The TSA’s Response to the Breast Milk Incident

December 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

(Jonathan H. Adler)

Last week, I posted a link to this video of one woman’s experience with airport security after asking to have her breast milk visually screened instead of x-rayed (as TSA procedures allow).  At the time, I said I’d like to hear the TSA’s side of the  incident, as the video appears to show TSA employees engaged in fairly egregious conduct.  I also contacted the TSA directly seeking their response to the incident and associated allegations.

The TSA has now responded on the TSA blog — and the response is not particularly reassuring.  Rather than provide any detail or clarification of the events on the video, the post acknowledges the woman in question was unhappy with her “screening experience” and “experienced an out of the ordinary delay,” claims the TSA investigated the incident, and reports that “the officers received refresher training for the visual inspection of breast milk.”  Really?  That’s it?  What’s offensive about the video is not the officers’ apparent lack of familiarity with the protocol for visual inspection of breast milk, but the apparent retaliation against a traveler who sought to avail herself of established TSA procedures.

If the TSA really has investigated this incident, it should, at the very least, make the investigation’s conclusions public and report on any disciplinary measures taken (or provide an explanation for the failure to discipline those involved).  If, as the TSA claims, it is official TSA policy to “strive to provide the highest level of customer service to all who pass through our security checkpoints” and its “policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy,” then it should be more forthcoming about incidents like this.




The Volokh Conspiracy

The TSA’s Response to the Breast Milk Incident

December 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

(Jonathan H. Adler)

Last week, I posted a link to this video of one woman’s experience with airport security after asking to have her breast milk visually screened instead of x-rayed (as TSA procedures allow).  At the time, I said I’d like to hear the TSA’s side of the  incident, as the video appears to show TSA employees engaged in fairly egregious conduct.  I also contacted the TSA directly seeking their response to the incident and associated allegations.

The TSA has now responded on the TSA blog — and the response is not particularly reassuring.  Rather than provide any detail or clarification of the events on the video, the post acknowledges the woman in question was unhappy with her “screening experience” and “experienced an out of the ordinary delay,” claims the TSA investigated the incident, and reports that “the officers received refresher training for the visual inspection of breast milk.”  Really?  That’s it?  What’s offensive about the video is not the officers’ apparent lack of familiarity with the protocol for visual inspection of breast milk, but the apparent retaliation against a traveler who sought to avail herself of established TSA procedures.

If the TSA really has investigated this incident, it should, at the very least, make the investigation’s conclusions public and report on any disciplinary measures taken (or provide an explanation for the failure to discipline those involved).  If, as the TSA claims, it is official TSA policy to “strive to provide the highest level of customer service to all who pass through our security checkpoints” and its “policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy,” then it should be more forthcoming about incidents like this.




The Volokh Conspiracy

TSA Forces Cancer Survivor To Show Prostestic Breast

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Steven Taylor already mentioned this but it bears more scrutiny:   Cathy Bossi, a U.S. Airways stewardess and cancer survivor, was forced to show her breast implants to TSA agents when her prosthetic implants triggered alarm during a pat-down.

MSNBC (“TSA forces cancer survivor to show prosthetic breast“)

Cathy Bossi, who works for U.S. Airways, said she received the pat-down after declining to do the full-body scan because of radiation concerns.

The TSA screener “put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ ” Bossi told the station. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’ ”

Bossi said she removed the prosthetic from her bra. She did not take the name of the agent, she said, “because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”

For Americans who wear prosthetics — either because they are cancer survivors or have lost a limb — or who have undergone hip replacements or have a pacemaker, the humiliation of the TSA’s new security procedures — choosing between a body scan or body search — is even worse.

Musa Mayer has worn a breast prosthesis for 21 years since her mastectomy and is used to the alarms it sets off at airport security. But nothing prepared her for the “invasive and embarrassing” experience of being patted down, poked and examined recently while passing through airport security at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. “I asked the supervisor if she realized that there are 3 million women who have had breast cancer in the U.S., many of whom wear breast prostheses. Will each of us now have to undergo this humiliating, time-consuming routine every time we pass through one of these new body scanners?” she said in an e-mail to msnbc.com.

They recount several similar anecdotes.  Charlotte’s WBTV (“Cancer surviving flight attendant forced to remove prosthetic breast during pat-down“) notes that Bossi’s experience took place in August. They also point to yet another story about children being groped.

