TSA Force Breast Cancer Patient To Submit To Patdown, Refuse To Let Her Show ID Card About Implants

from the feeling-safer? dept

Another day, another ridiculous story about the TSA “making us safer.” This one was submitted by plenty of folks, but Guy Thomas gets credit for being first. It involves a breast cancer patient, Lori Dorn, who recently had a bilateral mastectomy, and has tissue expanders installed. She has a card that explains the details of this, and why it can set off airport security.

Of course, she did set off an alarm at JFK… and then the TSA both refused to let her show the card explaining the details, but also required her to be physically groped by the TSA — with them loudly threatening her that she wouldn’t fly otherwise. They also kept her out of sight from her luggage:

I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor?s information (pictured) and asked to retrieve it. This request was denied. Instead, she called over a female supervisor who told me the exam had to take place. I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared. She then said, ?And if we don?t clear you, you don?t fly? loud enough for other passengers to hear. And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a TSA Supervisor.

To my further dismay, my belongings, including my computer, were completely out of sight. I had no choice but to allow an agent to touch my breasts in front of other passengers.

As Dorn explains, “I have been through emotional and physical hell this past year due to breast cancer. The way I was treated by these TSA agents added a shitload of insult to injury and caused me a great deal of humiliation.” In a separate interview with the NY Times, she notes that her breasts still hurt, and she was worried about the pain of the patdown, and that she was never offered the option of a patdown in a private area (as the TSA insists they grant). That article also contains a typical PR-laden response from the TSA:

We strive to treat every passenger with dignity and respect. In this case, that may not have happened. During the screening process, if advanced imaging technology detects an anomaly that cannot be cleared, secondary screening is required to ensure the passenger does not have threat items, such as explosives concealed under clothing.

All passengers may request private secondary screening. While an initial review indicates that proper screening procedures were followed, we regret that this passenger did not have a positive experience.

Which, of course, brings to mind a simple question: does anyone actually have a positive experience dealing with the TSA patdowns?

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Comments on “TSA Force Breast Cancer Patient To Submit To Patdown, Refuse To Let Her Show ID Card About Implants”

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107 Comments
Mr. Smarta** says:

Re: Hey....

I believe there’s a great opportunity here. The US Government could actually hit two birds with one stone. OMG!! The answer!!!

Combine TSA with the medical field. That way, every time you fly, you get a complete medical physical. Imagine that! Every time you book a flight, you get the complementary mammagram and/or hernia check. Or even the rectal examination. It gets fed into the computer, and your test results are waiting for you at your destination. Make all the TSA agents doctors. I think there’s a 30 minute doctor’s exam online they can take to get board certified.

Oh, I’m soooo patenting that right now.

AdamR (profile) says:

Unfortunately nothing new here, just the TSA acting like a bunch of untrained monkey’s that they are.

My father had knee replacement surgery five or six ago, and the doctor gave him a similar plastic card that showed the manufacture, type of replacement, which leg, my fathers name, doctors name and number. He still gets treated like a potential terrorist.

A couple years ago we went on a trip and the metal detector tripped as usual but this time three goons surround him and started with the intimating pose’s and harsh language. My dad looked at me was stunned by the attention, he keep looking at me and was trying to say something to me but they keep telling him shut up and move with them. The moment came were i was about to lose it and went straight to one of the TSA goons and said that’s my father and you treat him with some respect he is 70 years old and war veteran and i walked right thru the goon to my dad. I said whats the problem, and my father answered before the other two agent could say anything. “You moron get ass back to x-ray scanner my wallet an cash are in that fucking plastic container and your letting any P.O.S walk up take it”

aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile) says:

Seriously?

Fucking hell. Are any politicians watching this shit? I don’t give a damn about the TSA because I don’t fly but this is retardulous. My biggest problem is that I don’t see why they wouldn’t even let her show her medical card explaining the situation.

