TSA saves America from 16yo diabetic, breaks $10K insulin pump which totally could have been a bomb

Discuss

166 Responses to “TSA saves America from 16yo diabetic, breaks $10K insulin pump which totally could have been a bomb”

  1. TheBehinder says:

    This was discussed on slashdot too. One poster raised a good point – no one is sure the scanner caused the insulin pump to break (it may have just been coincidence). But since the TSA won’t allow anyone to test the scanners, then we may never know for sure.

    Everything about the TSA stinks, even when they may not be responsible…

    • IRMO says:

      The manufacturer specifically says they do not want their device placed in the scanners. 

      If you had a device inside your body, and it was subjected to conditions that the manufacturer warns against, would you leave it inside your body?

      • It is analogous to the debate a day or so ago about using electronic devices on aircraft. The policy is that they can’t be used and that should be the end of the matter until we get a different policy. Surely insulin pumps fall into the same category of potentially lethal devices which need to be handled as specified.

        • Guest says:

           it’s not analogous, here’s why.

          The TSA does not own your body the same way that the FAA ‘owns’ air-traffic.

        • donovan acree says:

           Unlike the electronics in aircraft where NASA performed exhaustive tests demonstrating that there is no danger, we cannot test this devices reaction to the scanner as no one is allowed to test them.

    • CLamb says:

      Nor does the article say the pump was actually broken.  It just quotes the father saying the pump manufacturer saying “they couldn’t guarantee that the screening machine hadn’t damaged the pump and that her daughter should take the pump off as soon as she landed.”.  It sounds to me just like a CYA precaution on the part of the manufacturer.

      • IRMO says:

        A wrong dose from this pump can kill her.

        And it only takes on fried transistor in there to cause a wrong dose. 

        • Dv Revolutionary says:

          She is wearing her own personal Therac-25 style accident waiting to happen? There is no physical safeguard just software and transistors controlling her life?

          She has a bigger and more immediate problem than the TSA. Her mom and that company just put another one of those things back on her.

          • Dv Revolutionary says:

            Hey Cheese, I’m not being a dumbass. I use medical devices as well. I am sick of their expense, fragility, replacement and supply cycles, extreme inconvenience, damage to my health when they fail in utterly predictable ways, always paying when there is a problem and above all manufacturer CYA and incomplete information. 

            I’m also sick the fearful overreaction that requires the TSA and requires the replacement of this pump without specifics. Someone thinks an insulin pump could be deadly with one stuck transistor? I’m not disputing that I’m just trying to get someone to think about why anyone would attach a minor to a device with such risks.

            $10,000 and it’s not radiation hardened and there is no comprehensive self test. It can’t go through what millions of cell phones and computers go through every week. They are worried about the x-ray but not the plane ride? You have to chuck it because you can’t verify it works. Somebody made it like this and this family and benefactors has paid for it TWICE. Why wouldn’t they make the next model even more even more fragile and the replacement criteria more capricious. People would go along with that.

          • Ipo says:

             Yea, she has a bigger and more immediate problem than the TSA, she certainly doesn’t need the added danger on top. 

          • Ipo says:

             Yea, she has a bigger and more immediate problem than the TSA, she certainly doesn’t need the added danger on top. 

          • IRMO says:

            “I’m not disputing that I’m just trying to get someone to think about why anyone would attach a minor to a device with such risks.”

            Because diabetic teenagers are notoriously non-compliant when it comes to the old school diet-test-inject regimen. 

          • Alan Ball says:

            Backscatter scanners aren’t X-Ray and it’s unknown whether the scanner will induct with circuits. A pump manufacturer cannot test for proper EM shielding because the law does not permit testing. ERGO the medical company cannot verify it is safe. Type 1 Diabetes kills, so not replacing the pump is not an option. 

            I hope that clears everything up for you. 

        • Dv Revolutionary says:

          She is wearing her own personal Therac-25 style accident waiting to happen? There is no physical safeguard just software and transistors controlling her life?

          She has a bigger and more immediate problem than the TSA. Her mom and that company just put another one of those things back on her.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        It sounds to me just like a CYA precaution on the part of the manufacturer.

        Are you for real? Let’s just not worry about the medical equipment being dysfunctional because we think that the precautions are probably maybe not meaningful.

        • awjt says:

          Besides the electronics, certain types of plastics can get brittle or change character when exposed to x-rays.  Just like old high-speed film.  Airports used to display signs in the security lines warning people not to put their film through the xray machine. 

          The TSA should be aware of this stuff and have standard operating procedures that cover every situation.  They were off-roadmap in this case, and as we’ve been discussing here for ages, they *DON’T HAVE A CLEAR ROADMAP* in the first place. 

        • Guest says:

           I suspect that no, that is not for real

        • Guest says:

           I suspect that no, that is not for real

      • Guest says:

         Who manufactured the TSA? And is their job to cover thier own ass, or ours?

  2. cstatman says:

    oh, but think of the CHILDREN???   Who is going to save us from underwear bombs?    TSA caught the last guy…. wait, no   the CIA, not TSA,   sorry,   nevermind.

