Woman Battling Breast Cancer Claims to Be Humiliated By Transportation Security Administration Agents

A  woman battling breast cancer claims to be humiliated by agents of the Transportation Security Administration at a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, December 4, 2016 — but before reading the details of her point of view of what happened, please watch this video which purportedly shows a portion of her experience.

Before reading on, what are your thoughts at this point? Was the woman treated unfairly or humiliated?

Woman Battling Breast Cancer Claims to Be Humiliated By Transportation Security Administration Agents

The woman is Denise Albert, who is 42 years of age and the host of a show on satellite radio and television called The MOMS with Denise and Melissa for the past three years. She is based in New York.

The following text is in her own words — in its entirety — pertaining to her experience as was posted at her official Facebook Internet web site.

I have never been so humiliated or felt more violated in my life. I went through the scanning machine at the airport without 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. (Also I had already removed my wig in public because the search they wanted to do would have messed it up and taken it off). The only way I was allowed to proceed was when a supervisor was kind enough to have more compassion and possibly think the 2 agents went too far and took me into a private room for a regular soft pat down. Today the 2 TSA agents in my video went too far and even threatened to call police. I hope no one ever experiences this.

************************UPDATE****************************
Monday Dec 5th:
I was in such shock last night that I didn’t include all of the details. Thank you all for your love, your personal stories and your support. I truly hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else!

I have never been so humiliated or felt more violated in my life. I went through the scanning machine at the airport without 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. I was TSE precheck and once through the scanner they asked me to take off my shoes. I explained I didn’t have socks on and that my cream is for an infection from my current treatment, including on my feet. So if they wanted to put my shoes through x-ray, I would have to sit down because I would not put my bare feet on the floor. They allowed that. They then started to tell me they would apply pressure from head to toe and I got very upset because I wear a wig. I didn’t want them to touch it, move it, or ruin it. So I ripped it off for them to pat my head without damaging my wig (that I paid for and insurance didn’t cover!) I don’t ever go out in public without it. I have shown pictures on social media as I feel it empowers others but I’m not comfortable in public (I have taken it off at 2 breast cancer related work events for a second to show other cancer survivors and those in it now!) They also put my shoes through and then wouldn’t allow me to put them back on until after the full body search. After at least 20 minutes of sitting there because they were debating how to proceed, I told them my feet were freezing. Also a side effect from chemo. They refused to help me. The woman reached behind me and forceable and aggressively put her hands down my jeans in the back. At some point they offered me a room but wouldn’t let me put my boots on to walk there, which I can’t do barefoot especially because of my open sores and rashes from my treatment on my feet. When I kept asking why they needed to do all of this, they kept saying because I wanted to bring medical cream on the plane. (They NEVER said there was any reason due to my scan so that made no sense!) On the video you see the woman shove her hand up my crotch and then try to go down my shirt. That’s when I said (again) I have a medical port and had a lumpecomy. Many of you have remarked about how calm I was. I have to admit, after the video ends (though I do have it on video), I lifted up my shirt. Rather then have them touch my breasts and port “with pressure” as the TSA agent stated. That’s when they said they were calling law enforcement and I asked them to please do so. Finally, a supervisor arrived. The only way I was allowed to proceed was when the supervisor was kind enough to have more compassion and possibly think the 2 agents went too far and took me into a private room for a regular soft pat down. After that, it still didn’t end. Even though all of my bags when through x-rays without incident as well, they opened my bags, removed everything and another TSA agent joked about all of the eyelashes I had. I told her, it’s because I don’t have real ones from my cancer treatment. I would have thought at that point, the humiliation would have ended. The 2 TSA agents in my video went too far. I hope no one ever experiences this. 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. Luckily, Melissa Musen Gerstein and I had a wonderful flight on American Airlines with an incredible crew and 1 very special flight attendant, Latane, who made everything better for the night.

Responses

The initial official response from the Transportation Security Administration states that it “takes reports of alleged impropriety very seriously. TSA is currently looking into the specific details as to what occurred during the screening process to ensure our security protocols were followed. We regret any discomfort the security screening process may have caused the passenger. We will work with the passenger directly to address her concerns.”

Denise Albert further stated that she received a telephone call from Kimberly Walton — who is the assistant administrator for the Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement for the Transportation Security Administration — on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 3:55 in the afternoon Eastern Standard Time. Walton reportedly expressed “a lot of disappointment and “we didn’t get it right”; and apologized to Albert pertaining to her experience, which did not match the expectations of agents…

…and although the approximately 3,000 agents and employees at the airport are supposedly trained very aggressively pertaining to the screening of passengers who are either disabled or suffer from significant medical conditions, they will purportedly undergo refresher training as a result of this incident.

An investigation into exactly what happened at Los Angeles International Airport is currently ongoing.

“I’m very pleased with this”, Albert posted in response.

“Pat-downs”: A Matter of Dignity?

