Janine’s Take: Make TSA prescreening easier

Department of Homeland Security denies strip searches

Published On: Jan 18 2012 05:00:39 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 19 2012 12:04:17 PM EST
MIAMI -

Could 88-year-old Ruth Sherman have been making up that she was groped, strip searched and forced to show her colostomy bag when going through airport security?

What about Linda Kallish or Lenore Zimmerman? They, too, said they were strip searched by Transportation Security Administration agents.

But the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees TSA screeners, claims screeners never conduct strip searches, and in the cases of these three mature travelers, there was "no evidence" to support their claims.

Did the women have a lapse of memory due to old age? Are they liars?

Those sound like terrible accusations, don't they?

Whatever the truth may be, three women say they feel terribly violated.

This could be a great PR opportunity for TSA.

My take: Make prescreening more easily accessible for older travelers, those with disabilities and with medical conditions.

If the Department of Homeland Security is serious about ensuring "high standards" to its travelers, as stated in a letter issued this month, then get going. 

There's already a pilot initiative in a limited number of airports, and we're told a 1-800 number will be established to help travelers with special needs. 

But it ought to be easy for people to understand and easy for older Americans to get prescreened if they're willing to give some personal information to the TSA. 

I can't imagine my grandfather searching for rules and regulations on a website or trying to navigate an automated 1-800 number. He'd want to speak to a person. 

TSA agents already on duty at airports could rotate responsibilities for handling prescreening, answering questions or handing out literature. 

Sure, we want to be safe and fight threats in the sky, but let's also value our older citizens and those with disabilities.

What do you think?