TSA’s kinda-sorta apology to 3-year-old girl in wheelchair: par for the course

Lucy Forcke and TSA
In time-honored fashion, the TSA, once again, offers a weak, responsibility-avoiding apology to 3-year-old Lucy Forck and her parents Nathan Forck and Annie Schulte.

It took a while, but the national media finally picked up on the story we reported here three days ago about the TSA harassing the family after they had already successfully cleared the checkpoint.

The TSA screeners on duty admitted they had specifically targeted the little girl in a wheelchair. Yet despite this admission, TSA management not only kept mum for three days, but the statement they have now offered goes like this:

“TSA regrets inaccurate guidance was provided to this family during screening and offers its apology.”

I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as pretty thin gruel. Although I suppose it’s a smidgen better than what they offered Shelbi Walser, another girl in a wheelchair, and her family when they harassed and detained them in December 2012. Or how about 3-year-old wheelchair-bound Rocco Dubiel — see how this trusty TSA agent is patting his body all over while the little boy is crying? I don’t recall any apology being offered for that one. Or Isabella Brademeyer and her family, to whom they never apologized; on the contrary, they defended screaming at a four-year-old girl who had committed the unpardonable sin of hugging her grandmother, then they surrounded her, threatened that they would shut down the entire airport, and even tried to get the girl in a room alone for a “pat-down.”

Perhaps the TSA needs a lesson — again — in how to make an apology. Wendy Thomson of Freedom to Travel USA has already tried to teach them. Tell me — does the TSA’s statement about the Forck family convince you that the TSA is sorry? And that their employees’ indefensible actions, which have already happened thousands of times, won’t happen again?

Do you remember how many times in the past three years we’ve been told by TSA Administrator John Pistole that children won’t be singled out? Yeah, neither do I. Because he’s said it so many times and it’s turned out to be a lie so many times I’ve lost track. I bet Bill Fisher will remember. Bill, please leave the info in the comments.

(Update: Here’s the post where Bill Fisher enumerated the times Pistole claimed children wouldn’t be abused by pat-down procedures; this claim had already been made three different times as of that post, written January 1, 2012. Since then, the TSA has made the claim yet a fourth time, with the usual accompanying PR blitz.)

Then again, maybe it’s not the TSA’s fault after all. I mean, come on, does this little girl think she’s special? Why shouldn’t she be pulled aside, separated from her parents, surrounded by blue-gloved goons, and made to cry? How else to teach the young’un who’s boss? How else to train her in obedience to authority figures for the rest of her life?

I’m sure her parents were exaggerating anyway. You know parents — always looking for a fight. Especially when they’re on their way to Disneyworld. Why would they wanna get there easily and efficiently? No, they’d much rather put up a fight at the airport and take pictures of it so they can embarrass those poor TSA agents, who are just trying to do their jobs.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at Philip Weber’s exhaustive essay explaining how it’s not the TSA’s fault, it’s our fault.

What’s wrong with you people that you actually expect your civil liberties to be respected? Don’t you know The World Has Changed? Don’t you know The Terrorists Are Everywhere? Don’t you know that Terrorists Have Planted Bombs On Little Girls In Wheelchairs? Don’t you know that Booby Bombs And Butt Bombs Are An Emerging Threat?

Don’t you get it? We’re at war, people! You need to sacrifice!

Remember what Jesus said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Aren’t you willing to do your part? Aren’t you willing to suffer your little children to come unto the TSA, whose minions put their lives on the line for us every day?

You ungrateful wretches.

(Photo: Annie Schulte via YouTube)

  • See update to post with link to Bill Fisher’s essay enumerating the number of times — different months, different years — the TSA has claimed pat-down procedures for children would be adjusted, breaking that promise every time and coming out yet again with another statement on it.

  • Fisher1949

    There were at least three recent incidents along with the dozens that happened over the past two years. The most recent are:

    TSA claims sick girl tests positive for bomb
    residue/ Disabled daughter traumatized by TSA at DFW

    3 year old
    daughter getting pat down.

