On Friday, 84-year-old Long Island grandmother Lenore Zimmerman told the New York Daily News she was whisked into a private room and strip searched at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The 4'11 octogenarian said she was searched after asking to forgo advanced image technology screening equipment over fears it may interfere with her defibrillator.
That's when she claims she was escorted to a private area by two female agents who removed her clothes. Zimmerman said that she asked TSA agents, Do I look like a terrorist?
She also claims that she was bleeding like a pig after a metal bar of her walker banged against her leg during the process.
TSA vehemently denies that any such event occurred. The agency claims that a review of closed circuit TV indicates that a private screening was requested by the passenger and was granted.
On Sunday, TSA released a statement apologizing to Zimmerman but disputing her story, reiterating that it does not include strip searches as part of its security protocols.
TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience; however, TSA does not include strip searches in its protocols and a strip search did not occur in this case, the agency said in the statement.
However 88-year-old Ruth Sherman, hearing about Zimmerman's story, claims to have had a similar ordeal at the same JetBlue terminal just one day earlier.
The Florida grandmother was on her way home when TSA screeners at JFK wanted to check the bulge from her colostomy bag.
This is private for me. It's bad enough that I have it, she told WCBS. I had to pull from my sweatpants and I had to pull my underwear, my underwear down.
You don't do that, Sherman added. I felt like I was invaded.
TSA is currently looking into Sherman's allegations.
On the TSA Blog, Bob Burns claims:
Terrorists remain focused on attacking transportation through tactics such as concealing explosives under clothing. Further, as evidenced by the Christmas Day 2009 attempted bombing, concealed anomalies under clothing must continue to be resolved and cleared as part of the screening process to ensure the item does not pose a threat to the safety of the traveling public.
Terrorists and their targets may also range in age, Burns adds, noting a group of elderly men who were planning to use toxic ricin against U.S. citizens.
Zimmerman is not satisfied with TSA's apology and reportedly plans to sue the agency upon her return home to New York.