school kids, yes, acting like a cross between DMV employees and ghetto thugs? 99% of the time actually. Acting like professionals? Nope. My impression of the TSA from every interaction I have ever had is that the are opportunists preying on peoples fears to make themselves feel more powerful.Sorry to be so blunt but this is based on TSA employee's behavior in every instance I have flown, not mine. Fix your system and your inhuman procedures.

Mike Ashworth said...

I feel it is a shame that you couldn't actually use the word "sorry" rather than "we regret" when issuing an "apology", oops, "formal statement"

Mike Ashworth

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ April 1, 2008 6:26 PM : "The option to remove the item that caused the metal detector to beep is still going to be there as part of the TSA policy."

All that a voyeur-TSO would then need to do would be to trigger the metal detector over anything they'd like to patdown or look at. The hand wand is just a metal detector that looks for a strong response at a certain frequency. A competent electronics tech could make a transmitter that could give a false alarm on demand.

Tx TSO said...

"anonymous" said: Why do we have to allow screeners who have gloves that have handled many different things handle items in our toiletry cases? why are they not required to put new clean gloves on? This is a great way to spread disease.

FYI, screeners can easily change gloves before checking your bag. We are only required to change our gloves when they become dirty or torn. However, if you want the TSO checking your bag to put new gloves on, feel free to ask. We are (should be) happy to oblige. And for those of us that aren't, we are required to. So next time, just make the simple request.

dead-pink-stars said...

As a lowly TSA Officer in a tiny airport in Texas, I'd like to throw in my $.02 about all of this.

First of all, I agree (based solely on the information provided by the media) that the TSOs in Lubbock followed procedures in this situation. However, I also understand those of you who feel that this was an overall negative experience.

The problem I see is this: The alarm had to be resolved. The TSOs could not just "take her word for it" when she said she had a piercing in the alarming area. Ms. Hamlin asked for a visual inspection, but had the TSOs agreed, I can almost guarantee that they would no longer be TSA employees today.

Also, if the TSOs had taken it upon themselves to accept the offer of a visual inspection, this incident might still have made the headlines. "The officers didn't just look... they stared. I felt uncomfortable. I was sexually harassed." ...the list could go on.

I agree that this policy needs to be looked at. However, I don't necessarily agree with the option of visual inspection for the following reasons:

Just because Ms. Hamlin might have agreed to such an inspection, does not mean that every passenger (male or female) would be willing to go through with such a procedure.

Also, with the reputation TSA has at this time, I am almost certain that allegations of sexual harassment or assault would pop up all over the place.

And speaking as a TSO... I can't say that I would feel entirely comfortable asking a female to show me piercings she might have in a "sensitive area." I can't imagine that the male officers would be entirely comfortable doing the same with male passengers.

So yes, this policy needs to be adjusted. But jumping into visual inspections might not be the best for TSA or the travelling public.

...but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

The procedure was that a citizen can get a private screening if they asked. This passenger asked, and was not given one. That means the TSOs did not follow procedure. The TSA just doesn't want to admit to being wrong.

dead-pink-stars said...

The passenger was given a private screening. But the procedure involves having two officers of the same gender in the private screening area with her. In any case, that doesn't mean that she could have had a visual inspection.

Anonymous said...

Appears TSA only says they are paying attention to our blog comments. Has anyone seen a response yet from a TSA blogger?

Maybe they will pay attention in a congressional hearing. Here is a link to find members of 110th Congress.
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

At least the congressional staff will read your comments and you may even get a form letter response.

Lynn said...

Okay folks, we've gotten lots of heat on the piercing issue from various sides – those who get we had to resolve the alarm and those who think the situation was handled badly. For those of you who think we consider a nipple-ring to be a weapon of mass destruction you can rest assured that we’re not that daft. You must look at the bigger picture of the incident. We had an alarm in an area that we couldn’t touch or see based on procedures at that time. As we’ve said before on the blog, we can’t let anyone through a checkpoint until the alarm is resolved.