    Video of TSA agent patting down child in wheelchair goes

    • Yes, thanks, Bill, got all those links in the post. I’m wondering if you can remember how many times Pistole has claimed over the years that children won’t be subject to gropes yet they continually are. I remember when you’ve quoted the actual dates when he’s made those claims; will see if I can look them up. I know there’ve been several.

  • WhereAboutsUnknown

    Someone already mentioned here that Obama has done nothing to curtail TSA, absolutely NOTHING as far as I know. It was not an issue with his supporters in the last election and should have been. When I mentioned it to friends of like-minded political persuasion it was brushed off as immaterial because of more pressing issues. I was amazed since TSA abuses represent first and fourth amendment issues paramount to any semblance of a democracy. But what’s been happening at America’s airports, and bus stations, and expanding now to the highways with the TSA and DHS targeting American citizens should no longer be tolerated. Easy said of course. But then I think Obama’s attitude toward all this is part of the reason it continues. He is such a disappoint, such a sham, and I can’t get over the fact how the American people have been had, been lied to again and again by this puppet president.

    • WhereAboutsUnknown, indeed. We tried like hell to publicize this — not that Romney would’ve been any better — the Republocrats are one and the same in my book — but people didn’t want to hear it. They still don’t. Tribalism is a powerful — and pernicious — force.


      The hypocrisy is off the charts. You know that if a Repub were in the White House, Dems would be screaming bloody murder at the growing abuses of the National Security State, but now that a Dem is in the White House millions of them are curiously silent. Worse, they’re making excuses. Reverse the parties and you’d have the same situation.

      I don’t know what else we can do but keep calling attention to it, keep fighting, keeping being a voice of truth no matter how many people don’t want to hear it.

  • Just one comment of many similar from the Washington Post article to which an1entmar1ner pointed us:

    dhormann wrote at 2/21/2013 6:23 PM EST

    ‘Seems that the TSA at Lambert Field in St. Louis likes to pick on kids. I’ve been a cop for 24 years and know how intimidating a uniform can be to small children, and so I try to take extra care to put children at ease when I’m in uniform. A few years ago, I was returning from St. Louis with my family when we had our own bad experience with a TSA screener. After having our IDs and boarding passes checked at the end of the screening line – a process that seems to be pretty standard around the country – I put my 10 year old daughter’s boarding pass in my pocket. We were split into two lines for screening and when my daughter stepped up to go through the metal detector, the TSA screener asked to see her boarding pass again. She told him that her dad had it and pointed to me. The screener, suddenly looking angry, said with a stern voice, “You are supposed to keep it with you at all times, don’t you know that”? My daughter burst into tears, not knowing what she had done to receive this treatment. I got to her side as quickly as I could and showed the screener the boarding pass. He asked me why my daughter wasn’t carrying it. I told him that I was her father and the pass had already been screened at the end of the line. He replied that it didn’t matter and she needed to carry it. This screener was well over six feet tall and very intimidating to a little girl. Maybe he was having a bad day, but having travelled through STL on several occasions, and seeing other examples of rather imperious demeanor by the local TSA there, it seems like management needs to be a little more hands on.’


  • anc1entmar1ner

    If you have a Washington Post account, please join the conversation here:


    Our viewpoint should be well represented – please help.

  • econobiker

    Politicians and THEIR families need to be back on commercial airlines, not private or government flights. This stuff would stop PRONTO the first time the daughter of a politician was groped down or the disabled grandson of a politician was stopped and given the TSA search shuffle due to his wheelchair…

  • What gets me is the pathetic logical knots that TSA apologists will twist themselves into so as to justify this kind of baldfaced abuse.

    On one side, you’ve got your lefties (aside: I’m a Socialist) saying: Wah, wah, waaah, you anti-TSA people are anti-union! Or else, you have a problem with people who aren’t in your “class” touching your precious bodies! Or else, you’re racist! You hold less-well-educated people in contempt! These beleaguered workers are only trying to keep us safe! They’re only FOLLOWING ORDERS!

