After humiliating a cancer survivor during a pat-down at New York’s JFK airport last week, the Transportation Security Administration is saying “sorry” and believe that the incident will serve as a “learning experience” for TSA agents.
Lisa Dorn of New York City, age 44, says she was insulted and humiliated by TSA agents last week after they insisted on a thorough pat-down despite her pleas that, recovering from a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy, she was not comfortable with the search. Although she suggested she retrieve a medical card with information pertaining to her recent bout with breast cancer and a doctor’s note, she says that TSA agents refused to hear her case and instead told her, “if we don't clear you, you don't fly."
"I explained to the agent that I was a breast cancer patient and had a bilateral mastectomy in April and had tissue expanders put in to make way for reconstruction at a later date," Dorn writes on her blog of the incident. Despite her pleas, both a TSA agent and a supervisor showed no concern for her condition.
“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 and asked to retrieve it. This request was denied,” adds Dorn. She also says that she warned them that areas of her chest were extremely sensitive, “with or without touch.”
The woman continues, “I have been through emotional and physical hell this past year due to breast cancer…. I understand the need for safety when flying, but there is also a need for those responsible to be compassionate and sensitive to each situation.”
"At what point does the need for security eclipse human dignity and compassion?"
Earlier this week, the TSA announced that they would begin trying out a new screening program with the aim of lessening the pat-downs that so many have spoken out against in recent months as being overly evasive. In exchange for foregoing the fumbling of TSA agents, however, passengers will be asked to volunteer private, personal information to the US government in order for background checks to be carried out.
After the incident in New York’s Kennedy airport, representatives for the TSA have offered an apology to Dorn. In an email statement about the incident, they say that the proper procedures were carried out, but perhaps things could have been handled different by the agents.
“Allowing the passenger to display her medical card should have triggered a more compassionate response from the transportation security officer, such as an offer on our part of private screening,” writes the TSA. They also write that they regret that Ms. Dorn did not have a positive experience in the airport.
The agency adds that now they will "be looking at refreshing some training to use this as a learning opportunity."
For many, however, that will be a lesson learned far too late. Airplane patrons have long rallied against the pat-downs that are seemingly worsening in recent time. This past June, a 95-year-old leukemia patient was given an ultimatum to have her adult diaper removed so that agents could search her or else not board her plane.
Speaking alongside his fellow candidates for the Republican Part’s presidential big last month, Texas Congressman Ron Paul took on the TSA during a televised debate, calling them "abusive.”
“Sometimes they're accused of all kinds of sexual activities on the way they maul people at the airport,” said Paul.