For all of you with metal hips, knees, shoulders and other medical implants, put your hacksaws away. We will not ask you to remove those. We deal with these types of items thousands of times a day and have well established procedures that work. We are testing new technologies that would make these procedures far less evasive.

Even though piercings do not trigger as many alarms as your typical metal hip or knee, we've been screening our pierced passengers for years with no notable incidents. It has come to our attention through this incident that there was an opportunity for improvement. We're committed to exploring and developing that alternative fully

I was on the conference call with three of the four TSA officers and managers who were involved in the passenger’s screening. They all said there was no snickering, and the two male officers were 15-20 feet away from the private screening area where the passenger was while she underwent private screening and removed the piercings.

The quick reaction is a clear indication we care about passengers and we're willing to learn lessons and explore the way we do business. As we continue to do our jobs, other lessons may be learned and procedures examined as well.

That’s the beauty of this blog. While many of your responses were heated, they were honest and let us know how you really felt. While some of your suggestions may not be implemented, others might. One thing is for sure, they will be taken seriously.

Lynn

TSA Eos Blog Team

Jim Huggins said...

Lynn:

I'm not convinced this was a "quick" reaction. It appears that TSA only reacted quickly once the passenger held a press conference, a full month after the incident passed. Can you comment on why it appears that TSA didn't react for a full month to this incident?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, if the lady said she heard someone snickering, the Screeners say it didn't happen then I take it you determined the lady is not being truthful.

I would just as likely suspect that the screeners are covering for each other.

Put the screeners on the box and find out who is being truthful.

TSA only reacted after the story made national news, not before so stop blowing smoke up our skirts!

Anonymous said...

Lynn of TSA Eos Blog Team wrote "two male officers were 15-20 feet away from the private screening area".

I like the idea of a previous poster - show the video footage (entire clip please). If the male officers were 15-20 feet away, the video would convince me.

If many of us posters jumped to a wrong conclusion - we would apologize - wouldn't we? :-)

Johnny said...

Look people, what you don't get is the TSO in Lubbock did nothing WRONG, she did what she was trained to do within the guidelines of TSA SOP. I'm sure we all have certain aspects of our jobs that we don't like but you still have to get the job done. TSO's don't relish the idea of having to possibly view piercing's in someone's genital area's. She did not have to comply with the screening process, she could have stopped at anytime she just wouldn't have been flying, but she could have caught the bus and she and her body art would have been fine. People need to stop crying and snivelling. Grow up, it's not always about you. You do have options, it's called Greyhound and your own vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the day never comes when TSA misses something and the bad guys get through. You don't know, and probably don't care anymore, that radicals are out there that want to kill Americans. Try doing what TSA is doing to keep your liberal, "poor is me", butts safe. How short the American memory is when you feel your "rights" have been violated. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

"She did not have to comply with the screening process, she could have stopped at anytime she just wouldn't have been flying, but she could have caught the bus and she and her body art would have been fine. People need to stop crying and snivelling. Grow up, it's not always about you. You do have options, it's called Greyhound and your own vehicle."

The fact that the body jewelry hadn't been an issue, and the suddenly was an issue is part of the problem.

Another problem for me is the continued insistence that driving, a train, or Greyhound is the only alternative to flying anywhere in the US. IT simply isn't true that a screening by TSO's is necessary to fly anywhere. 95% of the airports and airfields don't use TSA, and most probably never will. There are 210,000 private aircraft in the US.

Anonymous said...

this same story could of made the news with this lady crying and humiliated saying she had to show her boobs to the TSO's while male TSO's snickered... Whatever.. you people sure do hop on the band wagon!!!! TSA did nothing wrong as you can clearly read.. or maybe not if you read and hear what you want and not what is actually being told to you.

Anonymous said...

Hey blog team -- there's a lot of us out here that have put a lot of time and effort into creating constructive feedback to the TSA on this blog. What is being done with it?

I suspect that if you wished for a million dollars in one hand and for TSA to change their MO I suspect that you might become a millionaire before TSA did anything.

Anonymous said...

