A TSA screener contaminated a 14-year-old boy’s sterile backup feeding tube in the name of national security: “If I can’t open it, I can’t let you on the plane.” [WFTV via BoingBoing]


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  1. smirky says:

    Papers! I need to zee your papers! Or you von’t get on zee plane.

  2. …doesn’t the ADA have provisions for this kind of thing? I mean…they wouldn’t rip the esophagus out of a healthy person because they might have swallowed a condom of C-4…

  3. jamesdenver says:

    Thanks for that link Spider. I use an insulin pump and on long trips carry some extra small tubs and plastic syringes that look a lot like that pic of the feeding tube. (but much smaller)

    I printed out that sheet and put it in my backpack.

  4. Verklemptomaniac says:

    The kid’s lucky they didn’t demand to open up his stomach because it contained more than 3 oz. of liquid.

  5. InThrees says:


  6. laserjobs says:

    Papers Please.

    BTW, does anyone know when we will have checkpoints on all the major roads?

  7. MikeB says:

    Um, what more did she think she would find? The tube was in a clear plastic bag. The last time I flew I had no trouble with TSA in either Charlotte or Hartford and while in Hartford putting on my shoes I saw a gentleman in an airport wheelchair with a portable respirator, at least that is what I thought it was. They had transfered him out of the wheelchair and sat him in another chair while they put his stuff through the x-ray. They also hand searched his respirator and with assistance had him stand and wand him. All through out this they were polite and helpful.

  8. laserjobs says:

    Oh but don’t worry “TSA officials apologized to James and said they’re looking into the incident to see what corrective steps need to be taken.”

    Or more commonly known as “taking it seriously”

  9. @jamesdenver: More than welcome. heh…right after 9/11, I had a friend traveling from LA to Virginia, and the TSA agents stopped him and riffled through his diabetes kit. They ignored the syringes but flipped OUT about the blood testing device, and tried to make him throw out the tiny testing needles.

  10. I think if everyone carried around a print-out of TSA regs, life would get a lot more interesting.

  11. smirky says:

    @SpiderJerusalem: Until they banned paper because of some plot to take over the cabin crew by threatening them with small but stinging cuts.

  12. jamesdenver says:


    I was just thinking that. And keep them in your pocket as you go through security. (not your bags which have already been separated from you)

    I sent this to my mom, who uses a cane at times, and my sister who also uses an insulin pump.

  13. SneakyMuffin says:


    I seriously about spit out my drink on that one… LOL

  14. powerjhb says:

    My daughter is on a feeding tube and has a tracheostomy. I probably would have been arrested for assault if that had happened to my child, especially if he did it to the trach supplies as he would have put her life in danger.

  15. Smitherd says:

    @Verklemptomaniac: Brilliant comedic timing, my friend.

    Second, I would be damn near homicidal if this happened to me. It’s in a CLEAR plastic bag, and can be easily explained as a sterile feeding tube. No matter what the TSA agent says, this is an obvious case of overzealous terror-screening gone too far.

    What’s next? Requiring a signed doctor’s note to go to the bathroom in-flight?

  16. Xay says:


  17. Why does this kid hate America?

  18. howie_in_az says:

    @laserjobs: About the same time McCain is elected president.

  19. axiomatic says:

    At what point does TSA start calling this a Jihad?

  20. pegr says:

    What do you expect? Intelligent well-trained people don’t work for what they pay TSA goons. Ergo, you get morons poking through your stuff.

  21. Asvetic says:


    “Security Officers should not be asking you to remove your orthopedic shoes, appliances, or medical device (insulin pump, feeding tube, ostomy or urine bag, or exterior component of cochlear implant) at any time during the screening process.”

  22. Orv says:

    @laserjobs: They’re already talking about checkpoints here in Washington, to search for drunk drivers.

    Sometimes I think it’s time to start investigating emigration…

  23. backbroken says:

    At least the young man wasn’t too good looking to fly. I hate when THAT happens.

