Overzealous Homeland Security

January 1, 2010

in Airport Stories

May I address the “overkill” of our zealous Homeland Security employees?

My husband is a Korean vet with a partial knee replacement, yet he is always treated like the most dangerous potential terrorist in the world. The hotel printed the boarding passes for our return trip, but we didn’t notice the first letter of our last name was missing.

We checked in at the curb with pictures on our drivers’ licenses. The IDs were scanned at Security even though we had not changed identity in 5 minutes. The first Homeland Security man noticed that letter was missing and threatened to make us go back and have proper boarding passes printed. He relented and initialed them.

Then hubby got stopped with the beeping. Unfortunately he slipped the boarding passes inside the outer pocket of the carry-on to be retrieved immediately, not thinking we’d have to show them yet again… but we did.

By now I was flustered because the only passes I had were for the connecting flight. Then he was taken off somewhere being subjected to extensive searching. While I sat with his belongings, several passengers stopped to ask if I was OK.

We’re proud grandparents of a Marine Sergeant who had just returned from his third deployment in Iraq. No one is more patriotic or loves this country more than we do. One of my three brothers was killed in WWII and another wounded. We’re married almost 56 years and I cannot believe how we’re being treated in airports today.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Spooner January 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Sad to say that you can now expect (if things go as they normally do on this site) a number of comments saying that you should know better, its your own fault etc. Nobody stops and thinks how absurd it is to treat you like you were, nor the disrespect shown by such treatment. It seems that the abusive characters who will criticise you have no life experience, no decency and no common sense. The way you were treated is truly dreadful and a sign of the times, when people on minimum wage are given a uniform and a bit of power which they want to exercise to the fullest extent. Be assured that there are many caring people in the world who will sympathise with you, unlike the mongrels who will now go for your throat on here.


Brianne January 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

A) You should always keep your boarding pass with you. Who doesn't know this?

B) Just because your son and past family members serve or have served in the military does not make you immune to the treatment you received at the airport.

C) Such treatment is not disrespectful. You could have been a threat just like anyone else.


LGS January 1, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Sorry but I don't see any disrespect in this story at all. Security personnel were just doing their jobs. It's a reflection of the dangerous world we now live in, but your husband wasn't singled out unfairly.


Larry Ingenthrol January 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I know what you mean. Some security people are out of hand, while still not getting the job done.

A perfect example is the incompetent security people in Helena, Mt.


Tim Spooner January 1, 2010 at 8:22 pm

The writers are in their 70's for God's sake! How much of a threat can they possibly be to anybody?? The whole story reeks of a lack of respect and courtesy towards them. One can only hope that the people here who have made adverse comments have grandparents who are treated better that these people were. Then again, they probably treat their own families like crap.


Bob January 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm

DHS has a difficult job to do. No doubt that we would have had a disaster by now if it wasn't for them. With that being said, my 90-something-year-old mother-in-law was treated by them in Vegas as though she was a terrorist several years ago. Do your job folks, but do it respectively for gods sake.


Mr Big January 2, 2010 at 4:41 am

In the name of political correctness and not subject the perps to racial profiling – normal joes are treated poorly by these dimwits – it really is pathetic.

Give trailer trash a badge and minimal training and they think they are John Rambo … "respect my authoritee" – bite me!


Diana January 2, 2010 at 9:22 am

For God's sake, these people are over 70. Back off.

Sad to say, it'll only get worse, and too many people are willing to put up with this crap because they've been frightened shitless into thinking the end of the great American way of life is close at hand. I mean, look at how ludicrous things are getting now. And this is only after a FAILED attack, after some bumbling fool set his underwear on fire.