Look. They messed up. They followed what they are supposed to do. Now things have changed. GET OVER IT. It is so last week. We don't need to keep dwelling on this. Even this morning I had a woman asking me if she needed to take out her nipple rings. I don't care nor want to hear about piercings in private places. I am not interested in looking and or 'oogling' as some have put it. Its over. She isn't going to get anything because she did it to herself. The officers she came into contact with weren't as accomidating as some others would have been. It happens. Many passengers are the same way with the TSO's. It'd done and over with. Drop it.

Anonymous said...

Are you people seriously crying about officers asking a person to REMOVE their piercing as opposed to LOOKING at her boobs? In my opinion this is a lose lose situation. The passenger is upset that she was asked to remove her piercing but had the TSO taken her up on visually inspecting the alarming area, she could have claimed sexual harrassment even though SHE was the one who told the officer to just look at her boobs. So which are you going to complain about more? Removing the piercing or looking at this womans boobs?

Michael said...
Why now ???? after 6 years after the agency is created, how many passengers before this woman have had passed through with the body jewelry ?? Then suddenly the agent says she can not board just because of the body jewelry, what threat it can cause ?

- I believe it's always been that way. I'm sure there have been thousands of other passengers who have piercings & had to have been wanded & had been asked to remove their jewelry, which they most likely did without complaining, causing a scene or making this big of a deal of it.

The snickering of male agent does show something being inconsistent.
- If she was BEHIND a privacy curtain, how is she so certain that the officer was "snickering" at her situation? She's just assuming that he was laughing at her & everyone knows what happens when you assume. =)

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, the unsatited masses are up in arms over this one. How's this for you: ATTENTION TERRORISTS AND NEER' DO WELLS: Should you wish to bring a gun, bomb, or other instrument of evil onboard a plane without scrutiny, please quote the following phrase. "Oh my goodness, my crotch go beepy because of intimate piercings". Careful market research culled from the blog input regarding this issue reveals the liberal mindset of the flying public considers this to be an acceptable risk. May we recommend a Walther PPK, as it's size reduces probable chafing so your journey can be as pleasant as possible. Please again excuse the supposition that we are actually here for your safety, and we regret if we have somehow bruised your inner child.

Let me personally apologize for this oversight, had the piercing issue been resolved years ago, I'm sure Iraq would now be the land of milk and honey, and we could withdraw so that they might pursue piercing with impunity.

And I'm sure I'll get out of my next speeding ticket with the mere utterance "but I'm pierced".

Thank you, THANK YOU for this wake up call.

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller: First of all,I read a lot of your comments most of them are not very nice so I was surprised to read the comments you wrote on this topic. Therefore, I think that is very respectfull of you to give credit where credit is due and I agree with you on this one tsa did the right thing. Also I look forward to reading more of your comments in the future.

Anonymous said...

I fly through Lubbock International at least once a month to visit my husband who still attends Texas Tech and I have been humiliated numerous times because I have large breasts and "they" single me out for "random" screening. I think it fails to be random 3 out of 4 trips. The problem is that TSA has no one holding them accountable for their actions. They are a roque agency with no oversight.

Jason said...

"The confirmed fact that a TSO could even consider such a small piece of metal to be a threat suggests that the TSOs present and their supervisor really don't understand how to evaluate threat levels."

Yes, exactly. TSO's need to be trained in accurately evaluating and detecting real threats. This brute force approach to threats will not work because people who want to do real harm will be smarter.

Beyond that, why this woman was not allowed a private room to remove these piercings is unfathomable!

Ultimately the idea that I may be humiliated at an airport does not make me want to fly and that is bad for business.

Ayn R. Key said...

In that case, Jason, let me make the TSA really paranoid for a change.

Have they assesed the risk of terrorists attempting to infiltrate the TSA itself, become TSOs, so that forbidden items may be snuck onto the plane by their own agents?

Dunstan said...

"Ayn R. Key said...

In that case, Jason, let me make the TSA really paranoid for a change.