My ex went through VNS therapy for epilepsy and she would have set off all sorts of scanners. She also has a lump in the upper left of her chest where the VNS system resides. She was given a card by the doctor that has the details of the device and her doctor’s name and phone number. If this situation had ever popped up with her, they could have easily set off her epilepsy (she was very fragile, and any serious stress or scrutiny set her into seizures).

How much bad press does it take to get these jackasses to do what they’re supposed to rather than being power-hungry douchebags? How many times do we have to hear about that before realizing that this is not an isolated incident?

Bill Silverstein (profile) says:

A way for the TSA to cut down on pat down complaints.

Contact Hooters, Playboy, Penthouse, Playgirl for the applications of men/women who did not quite make it. Give them the same training that the TSA agents currently have (an hour?). Let them do the pat downs.

Never mind, the complaints might increase because the pad downs where not thorough enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

” does anyone actually have a positive experience dealing with the TSA patdowns?”

Probably 100,000 people a day. Remember, few people are doing to write “I got a pat down and it was excellent!”. It is something that is either tolerable or it is not.

I would say that in this story, I doubt that the agent was “touching her breast” in front of other people, a secondary check wouldn’t happen in a public place.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

I could see 100,000 people having at most a neutral or only slightly inconvenient experience with the TSA patdowns, but a positive experience? As in, they enjoyed it and are glad that it was done rather than having the option to forgo it?

Are you suggesting that 100,000 people like to be groped? That’s a lot of weird, kinky people. Another reason not to fly I guess.

Troy Laurin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not exactly the TSA, but I regularly fly through Perth and Singapore airports for work. Because of the times I usually fly from Perth the security section usually isn’t busy when I’m going through, so I’m almost always “randomly” screened for either an explosives residue test or a patdown – both of these are random screenings that come after the x-ray screening.

I’d count myself as one of those who considers it a positive experience overall. It never takes more than about 60 seconds, the staff are polite and explain what’s going to happen, and the patdowns don’t feel like an invasion of privacy. On the flip side, being an Australian-born caucasian male usually wearing clean conservative clothes, I’m happy that the random selection doesn’t equate to profiling.

I guess in this implementation, even if the measures aren’t likely to catch anyone (which I’m not qualified to assess), as a screening measure that adds nearly no inconvenience I’m happy to pay the cost.

Then again, given how many people in Perth work in the mining industry in fly-in/fly-out jobs, I wonder how many “false” positives the explosives residue test gets when someone goes on holiday with the same hand luggage they take out to the mine site…

HothMonster says:

Re: Re:

i got patted down by the TSA, it was a little square area blocked off with those ropes like a bank line. The are was placed squarely in the middle of all the scanners about 15 steps away from the scanners. In otherwords it couldnt have been more in the middle of everyone coming through security unless the had it up on a jumbotron in front of the checkpoint too. So yes im sure she got groped right in front of everyone.

Secondary scan is after the metal detectors(which is the primary scan) in my experience, (in my own search in Vegas and seeing others getting patted down at other airports) its with in line-of-site of everyone coming through security

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I opted out of the “body scanner” in LAS and was subjected to the pat-down.

I wouldn’t say it was excellent, but it was indeed tolerable. None of my junk was fondled, and frankly, the guy who gave me the patdown seemed just as uneasy about it as I was.

Ultimately, the worst part was that I had to wait an extra 5-10 mins for a guy to show up and give me the patdown, as they were clearly not ready to provide such treatment on-the-fly.

The other thing that bothered me was that the guy “pushing” people through the scanner nearly tried to convince me that it would be OK to go through the scanner rather than receive a pat-down: “Sir, are you familiar with how the scanner works?”

Anyhow, I’ll opt-out again if confronted with another body-scan situation. I disagree with those scanners, and intend to make my statement by opting out every time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I wouldn’t call lack of thousands of complaints a positive experience. Millions of people sit in gridlocked traffic every day without going public to coplain about it, but no one would characterize that as positive.

I will say I’ve gone through pat downs at LAX 3 times now after being pulled into the backscatter line and refusing it. All 3 times the TSA agents were reasonably friendly and non-agressive, with no apparent reaction to my refusing the X ray. The agent who patted me down was calm, deliberate and fairly non-invasive.