DSD January 3, 2010 at 5:52 am

I agree with the folks who are alluding to the fact that the TSA security screening is a joke. Instead of focusing on those who really could be a threat they pull folks who are OBVIOUSLY no threat and subject them to extra security searches all in the name of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. PC will be the ultimate down fall of this country, because we will be more focused on appearances than real security. My personal favorite story of the TSA searches was a 80 – 90 year old woman who beat the TSA screener with her cane when she was pulled over for additional screening. She was beating him while yelling at him about the ludicrousness of searching her and not the Arabic man who was in line behind her. It took 3 other officers to pull her off the first guy. Most of the folks that I have met, who are of the same ethnicity as those who are perpitrating these acts of terrorism, have no real issue with being looked at with a little extra dilligence. They reallize its not actually personal, that its just a case of looking like the real threat.

In fairness to the screeners that the OP ran into, there really was an issue and as a result I can definitely see why they were singled out. Their name did not match the boarding passes. But instead of making a national case out of it, the first screener saw the reality of the situation and did NOT make them go back to square one, which in some cases could have make the person miss their flight. He let them through and they had some extra screening. I don't see a problem with this. Its better than the additional security yahoo's who were working on Dec. 29 when my mother flew back home after spending Christmas with me. 4 days after the failed Christmas Day bomb, and there are Homeland security personnel all over the place. All of them standing around in circles of three or four BSing about their plans for New Years (yes I could over hear the conversations). Just brilliant work, their supposed to be LOOKING for suspicious activity and instead they are talking about their party plans.

ps. I want to meet the guy who can kill a person and take down an airplane with a pair of cuticle scissors.


Bob January 3, 2010 at 7:03 am

Great post DSD. As I mentioned in my previous comment, my mother-in-law who was in her early 90s was extensively searched which I found to be infuriating. With that being said though, terrorists try to find the weak point. If little old ladies are ignored, then eventually some terrorist will load a bomb on one.

What needs to be employed is some common sense which is what the Israelis do. Among a number of other techniques, they employ both ethnic and behavioral profiling. Of course, the ethnic profiling led to a lawsuit because it was considered to be racist (Israeli airport security challenged). Well guess what – there hasn't been a successful attack on an Israeli airplane in decades.

Scrutinize everyone including little old ladies and kids, but include ethnic profiling as a part of an overall strategy.


RJ January 4, 2010 at 7:46 am

Stories like these always tick me off – it's not that I think older or elderly people shouldn't have to deal with security. However, I do think that security personnel wastes a lot of time putting elderly people through this sort of thing, yet somehow manage to miss the guy with the dynamite in his pants, or the guy who manages to wander through the "secure" area of the airport without anybody stopping him (see any of this weekend's news reports, re: Newark airport).


Jim January 5, 2010 at 10:19 am

The TSA were doing their job. Unfortunately, this is the world we now live in. If they make exceptions for those over 70…what about those over 60…what about those with handicaps…those with wheelchairs…those with canes…those with limps….if everyone that sets off the metal detector says they had surgery, should they be allowed to go through without further inspection?

Sad thing is…we are all being punished because of the actions of a few.

In a way, the terrorists have won some victory…because they have upset our world…and, the way we go about life. And, evenmoreso as our freedoms and dignity are stripped away because of the necessary evil of tighter security.

I'm sorry this happened to you and your husband. But, you are not alone…many innocents suffer because of the actions of the few.


Kafka January 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

The shame (which there is more than enough to go around) is not necessarily in the extensive searching of our senior citizens but rather in the complacent ignorance of those who seem to think security begins in the terminal.

It does not. I wonder how many people will continue to accept the current security methodology once you're asked to disrobe prior to entering secure areas and/or subjected to MRI type scanning to view the contents of your stomach and or anal cavity to ensure nothing has been hidden there.

Good security always has and will continue to be a product of a blend of tactics and techniques (some overt and some covert) which work to keep the 'bad guys' off balace and therefore confused and incapable of planning anything dangerous.

If you wish to ride unfettered and unconcerned…take a train. Take note of the difference between the levels of security even though the stakes are just as high…Why is that?


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