    • pjcamp says:

       You mean the Underbomber who turned out today to be an undercover spy? Why is it that every terrorist plot we break up these days has our own guys as the instigators? Am I the only one with the distinctly creepy feeling that the government finds it easier to create crimes in order to solve them than to detect crimes?

      • Gideon Jones says:

        So you think the only reason Al Qaeda wanted to bomb a plane is because the undercover guy suggested it?  Like they were sitting around, just chilling out having a barbecue before the dastardly CIA guy showed up and filled their minds with thoughts of violence?

        • technobach says:

           No, he’s suggesting (or, at least I’m suggesting) that they only CAUGHT him because he was undercover.

          • Gideon Jones says:

            He (and apparently you) is wrong then.  It doesn’t take long to come up for a fairly long list of Al Qaeda people who have been caught, detained, tried, and/or killed who weren’t undercover agents.  Including the “original” underwear bomber.

          • Sagodjur says:

             Gideon, who caught the underwear bomber again? Oh yeah, passengers! DHS is only good at catching its own people or its own plots.

        • Ashen Victor says:

          Well, the CIA has a long history of helping people with minds full of thoughts of violence getting weapons to blow other people or inciting people to do so…   

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          It’s entirely possible that they wouldn’t have the wherewithal to do it without his help.

          • ocker3 says:

             The undercover guy was a bombmaker? I thought he volunteered to get one of their devices so the US could study it

          • Gideon Jones says:

            Except not.  Al Qaeda has it’s own bombmakers, they’ve even named the guy they think designed this one.  The undercover guy just volunteered to carry it and get blown up.  

        • pjcamp says:

           Who can know what happened in Yemen? But we know what happens in the US.

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/20/fbi-informant
          http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/16/fbi-entrapment-fake-terror-plots
          http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants

          I’m just saying maybe it looks like a better idea to arrest someone who is easy to arrest than someone who is actually dangerous. The FBI in particular seems to have developed a cottage industry of turning pathetic loners into Dangerous Turrists, then slapping them into the day’s headlines.

        • Mantissa128 says:

          I posted this in the other thread about the u-bomber, but it’s directly relevant here: “The BBC’s Steve Kingstone in Washington says the double-agent was reportedly given an ambitious task by Saudi intelligence – to convince AQAP that he wanted to blow up himself and a US-bound aircraft.”

          Nobody’s saying Al Qaeda doesn’t want to hurt people, but whose idea was this, exactly?

    • buddy66 says:

      Neither the TSA nor the CIA caught the original Underwear Bomber; he drew attention to himself by setting his dick on fire. 

  3. The solution: come election day, eject ALL incumbents. This situation didn’t just happen because of one person. ALL of our elected officials are colluding against the interests of the American people. Give them the boot.

    • Gideon Jones says:

      You understand that the people replacing them in your little fantasy are almost certain to support the keeping the TSA around too, right?

    • pjcamp says:

       Trouble is, it is always your congressman who’s a rat. Mine is a standup guy. That’s how incumbents become incumbents.

      • sportswearjk says:

        so hard to understand

      • Martijn Vos says:

        Have you checked if he voted against everything he should have voted against?

        I think it shouldn’t be too hard to make a list of all the congressmen that need to go.

    • skyhawk1 says:

      Actually look at the individual and his or her voting record.

    • skyhawk1 says:

      Actually look at the individual and his or her voting record.

    • Petzl says:

       That’s what they said in Greece.  And the alternatives they came up with were: the far left/Communists and the far right/Fascists. But I’m sure we’ll do better over here.

      • retepslluerb says:

        Well, over here we started voting the Pirate Party into parliaments. Wether or not they will be competent and gain enough votes to really matter remains to be seen, but at east they aren’t the right or left fringe. (Okay, The Left could arguably be called that.)

      • retepslluerb says:

        Well, over here we started voting the Pirate Party into parliaments. Wether or not they will be competent and gain enough votes to really matter remains to be seen, but at east they aren’t the right or left fringe. (Okay, The Left could arguably be called that.)

        • Robert says:

          We don’t have a parliamentary government. *bursts into tears*

          • retepslluerb says:

            Yeah, but the principle is the same. 

            Besides, the Greek system and our German one are similar, iirc. Nobody forced the Greeks to vote for Nazis or other extremists.  

  4. As much as I loathe the TSA, I really wish I had more information about this incident. I travel a lot on business, and opt-out of the scanners every time. It has never been anything other than totally routine. I say, “I’m going to opt-out.” They say, “Male assist! Please wait here, sir.” And then a person comes and we go do the pat-down. The procedure of the pat-down is also very consistent each time, which leads me to believe the TSA has been pretty rigorous on training this procedure.

    Has anybody here been forced to go through the scanner after attempting to opt-out?

    EDIT: Comments on the original article suggest that people with insulin pumps have a harder time of it.

    • llazy8 says:

      I look like a female and when I have opted out, both times the agents told me I could but that I would have to wait a really long time for a female agent, once they mentioned ‘an hour or an hour and a half’, a bummer since my connecting flights were in less time than that.  And I don’t have any special medical devices or extra liquids or anything like that.  (FWIW-I just say okay to the long wait and so far in both scenarios one of the female agents already on the scene gave me the pat down on the spot.) 