  24. fergthecat says:

    I think the TSA is a bunch of idiots, but I do wonder how much of this is the actual agency vs. individual assholes who get a thrill from bullying people.

  25. HOP says:

    it’s sad that common sense has disappeared from our society…………..

  26. scoosdad says:

    @jamesdenver: Right, but that web page cited didn’t really talk about extra supplies in your carry-on, but only about what was already attached to your person. Not sure having a copy of that page is going to make a difference if the TSA agent starts to get upset about lancets in my luggage.

    I don’t understand why this TSA agent insisted on opening a sealed sterile package that he could just see right through. I’ve travelled many times with my isulin pump supplies and left them in my bag that goes through the xray machine, and I’ve never even seen them blink over it. This guy is obviously someone who needs to undergo serious retraining and maybe mental evaluation to see what kind of issues he’s hiding. He singled out that kid for harassment for a reason.

    I even take my pump off before the checkpoint, wrap the tubing around it and then put it in a clear ziplock bag, and then put that inside my carry-on to go through the machine. Never had them ever ask about that either. Xrays won’t hurt it one bit and I can play catch-up with the basal on the pump afterwards depending on how long it was off me.

  27. GenXCub says:


    remember, government agencies don’t do Jihads, they go to war on things. War on Drugs, War on Terror.

    TSA leads the war on convenience.

  28. marchhare22 says:

    This airline shit is just ridiculous. Instead of trying to search all passengers make the plane more secure.

  29. spinachdip says:


  30. mcquetm says:

    “TSA officials apologized to James and said they’re looking into the incident to see what corrective steps need to be taken.”

    The “Corrective Step” that needs to be taken is the disbanding of the TSA or, failing that, giving the agents more autonomy to bend the rules when needed.

    I can’t believe that we haven’t challenged the TSA’s authority to search baggage as a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless search and seizure.

  31. rhombopteryx says:

    We have, and every federal court that’s been faced with it says it’s ok, it doesn’t need passenger consent, it’s an “administrative or special needs exception” to the 4th Amendment. You know, the one clearly spelled out right there in the Bill of Rights.

    Most of them throw in a disclaimer to the effect of “it’s searching for bombs and hijack tools, it’s not like it’s police searching for criminal evidence.”

    Interestingly enough, when people do get arrested as a result of a TSA search that finds criminal evidence, the court conveniently then says “what did you expect, you consented to a search?”

    The only way out is to say “screw airlines, I’m taking the train.” Oh wait

  32. SacraBos says:

    @SpiderJerusalem: Do NOT give them ideas…

  33. overbysara says:

    let’s go leave nasty comments on their blog again. I hate those schmos.

  34. catnapped says:

    TSA did their job–the kid sounds like a terrorist in the making!

    (thumbs up)

  35. camille_javal says:

    @SpiderJerusalem: here’s more:

    To prevent your medication, associated supplies or fragile medical materials for contamination or damage, we will ask you to display, handle, and repack your own medication and associated supplies during visual inspection.


  36. camille_javal says:

    @camille_javal: by the way, [sic] on that “prevent . . . for contamination” – they apparently put as much work into proofreading their site at the TSA as they do in hiring staff

  37. pfeng says:

    My friend’s daughter has a feeding tube; it is enough of a problem on its own, without additional hassles (and DANGERS) from actions like this.

    Obviously this policy was put in place due to the recent terrorist plot which involved cunningly disguising more than three ounces of fluid as sterile medical equipment. Opening the clear plastic wrapper is the only way to disrupt the cloaking device and see what’s REALLY inside!

  38. digitalgimpus says:

    What sad is that story mentions nothing about offering to replace it. At a bare minimum that should accompany the apology.

    Sadly little will actually happen. Government employees are just so damn difficult to retrain or scold since they themselves can hide under pages and pages of rules and regulations. Same reason why many people prefer government jobs. Once your hired, extremely hard to get fired, and good benefits in many cases.

