Wounded Marine humiliated by TSA

Phoenix’s Sky Harbor has had its fair share of TSA complaints. (See here, here, and here) The latest is getting veterans up in arms, and rightly so.

An unnamed active-duty Marine was humiliated at Sky Harbor recently, according to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California). A victim of an IED, this Marine had lost both legs. TSA personnel appeared nothing less than a bunch of uncaring, if not sadistic, Keystone Cops, mis-directing the Marine and making him go through procedures that are not protocol.

How do I know this? I am an amputee, and I have researched these procedures — at least as best as can be done given the hush-hush, super-secret, “Oooh, we can’t tell you what we’re going to do or what we’re supposed to do” TSA blather. It’s written as clear as day on the TSA website that prosthetics are not required to be removed. Nevertheless, as thousands of people can attest, it happens all the time, just as it happened here:

A TSA office asked the Marine to stand and walk to an alternate area, despite the fact that he physically could not stand or walk on his own. With numerous TSA officers sitting and unwilling to assist, an officer then made him remove his legs, then put them back on, only to advance to a secondary screening location where he was asked again to stand, with extraordinary difficulty, while his wheelchair was examined for explosives,” Mr. Hunter said.

I would dearly love for people to think long and hard on this issue, because it has serious implications. We all know that the risk of a terrorist attack on an airplane is infinitesimally small. This is not opinion; it’s fact. I think it can be safely stated, however, that the risk of driving a wounded warrior over the edge is quite a bit more likely.

Many wounded veterans are sound one day, not-so-sound the next. These men and women have a huge amount of adjustment to accommodate, encompassing their self-view, learning new ways to do things they’ve been doing since they were toddlers, and wondering how their newfound cyborg status will affect their relationships, lives, and career prospects.

They have seen and been in situations so horrific that I can’t even imagine. And then they come home. We as a nation should embrace these young men and women. We should show them that they are still respected, valued, and as included as they would have been had they not been wounded. The U.S., in other words, should feel safe to them.

Mistreatment at the hands of the TSA is an egregious assault on these people. I’m not alone in this assessment: read the comments at the article. The veterans commenting know something about war.

What I know about war was through observing my father, a veteran officer of WWII who served in the Pacific. He wouldn’t talk about his experiences until he was dying; it was too traumatic. He buried the horror deep inside. It cost him a lot: it cost him his marriage, and he was on the brink of career and alcoholic ruin until he managed not to fall into the abyss.

But one of the things he didn’t have to worry about was that from the outside he appeared to be a big, strapping, handsome, brilliant man with “Dr.” in front of his name. I can only imagine what would have happened if he’d had the extra burden of a constant physical reminder of his experiences to haunt him. And if he’d been as badly treated as this veteran and countless others have been.

We as a nation have to really consider what we’re doing. We are heaping hurt on a subset of the population that numbers in the millions. Who knows what the consequences will be? I would submit that if you want to worry, worry more about what we are doing than what any terrorist organization is doing.

(Photo: DVIDSHUB/Flickr Creative Commons)

  • nveric

    “We should show them that they are still respected…”

    Yes and no. They are following illegal orders. They must stop going overseas.

    While this site seems to be mainstream in some ways, it probably is anyway. If so, a broader view past this TSA obsession would be helpful. Tackle a larger picture. Sure, this issue has more of you seen by others, but it’s trivial compared to the larger situation.

    How many protests, and civil disobedience acts has anyone done in the past six months against the TSA?

    How often are there actions to disrupt TSA activities made?

    Does anyone use props to play games with the scanners?

    Complaining goes only so far. Nobody listens or cares unless they get disrupted, fondled, groped, or other.

    Learning to support other issues is required, unless the inconvenience in travel is your only “issue.” But, since people who come here are employed, reports of unemployment levels may not reach past your filters. Intentional federal impoverishment of millions of Americans will sound strange to you also. Will knowledge of the American Republic’s death and replacement by an Empire raise an eyebrow? Perhaps so.

    • nveric, you know my politics from my postings at Truthdig. Here at TSA News, though, we come from all over the political spectrum, and I do mean all over. I agree there are larger issues, but we try to keep focused on the TSA and the National Security State (and yes, I understand that those are related to the aforementioned larger issues).

      Several of our writers have indeed engaged in civil disobedience and other tactics against the TSA. At least one is involved in a protracted lawsuit. Another is party to a different lawsuit that may be headed to the Supreme Court. And we’ve written about creative acts of nonviolent protest. Here’s just one post:


      • nveric

        No, I didn’t notice your name. But it does seem familiar.

        I returned here and discovered a relationship between air travel and employment. I admit my slowness in making this connection. People who travel are more likely to be those who don’t have the time to consider the other issues or larger picture. Those working likewise may not be focused on much more than work, as I was when fully employed or employed.

        At each web site I try to point out (I think I’ve said this before) what I see as the need to both educate each other, reach new people, and consider new ideas. That’s 3.

        If you’ve seen my latest ramblings at truthdig, truthout, washington’s blog, ips-dc.org, and hnn, I’m trying to present a consistent narrative with some vision too. Agreement to all of that is not required. It’s to get people to consider and then state their vision without it becoming more wishful thinking. Some may think I’m being wishful, but I’m not in my mind, because I know the difference.