    • llazy8 says:

      I look like a female and when I have opted out, both times the agents told me I could but that I would have to wait a really long time for a female agent, once they mentioned ‘an hour or an hour and a half’, a bummer since my connecting flights were in less time than that.  And I don’t have any special medical devices or extra liquids or anything like that.  (FWIW-I just say okay to the long wait and so far in both scenarios one of the female agents already on the scene gave me the pat down on the spot.) 

    • pimlottc says:

      I was wondering about this as well.  I’ve opted out at least half-a-dozen times and it was treated as a completely routine, and fairly expedient, procedure. (male, no medical conditions)

    • Marcus Grimm says:

       I wear an insulin pump and have found my experiences to be consistent with yours. Obviously, experiences can vary from airport to airport and agent to agent, but I’ve never had a problem and always have my insulin pump on. Also, despite what the mfr suggests, I have – many times – run my pump through the scanners with no problems. Not saying others should, only that I have.

    • Robert says:

      At LAX last year, I was NOT selected to go through the pornscanner. Just the metal detector. One of the TSA guys spotted the tube from my insulin pump, and had me pulled aside. They took me over to the explosives detector, had me take out the pump, rub it with my hands, then they swabbed my hands and put the swab in the detector. And that was that.

  5. ozmonatov says:

    And the funniest bit about the whole thing, the bit that makes one chuckle at the lame duck that is caring for ones own and others personal freedom, is that we do absolutely nothing beyond symbolic byreocratic actions to try and make our society better.

    Let’s all go sign a petition and hope that all this will go away, or vote another generic guy into office. All for the billionth time.

    Maybe things will get better rather than worse this one time, as long as we don’t have to actually sacrifice anything to do it.

  6. pjcamp says:

    There’s a part of this I don’t get. Everyone supposedly has the right to opt out, no questions asked. So how did TSA screeners force her to go through a scanner?

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      What the TSA regulations say, and what the screeners effectively force people to do, are two different things. If you’re going through screening, and intimidating authority figures aggressively order you to do this or do that, you do it — or you risk missing your flight, or worse. Especially intimidating when you’re a teenager. Especially intimidating when you’re wearing a life/health-preserving medical device.

      • HeartlessMachine says:

         True.  The TSA website specifically states that they WILL allow “Scissors – metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches”.  But I have a whole file cabinet full of scissors with blades less than four inches that were confiscated by individual screeners who apparently don’t follow the official list.

        If the official stance is to allow small scissors, then the screeners should allow them.  But they don’t.

        • IRMO says:

          The smurfs bully anyone they think is bullyable, to make things go faster, even if it means breaking regulations. 

          And teenage girls are the epitome of bullyable, at least by adults. 

        • Jonathan Roberts says:

          I have this vision of someone trying to get through the scanner with a file cabinet full of pointy scissors with blades slightly shorter than 4 inches. “But you can’t confiscate it! TSA regulations say I can take these scissors on board!”

      • pjcamp says:

         They’re lucky my sister isn’t a teenager anymore. They’d be walking funny for the rest of their lives.

        In any case, it says she “tried to advocate for herself” which means they knew what she wanted and broke the rules deliberately and that seems actionable. Is there a pro bono lawyer in the house?

      • mattashburn says:

        Very true- I opted out due to danger/privacy/principle concerns recently at JFK, and the TSA screener said, “Well, if you do that, you might just miss your flight.”  After making me wait 20 minutes for a pat down, the TSA screened me, and I did in fact miss my flight. Resulted in a 5-hr layover til the next flight.

        • Jerril says:

           I’ve developed a policy of showing up two and a half hours early and “enjoying” scheduled long layovers. It’s monotonous, but threats of delays break down when you are in fact so bored that standing around at the security checkpoint peoplewatching seems like an entertaining way to burn hours before your flight.

      • mattashburn says:

        Very true- I opted out due to danger/privacy/principle concerns recently at JFK, and the TSA screener said, “Well, if you do that, you might just miss your flight.”  After making me wait 20 minutes for a pat down, the TSA screened me, and I did in fact miss my flight. Resulted in a 5-hr layover til the next flight.

    • You have to say the magic words:

      I opt out.

      If the screeners don’t hear those words you have to rely on them think on their own, and they’re not paid to do that. Just repeat the magic words each time they try to shunt you into a porno cancer scanner and they suddenly become very professional.

      • soapdish says:

         Yep.  Take.  The.  Patdown.

      • Jesseham says:

        You do have to repeat those 3 words about 5 times as they try to persuade you into the scanner.

        • IRMO says:

          Teenagers are accustomed to having to explain their decisions to adults. 

          For a situation like this, you have to train your kid to refrain from doing that. 

        • Occasionally.

          If that happens just politely stand in the same spot and cheerfully repeat the magic words.

        • Occasionally.

          If that happens just politely stand in the same spot and cheerfully repeat the magic words.

          • IRMO says:

            I agree. But don’t expect your daughter to do this if you haven’t trained her to do so. And by train I mean rehearse the scenario, with you playing the TSA smurf and bullying her. 