Have they assesed the risk of terrorists attempting to infiltrate the TSA itself, become TSOs, so that forbidden items may be snuck onto the plane by their own agents?

April 17, 2008 4:07 PM"

Or just get hired as baggage handlers for the airlines and put things into the check in baggage after TSA has screened it. There seems to be nothing in place to prevent this from occurring.

palmeke said...

The biggest problem is y'all believe everything you read. People tend to embelish alot. 98% of the passengers are very appreciative of what TSA does. Unfortunately it is that remaining 2% that seem to make the news all the time. I agree some of the rules seem to not make sense. However they are in place and need to be followed until they are removed. We as a nation are becoming complacent again and reverting back to pre 9-11 times. If the rules are done away with and what happened on that awful day should happen again you that complain so vehemently about these seemingly silly rules will be the first in line to complain and blame TSA and your government because of the lack of security. Flying is not a right it is a privilege so if you don't like the security measures take a bus or walk.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
You know, I'm no fan of the ACLU, but I do hope this woman uses them, to sue the crap out you guys.

This, indeed proves my point, that Federalizing Airport Security, was the WORST thing that happened after 9/11. I can take the Patriot Act (as long as it has a sunset on it) and all the rest of the crap these morons (both sides of the isle) did, but this takes the cake.

I am soooo happy to be a tax payer, when I read stories like this. Great Job.God I looooooooooooove Beaurocrats.

March 28, 2008 7:50 PM

federalizing airport security is the worst decision ??? more worse than the contracted security that ALLOWED 9/11 to happen ? my gosh that has got to be the stupidest thing i have ever heard. how can federalizing security be worse than the contracted security that allowed 9/11 to happen ?? i would love to hear the answer to that.

oh....and if you want to research THE BOJINKA PLOT is real. RICHARD REID is real. and that story about the overseas flight....is real. dont think for one second that everything is normal and we are perfectly safe.

Anonymous said...

trade212 said...
Where is the TSA finding their personnel. If this had been a private enterprise, they all would have been fired. Not for mistreating this person, but rather for not using common sense. I find it very hard to believe the TSA can not find employees that can handled these minor issues.

Please be aware that I am a very large supporter of Homeland Security, and everything they do to keep this land safe. But it seems that only the TSA employees keep getting into these problems.

Perhaps the TSA should screen the future employees better

NOTE TO OTHER READS:

I have to admit that I've had some wonderful experiences at airports. Not all employees at the TSA are behaving like what has happened in in Texas. It is only a small percentage of them. But it is enough to give the entire agency a very bad name.

then how is it the small percentage or steroids users in professional wrestling and baseball hasnt damaged the credibility of those 2 sports ? how come millions of people still love it as if nothing happened ? certainly if 3 indians were to rob you of your belongings you cannot say ALL INDIANS are bad and theives. yes some tsa agents are on power trips and some have naturally bad attitudes but doesnt EVERY business have 2 kinds of employees ?? good ones and bad ones... these rules arent just created on the spot on the checkpoint. if you have an issue contact tsa headquarters in virginia. they are the ones that come up with these rules even though they dont work on the checkpoints but yet feel that the rules should stand.

Anonymous said...

as far as the nipple ring goes. you wand it. of course it will beep. for males they can easily pat the area down. for females thats considered a sensitive area which suggests to be cleared in private. bringing over male officers wasnt the best idea and for the screener herself she should know. however if she did bring them over im guessing those were her supervisors. IN WHICH supervisors have the direct authority to say yes or no to any situation. now...tsa has to clear EVERY alarm before a passenger can board the plane so...thats first and foremost. however a nipple ring can easily be cleared so im not sure why it was such an issue.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
My father has a pacemaker. I'm really worried about TSOs asking him to remove it. The thought of him being given a pocket knife and pliers ... hey fellow commenters (unlikely TSA responds to comments) - what should I do?