Melissa McEwan expresses the fear and outrage many Americans feel over these incidents:

You know, my father is currently in remission from a type of skin cancer with a genetic link. If I go through a back-scatter X-ray, could it trigger that gene in me? Maybe. So my options are: Risk increasing my chances of cancer, or risk having my PTSD triggered in public and having a panic attack just as I’m about to get on a flight.

Yeah. I’m so not flying anywhere for the foreseeable future.

I suppose al Qaeda could start implanting explosives in prosthetics.  Or in 6-year-olds.    But this is a whole lot of humiliation and loss of liberty to protect against a theoretical and small threat.




Outside the Beltway

Cathy Bossi, Cancer Survivor Flight Attendant Forced to Remove Prosthetic Breast During TSA Groping

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

THE AUDACITY OF GROPE … TSA FIASCO #30. 

Since when do we provide criminals more rights in the Unites States than we do people just trying to get on a plane?

How many of these stories do we need to hear in order for these TSA assaults to stop! Cathy Bossi, a 3year breast cancer survivor and a flight attendant who has worked the past 28 years for US Air was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down. WTF!!!

Turn your head and cough, oh, oops, this is the TSA

In early August Bossie was walking through security when she says she was asked to go through the new full body-scanners at Concourse “D” at Charlotte Douglas International.

She reluctantly agreed.  As a 3-year breast cancer survivor she says she didn’t want the added radiation through her body.  But, Bossi says she did agree.

“The T.S.A. Agent told me to put my I.D. on my back,” she said.  “When I got out of there she said because my I.D. was on my back, I had to go to a personal screening area.”

She says two female Charlotte T.S.A. agents took her to a private room and began what she calls an aggressive pat down.  She says they stopped when they got around to feeling her right breast… the one where she’d had surgery.

She put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’.  And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that’.”

Cathy was asked to show her prosthetic breast, removing it from her bra.

The TSA thinks they are protecting national security and preventing terrorism by humiliating a cancer survivor? Are you serious? Because the Obama Administration and Janet Napolitano does not want to profile terrorists because that just would not be politically correct, instead they deem it ok to embarrass and humiliate a cancer survivor.

What part about the fact did the TSA not understand that this woman, a flight attendant, was just trying to get to work? She was trying to avoid the radiation being a breast cancer survivor so instead the TSA deems it ok to treat her worse than a common criminal.

Bossi said she removed the prosthetic from her bra. She did not take the name of the agent, she said, “because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”

For Americans who wear prosthetics — either because they are cancer survivors or have lost a limb — or who have undergone hip replacements or have a pacemaker, the humiliation of the TSA’s new security procedures — choosing between a body scan or body search — is even worse.

What’s up with this, pilots are allowed to be exempt, yet flight attendants are not? How out of control are these TSA searches going to get over the Thanksgiving Day holidays, the most traveled time of the year.

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Scared Monkeys

Wellpoint Continued To Cancel Policies Of Breast Cancer Patients, Despite Company Denials

October 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly

Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that “prosecutors Wednesday accused the parent company of insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross of California of falsely stating that it had changed its procedures for canceling the policies of patients after they become sick.” Wellpoint’s denials, issued earlier this year, were in response to charges that the company used a computer algorithm to rescind the insurance policies of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer:

In an amended civil complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, prosecutors said WellPoint issued three “false and misleading” press releases in April and May to burnish its corporate image as it fended off assertions about its cancellation practices in a news story and criticism from the Obama administration that followed.

The prosecutor’s office contended that WellPoint continued to target women with breast cancer. It said the company also falsely stated that it had changed its procedures this year before the new federal healthcare law took effect. The law bars rescissions nationwide except in cases in which policyholders lie on applications.

Prosecutors acknowledged that WellPoint’s rescissions in California had slowed to a “trickle” but said the Indianapolis company continued to misrepresent itself.

“This is a company that seems willing to say anything — true or not — in order to maintain their profit level,” said Chief Asst. City Atty. Jeffrey Isaacs.

The allegations first came to light in April after a report by Reuters’ Murray Waas revealed that “tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions.” WellPoint “specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies.”

Interestingly, today’s prosecutor’s findings come just days after a Congressional report found that health insurers regularly rescinded policies of sicker patients to bolster profits.

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