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Thursday, March 27, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Woman says TSA forced piercings removal

A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane called Thursday for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation.

[...]

Hamlin said she told the woman she was wearing nipple piercings. The women then called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the jewelry, Hamlin said.

Hamlin said she could not remove them and asked whether she could instead display her pierced breasts in private to the female agent. But several other male officers told her she could not board her flight until the jewelry was out, she said.

She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring.

“Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her,” said Hamlin’s attorney, Gloria Allred, reading from a letter she sent Thursday to the director of the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties.

While I will allow that this is only one side of the story, my initial reaction is to believe Ms. Hamlin’s tale. Indeed, TSA policy could easily lead to the scenario above:

On its Web site, the TSA warns that passengers “may be additionally screened because of hidden items such as body piercings, which alarmed the metal detector.”

“If you are selected for additional screening, you may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to a pat-down search,” the site says.

Hamlin would have accepted a “pat-down” had it been offered, Allred said.

[...]

TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird said he was unaware of the incident. There is no specific TSA policy on dealing with body piercings, he said, “as long as it doesn’t sound the alarms.”

If an alarm does sound, “until that is resolved, we’re not going to let them go through the checkpoint, no matter what they’re wearing or where they’re wearing it.”

I certainly feel safer.

At least the terrorists didn’t win this one since we showed our resolve.

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4 Responses to “Tales of the TSA: The Nipple Ring Terror”

  1. Jim Gundlach Says:

    I have decided to drive to South Dakota, a little over 1500 miles rather than be terrorized by these goons, aka security, at the airport again. Last time they put my thirty year old custom made felt hat through the x-ray system only to have it come out crushed by a pile of bags.

  2. PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Follow-Up on the TSA and the Nipple Ring Says:

    [...] Yesterday I noted the story of the TSA forcing a woman to remove a nipple ring before she was allowed to fly. While I was inclined to believe the story, I left some room open for the possibility that it wasn’t true. [...]

  3. Ciarin Says:

    It’s not about the stupid nipple ring. It’s about the fact that there’s a piece of metal on someone’s chest and making sure the only thing alarming is the nipple ring. The only way to do this is to have the passenger remove the ring. The TSA is not permitted to pat down breasts or look at exposed breasts(in fact, anyone who exposes themself at an airport will be removed by state troopers).

    But I guess no one’s ever heard of people smuggling crap on to a plane, and there’s simply no reason why the TSA shouldn’t take a person’s word for it since we know everyone who flies is completely honest and forthcoming.

    And I guess the bra bomb thing never happens…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9dA5Ksw7d8

    She was ready and willing to show off her tits in front of people, but I’m supposed to believe this whole thing was “humiliating”? And since when does removing your rings involve pain? I remove my nip rings many times throughout the year and it’s hurts no more than removing an earring.

    She just trying to scam money from the government and get media attention. Maybe she’ll be on a reality show now.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Actually, according to TSA rules, a pat down could have been done, but she wasn’t offered a pat down by the agents.

    Also, if she was willing to show the item to an agent, then that should have mitigated having to remove it.

    The situation was ridiculous and even the TSA admits that they need to revise their rules.


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