March 29, 2008 2:34 AM

you should stop listening to people. there is a process in which he will get patted down. yes tsa is mandated to stop threats but they also moniter illegal activity. so hiding large amounts of money and or drugs on you guarantees you will be patted down. plain and simple. just because someone says come on i dont have anything on me doesnt necessarily mean they dont have anything on them because it will be you in tears on the plane when someone beside you has somethin strapped on them ready to send you to kingdom come because tsa didnt pat them down. and for the record the rules set up now for tsa are the rules that werent set up when 9/11 happened. so lapse in tsa rules = pre 9/11/. dont think 9/11 can happen again ? lmao keep reassuring yourself

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
TSA == Thousands Standing Around. Just ANOTHER reason I stopped flying after the "improved" security post 9/11 (BTW, NOTHING in the new and improved regulations would have prevented 9/11) which was a failure in POST hi-jack policy (don't resist, do what they tell you).

As for the comments about blasting caps, just once it would be nice for someone who knows about an object to make the comments.

now people... if this person hasnt flown since post 9/11 which was almost 7 years ago, how could he/she possible know what would and would not stop 9/11. its mindless chatter like that which makes people think and believe this person is right. now... as far as the people involved. it is said that upon entering the checkpoint that the individuals involved were suspicious. stop right there. BDO (behavioral detection officers) would have snagged them, thoroughly searched their belongings which would have found the bombs in their carry ons and they would have been arrested by airport police. now thats just one entity of tsa. not to mention modified x rays. this person just likes to see/hear themselves talk/type

Anonymous said...

Jay Maynard said...
To those TSOs who are complainig about not wanting to get hammered for following the rules: If the rules made sense, you wouldn't have this problem. If you don't like it, find another job.

If there were a mass exodus of TSOs over stupid rules that they can't enforce, then maybe the rules would be changed.

This isn't too likely, but it's a nice thought.

March 29, 2008 8:29 AM

guess what if that person leaves another screener enters in which the same rules apply. if your boss told you hey no refunds and i came to you with a sob story saying hey i need that refund because i need the money for such and such would you give it to me ? lets not debate over case scenario. just give me your answer. im already sure you would say no refund. which is the same as tsa. you dont want tsa to pat down or inspect nipple rings ? fine. then let someone sit next to you and unbutton his/her shirt to reveal a detonator taped to the side of his nipple because he/she knew tsa would not inspect it. then lets see what you have to say. unrealistic ? so is using contact lens solution bottle to take the place of an ied. research bojinka plot.

Anonymous said...

Ceiling said...
How long are we going to allow this agency to exist?

March 29, 2008 12:35 PM

we as the public COULD go back to pre 9/11. sounds like something you would want to do ?

Anonymous said...

winstonsmith said...
Trollkiller, you are right on the money here:

As for lack of training, I don't think that is the case here. I think a lack of foresight by the TSA management is the problem here.

If you have ever worked management in a job that required dealing with the general population, you know you can plan until you are blue in the face and still have situations pop up that are not covered.

TSA has proven over and over again that it is the most myopic of organizations. It has no clue what the word foresight is, whether it comes to new technologies coming down the pike that are going to show up at the checkpoints, or people who show up who exercise their freedom to be practitioners of alternative lifestyles (including ones that screeners in Lubbock, TX may find amusing or even offensive)

A great deal of the problem can be found in the extremely low bar that the TSA sets to be a TSA screener. A high school diploma or equivalent and no criminal background is not exactly difficult to achieve. I have made 4 flights in the past 3 weeks and not one of the screeners I dealt with could have been over the age of 24. I had no trouble getting through, but I never actually do anything or wear anything or carry anything that would cause me problems.

I feel for the poor woman who had to undergo this humiliation, and I disagree with you Trollkiller, that she did not suffer any undue harassment. I believe she probably did, and probably because she was a woman (although such claims are near impossible to prove). I believe that she has a legitimate case, but she'll find it difficult to get relief in the courts, but at minimum she's owed an apology by the TSA, and by the screeners in particular.

Keep posting. You keep a great debate going. I really appreciate it personally.

