USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

Wounded Warrior Screened at Phoenix Was Not Asked and Did Not Remove Prosthetic Legs

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
TSA Logo

There have been many reports about a U.S. Marine Wounded Warrior who was recently screened at Phoenix (PHX). Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misreporting.

After reviewing TSA video (CCTV), interviewing and receiving written statements from all Officers involved, we found that the Marine was not asked and did not remove his prosthetic legs. The screening was done by the book and lasted a total of 8 minutes from beginning to end. By chance, the screening was conducted by two TSA Officers who were prior military. One was in the U.S. Air Force for 18 years, and the other was in the U.S. Marine Corps for 13 years.

Nevertheless, we strive to ensure that all veterans and individuals with medical concerns are treated with dignity and respect. 25 percent of TSA employees are prior military. Some are even still serving in the reserves and guard. I’m a veteran as well. We have the greatest respect for our men and women serving in the military and strive to screen them with thedignity they deserve.

Through our Wounded Warrior Screening program, we strive to make the overall experience for wounded service members as simple and trouble-free as possible. In the coming days, we will expand the Wounded Warriors Screening program to offer TSA Pre✓®, or expedited screening, to this group of veterans.

TSA Officers at Phoenix (PHX) alone have screened and assisted 164 Wounded Warriors over the past year.

We value the continued commitment of our veterans and active duty military employees to TSA’s mission, and to ensuring the safety of all Americans. See some of TSA’s proud servicemen and women here.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


Submitted by Ryan Kalani on

Very glad to hear the truth on this. It is too bad that irresponsible reporting necessitated your setting the record straight. You are doing good work and I, for one, appreciate it.

Submitted by George Fredlund on

I guess that the kind of person tha makes up stories about alleged mistreatment of people is the same kind of person that trolls stories obout airplane crashes and then malines the pilots and victims of the tragedys.

Thanks to the TSA for doing a great job.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let's see the video Bob. Personally I would believe TSA if they told me pigs couldn't fly. No doubt this is just another case of the rude, arrogant attitudes I have experienced each and every time I have to navigate the TSA BS.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yikes, who proofs these blog postings to make sure they're in AP Style?!!

Submitted by Jason Li on

Marine, not soldier.

Submitted by Jason Li on

I think Wounded Warriors that are amputees on a wheelchair should only have their hands sampled since they don't pose much of a risk to security, based on TSA's Risk Based Security initiative.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Then release the video footage.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Did you interview either the Marine involved or anyone traveling with him or did you just rely the on the word of your own people? Did the video cover the entire screening or just portions of it?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks for your service, Bob!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am pleased to see that our heros are being treated with respect!! God bless each and every one of our armed forces heros....

Submitted by Anonymous on

As usual TSA lies to cover its abuse and incompetence. Do they really expect anyone to believe a TSA spokesman in DC that video that they control and only they have seen disputes the claims by several wounded warriors and local eyewitnesses?

This is the same agency that terrorized a 3 year old in St. Louis earlier this month after doing the same thing to a six year old girl in December at D/FW airport.

They also lied about molesting a six year old girl in New Orleans until the video showed up on YouTube.
TSA denied strip searching Ruth Sherman and Lenore Zimmerman at JFK in November but later retracted the statement and apologized.

There have been 106 TSA screeners arrested in the last 27 months including 15 arrested for child sex crimes, 30 for theft, 12 for smuggling and one for murder.

Personally, I’ll take the word of the honorable Marines over that of a corrupt agency staffed by criminals and misfits.
Submitted by RB on

Post the video!

Submitted by Ed Smith on

This serves to prove two things: First, the media in the US is ready to report things without verifying the facts. Secondly, that no matter how much evidence the TSA shows the public, some people are going to spew their non factual ideology and views regardless of what the evidence shows.

To the nay-sayers out there, all the terrorist attacks against aviation that have happened after 9/11 have originated from Europe. NONE from the US (even Richard Reed which originated in France). I do not think that the terrorist lack the desire to attack the homeland, from within the homeland. However, the whole Homeland Security apparatus have made it so difficult for them to do so, that they choose the most economical and easiest way to succeed: Start your attack from places that do not take their homeland security seriously.

