TSA agent pulls woman’s breast prosthesis out of her bra

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I get tired of writing these posts. These abuses are so common (no, they’re not “outliers”) and the reaction of so much of the public apathetic, it just becomes wearying.

Yet another woman who’d had a mastectomy and who wears a breast prosthesis was prodded and pawed by a clueless TSA clerk, just like Sharon Cissna, Cathy Bossi, and so many others.

Suzanne Steiner was flying from San Antonio to Orlando. And she went through the scanner:

In early May, after passing through the full body scanner at the airport, Steiner was pulled to the side by a female TSA agent.

“She started to search me, only my right breast,” Steiner said. “And I said, ‘Oh that’s all right, that’s my prosthesis, I’ve had a mastectomy.’

“So she starts searching more, and I thought, ‘what the heck is all that about?'”

Steiner said the agent never acknowledged her or told her what she was doing. Instead, according to Steiner, the agent proceeded to pull the prosthesis out of her bra, about an inch away from her body.

“I don’t cry easily, and I sat at the gate nearly in tears,” she said.

Steiner tried to complain to the TSA. And, of course, got the standard response — contempt:

Steiner said when she tried to file a complaint that day, TSA agents were insensitive. One agent told her, “you set off an alarm, you should expect to be checked.” Already embarrassed, Steiner said that made the situation even worse.

Of course, Ms. Steiner, don’t you know that it’s your fault that you’re so sensitive? Don’t you know that the pieces-of-crap scanners that your tax dollars paid for have a 54% false-positive rate, thus necessitating a grope on more than half the people who walk through them? Don’t you know that our crusaders in blue are always in the right, and have only your best interests at heart? Don’t you know that if you don’t let them paw you, then The Terrorists Win??

Again, as I’ve said before, I hope every insensitive twit and apathetic oaf out there who minimizes these abuses, who tut-tuts these stories, gets the grope of a lifetime. Just knowing that they or their family members might one day get their comeuppance (I’ve already seen it happen) is some small measure of satisfaction.

  • Reubs J Walsh

    I am trans, and for a long time I wore prostheses to prevent dysphoria. I knew this would be the behaviour in the US so when I went to Canada last summer, when booking flights I refused to land in the US for a change of aircraft. I’m glad I did because the Canadian boarder agents and airport security folk were very sensitive (scary, but totally understanding).

  • tim

    I would write if I thought it would do any good. But it never has in the past. They will continue there abuse, until the people had enough and not a second before. We voted all these idiots into office. You want change, vote some one new in office, who is also tired of this type of abuse.

    • tim, you’re right. I sympathize with your position of “why bother?” I’ve had (and continue to have) those moments myself. I can only tell you that the reason I think it’s important to put our dissent into the public record — into as many public records as possible, including at blogs like this — is so that our authoritarian overlords won’t be able to say:

      “See — I told you nobody cared about this. Only a tiny group of disaffected ‘loners’ (the word of choice for those who are trying to condescend to others, as well as “people who have ‘issues’ with authority,” etc.).”

      It’s important that we put our opinions on the line so that someday in the future — far in the future, when people look back on this time as a period insanity, just as we look back on the Red Scare and the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII — they won’t be able to say, “well, nobody gave a shit. That’s why it was allowed to continue.”

      • Daisiemae

        I agree Lisa. When I was a kid learning about WWII in school, I always used to wonder, why didn’t the Germans do something about all the abuses? I thought, There must have been some good people. Why didn’t they do anything?

        Now we have the answer to that question being played out every day in our airports and all across our country. We can simply observe what is happening now, and we can understand how the Nazi party took over in Germany and went their entire length of inhumanity.

        We have already accepted inhumanity and oppression in this country that would have been inconceivable even a decade ago. God only knows how far it will go before people begin to see the light and push back.

    • Susan Richart

      I have read that the comments need to be posted as they would then be available for any future legal action. Perhaps EPIC has further plans when the TSA ignores the comments.

  • Susan Richart

    WRT the NSA debacle and tangentially the TSA, I’ve been infuriated over the past couple of days with people who are commenting on media articles by saying “we voted for this level of security after 9/11 so why are we now complaining.”

    Neither you nor I voted for this nor were we ever given an opportunity to express an opinion to our legislators. The Patriot Act, which most who voted for it never read, was enacted and signed into law in late October of 2001.

    Then the same people say “if you don’t like it, vote for change.” I’e been voting for change and change ain’t happening, it’s only getting worse.

    I am with Chris Bray and beginning to believe it’s going to take an actual revolution to make change happen.

    • It is going to take a revolution. Some of us have been working on that.

    • Dolt

      The overwhelming majority of people in the US have been programmed to believe that changing a ‘D’ to an ‘R’ or an ‘R’ to a ‘D’ during elections equals change. The problem is you are simply flipping to a different side of the same coin. The coin is the problem, not the side it lands on. More people need to truly understand this or we just stay in the endless circle(jerk).

    • Reubs J Walsh

      There is also an issue here of how the US is spying on me; and I have no intention of ever going there! A lot of people have expressed outrage about the spying on US citizens abroad as if US citizens are somehow more entitled to not be spied on by their government than the rest of the world. I would say that the US spying on me is worse than if the UK (where I live) were spying on me.

  • Gee, what does this remind you of:

    “Speaking at a press briefing Monday, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “We hold all employees to the highest standards. We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly. All cases mentioned in the CBS report were thoroughly investigated or under investigation, and the — the department continues to take action.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57588456/state-department-memo-reveals-possible-cover-ups-halted-investigations/

    The only difference is the taking action part. The TSA never even pretends to “take action.” Why should they? They’re always right. There’s never anything to “take action” against.