March 29, 2008 3:25 PM


a low bar ??? so by raising the bar exactly what should one have to be apart of tsa ? what training ? what level of education ? please do not list anyt experience with weapons or arms because i doubt alot of those who are experienced would take steps back to become unarmed. and besides lets be reasonable. not every boss or manager or whoeva you may have worked under at some point in time was a harvard grad or carried themselves to be that way so dont expect all tsa or any job at that to be all harvard grads

Anonymous said...

Abelard said...
"Rights" died on 9/11/2001. Get over it.

There has not been a single amendment to the U.S. Constitution since 9/11. Therefore, I will continue to exercise and demand my rights contained in that document.

March 29, 2008 3:40 PM


i would love to see you travel overseas with that mentality. this screening ?? is probably the most customer service based. try isreal. if you wanna debate raise your voice or what have you, they wont call a supervisor. they will call the guy with the gun and trust me.... you will be silenced.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Their comes a point where common sense no longer prevails. This seems to be a significant problem with the TSA - NO COMMON SENSE!

And you people wonder why you don't have the respect of the public.........................

The more I read in this blog the more it becomes apparent, flying isn't worth it anymore.

Whats next, hip and knee replacement people have to remove implanted joints???????????????

You people just keep shooting yourself in the foot. When are you going to learn?

March 29, 2008 4:42 PM


you ask for respect but yet you compare an issue with a nipple ring(external) with hip and knee replacements(internal)

its mind boggling

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I don't know what the TSA can do to improve its standing among the passengers it supposedly serves-- and whose cooperation and trust is essential to their official mission of protecting aircraft."

Fortunately, I do!

First, fire the TSOs who humiliated and mistreated this woman.

Second, lift the pointless ban on liquids that does nothing to make anyone safer.

Third, stop forcing passengers to remove their shoes to be X-rayed, which again does nothing other than waste time and makes no one safer.

Fourth, institute a policy requiring every TSO to provide every citizen-passenger with which he or she interacts with a card containing the TSO's name, employee number, and supervisor's name.

Fifth, ban TSO's from anonymous comments on this blog.

Sixth, punish TSO's who insult citizens in their comments on this blog.

Seventh, designate a TSA ombudsman to answer questions on this blog. Many questions about the number of TSOs punished for mistreating passengers and the feasibility of the London "liquid terror" plot have gone conspicuously unanswered. If TSA has nothing to hide, it should be willing to answer direct questions from the citizens who pay its employees' salaries.

Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to abolish TSA and hand security back to the airlines, who certainly could not do a WORSE job than TSA.

March 29, 2008 9:01 PM

certainly could not do a worse job than tsa ? what!? ummm 9/11 hello. my gosh do you read what you type before you send it ??

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
anonymous at March 29, 2008 9:01 PM, your seven points are very good and sensible. Unfortunately, they'll never happen. At least not before January 21st of next year.

Currently, the TSA is a perfect reflection of the Bush administration that created it and appointed the man who heads it. The Bush administration believes itself infallible (recall the 2004 debate in which Mr. Bush answered a question about what he learned from his mistakes by stating that he has made no mistakes). It considers itself exempt from any laws or restrictions on its power, and unaccountable to anyone but itself (recall the abuses of Abu Ghraib, which Bush and Rumsfeld blamed entirely on a few "bad" enlisted personnel, dismissing the possibility that it was the result of policies set higher up). The Bush administration consistently ignores challenges or questions about what it does, or dismisses questions with "it's classified, so you must trust us." The Bush administration has repeatedly demonstrated its disregard for the rights of citizens, and claims sole authority to modify laws and repeal Constitutional rights in the name of "fighting terrorism." And the Bush administration has repeatedly favored bullying tactics to get what it wants, both at home and abroad.

TSA officials at all levels who bully and abuse passengers, create arbitrary rules whose rationale is classified, ignore even constructive criticism (or respond with insults), "interpret" rules and procedures according to their personal whims, and treat the traveling public with contempt are merely following the example set by their Commander-in-Chief, and dutifully flowed down through the ranks of the Homeland Security and TSA bureaucracy. The TSA's problems originate at at the very top, not at the security checkpoints.