        Our lives happen once with others not yet born. We are responsible to each other and to the future. However, I’m a dedicated self-interest guy and selfish too, as is every other person including Mother Theresa. But then, reason tells the reasonable that our selfishness needs moderation AND that to fulfill our self-interests we need each other and we need each other as healthy as can be.

        Mutual benefit society curbs desires by reason; the need is for society to be mutual, healthy, and beneficial.

        • Ah, then my mistake. I thought we had corresponded at Truthdig.

          • nveric

            We’re human after all. I’ll keep an eye out.

            In general, questioning each other is extremely important. It’s the citizen’s check and balance, politely that is.

  • Susan Richart

    I am going to pound on this as long as I can. Look at the picture in this article:


    and then look at the picture here:


    Tell me what you see.

    I see a person in a wheelchair approaching what appears to be a TSA checkpoint in the first picture.

    In the second picture, I see a person sitting in a wheelchair, the same person as in the first picture, wearing only one prosthesis. This person is struggling to do something, either take the remaining prosthesis off or struggling to put them back on.

    And the Boob at the blog, says in never happened. But then again, the TSA nerd at the airport says there was no video in the are where the incident allegedly happened.

    I am just infuriated about this.

    • “I was shocked to hear this happened at this airport, and I took it personally,” said TSA Assistant Screening Director Jeff Perez.
      Perez is also a disabled veteran, and says 300 veterans work for TSA in Phoenix.
      Perez showed video of the incident to a 3TV crew.
      He says no footage is available showing the area in which the Marine claims to have taken his prosthetic legs off.
      “We did our own fact finding and spoke to the officers who were there. Not one said he was asked to take his prosthetics off,” Perez told 3TV.

      Yeah, and I have a bridge to sell you. The TSA lies. All the time. It’s what they do. Anyone who believes this thug agency is delusional.

    • Daisiemae

      Yes, and it’s sickening to me that Perez says there is nothing wrong with this treatment…this is what we do to everyone. Yes! That is his justification…they do it to everyone.

  • Monica47

    My husband is a retired Marine. We discussed this story and decided we both would have intervened and assisted this Marine even if it meant we would have been arrested. We take care of our own.

    • Hivewhacker

      Excellent, Monica47. A single person trying to help would risk immediate thuggery, but a team (and thank you for your service, both of you!) would stand strong, and I hope you never have to stand up to these Nazis.

      • Susan Richart

        No matter the thuggery, this is something each of us should do. If just one person took a stand when they saw abuse taking place at a checkpoint, I have no doubt that others would soon join with the protester.

        • Susan, in fact, there’s plenty of research that proves this — that if one person steps up, others will join. Will have to find the link and post later.

          • nveric

            For someone like myself, once “the ice is broken” it becomes natural. Or could it be my near death experience in 2005 which lent wisdom to me?

  • Monica47

    I have read no reports of any other passengers trying to assist this Marine. Are we all so intimidated by the TSA that we would stand by and watch this abuse without trying to help another human being in distress, especially one of our wounded warriors?

    • Once the TSA has you they won’t let someone else help you.

      • Susan Richart

        I’m not certain that Monica47 meant give him physical assistance. Rather, I think she meant that no passengers shamed the TSA for their actions. You may recall that other passengers making comments to screeners in the incident of the child with bone disease who was separated from her parents and crying seemed to contribute to bringing the screening to a quick end.

        We all need to speak up when we see abuse, humiliation and degredation taking place at checkpoints.

    • Monica, this stuff goes on all the time. Every day, all over the country. Nobody helps. It’s one big national spectacle of sheep going to the slaughter.

      “Just get me to my flight on time!”

  • Fisher1949

    The ink isn’t dry on the apology that TSA issued for terrorizing a wheelchair bound child after she passed the checkpoint in Dallas before they abuse another handicapped person. Not only shouldn’t a wounded soldier be subjected to this humiliation by government thugs, no one should be treated like this for simply trying to board a plane.

  • Daisiemae

    I am heartsick and deeply ashamed of my country.

  • Debbie Tolson

    I am truly speechless. What is wrong with these goons the TSA hires, no sensitivity whatsoever? And the majority are Americans remain clueless. Naomi Wolf was right, it certainly is, The End of AMerica.

    • The problem is that a “terrorist” could use a wheelchair and a fake ID to get through the 20+ layers of “defense”.

      They could also use their children by preparing special underwear with explosives for their children to wear since they are not subject to the same criminal pat downs.

      They could also use elderly terrorists to try and get past the TSA with their lax searches of elderly.

      Apparently, the only people who can get by mostly without humiliation are frequent flyers who SPEND A LOT OF MONEY WITH AIRLINES. They get the sympathy…..and a special stamp called “PreCheck”.

    • Goons is the wrong word. Scum describe these TSA screeners better.

  • frostysnowman

    All off these TSA stories make me sick. This is the first one that made me cry as well. Please keep up the good work you are doing here, continuing to get the word out about what the TSA really does to people.

  • Susan Richart

    I have been thinking about this story ever since I first read it and am just sick about it.

    The TSA just can’t get out of its own way, can it? However, it’s a beautiful thing to watch the implosion, in spite of Pissy’s proclaming a “kindler/gentler” TSA:


    Pissy, your kinger/gentler TSA last for less than 24 hours.

    • Pistole’s propaganda is published all over the country, all the time, by our craptastic media. It’s left to small independent blogs like this one to shine a light on his lies. But obviously, only a few thousand see this blog, while hundreds of millions see his words.