I am sorry haters, but the system is working, they are preventing terrorist attacks. That was the promise to the American people, the promise has been kept. Let us not forget!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yeah, right. When I was in the military, the worst verbal abuse and harassment I ever got for my military service was not from Leftist Radicals, but from TSA personnel. Mistreatment from your personnel was such, that our CO would warn us at our Liberty-briefings to be careful when interacting with the TSA at airports.

No sense in complaining to the TSA when we would get harassed, you'd either get a 'rubber-stamp' apology letter, or a TSA HRO-type would contact you and claim that you were 'threatening' them in your complaint e-mail (even though that wasn't true)...and in the end, NOTHING would be done about what you were complaining about in the first place.

It angers me, and others that I served with that here we are protecting American's freedoms, while TSA is just as busy taking those freedoms away from law-abiding American citizens. The day TSA gets abolished will be a fantastic day for freedom loving Americans everywhere!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Amazing! TSA does their job correctly and not one single comment. Had this been a report of alleged abuse or misconduct, the comments blog would be full. This being said. Most of the flying public blow most screenings out of proportion because they feel THEY should NOT have to be screened. Shamefull!

Submitted by Anonymous on

«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.»

So according to this article, there is *not* footage of the alleged misconduct.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Once again another example of a Congressman trying to make a media splash without having all of the facts. Rather than doing his due dilligence and investigating the claim, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, just wanted to get publicity by bashing TSA. Congratulations Rep. Hunter, you got your 15 minutes. Hope you are happy. Maybe next time there will be some discreet inquiries as to what actually happened before the usual vilifying of Veterans who work for TSA doing their jobs in the media. But then again maybe not. And by the way you can issue your apology to TSA anytime you want, we're waiting.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Post the video for all to see and to dispel all rumors.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Some portion of the marine's encounter with the TSA has obviously been excluded from the TSA version of the Sky Harbor incident. Clearly, a disabled veteran felt compelled to contact a United States Representative after the TSA encounter. Sadly, both veterans and private citizens do not have ANY confidence in local TSA authotify to resolve inproper practices and procedures, especially aggressive procedures.

If ANY AGGRESSIVE inspection was carried out on the veteran as reported, all TSA personnel involved should be fired with no severance and with no discussion.

Submitted by Unknown on

I have a hard time believing that this didn't happen. Why you ask? Because my husband is an amputee and I have yet to take single flight with him where he hasn't been pulled out of line, fondled, swabbed, made to remove his leg, and treated like a potential terrorist simply on the basis of being disabled. We endure it, however, because we have no choice in the matter. Of course, none of these ridiculous procedures will make us any safer, but it sure makes the sheeple FEEL safer so that's all that really matters, right?

Submitted by Anonymous on

PHX the same airport that had the Stacey armato incident breast milk incident. This airport has a long history of abusing travelers. It's a symptom of a larger systemic problem and the "culture" of TSA. No more training simply end this error and massive waste of money on security theater.

TSA is incapable of telling the truth as proven so many times. Bob sorry your "attempt" at saying x & y are veterans to excuse your violations of the law does not / isn't acceptable.

TSA tactics 101 surround, intimidate, assault, lie and destroy the evidence.

TSA Delinda Est

Screen capture for OIG

Submitted by Anonymous on

A Marine would not lie.
Clearly this person was (not) treated with the diginity and respect he EARNED as a veteran.

Why didn't eyewitnesses of this incident get involved and express their outrage? - Because we all don't want to make waves, right?

"Wounded Warrior Screening Program” - What's so special about it? Active military does not have to remove footgear. Why would this veteran have to remove his legs and be asked to get out of his tërrør-chair / wheelchair?
Eight minutes is a really long time for somebody who should have been expedited through the screening point. Risk analysis and priorities are a little mixed-up.

There is much more than 'alleged' mistreatment of people by the TSA. Just look at the numerous reports and proven cases. TSA employees have been caught stealing from travellers they screen and have crossed civil rights lines with abusive treatment of passengers. Inappropriate handling, groping (hands on) minors, including traumatizing small children, abuse of dying travellers on feeding tubes, required the removal of prosthetic (legs, breast - etc). Why?

