The Transportation Security Administration is denying a widely-reported incident in which a deaf student accused the agency of harassing him at an airport checkpoint in Louisville. The agency says that a review of 120 hours of closed circuit video over three days this month does not back up those claims.
In a report that went viral with outrage this week, a student leaving the annual conference of the National Association of the Deaf reportedly blogged that a TSA agency confiscated candy from his carry-on bag and ate it in front of him. The unnamed student wrote that the guard also mocked him and called him a “f**king deafie.”
Soon after the report richocheted across the Internet, the Tumblr account of Teaandtheatre, where the complaint first surfaced, was taken down. An update on Boing Boing, which first reported the story, said the author, who has not been identified, "is concerned for negative consequences for himself and other people with disabilities. He was venting primarily to other people with disabilities. This post has gone way past what he wants."
The complaint has resonated with the disabled as well as TSA critics.
In a post on the TSA website on Thursday, the agency said it "takes allegations of misconduct seriously. Immediately following a complaint by the passenger, TSA launched an investigation into the alleged incident, which included a review of more than 120 hours of CCTV footage from a three-day period to look for any scenes that matched the information in the blog post. A close examination of the video during this timeframe indicates that officers working the checkpoint were professional and appropriate with all passengers."
The TSA then laid out what it called "the facts":
TSA has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.
When TSA found out the NAD conference was coming to Louisville, TSA reached out to NAD and other members of its disability coalition while Transportation Security Officers at SDF received additional training on screening deaf passengers from local experts in the field.
SDF is a smaller airport with only one checkpoint, which is monitored by security cameras. Our officers are aware that screening operations are constantly under video surveillance.
After a review of the video, TSA found no footage that matches the information in the blog post, such as Officers removing food during any bag search and eating it, or anything to indicate that they were pointing at and ridiculing a passenger.
In general, candy is not a prohibited item, and would only warrant additional screening if it alarmed. TSA does not donate surrendered food and drink items for health and safety reasons.
The agency's explanation is unlikely to satisfy critics such as TSA News, which this week ran an article about a cancer-stricken boy on his way to Disneyland as part of the Make A Wish program who was allegedly hassled by the TSA.
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