          • IRMO says:

            I agree. But don’t expect your daughter to do this if you haven’t trained her to do so. And by train I mean rehearse the scenario, with you playing the TSA smurf and bullying her. 

      • llazy8 says:

        Yeah. But the thing that gives me the heebie jeebies every time is that so recently, so very very recently, my stance was that I would not allow anything more invasive then a wand scan or a walk-through metal detector for my person and the machine for my bag, and then the porno scanners came in and now I insist on a pat down.  I am currently subjecting myself to hassles and abuse and ‘the fleshy side of my hand’ ON PURPOSE in order to demand a security measure I wouldn’t have allowed 3 years ago.  ‘Cause it’s better than their new jive.  

      • llazy8 says:

        Yeah. But the thing that gives me the heebie jeebies every time is that so recently, so very very recently, my stance was that I would not allow anything more invasive then a wand scan or a walk-through metal detector for my person and the machine for my bag, and then the porno scanners came in and now I insist on a pat down.  I am currently subjecting myself to hassles and abuse and ‘the fleshy side of my hand’ ON PURPOSE in order to demand a security measure I wouldn’t have allowed 3 years ago.  ‘Cause it’s better than their new jive.  

    • Dv Revolutionary says:

      It doesn’t appear they did. From my reading she showed them her note told them what usually happened then asked if it was OK to go through, they said yes. She went through the scanner.

      That’s just my reading, there appears to be a huge lack of facts in these two particular TSA articles. Did the scanner break the pump? was the pump even broken? Did her mom have it replaced out of an abundance of caution? The MSNBC article says it wasn’t broken but replaced at the mother’s insistance.

      It appears to be a detachable electronic device but the manufacturer doesn’t want it to go through xray of any form. The technical person in me wants to know what breaks and how.

      http://www.animas.com/faq/other-airport-security

      • pjcamp says:

        The only mechanism I can think up at the moment is the possibility of creating a latch-up (a sort of short circuit) in a MOSFET transistor, assuming some such thing is inside the device, which isn’t all that unlikely. Usually that’s correctable by a power cycle, but sometimes it is permanent destruction. That seems like a low probability error but I guess you only need one with a medical device.

      • pjcamp says:

        The only mechanism I can think up at the moment is the possibility of creating a latch-up (a sort of short circuit) in a MOSFET transistor, assuming some such thing is inside the device, which isn’t all that unlikely. Usually that’s correctable by a power cycle, but sometimes it is permanent destruction. That seems like a low probability error but I guess you only need one with a medical device.

      • gibbon1 says:

        I tell you why, flash memory.  The microcontroller in the device uses it to store it;s program code.  A quick google says x-rays won’t erase flash memory.  However, then there is this app note from spansion.

        http://www.spansion.com/Support/Application%20Notes/X-ray_inspection_on_flash_AN.pdf

        They say, don’t use x-rays to inspect flash memory devices after
        programming, otherwise bits can be flipped.  Also that certain exposures are known to cause damage to flash memory cells.  And that pretty much nails it.  No manufacture of a life critical devices is going to say passing their equipment through the TSA’s unregulated nudie box is okay.

        • bcsizemo says:

          But what about all other electronic devices that use flash memory?  Cameras, phones, gps, ect..?  I mean thousands of those aren’t getting trashed everyday.

          This is a medical device that she needs to live….for $10k I should be able to throw it off my roof onto a concrete driveway pick it up, wipe it off, and it should work fine.  Water, short periods of intense heat, low level x-rays, ect..  Basically for $10k it should be military spec.  It’s a precise measured pump, frankly for that amount of money I’m pretty sure the DoD or NASA could have one built to military specifications.

          And even if the manufacture isn’t going to go that far, flash memory is cheap, shielding is cheap, some checksum level code, or even dual microcontrollers running in parallel with safety checks is fairly cheap.  If a human being can be subjected to a porno scanner 50 times a year and not be dead from it, there is little reason this device should be built to those same requirements.

          -Yes I’m also mad at the TSA for this farce, but it’s things like this were you can almost see the greed and government regulations/lawyers at work.

          • gibbon1 says:

            “But what about all other electronic devices that use flash memory?  Cameras, phones, gps, ect..?  I mean thousands of those aren’t getting trashed everyday.”

            You really sure about that?  In a manufacturing environment a failure rate of 0.01% will be noticed and the source of the problem tracked down. Had one customer ship us back five defective IC’s out of a batch of 300,000.  They wanted to know why the parts failed.

            You think if 1 out of 10000 GPS’s, laptops, cameras, or vacation pictures on some flash card get bricked by the TSA’s xray machines, that anyone is going to notice?

          • bcsizemo says:

            @boingboing-0bdefd0fb5b1043a19e377797b7e2d19:disqus 

            Well lets take you 1 in 10,000 failure rate and extrapolate that.

            Lets say there are a million flyers per day, from what I’ve found around the net that seems low, but it is a nice round number.

            Lets assume 75% of them are traveling with a device that contains electronics and flash memory. 

            So there are now 750,000 devices being X-rayed every day.  With your 1:10,000 failure rate that is 75 bricked devices, or 27,375 per year.

