2011-12-14 / Features

GIANARIS SEEKS PROBE OF TSA ‘STRIP-SEARCHES’:


State Senator Gianaris, speaking with (l. to r.), Bruce Zimmerman, Senator Charles Schumer, Bob Sherman and Ralph Sherman at a press conference held by Schumer and Gianaris outside the former TWA terminal at JFK Airport. State Senator Gianaris, speaking with (l. to r.), Bruce Zimmerman, Senator Charles Schumer, Bob Sherman and Ralph Sherman at a press conference held by Schumer and Gianaris outside the former TWA terminal at JFK Airport. Following reports of alleged unnecessary strip-searches of two elderly women at Kennedy Airport by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers, state Senator Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) asked TSA head John Pistole for an immediate and comprehensive investigation of both instances.

Gianaris, a staunch advocate for passengers’ rights, told Pistole, “We must use common-sense as we preserve safety. There is no good reason why an individual should be violated in such an outrageous manner. I appreciate the TSA’s work to keep air passengers safe, but passengers should not be humiliated and degraded during their travels.”

In the recent situation Gianaris alluded to, he said two elderly women in two separate instances were apparently forced to remove their pants and underwear after requesting a pat down instead of going through the metal detectors at a security checkpoint.

Both women, the lawmaker added, rely on portable medical devices for health reasons and are not able to go through metal detectors, which was the reason for the pat down requests.

Gianaris said that TSA officials, at the word of their employees, immediately denied that strip-searches took place, but the senator said he believes a much deeper investigation of both incidents is necessary to examine what actually occurred.

Several years back, Gianaris wrote the New York Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, the first of its kind in the United States, which requires airlines to provide food, water, clean toilets and fresh air to passengers stuck on the ground for more than three hours. It has since been adopted and expanded nationally by the Obama administration.

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