Tales from the Trail

TSA defends extra airport screening for kids, elderly

March 10, 2010

Almost every traveler through U.S. airports has seen little children and the elderly go through extra screening and often are left shaking their heads in disbelief that those individuals could be a threat and questioning whether someone else is slipping through the cracks.

AIRLINES-SECURITY/However, the acting head of the Transportation Security Administration Gale Rossides told Congress that all sorts of dangerous items are smuggled with kids and older travelers.

“Every day I will tell you that we see things coming through checkpoints in the United States that are amazing, either on their persons, in wheelchairs, in canes, people will conceal long knives, swords in canes,” Rossides told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

“At least a couple times of year, particularly around the holidays, we find guns in teddy bears, we find component parts in children’s toys, it is amazing what we see,” she said.

That prompted Republican Senator Susan Collins to point to the news that a blond-haired, green-eyed American woman living in Pennsylvania was charged with working with militants overseas in a plot to kill a Swedish man.

“I think you performed a very important service today by reminding us that you cannot have profiles in our minds of what a terrorist looks like and that a terrorist can use a young child or an elderly person inĀ  a wheelchair. We should all be reminded of that by the story that broke in the news,” Collins said.

U.S. officials have been increasingly concerned about Americans being radicalized by militants, particularly since they may be able to blend in more easily, making it harder for law enforcement to detect their plots.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith (two individuals make their way through security at San Francisco International Airport)

Comments
2 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Everyone should be screened in the same manner. I recently traveled with my granddaughter who has Spina Bifida and is in a wheelchair. She was asked to stand and needless to say that wasn’t possible. Better training for these agents would be of greater benefit. They pulled the nine year old aside and removed her plastic braces, shoes, and asked us to remove her from her chair. Repeatedly wanned her body. Guess what… just a small little girl trying to go to Disney World… no explosives involved. Meanwhile, other individuals, who might possibly have been a more likely terrorist, freely moved on without intrusion. Maybe a little more common sense and everyone screened in the same manner might be the thing to do.

Posted by Freemind | Report as abusive
 

Everyone SHOULD be screened in the same manner. My advice is don’t pack anything that will set off any alarms, wear clothing and shoes that are comfortable and easy to slip on and off,(spray a little deodorant in there) and help the TSA guys do their jobs. No one walks away from a plane crash.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/