            So while I suspect you are correct in saying that there isn’t enough failures from a concentrated group to set off alarms everywhere, having roughly 30k devices a year destroyed by a scanner certainly would.  I mean if the internet as taught us anything, incidents like this would be popping up all over the place.  (And it’s not like x-ray machines haven’t been around for decades now…it’s just the fact you now can walk through one that’s the problem here – a problem that for the price of her device shouldn’t exist.)

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            So you’d be okay with us throwing the brain of a weaponized drone off a roof, popping it back in and flying it in your neighborhood?

          • bcsizemo says:

             @Antinous_Moderator:disqus

            Well considering the “brain” of the drone is not the whole and probably wasn’t designed as an independent part I doubt it would survive a drop from 20+ft.  Now obviously the whole drone itself probably wouldn’t survive a straight fall of say 20ft either (I guess it depends on how it hit the ground.)  But I’m not sure I’d have a problem with a drone crashing and then having the electronic guts put into a new chassis, assuming it passed all diagnostics.  I mean, maybe I’m putting to much credit into these companies/engineers.  I know fighter jets, especially modern fly by wire stuff, has multiple levels of redundancy, I would just assume (and expect) a drone would have something similar.

        • Marcus Grimm says:

          “No manufacture of a life critical devices is going to say passing their equipment through the TSA’s unregulated nudie box is okay.” Exactly.

          For what it’s worth, I’m a type 1 diabetic and I have worn my pump through these scanners, and sent my pump through xray machines and have never had a problem. Not saying others should – only that I have. Another key point not mentioned in the article is that the way the insulin pump business works is pretty consistent: 1. Your health insurance pays for it. 2. It’s 100% under warranty. 3. If it gets buggy for any reason, they replace it, simply because they don’t want a lawsuit. I had a hairline crack in mine a couple months ago and they didn’t even ask me how it happened… just wanted it replaced immediately at no cost to me and it was. 4. As your warranty begins to come due (usually 4 years), they call you, wanting it replaced. There are lots of consumable supplies involved, so it’s in their best interest to keep you wearing their brand and having you covered. Not saying TSA handled it right… just saying there’s a lot more to the story.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            First of all, not everybody has health insurance, and some who do have a big deductible or partial coverage. Second, the idea that the manufacturer will continue to replace defective units after the wearer has violated the warnings is naive.

        • Guest says:

          “X-ray inspection” in the industrial sense means bombarding devices with more intense X-rays than backscatter or baggage scanners, even the checked-baggage ones. We’re talking hard enough X-rays to penetrate thinner metals, so you can see details inside IC packages. AXI machines are dangerous and heavily shielded when operating!

          see wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_X-ray_inspection

    • awjt says:

       They used mind-rape.

    • awjt says:

       They used mind-rape.

    • awjt says:

       They used mind-rape.

  7. The TSA security theater is clearly ridiculous and counter-productive, but the thing I’m offended by is the cost of the device. Of course, to the people who rely on it, it’s priceless — but the actual cost, including reasonably amortized research and design — is surely at least an order of magnitude less.

  8. Another Kevin says:

    The obvious way to prevent incidents like this is to impose a minimum level of physical fitness on passengers. Those who can’t get through a flight without a medical device, a special food, or whatever, or those that can’t pass screening without needing a special object like a cane or walker or diaper, simply shouldn’t be allowed to fly. And why shouldn’t there be such a standard? There is for pilots and air crew. Since passengers are also capable of endangering a flight, they should also have to meet standards.

    (And I can see the TSA drafting the regulation now.  I refuse to say whether this post is ironic.)

    • bcsizemo says:

      With 40% of Americans on track for being obese there won’t be any airline left in business.  Of course they could buy into the weight loss industry, loose 20 lbs and get 500 frequent flier miles!

    • Marja Erwin says:

      And when they extend this to buses and trains? And when you can’t use the local subway if you have the wrong disabilities, or if you have bad id because of some screw-up when you were born, or a myriad other things?

    • What you are demanding is totally ridiculous.  Have you any idea how many diabetics there are in the world?  No I thought not.  There are a very large number of Type 1 and an enormous number of Type 2 – so you’re happy to ban all of them from flying – get real. 

      You obviously have no medical problems whatsoever but wait till you do – and living in USA you will do before long – so I’d learn to be a little bit more accepting and decent towards other people who do suffer from some sort of illness, because who knows how long before you’ll have one too?!

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        His comment is sarcasm.

        • Another Kevin says:

           It’s telling that we live in such a pricky age that the comment could be interpreted as anything but irony. Although I thought that the last line was a dead giveaway.

  9. JonS says:

    On the upside, though, Savannah wasn’t able to hijack the plane.

    • Gideon Jones says:

      Chances of this comment & story being made if the person involved were Middle Eastern?  Muslim?  Male?  Three years older?  Zero, right?  

      That’s really what people are upset about here- the fairly non-discriminatory manner in which the TSA handles things.  Constantly reporting on people like poor Savannah here doesn’t actually indict the TSA so much as the American public and our media.  