    And on the other side, you’ve got your righties going: ARRRGH, *chest-thump, chest-thump*, you anti-TSA people don’t seem to *get* that the terrorists are out to get us! Since the PC crowd won’t let us profile, this is what we have: TSA! They have to be right 100% of the time, and if this is what it takes to make America safe, here–you can fondle my impressive manhood to your heart’s content! To hell with little old ladies and disabled people being abused and humiliated: they made the choice to grow old or get themselves disabled. And whining parents should step aside, hand over their babies, and let the security people do their jobs–they’re only FOLLOWING ORDERS!

    • RonBonner

      Your remarks are offensive!

      I am pretty far right on most issues and I reject that TSA abuse of travelers as being a right or left argument. Keep in mind that Obama has done nothing to curtail TSA.

      What is clear to me is that TSA has no concept of security. Abuse of this little girl was wrong. TSA clerks saying taking videos is wrong.

      Step one to fixing this problem is the removsl of Pistole.

      • Ron, she’s skewering both left and right equally. Because people on both the so-called left and so-called right are behaving like cowards in the face of TSA abuse.

      • Daisiemae

        Deborah is right that BOTH parties are to blame for this obscenity known as TSA. Both parties are responsible for creating TSA and both parties are responsible for defending, protecting, and nourishing TSA.

        BOTH parties are making big money off of TSA.

        The TSA apologists on each side of the fence have slightly different reasons for their defense of TSA. But the bottom line is that they are all defending the indefensible. TSA apologists, whether from the right or the left, are reprehensible.

        Deborah was definitely not singling out one side or the other for blame or ridicule. She was rightly heaping her scorn on both sides.

      • I completely agree: President Obama has been woefully silent on the TSA and DHS abuses. Which can only lead me to believe he is happy with them, and the system–as part of the growing police state we’re seeing (no matter what the apologists say)–is A-OK with him. Which is dispiriting to me, as someone who was an enthusiastic supporter, donor, and volunteer back in 2008.

        And I agree: this is NOT a left-right issue. Most of the left-right skirmishes, in fact, are manufactured b.s. to keep people from seeing the real villains for what they are. Social wedge issues, for example.

        Pistole must go. And in my humble opinion, so must the TSA, in toto. As well as Napolitano–she’s dreadful on civil liberties. But we’ve got a stunningly difficult uphill battle ahead of us. And we’re going to be accused of being overly-dramatic, tinfoil-hat-wearing, and worse for some time to come. Although sloooooowly, a number of Americans are getting it. More of them need to get it, of course, and sooner, But I’ll take any improvement, no matter how tiny.

  • Susan Richart

    TSA still making children cry at checkpoints while being assaulted and yet:


    “Some airport employees are questioning why some workers are bypassing the security.

    Passengers know the drill. It is all a part of flying. They must remove their electronics, shoes, jackets and belts. They must step into a scanning booth and stand for a pat down. But some airport employees say all of that scrutiny gives passengers a false sense of security because of what is going on beyond the security check point.

    This serves as proof that the TSA with all their scanning and swabbing is nothing more than a sham. Passengers are not the threat; unfettered access to airplanes is the main threat.

    If you think this happens only a DFW, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like sell you.

    • Thank you, Susan. But people like their shams. They want their shams. It’s not about security, it’s about the feeling of security. Which, I suppose, in our therapy-speak age, is entirely appropriate.

      • Saul B

        If only the scores of commenters who say that little girls need to be thoroughly felt up because their wheelchairs might be hiding a bomb knew that every day, nationwide, thousands of people are entering the insides of the terminals with nary a bag check.

        “Oh, but they’ve had a background check.”


    • RonBonner

      TSA is comfortable abusing wheelchair bound three year olds. They know that is a person who would have trouble kicking their asses.

      • Daisiemae

        Yes, predators always seek easy prey.