The flip side of that, though, is I could easily have gotten a weapon through because of his not “pushing things” towards the more invasive extremes.

Which of course proves this whole thing is ridiculous theater, and isn’t accomplishing anything other than diminishing our right to privacy and dignity. If they were serious about thorough searches, everyone would be complaining.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian says:

Hmm...

I’m trying to imagine a positive experience with the TSA and all I can visualize is hiring a stripper dressed as one … but if they were realistic they’d make YOU strip, in public, grope you, humiliate you and not even leave you any bills in your underwear! Maybe a service for masochists only …?

gorehound (profile) says:

Bunch of A-Holes

More unbelievable but trues stories of those who are assaulted by the TSA and there is very little or nothing you can do about it.I used to fly more but now I only fly once a year and that is because I live in Maine and my folks live in Miami area.I have no choice but to feel degraded and be subjected to the disgusting TSA Tactics.They have harassed me more than one time already for no reason.
1.Was harassed in Chicago for no reason.summer travel w/ punk rock clothes/red hair was searched and had my Camera Case ripped apart.While doing that I knew they were also checking my name out and drivers liscense info.
2.Minneapolis: harassed by Cops by Outer Door as I hung out and read a book before going thru TSA.Got to TSA and got harassed by them.LIED to my face and said I could go thru new machine or get patted down.Went thru machine and he patted my dick and balls in return
3.NYC……..might as well get some asshole TSA when you got to go thru NYC.Got to keep the love going round.left the gate to smoke a butt and TSA guys saw me as I walked right past them.Stood by outer door and smoked a cig and then went back in.ended up getting a grope job and ripped apart baggage out of my cig break.

Bottom Line:
I only go to visit my parents.Otherwise I stay around here or rent a car.

Anonymous Coward says:

Which, of course, brings to mind a simple question: does anyone actually have a positive experience dealing with the TSA patdowns?

I did. I got patted down and the guy apologized in advance, but I told him “Don’t apologize to me, I’m not the one who has to make his living handling other men’s dicks.” It was quite a satisfactory experience… at least for me.

Mr. Smarta** says:

If it goes that far...

If they’re going to take it *that* far, they should at least dim the lights, light a candle and play some Barry Mannalow or some soft Kenny G through a nearby stereo. Or take you into a room with red silk and tiger striped furniture with a disco ball hanging from the ceiling spinning slowly. Then gently press you against the wall and moan a little bit with the music singing, “Ooooooh yeah, baby… That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Let me…. looooove you some more….” Afterwards, they should at least have the damned common courtesy to offer you a cigarette.

martyburns (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Seriously? What the hell is your problem? You seem to spend so much time reading (though not comprehending) this site but you seem to hate it so much.

I can only guess you have developed some sort of addiction to it as most people stop doing things that they don’t enjoy unless they are compelled to.

I think you need help. Or shorter lunch breaks. Or something.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’ll bite….

I was heading to the ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ some time back (which is also the last time I flew.)

The goal of my trip was to take as few as items as possible, and pack everything into a jacket my mom got me for Christmas. This jacket had pockets everywhere, with magnets holding the pockets shut. It had a place in the hood to string your iPod earbuds.

I am a smoker, so I had smokes and a lighter in my coat. When I walked up to security, I smelled like smoke, my coat had wires, a lighter, a small electronic device (my iPhone) and only a small carry on bag, no check-in bags.

I knew before heading out I would be pulled aside. I just wasn’t sure which airport (XNA, Atl, or Dulles).

XNA was the airport that pulled me aside after my coat had gone thru the x-ray machine. They took me 5 feet away from the security line, to a small black pad.

The lady was almost old enough to be my mom. She looked me in the eyes, explained that she would be performing a pat down, explained exactly where she was going to pat, but she was only going to use the back of her hands, and to let her know at any point if I was uncomfortable.

She never touched a single private part, always informed me right before she would pat, and exactly how she was going to perform the pat, even though she had already covered that topic at the beginning of the pat down. Kind of like when getting a pap, when the DR explains “this is how this is done”, and then proceeds to explain right before they do anything, and what to expect. She was that professional about it.