      And rather than actually getting the TSA scrapped, it’s far more likely to result in racist and discriminatory changes to how the TSA functions.  Which, I suppose, is probably OK with most of America.

      • allenmcbride says:

        Excellent point. It seems like there are two distinct threads sharing the TSA-reform movement in an unstable equilibrium. We share outrage over the same stories without recognizing that we’re outraged for different reasons. Some of us want the government to adopt proportional, reasonable, and fair responses to the various threats we face, and some of us want to make sure we’re only harassing young brown men. Maybe this tension will continue to be swept under the rug as long as most people continue not to care much about TSA procedures. But if anti-TSA sentiment increases, I don’t know what to expect.

      • pjcamp says:

         No, it’s the nondiscriminatory manner in which the TSA handles things stupidly.

        Stupid is independent of ethnicity.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        She had her $10,000 insulin pump broken.

        But she doesn’t meet your political agenda.

        • Gideon Jones says:

          I’m totally OK with kids, vets, old people, and the occasional sick person being randomly searched and even getting their medical devices accidentally broken if it keeps millions of people from being systematically discriminated against because of their ethnicity and religion.  

          I’d rather go back to the pre-TSA/911 days, but no one is really pushing that.  Certainly not those of you who only focus on these “Non-Threatening White Person Gets Searched by the TSA” stories.  

          •  I’m pretty sure that BoingBoing’s stance (if it has one) is that the TSA should be removed entirely – or at least overhauled/reformed.

            Otherwise I’d agree with your sentiment.  The problem with the TSA is the TSA, not who they’re targeting.

          •  I’m pretty sure that BoingBoing’s stance (if it has one) is that the TSA should be removed entirely – or at least overhauled/reformed.

            Otherwise I’d agree with your sentiment.  The problem with the TSA is the TSA, not who they’re targeting.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            You’re framing it as an evil false dichotomy. We must be racist or we must break medical devices.

      • Øyvind says:

         Don’t be such a cynic, it’s unbecoming of a gentleman. Besides, there is no shortage of very public examples of the TSA harassing people in all the mentioned categories.

      • Ipo says:

         It makes a better story this way, drives home the ridiculousness to some of the obtuse. 

  10. dpamac says:

    I’m no fan of the TSA, but that this happened is insane and weird. I’ve been travelling with an insulin pump for years. Mine even has a sensor and transmitter attached to me that sends continuous blood sugar information to the pump. I always opt out, never had a problem. In fact, each time I just lift up my shirt and point to it and they automatically send me to get swabbed and fingered (that’s normal, right?).  My point is these guys should know what these machines are. Period.

    Oh, for the record, my pump cost me $2,000 out of pocket. Most pumps run about $6,000. The technology in the pump was developed for the space shuttle and perfected by Dean Kamen, though I doubt that’s why they are expensive. The supplies routinely cost a minimum of $300 per month, not including the insulin and testing supplies. One of those sensors I mentioned costs $30 and is supposed to be changed every three days, though most of us stretch it to six.

  11. Fisher1949 says:

    This repeated abuse of diabetics by TSA has got to stop. Just last week they molested and terrorized a 10 year old boy in Chicago who was wearing an insulin pump.

    TSA is an arrogant and abusive agency that does nothing to improve security and only adds to the already high level of misery in air travel. Just last month a TSA screener was convicted for smuggling drugs through security and four more this week in LAX. Another four were arrested in the past year and are awaiting trial. These drugs could have as easily been bombs and for all of TSA’s groping of children and strip searches of grandmothers wouldn’t have stopped an attack.

    There were a total of 91 TSA workers arrested in the last 16 months. This included 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over twenty for theft from bags and even one for murder. There were five reports of TSA screeners harassing and sexually assaulting travelers last week including three children, an elderly couple they molested and robbed them of $300 in Detroit and groping a Congressman twice in one week. How many incidents need to occur before people get the fact that this agency is broken?

    TSA has done more damage to our liberty, way of life and morality than Al Qaeda could have ever hoped to do. Every time someone defends this sick agency they hand another victory to the terrorists. Bin laden would be so happy.

    It is sad that America has become a nation of sheep and cowards that will sacrifice their rights and basic humanity in exchange for a false promise of security.

  12. IRMO says:

    Let’s start a petition, and circulate it on our social networks of choice, calling on the head of the TSA to pay for the pump out of his own salary.

    This is the only way we;ll get any changes happening. 

  13. “” but she knows that this is what’s required””

    BULLSHIT. The mother needs to disavow herself of this mindset NOW.
     F*CK the TSA. It’s nothing more than a Chertoff money machine.

  14. With all these horror stories being reported here @ Boing Boing, I truly hope this becomes a point of discussion during the future debates with the presidential candidates. 

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      President Obama has confessed to reading BB comments.  I don’t know what Mittens does with his evenings.

  15. spikedpunch says:

    We could always file complaints to the TSA, perhaps bombard them with negative feedback: 1-866-289-9673

  16. spikedpunch says:

    We could always file complaints to the TSA, perhaps bombard them with negative feedback: 1-866-289-9673

  17. While I’m no fan of the TSA, to frame it as if they intentionally broke the thing is misleading.

  18. BBNinja says:

    I dislike both the TSA and Utah…already.  This just reaffirms that.

