TSA forces woman to remove nipple rings — with pliers

a bra with a nipple ring, AP photo/Nick UTYes, really; and then defends the “thoroughness of the Officers involved”. Don’t you feel safer now? Our tax dollars at work …

From AP’s coverage of Mandi Hamlin’s press conference:

The female TSA agent used a handheld detector that beeped when it passed in front of Hamlin’s chest, the Dallas-area resident said.

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

TSA’s response:

TSA supports the thoroughness of the Officers involved as they were acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day.

Well, okay, they also acknowledge that the procedures caused “discomfort” to the passenger and they’ll change them in the future to allow for visual inspection. However, their statements don’t include any apology to her. As Ryan Singel notes on Wired’s THREAT LEVEL,

Officials in Homeland Security often seemed stunned and personally offended by criticism of their efforts, and they just don’t get why much of the American populace thinks of the whole enterprise as invasive, misguided, alarmist and a waste of taxpayer money.

TSA may support the “thoroughness of the Officers involved” but the rest of the country thinks they are a bunch of power hungry goons with no sense of decency or common sense. That’s even as airport security has gotten faster and a little less arbitrary over the last few years.

deang adds, in a comment on Nicole Belle’s Nipples are not Lethal Weapons,


It’s not about fear. The airline attendants/security weren’t scared; they knew they had nothing to fear. It’s about raw exercise of power and humiliation, something very addictive to lots of Americans these days. It’s also about misogyny and right-wing ideas about what people are supposed to and not supposed to wear. This sort of thing happens a lot more than we hear about, but Americans don’t seem to care much. They just wish they could be in positions of petty power like the “security” clearance guards so they could do the same thing.

Good point about right-wing ideas. Turns out Michelle Malkin’s blogged about it; one of her commenters:

my complaint is that this procedural change is going to waste time versus encouraging folks to leave the jewerly off.

Yes, that’s really the thing to be focusing on here. And I think I’ll give the final word to an anonymous poster from the great comment thread on the TSA’s blog:

Any while you geniuses are at it, how about explaining how ANY object small enough to be contained in a NIPPLE PIERCING could possibly be a danger to a plane — not that you’ll do this, because you’re all a pack of liars and cowards.