Consequently, we will never see the TSA repeal their arbitrary rules about liquids and shoes since the rules are vital to national security and based on "robust intelligence." We will never see TSOs fired or disciplined for mistreating passengers because they do nothing wrong and are in fact acting commendably to protect aviation. We will never see cards that encourage complaints about TSOs because the resources wasted in processing pointless complaints would be better spent on adding more layers of security to protect aviation. And we will never see a TSO ombudsman because he would have nothing to do-- when something goes wrong it's always because the passenger has either violated some law or restriction or has failed to obey the orders of the TSO.

We can hope that the situation will improve when the Bush administration fades into history next year. But given the nature of bureaucracy, I'm afraid it will take more than a change of leadership to correct the numerous problems. The only effective thing we as citizens can really do is to avoid flying whenever that's possible.

March 30, 2008 12:09 AM

reflection of who ? a republican ? same party you want for another 4 years ?

yunus said...

I don't know how people can say that piercing is beautiful. I don't care it hurt or not.. but it is not safe for your health and bad.

Thomas said...

How can something as small as a piercing damage a plane? I can't imagine it. What we need is more profiling. How about leaving the 70-year old women alone and going after the ones who fit terrorist profile?

Sean Dean said...

It should be really simple: if the wand goes off, a TSO of the same gender as the passenger should take a look behind a screen. It ought to be easy to see if that's a micro-sized gun or knife. Once the TSO sees that it's only piercing jewelry, send the passenger on their way. It would be nice if the TSOs were civil to the passenger when they're told that it's jewelry and they find out it is.

You are right it should be that simple, and hopefully the TSA's rule change will make it that simple. But what do we do with the shy people? Would they still be required to remove the jewelry?hyt

Anonymous said...

TSA Administrator Don
regarding change new rules for Pat Downs is just awful. He spoke live on TV this morning stating the percentage is low on pat -downs, that is NOT a true statement. Here at Norfolk (orf) and Newport News (phf) they pat every 3-4 person. I watch the TSA employee count as we come through the line. This has started the 1st of Nov and they are touching people and that is VERY uncomfortable, even after they go through the machine...so really which system is better/safer for travelers. The machine or person envading your body and making you feel violated.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking many passengers really don't have a problem with TSO doing their job but its the presentation:
-Eye contact with personality and not conviction
-walk through of the pat down - comfort to the traveler
-tone should be more inviting instead of harsh and short
-ask the traveler if their are any surgical matters they need to be aware or sensitive places so when he/she pat the traveller is not embarrassed, bitter or feel violated.
-courtesy - thanking the traveler for their patients and directing them to where they need to go after finish

if they would give a personal touch to their job and not look at passengers as if the traveler has committed murder "to their mother and they are holding a grudge of conviction". I know their job would not be as challenging as it is with most travellers. We recognize our traveling plans are in their hands until we pass the gate, however it takes two to make the system work to its advantage. It not the intent to distract the TSO employer but simply request personality to the job so the discomfort for both can go smoothly as possible.
Travellers get to the airport now 1 1/2 and yet TSO has no remorse for the customer needs, take your time but be quick, thorough and customer service oriented while doing so...Please read and take heed to someone who works with CS in many aspects and TSO needs to consider, this would eliminate some heat. It does not matter what country, city or state the TSO comes from the job requires CS and travelers are not getting it.

Anonymous said...

Some people who have posted suggested hat we should just take piercings out before we fly. That's fine for ear piercings. However, if you have a nipple piercing, you know it can hurt to take it out and then it can take forever to get it back in. Sometimes you may not even be able to get it back in at all depending on how long it has to be left out (that area of skin can close up quickly). There should be some procedure to follow for people who have nipple, genital, etc. piercings.

By the way, it's the person's aesthetic choice. I respect everyone's opinions, but please do not bash the woman or her age for having a nipple piercing - if that's what she likes and makes her feel sexy at that age, good for her! Comment on what you think should be done, not on her body choices.

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