TSA does not give their employees enough training where it counts to improve their performance. Cold callous indifference.

Time and time again there is an apparent lack of situational awareness and true respect for citizens.


Submitted by Anonymous on

Where is the video?

And 8 minutes is way too long.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If what the TSA is saying is true, why don't you post the video to prove it? Since the screening was done in public, there can't be anything in there that would be secret.

It seems strange that a Marine would make up a story like this. What benefit would there be for him to lie like this? That's why I think it's important to show the video.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Look at the person in the wheelchair in this video and then look at this:

Same person, only in the second link he is wearing only one prosthesis.

On another subject, Bob, you were once again quick as a fox to get your buddies to post "huzzahs to the TSA." It's so darned transparent that it's laughable.

screen shot taken

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

Ed Smith said..."I am sorry haters, but the system is working, they are preventing terrorist attacks. That was the promise to the American people, the promise has been kept. Let us not forget!!"

Where did you buy your Magic Tiger Rock? Nothing happening is not proof of something else working. My flashlight-suppressor is not necessarily preventing your flashlight from working, it could just be your batteries are dead.

Then to the TSA... you have this spiffy blog. You have camera's freaking everywhere in the airport. You can't post even a single frame of the video as proof of having said video?

And if the Marine is simply telling tall-tales why did he feel the need to take his tall-tale to his elected officials?

Submitted by Anonymous on

There is absolutely no reason to believe TSA on is matter. The video has not been released and I have seen exactly the type of callous, illogical, ridiculous behavior exhibited by TSA agents in person dozens of times.

Submitted by RB on

Ed Smith said...
This serves to prove two things: First, the media in the US is ready to report things without verifying the facts. Secondly, that no matter how much evidence the TSA shows the public, some people are going to spew their non factual ideology and views regardless of what the evidence shows.

Exactly what evidence has TSA shown to the public in this incident?

I haven't seen anything other than unsubstantiated claims by TSA that the events as detailed in the Congressmans letter did not happen.

TSA has shown nor proven nothing.

Bottom line is that TSA has lied before about such incidents and there is plenty of reason to believe that TSA is lying in this case.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sounds like a Marine who wants attention, what is the code for telling the truth in the Marines and another low level politician who needs to be in the news for some reason. I don't believe either t the Marine or the politician....

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ed said: "Secondly, that no matter how much evidence the TSA shows the public, some people are going to spew their non factual ideology and views regardless of what the evidence shows."

Um, what evidence has TSA actually shown the public? TSA, please post the video.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, I'm not sure what happened, but it sounds like footage from the exact location where the Marine alleges his prosthetics were removed doesn't exist (or was "lost"). This means the video review is meaningless. They might as well have looked at a webcam from the local zoo.

So the only thing you are reying on is the statements of screeners who don't want to be reprimanded. Do you believe they would tell you the truth if they screwed up? Do you unquestioningly trust your screeners to speak against their own interest?

Why didn't the TSA talk to the Marine or any witnesses? Why do you think your press telease is at all believable to anyone but TSA employees & apologists?

I do not believe every bad story about the TSA, but when the TSA puts out these double-talk, vague statements, I cannot give you very much reasonable doubt.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, why does these other news outlets allowed to keep reporting the wrong information? Mr. Pistol needs to address that issue, because I know for a fact that Wounded Warriors are one of TSA's top priorities.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

It has been brought to my attention, that in the second picture, the person is holding his right leg way up and away from the wheelchair. I do tend to agree with this, but I would ask why he is holding his leg in such an obviously uncomfortable position? Is he pulling his leg up so that the screener can more easily get his gloved hand into the passenger's crotch? Is he pulling it up to make screening of the left leg "easier?" If so, why? Or does he have his leg up there in preparation for removing the prothesis or putting it back on?

Whatever the answer, there is no reason for anyone to have to put themselves in such an obviously uncomfortable position in order to satisfy the TSA.

screen shot

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous Ed Smith said...
To the nay-sayers out there, all the terrorist attacks against aviation that have happened after 9/11 have originated from Europe. NONE from the US

Ever since I got my magic tiger-repealing rock, I haven't seen a tiger near me. Must mean it's working, right?