  19. niktemadur says:

    As I’m led to understand it, congresscritters legislate and vote by sucking a finger and sticking it out to see which way the wind blows.  If that’s the case, do any of them read about the incidents linked in Boing Boing almost every day?

    Are the Keystone Kops of the TSA one of the most powerful organizations in the country, lowering their zippers unto kneeling, willing congresscritters?

    Put in a more genteel way, does this long chorizo of fiascos, one after another after another, make even a ripple in the goddamned Capitol?

    • gradv says:

      The wind isn’t blowing hard enough yet. More then frequent fliers and the online informed need to care. 
      http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20022876-503544.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody the people who fly once every 3 years expect and feel comforted by the theater. 

    • Gideon Jones says:

      None of them want their vote to dismantle the TSA used against them in the future should someone go and bomb/hijack a plane.  And while everyone seemingly hates the TSA and thinks it’s ineffective, I guarantee you that if there were a successful attack after such a vote, people would quite easily hold it against any politicians voting such a way.

      • Sad but true.  It’s awfully flawed logic, but anyone who’s even neutral towards the TSA would be up-in-arms if they were dismantled and then something bad happened.

        But then crazy people with flawed logic are up-in-arms about something every day, I’m not sure if it’s really that politically important.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        So you’re advocating security theater to pander to voters?

    • Guest says:

      “congresscritters legislate and vote by sucking a finger and sticking it out to see which way the wind blows.”

      Your view is very quaint and 20th century.

  20. francoisroux says:

    Methinks they just wanted a scan of her body to be honest. Not looking at her in a perverse way, but she doesn’t exactly have the usual round shape many teenagers seem to have these days…

  21. francoisroux says:

    Methinks they just wanted a scan of her body to be honest. Not looking at her in a perverse way, but she doesn’t exactly have the usual round shape many teenagers seem to have these days…

  22. HubrisSonic says:

    hmm.. Hot looking teen girl, shocking news they had her pornscanned. Clearly fits the profile.

  23. totalrecall says:

     i am diabetic and wear the same pump. just sayin but they are lucky it wasn’t all 6’2″ and 200lbs of me that they screwed by destroying the medical device that i wear to KEEP ME ALIVE. this is completely ridiculous and even though it won’t actually happen, the TSA needs to do a complete overhaul on the idiots that they hire (who apparently think they are more qualified than a doctor) and the systems they have in place.

  24. totalrecall says:

     i am diabetic and wear the same pump. just sayin but they are lucky it wasn’t all 6’2″ and 200lbs of me that they screwed by destroying the medical device that i wear to KEEP ME ALIVE. this is completely ridiculous and even though it won’t actually happen, the TSA needs to do a complete overhaul on the idiots that they hire (who apparently think they are more qualified than a doctor) and the systems they have in place.

  25. Why do so many people opt out of the pornoscanner? I’d a lot rather someone see strangely colored naked pictures of me than touch near my junk. 

    I don’t think we really need the porno scanners, and I certainly understand that some people take strong personal offense at them. I just don’t have that much a problem with being scanned. I would have more problems with the groping.

    • chgoliz says:

      Speaking as someone who SHOULD have “problems with the groping”….

      I have more problems with the medical implications of the scanners.  I have a thyroid condition that requires an additional lead protector if and when I need x-rays (for example, when I broke my foot….nowhere near my neck, and yet I still had to wear the protector).  Going through the airport porno scanners could have implications for my long-term health.

      Not that opting-out *on principle* is a bad reason, either.

      •  Yes, some opt out on principle. But what is the principle? Is the idea to slow down the TSA?

        I understand that you and the commenter below me might have very good medical reasons to avoid the scans. I’m just mostly curious about why someone who objected to being scanned out of a sense of personal violation wouldn’t feel more violated by the pat down.

        And keep in mind I want to go back to mostly pre-9/11 security practices.

      •  Yes, some opt out on principle. But what is the principle? Is the idea to slow down the TSA?

        I understand that you and the commenter below me might have very good medical reasons to avoid the scans. I’m just mostly curious about why someone who objected to being scanned out of a sense of personal violation wouldn’t feel more violated by the pat down.

        And keep in mind I want to go back to mostly pre-9/11 security practices.

        • Steve Miller says:

          Oh, I assure you I object to the pat-down violation. I also assure you I object to scans from an unregulated, uncalibrated x-ray device. Assuming I must travel and therefore have placed myself in an uncomfortable (and unconstitutional) situation, balancing the potential health dangers against a (so-far) apologetic grope leaves me saying, “I opt out.” 

          Last time, I also added, “I would also like to state this is a violation of my Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.” I may not do that again.

    • Jerril says:

       I opt out because I already get quite enough X-Rays annually for medical reasons, and have since I was a small child. My exposure is enough (and started early enough) and there’s enough cancer risk in my family (currently batting %100 of my ancestors for the last two generations, and suspicions about my great-etcs) that I would rather the brief but certain and immediate unpleasentness of having a stranger touching me all over than the extended and intense, but long term and uncertain unpleasantness of getting one of the cancers I’m on watch for.

