Maybe the Transportation Security Administration has ventured into the realm of faith healing. That might explain why a Marine who lost both legs in a roadside bombing was singled out at a TSA checkpoint and told to rise out of his wheelchair and walk.
The Army Times reports that Rep. Duncan Hunter (D-Calif.) is demanding answers from TSA Administrator John Pistole.
On Monday Hunter wrote Pistole regarding the incident, which occurred in Phoenix on March 13. The Marine in question was traveling with other injured and recovering troops and has “limited to no mobility.” Hunter wrote:
These Marines had an unfortunate experience, which is worthy of your attention and any explanation you can provide. I would like to know the process for screening individuals in this or similar situations.
Hunter noted that photos taken at the scene showed the Marine removing his prostheses for inspection by the TSA, reattaching them, and then heading to a second screening area where he again was asked to stand.
According to TSA regulations, all amputees with artificial limbs are required to pass through a full-body scanner, receive a pat-down and be swabbed for explosives. The TSA maintains that the extra security measures are needed to ensure that “all individuals are screened appropriately,” adding that wounded troops are not required to remove their prosthetics.
In this particular instance the Marine had an escort, but the system failed when the escort and the group initially were directed to the wrong screening checkpoint. Yet, Hunter counters that no TSA officers stepped to offer assistance:
I would like to know what discretion a TSA officer has in this situation as well as the ability of TSA officers to assist an individual [moving] between screening locations, especially if the individual is unable to walk or move on his or her own.
The TSA has released a written statement that reads:
We are doing our best to learn more about this situation. TSA works to facilitate the screening of injured and wounded service members with dignity and respect…. In the coming days, TSA will expand the Wounded Warriors Screening program to offer PreCheck, or expedited screening, to this group of veterans.
Our current policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers, regardless of their personal situations and needs, are treated equally and with the dignity, respect and courtesy they deserve.