Sai has “a neurological disorder that causes episodic muteness and muscle spasms” — basically, he sometimes becomes mute and gets bad tremors. His doctor has advised him to sip juice continuously, and this helps control his condition. TSA rules allow him to bring any amount of juice through a checkpoint. Unfortunately, the TSA doesn’t read its own rules. Instead, Sai is detained at checkpoints for endless, illegal questioning and searches of his personal papers, confidential business documents, etc. When he loses the ability to speak, he uses pen and paper to communicate, but the TSA takes the pen and paper away as soon as he writes down the name of landmark legal precedents limiting their power to sue him.
He’s videoed one of these encounters, with the TSA and its private contractors at SFO, and he’s filed grievances with various agencies over that incident and another at Boston Logan. The TSA is illegally refusing to follow its own administrative procedures, so he’s getting ready to sue them (he needs an ADA and/or FOIA-specialized lawyer qualified for the bar in MA and/or CA and/or federally — any takers?). He’s also trying to force them to disclose their secret procedures for dealing with people with disabilities.
The edited, subtitled video of his run-in at SFO is fantastically infuriating. The TSA and its private contractors are vindictive, lawless, brutal. But Sai is an inspiring example of calm under fire, a guy who knows his rights back and forwards, and doesn’t let the fact that his physical condition is deteriorating — you can see his tremors — make him lose his cool
I’m lucky, in that most of the TSA people I encounter are relatively pleasant and professional … clearly, not all of them are, though, and that’s a big problem.
I’ve come across my own unpleasant experiences with the TSA. Hopefully they fix their procedures with travelers with disabilities.