It was a positive experience, IMHO, because I spent the whole way to DC and back without ever getting another pat down.

This isn’t saying I agree with the TSA, or their tactics, or motives, or the pervs within, or security theater. I am just relating a positive experience.

Anonymous Coward says:

> Which, of course, brings to mind a simple question: does anyone actually have a positive experience dealing with the TSA patdowns?

I’ve flown more times in the past year or so than the rest of my life, but my most recent flight was the only one where they attempted to make me go through the naked scanner. I politely to opt-out.

Once I said that, the entire process was very professional. One TSA employee did the pat down (with all of the requisite warnings) while another TSA employee (who looked somewhat interested in my laptop’s EFF sticker) asked me conversational questions about where I had been and the like.

The execution of my ordeal was very professional, even though I was incensed and anxious about having to go through the process. So: Positive experience? No. As positive as can be expected, given that they’re systemically violating human rights? Well, okay. I’ll give them that.

Nathan F (profile) says:

I have to wonder if she has a case for rights violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She claimed she had a medical issue requiring the TSA to treat her differently than the average Jane Q Public, and then when she tried to prove such they denied her the ability to do so.

Being a Federal Law wouldn’t it go to Federal Court as opposed to something local?

Prashanth (profile) says:

Not me, but friends

I certainly have not had a positive experience with the TSA; it was certainly very intrusive the way they patted me down, though to their credit they did try to do it professionally and they did listen to my concerns about the medical issues I have (internal stuff, not external like this or the colostomy bags or anything like that). My friends have either been indifferent or positive, though I’m happy that I was able to turn one of my friend’s naively positive attitude towards the TSA into at least some level of skepticism.

DCX2 says:

TSA doesn't care about doctor's cards

My mother had both of her hips replaced. She has a similar card, detailing all of the medical information about her hips. When she goes to the airport, she tries to show them the card before hand, so they know why she set off the metal detector.

Not a single one of them has ever bothered to see the card. What’s the point of these cards if no one will look at them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: TSA doesn't care about doctor's cards

Ahh, yes. Okay, everyone stop the line, we have to call the doctors office. It’s only going to take 20 minutes, shut down the system while we wait.

Do you really think doctors will want to field hundreds of phone calls a day as people travel?

Andrew (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 TSA doesn't care about doctor's cards

Are you seriously implying that there are only a few TSA agents working or that the % of passengers with this is that high? Its kind of why they have multiple staff and if anything move the person to the side until the call is made.

My overall point is, these people have a medical card that is supposed to let the authorities know what is what. The fact that they ignore them makes me wonder if they should be there in the first place.

PlagueSD says:

I haven’t gone through the “pat-down” charade yet, but being a “brig chaser” in the Military, I’ve done plenty of pat-downs. I can’t wait for them to do that, then I can tell them EVERYTHING they did wrong.

Another of my favorites are the “pat-downs” you get at amusement parks or stadiums. I just have to laugh at those. I could strap an M-16 on my back and get through those.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

An anti-TSA platform would easily be turned into a “we don’t care about people’s security” by the other side, and they would lose out every time. Trying to explain why you want less security in the face of terrorist acts is pretty much impossible to do. Yes, you could possibly explain it to a small number of people in the know, that the same people who think that Obama is a muslim, would not be able to grasp the concept.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve flown twice this summer. I avoided the naked scanners and went through the metal detectors. (As did MANY people contrary to what the TSA would have you believe.)

It really wasn’t the horror story that I keep reading about, which is why the TSA is probably so dismissive.

But then again, if the security practices aren’t standardized, what good are they?

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: Breast Implant Bombs?

Let’s say those were breast-implant bombs… How is the pat-down going to allow you to differentiate them from breast-implants?

The solution is clear, TSA agents should be shamed and made uncomfortable and unwelcome everywhere and every single second of their lives until the TSA changes its policy. Being a TSA agent should be met with the same opprobrium as being a rapist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Breast Implant Bombs?

