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TSA defends patdown of 95-year-old cancer patient forced to remove adult diaper

A Transportation Security Administration officer views a full-body scan during a demonstration of passenger screening technology, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, at the TSA Systems Integration Facility in Arlington, Va.
TSA, file AP Photo

(CBS) - The Transportation Security Administration defended on Sunday the actions of its airport security officers who were criticized for requiring a 95-year-old cancer-stricken woman to remove her adult diaper while going through security.

The incident took place June 18 at Northwest Florida Regional Airport near Pensacola, Fla., while Jean Weber of Destin, Fla., escorted her mother, who suffers from leukemia, to Michigan to live with family members before moving into an assisted living facility, CNN reports.

The agency released a statement to CNN Sunday claiming that the officers acted professionally and were following procedure.

"While every person and item must be screened before entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner," the federal agency said. "We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure."

The incident received national attention after the woman's daughter, Jean Weber, filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security following the incident, reports the Panama City News-Herald

"She had a blood transfusion the week before, just to bolster up her strength for this travel," Weber told CNN.

At the airport's security checkpoint, Weber's mother was taken into a private room for further inspection after TSA officers found something "suspicious" on her leg. Officers then told Weber that the 95-year-old's adult diaper was soiled, interfering with a thorough pat down, and had Weber remove the undergarment in a restroom.

Weber's mother did not have a spare diaper and was forced to continue through the airport without underwear.

TSA security procedures have been criticized before and most recently a video of a 6-year-old girl being given a full body pat down inspired outrage online and across the country.

Pat downs were introduced at airport security checkpoints after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an airliner over Detroit in 2009.

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