The Transportation Security Administration said video footage from a Sky Harbor International Airport security checkpoint does not show a wounded Marine being forced to remove his artificial legs, as a California congressmen contended.
On Monday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican, demanded an explanation for what he described as mistreatment of Cpl. Toran Gaal.
“The Marine, whose prosthetics were exposed, was humiliated, according to accounts,” Hunter said in a letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole that did not identify Gaal by name.
But Tuesday, the TSA offered a different account.
“Preliminary review of (closed-circuit television footage) indicates there was no removal of prosthetic limbs,” the TSA said a statement to The Arizona Republic.
The two screeners were veterans themselves, the TSA said. One is a Marine; the other served in the Air Force 18 years.
Gaal was in a wheelchair carrying his military identification. Witnesses told Hunter’s office the ordeal dragged on for at least 10 minutes.
Gaal was directed to two screening stations, ordered to remove his prosthetic legs and at one point stand up for a second inspection. Other TSA agents sat and watched as he tried to stand painfully and as his wheelchair was checked for explosives, Hunter wrote Monday.
Those accounts came from a man accompanying five San Diego-area Marines to a spring-training game as part of a volunteer effort to help wounded veterans with their recovery, Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said. The Marines were not in uniform at the time and none has spoken about the incident, he added.
Kasper did not reveal the identity of the Marines or the man who accompanied them.
The incident reportedly occurred midday last Wednesday. TSA and Sky Harbor officials said they had not received a formal complaint.