Oh boy… talk about a stupid idea.

How about we shame file traders every where they go? Would you like to introduce a scarlet letter thing, where we can mark on people’s foreheads who they work for and what crimes the have allegedly committed without being brought to justice?

Fuck me, that has got to be the most dumb post in this thread, and that is saying a bunch.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Breast Implant Bombs?

“How about we shame file traders every where they go?”

I for one don’t find file trading to be something worthy of shame and public opprobrium so I won’t participate in such an enterprise. But if you believe that file-sharing is a despicable act, then it would make sense for you to apply social pressure on file sharers.

“Would you like to introduce a scarlet letter thing, where we can mark on people’s foreheads who they work for and what crimes the have allegedly committed without being brought to justice?”

No. That would involve coercion and the threat of force and would be unacceptable. I would instead be satisfied if TSA agents hid their professions for fear of being mocked and shunned. You should realize that there are norms which society abides by which are not codified in laws. For instance, a person who is a manipulative jerk and emotionally abuses people around him will be the target of public opprobrium no matter what the law may say. Are you saying it is wrong for me to refuse to invite to my parties people who are manipulative jerks? Would it be wrong for me to refuse to do business with companies that perform extraordinary renditions for the US government? If TSA agents could be prosecuted in a court of law for sexual harassment and rape, I would find that preferable. But given that it is not an option, I will settle for not inviting them at my parties, refusing to do business with them, ignoring them whenever possible and encouraging others to do the same.

PBC says:

Things we already knew

Its listed pretty clearly on the TSA website how they handle this:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/breast_prosthetic.shtm

They make it pretty clear that you are getting a pat down if you come rolling in with those. I’m not saying it’s right, but its written policy that was easily found ahead of time. Also, if she had the option to skip out on it, that option just requires that you skip out on the flying. Again, not saying its right, but it is what it is, and she had a choice to make as to what was more important to her.

Prashanth (profile) says:

Re: Things we already knew

What if she was flying to Hawaii? The government has no right to prevent interstate travel. (And don’t tell me she should have taken a boat; that’s out of the question.)
Plus, how can they expect every flier to look up these rules & regulations online ahead of time? Actually, as sad as this sounds. how can they expect everyone to have a steady Internet connection to look up these things ahead of time?

Hans says:

Re: Things we already knew

They make it pretty clear that you are getting a pat down if you come rolling in with [breast prosthesis].

Just to be clear, the article said she didn’t have prosthesis, she had tissue expanders, similar but different. They’re simply saline filled balloons, hard as rocks and quite painful, I was told.

The woman already had to have both her breasts removed, is likely already suffering both emotionally as well as physically (from both cancer treatment and mastectomy surgery), and now these sub-human turds in the TSA want to grope her chest.

Good thing they’ve prevented so many terrorists from killing us that we can justify such treatment of a woman who will likely eventually die from her disease. I hope all the ass-hats that say “if even one life is saved” feel good about this. Yea America!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Things we already knew

Thanks to both of you for explaining the difference between expanders and implants.

This woman has gone and is going through emotional and physical hell in order to regain a bit of something irretreviably lost to her and through no fault of her own.

Reading through this thread…okay, jokey joke. But the lack of basic understanding in some of the posts is really grim and no better than the behavior of those TSA agents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Things we already knew

Yup. You have to understand why these things make the metal detectors go off before you can go further. No, girls with normal standard saline implants (or gel) aren’t getting dragged off for a cheap feel. Saline doesn’t set off the metal detectors.

I feel sorry for any woman who has to have a mastectomy. It’s a horrible feeling, I am sure, and something horrible that has to be lived with every day. But I cannot say that I want TSA agents to use sympathy as a reason not to check people, because it wouldn’t be long before we would have double mastectomy suicide bombers as a result. It’s sad to think of it that way, but the terrorists look at any small hole as a chance to attack.

It might be better if these implants had some sort of RFID tag or something in them that would allow them to be more readily identified. I cannot see any simple solution for the TSA in regards to add in metal parts.

