The American public continues to be harassed, groped and humiliated by the TSA on a daily basis at airport security screening checkpoints across the country, and although most incidents are never reported, every few months or so a new story hits the headlines reminding us just how invasive and insensitive their tactics can be.
The latest such case involved Denise Albert, breast cancer patient and co-host of The Moms radio show on SiriusXM.
Denise was traveling through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on December 4 – as she has done many times in the past without incident – when she was subjected to harassment and an attempted “body cavity search in public” by TSA officers, an experience that left her in tears, feeling “violated” and “humiliated.”
As usual, she had dutifully notified TSA about her condition – Denise has a metal port in her chest and must also carry medical cream – but this time, the officers decided to detain and harass her, even though she had removed the medical cream from her bag before going through the checkpoint.
From Denise’s Facebook post describing the incident:
“I had already told them about my metal port and my medical cream which I removed from my bag for them to see and test as I have done on prior flights. I don’t know what was different this time but TSA agents aggressively attempted to do a body cavity search in public.”
The TSA agents took Denise to the side and asked her to remove her shoes, then told her that she would have to submit to a complete body pat-down “with pressure:”
“I should also point out that according to the TSA website, what these agents did was improper procedure – they are not allowed to touch skin and should be gentle over clothing (contradiction to what you hear on video). I should NOT have been required to remove shoes because of my medical condition and they were supposed to ask if I have a tender area and didn’t and didn’t listen when I told them I did.”
The ordeal lasted at least 20 minutes, with Denise forced to sit with her bare feet on a cold floor and endure an invasive body search in which one TSA agent “forceab[ly] and aggressively put her hands down my jeans in the back” and “attempted to do a body cavity search in public.”
Part of the incident was recorded on video and posted on Denise’s Facebook page.
After the incident, Denise filed a formal complaint with the TSA and made her story public. The TSA responded with an apology along with a promise to launch an investigation and “refresh training” for 3,000 LAX employees.
One can’t help but wonder if Denise Albert would have received any response from the TSA at all if her story had not gone viral on Facebook and in the media.
Denise’s experience was just the latest of several incidents this year in which the TSA violated the rights of travelers in an unacceptable and even violent manner.
In January, for example, a 10-year-old girl’s experience of being aggressively patted down at Raleigh-Durham International Airport was caught on video by her father and made public. In this case, the girl, who was wearing a long skirt, was patted down for a period of more than two minutes in a fashion that was – to say the least – “inappropriate.”
And in June, a disabled 19-year-old girl on her way to be treated for a brain tumor was beaten bloody by TSA agents at Memphis International Airport after she became frightened and confused at the security checkpoint.
There have been many such extreme incidents, and an untold number of comparatively less serious but still humiliating violations of basic human rights carried out by TSA agents on a regular basis.
And considering the fact that the TSA is incapable of intercepting more than a tiny percentage of the faux-explosives and banned weapons sent through airport checkpoints by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – not to mention the yearly cost of funding the agency – one might easily wonder if it’s all worth it to begin with.