  39. B1663R says:

    sorry but i just gotta say it…your country is fucked up like seriously, f-u-c-k-e-d.

    feel free to come up north and immigrate to Canada. we’ll find you a job, as a matter of fact our unemployment is at an all time low.

    we have lax immigration laws and we really don’t care if you smoke pot either, if your gay, heck you can even get married!

    canada… you know your curious.

  40. bostonmike says:

    @B1663R: That’s why they’re making it harder and harder to leave the country. Tanking the value of the dollar, delaying passport applications and hiking passport fees, requiring passports to more countries, and raising taxes on international flights through the roof. Because when people leave the US, they might see that people in other countries think that our paranoid police-state way of life is insane, they might see what freedom looks like, and they might encounter different opinions. This is why most bad regimes have massive travel restrictions, and the US used to argue that travel by citizens of those regimes was the best way to promote freedom. Now the US is one of those regimes trying to keep their citizens at home. It’s a miserable turn of events.

  41. dweebster says:

    @Asvetic: There’s an exception you can drive a truck through…

    …but I still gotta throw away my water bottle and buy another one inside the gates for a hefty markup? geez, thanks for all the protection Uncle TSA

  42. dweebster says:

    @HOP: When are we gonna get some REPUBLICANS in the government? They’re the ones that keep saying government can’t do a damn thing right, and I’m sure when they finally get power they’ll get rid of the TSA in favor of some free market solution. Probably lower our taxes and buy us a pony, too!

  43. parabola101 says:

    The difference between STUPIDITY & GENIUS is that GENIUS HAS LIMITS.

    I have long since lost complete respect for the TSA & the “homeland security” bullshit, mumbo jumbo of the Bush administration. I have often been at the mercy of the insane TSA who frightened my 5-year-old son by pulling us aside, separating us and then proceeded to search him & me, and all of our belongings. My poor son was so frightened when he was questioned by the TSA who was unable to communicate clearly in English. My son was unable to understand the questions he was being asked during the interrogation at the airport. We were only flying from PA to Michigan to visit his Grandmother.

    How long will the American population have to endure this type of treatment with no recourse? I am truly saddened and scared of the ramifications . . .

    I am a US citizen, who travels abroad quite frequently, and have NEVER run into this kinda of crap while traveling throughout Europe.

  44. parabola101 says:

    The behavior of the TSA with regards to the 14 year old boy is outrageous and unacceptable!!! But here we are one more time as a US citizen having to endure this form of abuse.

  45. Crymson_77 says:

    @parabola101: I have always loved that quote! :)

    As for the TSA…Let’s deal with this from the top down people!

    First: Fire everyone in Congress, establish HARD term limits and redo every election

    Second: Disband the TSA and have the security run by VERY WELL VETTED members of the National Guard. Or the Marines (which I would REALLY like!) as they have been doing so for our embassies forever!

    Third: God….I don’t even know…the first and second are hard enough!

  46. marchhare22 says:

    Think about it, if they stop searching people and make the plane inaccessible as a weapon it would completely negate it as a target. You can argue well then someone can bring a bomb on. Well someone could bring a bomb ANYWHERE. Blowing up a plane is no different then bombing a building full of people. TSA needs to realize that they are attempting to GAIN CONTROL of the plane. Prevent control, neutralize threat. To me, searching every single person in access will not only irritate your customers but provide a series of other problems and complications. The plane is what needs to be fixed.

  47. bombaxstar says:


  48. thisisjacked says:

    The sad thing is that there are screeners who actually do their job *right* — but it’s the stories like this one that become public and ruin it for all of them. I’d like to hope that there’s no more than 10% of the screening force that is like this — hopefully much less than that.

    On top of that, it’s a shame that the same 10% I’m talking about can’t fathom that it’s the one person out of who-knows-how-many that they’re looking for and that not every person getting on a plane is looking to blow it up.

    But on the flip side, it is very demeaning when a passenger treats a screener like they’re stupid when they the passenger chose not to comply in the first place. The rules are out there, learn them before you fly.

    Back to the kid — if something doesn’t look right — call for the screener to get a supervisor first. After all, TSA *is* government — they have a chain of command just like the military.