Submitted by Jacob Garrard on

Let's see the video. Considering the verified heinous mistreatment that passengers have suffered at the hands of the TSA in the past, I'm more inclined to believe the Marines.

Submitted by Anonymous on

...and of course, even IF he wasn't asked/required to remove his prosthetics, (which is far from proven, mind you!), that doesn't answer other issues:

"Gaal was directed to two screening stations, ordered to remove his prosthetic legs and at one point stand up for a second inspection. Other TSA agents sat and watched as he tried to stand painfully and as his wheelchair was checked for explosives, Hunter wrote Monday."

Why was he bounced around from station to station??

Why were other screeners gawking at a disabled man as he attempted to stand, instead of doing their jobs (or, god forbid, helping him)??

Why was a crippled man ordered to stand to begin with??

Submitted by Anonymous on

Release the video.
And not the edited version.
I have seen the TSA have injured Marines take off prosthetics 15-16 times in 6 years of traveling with them.
The FACT is even if this ONE time does not show it, YOU do not follow your own policy.

Submitted by Wintermute on

Anonymous said...

"Most of the flying public blow most screenings out of proportion because they feel THEY should NOT have to be screened."

Umm... When did ANY of us say we don't want screened? We just want a Constitutionally-allowed administrative search. This is NOT what the TSA does.

Submitted by Manuela on

Please do show us the UNEDITED video. I understand security but sometimes common sense goes long ways. This is not the first time TSA made the news for humiliating someone during their screenings, children, seniors, injured and ill... I think that you could have just issued an apology instead of posting a straight unsupported statement (some people might call it a LIE). Looking forward to watch your video.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey Bob,
A Marine is NOT a soldier.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Any chance the TSA is willing to release the statements from its agents as well as the CCTV footage of the encounter?

I mean if the story was misreported the best way to clear the air is to be as transparent as possible.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am sad.

That I live in a country that does this to their citizens.

And subjects them to warrentless searches that violate the Constitution.

So very sad.

Submitted by Anonymous on

@Ed Smith:

Similarly, since I placed my tiger-repellant rock on my desk, I have not been attacked by tigers. All tiger attacks have been perperated by tigers outside of the area of my desk. Ergo, this rock is working to repel tigers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As far as I'm concerned, until you release the video to us, then you are not telling the truth.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why would we believe this post when the pictures say otherwise, when your history says otherwise, and when we know you are capable of showing video when the claim actually isn´t true?

Submitted by Wintermute on

Bob said...

"...and receiving written statements from all Officers involved, we found that the soldier was not asked and did not remove his prosthetic legs."

So, you're relying on statements from the people accused of wrongdoing that they didn't do anything wrong? I hope you realize how monumentally idiotic that sounds...

Submitted by Mike Wallette on

So TSA has reviewed the incident and found they did nothing wrong?


Somehow, I am not surprised.

Submitted by Ed Smith on

To SSSS for some reason, and the other individuals criticizing my rationale about the lack of attack against aviation in the US:

Sirs, if you follow the news, you see that there have been attempts to attack the infrastructure of the U.S. Not one, not two, not three but several attempts. If you keep reading my post, you see that there have been attempts to attack our aviation, but they do not start in the U.S. I wonder why. What is there that is serving as a deterrence for this criminals to either start their attacks against aviation from overseas, or those domestic terrorist choosing to attack the national reserve bank, the sears towers, the NYC subway, the railroads, the oil pipelines, but not aviation in the U.S.?

I fly all over the world, and I can tell you confidently is the TSA. We have a workforce that takes their job very seriously. The vast majority that are there are veterans, extending their service to protect American and their freedom of movement in a safe fashion.

I am sorry that it is offensive to some citizens when they are asked to take their shoes off, or that the TSA has to swab your hands, but that is the necessary evil (George Washington) needed to protect us.

I am confident, that the majority of Americans are OK with TSA's measures. The problem is that we have a small minority, that are very loud. but at the end of the day, they are just small shouts not validated by reason.