      I hate that the US government is forcing a false choice between terrible and terrible on me.  But since I HAVE that “choice”, they’d better damn well respect whatever choice I make on it.

      I have some small, grim bit of satisfaction that some TSA agent is going to have to feel up the fat woman with the sweating problem (and nothing like feeling socially awkward about being touched to make sweat pool in my folds), but it doesn’t make the situation any better.

    • Hipster in Exile says:

      Interestingly, I decided not to opt out for just that reason.  Then the machine caught a suspicious something in my pocket.  Pockets were empty, they patted me down to be sure, then tested for explosives residue.  The machine went -ding- so they moved me to an isolated closet where they went ahead and did the fleshy hand pat-down anyway.  But with what seemed like extra gusto (gave each section a thrice over).  If I had opted out, it would have been a pat-down in the open and done, minus the rayz.

    • Ian Osmond says:

      I figure that, if I’m going to be made uncomfortable, the least I can do is make sure that some poor TSA is made equally uncomfortable.

      Seriously, the “advantage” of the pornoscanners is that they make it much easier and more convenient to invade the privacy of many more people much more quickly and efficiently.  Requiring one-on-one personal invasion of privacy at least puts SOME cost onto it, making it at least a LITTLE harder for the government.

  26. Alan says:

    Medtronic, who also makes insulin pumps, states that metal detectors are okay, don’t send it through the x-ray, and they don’t trust the body scanners so the pumps should be removed.  Removing the pump for one or two minutes isn’t a big deal, and travelers with medical issues should always be aware of what’s in store for them when the have to deal with TSA.  Also, TSA agents should be aware of what kind of medical devices they will encounter and what is an appropriate action to protect the device, the traveler and other travelers.  I can guarantee you she was not the only person who went through that security point that day with an insulin pump; they are quite common and TSA agents should be able to recognize them and know what is safe and what isn’t.

  27. librarchivist says:

    Travelers with medical devices really don’t have a lot of options.  TSA responded with an unhelpful canned message when I asked about taking my 3-year-old’s nebulizer on an airplane with us 2 months ago.  We were trying to do right thing and get this all set up before we got to the gate.  TSA simply would not give us a useful answer.  I suppose I could tolerate the appalling customer service if I thought the agency was effectively combating terrorism, but they are wasting their resources on people who are clearly not threats.  How many potential threats are not caught because they’re distracted by, say, asthmatic toddlers?

  28. librarchivist says:

    Travelers with medical devices really don’t have a lot of options.  TSA responded with an unhelpful canned message when I asked about taking my 3-year-old’s nebulizer on an airplane with us 2 months ago.  We were trying to do right thing and get this all set up before we got to the gate.  TSA simply would not give us a useful answer.  I suppose I could tolerate the appalling customer service if I thought the agency was effectively combating terrorism, but they are wasting their resources on people who are clearly not threats.  How many potential threats are not caught because they’re distracted by, say, asthmatic toddlers?

  29. librarchivist says:

    Travelers with medical devices really don’t have a lot of options.  TSA responded with an unhelpful canned message when I asked about taking my 3-year-old’s nebulizer on an airplane with us 2 months ago.  We were trying to do right thing and get this all set up before we got to the gate.  TSA simply would not give us a useful answer.  I suppose I could tolerate the appalling customer service if I thought the agency was effectively combating terrorism, but they are wasting their resources on people who are clearly not threats.  How many potential threats are not caught because they’re distracted by, say, asthmatic toddlers?

  30. msbpodcast says:

    I’m going to have to fly from the ironically named “Liberty International Airport” to Dalas/Ft Worth at x-mas and I’m going to do it with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.
    I will take great pleasure going to the scanner as near to naked as I can get without breaking morality laws. (I don’t get cold as my MS has damaged the vagus nerve in my neck and cut off all temperature sensations.)

    Putting everything in the tray and wearing just a pair of flip-flops and my underwear should get me through the TSA checkpoint fast enough. (I am not a pretty sight. :-)

  31. This seems really off. I’ve worn a pump for 13 years and filled two passports travelling with it. I’ve never opted out and in fact went through the radar machines four times last week. It doesn’t hurt the pump (it’s HARD to break a pump, they are tough devices even when dropped in concrete) and it gets me through without a pat.

    I chalk this one up to teenage angst and bad luck. From Kilimanjaro through Europe and China as well as all the TSA they *all* know what an insulin pump is.

  32. ultranaut says:

    My comment in this thread actually got deleted instead of just disemvoweled, I am amused and confused

  33. Guest says:

    The level of misinformation and misunderstanding is almost comical. The pump didn’t break, the manufacturer basically said “if you’re worried the scanner might have damaged it, replace it, because we won’t guarantee it didn’t no matter how remote the possibility”

    The only mistake the TSA made is they didn’t let her opt-out of the scanner. That’s an issue, but it’s not a broken insulin pump.

  34. Kevin Steinhardt says:

    I’ve been “hassled” before by the UK Border Agency, but that just means they ask you to wait two minutes while they check your passport and then ask you a few questions. The TSA, on the other hand, sounds beyond a joke.

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