TSA Breaks Its Own Rules, Removes Elderly Woman's Back Brace


Mistaking her back brace for its more dangerous cousin, the money belt, the Transportation Security Administration removed an octogenarian's support device in a private security screening, breaking its own rules:

People wanted to know why we had her remove her back brace when our web page clearly states that our officers will not ask for braces to be removed. To be honest, I was asking myself the same question. Here's what happened: There was a bit of a miscommunication and our officers were told that the passenger was wearing a money belt. Unlike medical braces and supports, money belts must be removed since they're not providing any type of medical benefit.

The Washington Examiner points out that it wasn't the passenger telling the officers it was a money belt:

Last week, the TSA blog reported that the woman "told the officers that she was wearing a back brace or support belt which required private screening."

As with the purse that wasn't a gun, the TSA again pushed blindly on, even after realizing the mistake. As the Examiner reports:

In today's update, the TSA acknowledges that the security agents did not return the brace to the woman immediately upon realizing that it was not, in fact, a money belt. "Since the item had already been removed, our officers had it X-rayed and returned it to the passenger who was then clear to travel," the TSA says.

Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported that the woman claimed to have been strip-searched by the TSA:

The petite 84-year-old—who suffers from heart problems and has an implanted defibrillator—asked if she could skip the body scan, get a pat down instead. She said two female security agents whisked her into a private room and began removing her clothes.

"They took my pants down, and they took my underwear down," she said.

The TSA denies that any strip-search whatsoever occurred. My understanding is that the back brace is worn beneath the clothes (if not, then kudos to the TSA for still managing to misidentify it). Feel free to contemplate the techniques of that strip-less removal process yourself.

In addition to back braces that aren't money belts and purses that aren't guns, Reason reminds us of the TSA's vendetta against belt buckles that aren't grenades.