The beleaguered government agency took a step in the right direction — regardless of the reason — by supposedly switching from the equipment and technology used which showed in detail the naked bodies of all passengers who were screened at airport security checkpoints.

The “pat-down” has had its own share of controversies — including but not limited to the following:

  • Two agents — one female and one male — of the Transportation Security Administration had their employment terminated as a result of allegedly groping and fondling attractive male passengers at a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport
  • A video of an agent of the Transportation Security Administration shows that he bellowed “You respect this badge right here!” as he pointed to his uniform to a teenager 16 years of age who refused to obey his orders to stop filming his father experiencing a “pat-down” at the security checkpoint of New Orleans International Airport — and he summoned a law enforcement officer on the teenager
  • The “pat-down” examination of a six-year-old girl at an airport security checkpoint in New Orleans
  • The “pat-down” examination of a boy who was only eight months old at an airport security checkpoint
  • The controversial arrest of Andrea Abbott in 2011, who alleged that her daughter — then 14 years old — was touched inappropriately during a “pat-down”; and Abbott was found guilty of disorderly conduct in October of 2012
  • A passenger who was arrested for the retaliatory groping of an agent of the Transportation Security Administration Agent at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers in 2012
  • A woman who was allegedly so traumatized by a “pat-down” that it reminded her of a violent sexual assault she supposedly endured, resulting in her being transported to the emergency room of a local hospital in the Fort Lauderdale area in the summer of 2012
  • A girl — who was three years old and bound to a wheelchair due to suffering from a disorder known as spina bifida — was detained last year with her parents at an airport security checkpoint at Lambert–Saint Louis International Airport, resulting in her crying that she did not want to go on their trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando after all because she supposedly did not want to be touched by any agents of the Transportation Security Administration

Summary

I want to first acknowledge that many thousands of passengers pass through airport security checkpoints around the United States and are screened without incident — even if they do not necessarily agree with the process itself. Although I have experienced a few minor incidents with agents of the Transportation Security Administration during my travels over the years, my experience is usually benign and typically without problems.

For the record, I have never heard of Denise Albert; nor have I heard of the show which she hosts; so this article was not prompted by her perceived celebrity status.

Rather, it is yet another demonstration of the argument that agents of the Transportation Security Administration may need further sensitivity training on processing passengers — who have demonstrated proof that they are either disabled or have medical issues which need to be treated — or perhaps the invasive methods they employ need to be replaced altogether with a more sophisticated, effective and efficient process.

While not a similar story, I was reminded of the story of Hannah Cohen — who was 19 years old and is considered a disabled person, as she is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused and disoriented when she was thrown down to the ground after setting off the metal detector while passing through the security checkpoint at Memphis International Airport on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 — along with a video of what actually happened.

Is it really that difficult to devise a technological solution to ensuring that air travel in the United States is as safe and convenient as possible without potentially subjecting passengers to possible humiliation and a lack of dignity?

While bonafide security is certainly a priority to protect travelers, passengers have a right not to feel — or be — humiliated in the process…

…and that is regardless of whether or not they are considered disabled or have significant medical conditions.

Source: Denise Albert.

4 thoughts on “Woman Battling Breast Cancer Claims to Be Humiliated By Transportation Security Administration Agents”

  1. Cleo says:

    First, let me say that I too am a cancer survivor. I am also a physician. At the risk of other peoples ire, I think this woman was picking a fight. I feel sorry for the TSA people….Trying to do their job and having someone tell them they can’t. What if she had malintent? There would have been no mercy on them if she had done something bad behind the security lines.
    She made a silly big production of taking off her wig. Many people without cancer wear wigs.
    She is not the only one with cancer. Many of us have battled it without the spotlight. And without the spotlight by choice.
    Why was she traveling if she had such an infection that taking of her shoes would put her at risk? Airplanes are the worst! The immune suppression of chemo is terrible ( having ended up in the hospital with a life threatening infection myself….just from being at home)
    My son was looking at colleges, so I traveledI traveled with my port and it was no big deal. I didn’t make it a big deal. Security had no issues on multiple trips.
    Why was she traveling when she was so medically fragile? Hurting and an infection?
    Don’t get me wrong. Cancer is terrible and the treatment for it is even worse. But we all have our own battles.
    If she needed special treatment, she should have arranged it beforehand, like a mature, in control adult.
    Why was she having someone film it?
    I think the mentally disabled girl who was thrown to the floor was a terrible act by those TSA agents. I think these should have called a superior earlier to avoid this. I think she should have been taken to a private area …..
    But I think she wanted the spotlight.

    Sorry. But this hits home for all the rest of us who “soldier on” and are just satisfied with our own support group….
    I don’t think she sets a good example, or proves anything.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you so much for responding with your thoughts, Cleo.

      I am sorry that you had to deal with cancer — I have had people in my family who suffered from cancer as well — but unlike them, I am glad that you are a survivor.

  2. Cleo says:

    There are so many other things I want to say.
    I am suprised at what a nerve this hit in me.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Then please say them, Cleo.

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