The Transportation Security Administration admitted in letters to two New York lawmakers that agents violated procedures when they demanded two elderly women show them medical devices hidden under their clothing at JFK Airport checkpoints.
In November 85-year-old Lenore Zimmerman and 88-year-old Ruth Sherman reported that they had been effectively strip searched while traveling separately through the airport.
TSA agents asked Sherman to lower the top of her trousers so they could inspect her colostomy bag and Zimmer was told to remove a back brace, which was sent through an x-ray machine.
Federal officials told Schumer and Gianaris that agents at the New York airport will get refresher courses on handling passengers with medical conditions.
After the initial complaints by the two women surfaced, the TSA said on its blog that the agency "does not, and has never, conducted strip searches and no strip searches occurred in any of these incidents.'' Bob Burns, the agency's blogger, went on to say that the agency was sorry that the elderly "passengers feel they had a bad screening experience,'' but stopped short of admitting any errors. Burns then detailed the agency's policy:
TSA officers do not ask passengers to remove clothing to expose a sensitive area or to remove a medical device or brace. We have special procedures that allow us to safely screen passengers with disabilities.
Turns out they did.