Hans says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Things we already knew

“You have to understand why these things make the metal detectors go off before you can go further.”

No we don’t. Why do we care why they “go off”? Whether metal or the higher density of saline than body tissue (or fat) triggers the alarm, who knows? It’s irrelevant to this woman’s pain and the foolishness of the TSA.

“But I cannot say that I want TSA agents to use sympathy as a reason not to check people, because it wouldn’t be long before we would have double mastectomy suicide bombers as a result.”

Absurd. It’s been common knowledge for years that the lines outside of security are a much softer, much easier, much bigger target. The bomber wouldn’t need to go through surgery, but simply fill a (large) suitcase with explosives. How many bombs have gone off there?

A cost/benefit analysis easily shows that the pure folly of post-9/11 airport security. The TSA security process, wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, for the comfort of a few. If people are too scared to fly on airplanes without TSA security, then they don’t have to fly. They have other choices. There is no right to fly securely at the cost to millions of taxpayers.

Hans says:

Re: Re: Re: Things we already knew

“Actually, they include metal parts, which is the real issue here. Regular saline implants would not set of the metal detector.”

She didn’t go through the metal detector, she went through the imaging scanner. But really, who cares?

The security process does not prevent terrorists, only comfort for the foolish, and pain for the unfortunate, wasting billions of dollars.

fb39ca4 says:

They make children choose between the scanner or pat down now

Today morning I (a 14 year old) flew from detroit to Seattle and some TSA perv singled me out to go through the scanner. Meanwhile, he let a bunch of adults just go through the metal detector. I am not convinced these scanners are safe, as people are accusing the TSA of covering up studies on them.

Anonymous Coward says:

We strive to treat every passenger with dignity and respect.

“Dignity and respect”? More like “derision and rape”.
I’d ask why this insanity is still even happening, but I already know the answer: anyone in a position of power to put a stop to it gets skipped over. If Obama ever got the Amy Alkon treatment, the TSA would evaporate overnight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Stop Flying

BOYCOTT The Entire Industry. Take a Train, Drive a car, Take a boat or charter your own plane. Boycott these procedures by not flying. Let the bastards lose money for this. Where were the safety procedures for borading flights 10 years ago? We are going backwards in civilization because of these assholes in robes and rags on their heads?

Anonymous Coward says:

I think the best way to smuggle explosives in the airport is to use a small child, parents tend to complain about their kids getting pat downs and with some much crap happening to TSA, take this as an opertunity to use the kids to smuggle those weapons. Nobody would ever expect them to search the children and if they do, you can be assured that the media will have a party with it.

Alfred says:

TSA force breast cancer patient

I was thinking that all the Human Resources People at TSA should be arrested for fraud and gross incompetence ……. then I realized ……. THEY are the only ‘terrorist finders” in the whole organization. We should just save time and ARREST everbody that TSA Human Resources HIRES. After all, that is ALL they HIRE, perverts, thieves, murderers, drug smugglers, and assorted other TERRORISTS. Now if I owned a company and wanted Human Resources Personnel, TSA on the reume would end all discussion.

Jennifer says:

Am I The Only Crazy One

I have gone through countless airports where I have gone through both the body scanner as well as the metal detector and I set them both off a majority of the time. While the Pat Down isn’t at the top of my most favorite experiences they aren’t mean about them. I would feel worse if they just let me through with out re screening me. I mean Im sure yours is real but how hard is it really to make a card that says why Im alarming? I could have a gun in my waist band and alarm the metal detector. Should they just let me pass by because I have a card that says I have a knee replacement?

Jennifer says:

Am I The Only Crazy One

I have gone through countless airports where I have gone through both the body scanner as well as the metal detector and I set them both off a majority of the time. While the Pat Down isn’t at the top of my most favorite experiences they aren’t mean about them. I would feel worse if they just let me through with out re screening me. I mean Im sure yours is real but how hard is it really to make a card that says why Im alarming? I could have a gun in my waist band and alarm the metal detector. Should they just let me pass by because I have a card that says I have a knee replacement?

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