  • Bunny

    My daughter was very inappropriately searched when she was just 12. She did look a bit older, but only maybe 14 or 15. I walked through security and physically put my body between the TSA agent and my daughter. Did I mention this agent was a male? TSA is a sketchy gang of pervs

    • Daisiemae

      It is an outrage that this happened to your daughter. I’m so glad that you stood up for her. Considering what has happened to others who have stood up for themselves or their children, I am surprised that you did not end up in jail.

      In fact, I am surprised that they let you get anywhere near your daughter. When my disabled husband was being roughed up by a TSA screener in Phoenix, I started to walk over and ask him to be more gentle. Another screener got in front of me and started screaming that I couldn’t go over there. Two more screeners were on their way over towards me as I asked her to ask the other screener to be more gentle. She never did. And she wouldn’t let me go anywhere near my husband.

      I was very frightened for my husband. Fortunately, he was not injured.

      Did the screener threaten you in any way after you got in front of your daughter?

  • Guest

    When women are searched in a separate room, are they allowed to have a friend or husband present during that search and can the search be recorded by the friend and/or husband?

    • Daisiemae

      Do not go into a private room with these people. Bad things happen behind closed doors.

      TSA cannot force you to go into a private room. If they try to do so, stand your ground. If you choose to go into a private room (which you should NEVER do), TSA allows you to take a witness of your own into the room.

      However, individual screeners have been known to refuse to allow passengers their right to take a witness into the room with them. TSA screeners break their own rules all the time.

      TSA does allow filming. It says so on their own website. However, individual screeners frequently bully and intimidate people who are filming. It is your right to film, but they will tell you it is illegal. They will tell you that you can be arrested.

      Best thing to do is DON’T GO INTO THAT PRIVATE ROOM. Insist that your screening take place in public view where other people can see what TSA is doing to you.

      • TestJeff Pierce

        I would just add: Any procedure that can’t happen in public is obviously wrong and unAmerican.

        • Siberia Gippius

          No, Any Procedure that can’t happen in Public is not just wrong, it’s CRIMINAL. Just because the Nazi thugs and RAPISTS and they ARE RAPISTS DON’T GET PUNISHED, IN NO WAY MEANS THEY ARE NOT CRIMINAL. They are CRIMINAL, all there is to it. A lot can change by how we consent to language, and if they throw us in jail oh well, call a spade a spade. It’s NOT pat downs it’s Sexual Battery and Genital Violation which Is RAPE, let’s call it that. It’s Not security by verbal intimidation it’s False ARREST and Imprisonment. Etc etc etc…I’ve seen numerous videos where TSA thugs demand VICTIMS OF THEIR SEXUAL CRIMES not say anything in protest, no, sorry, you Say something, call it What it is. When they say pat down say No it’s coerced sexual assault, period. Refuse to SANITIZE THEIR CRIMES, they are human right abuses pure and simple. And they deserve Zero respect for their sexual terrorism, they are sexual terrorists, plain and simple. Name them by name, plaster their crimes to every public bulletin OR the COURTS can Redfine SEXUAL ASSAULT.

      • Daisiemae

        One thing that really stands out in my mind is the case of Lena Reppert, the 95 year old terminal leukemia victim who was forced to remove her adult diaper.

        She was taken into a private room. Her daughter was NOT allowed to accompany her. The screeners demanded that she remove her adult diaper so that they could complete their screening.

        The first thing that came to my mind when I read that was “What in the world are they planning to do to this woman that requires her to remove her adult diaper? And why did they refuse to allow her daughter in the room?”

        Nobody but Lena Reppert and the two screeners knows what happened in that room. But if it required the removal of Lena’s adult diaper, it can’t have been good. The fact that the screeners refused to allow her daughter in the room is a very, very bad sign.

    • Susan Richart

      The TSA says that recording is NOT allowed in the private room. They don’t want the general public to know what goes on in their, the abusiveness of the front of the hand into the genitals deep search.

    • Guest, I second everything Daisiemae said. Don’t go into a private room with these people.

      In addition, click the tab at the top of this page that says Master List. This is what’s really going on in this country.

  • PATRIOT PREACHER

    BOYCOTT THE AIRLINES THAT ALLOW THIS

    AND SUE THE TSA FOR TEN MILLION MINIMUM !!!!
    DO IT NOW, OVERWHELM THEM AND BUST THEIR BUDGET

    IF YOU DONT WANT IT GIVE THE SETTLEMENT TO FEED THE CHILDREN
    DISOLVE THE TSA

    • Daisiemae

      Please go ahead with your plan to sue TSA for $10 million and let us know how it works out.

      • Patrick Piklapp

        I have been screaming about not using airlines since 12/11, but very few listen. Too many sheep, not enough rams. If one percent of the public called the airlines saying that they refuse to fly while the molesters are allowed in the airport, the airlines would be berating Congress in a heartbeat.

        • Daisiemae

          My comment was in relation to Patriot Preacher’s exhortation for us to sue TSA…not in relation to the boycotting of flying.

          If we are going to talk about boycotting the airlines, I have you beaten. I stopped in 2010 when the scanners came out. And I told the airline why I was no longer using their services. And I told them why I was canceling their credit card.

          But PP is exhorting everyone else to do something that is completely unrealistic and undoable…that is, to sue TSA for $10 million. It can’t be done. An attempt to do that will not even make it into court. But if PP thinks it is so easily done, then why doesn’t he do it?

          Plus, PP makes it seem like he is blaming everyone else for not suing TSA…like we are being morally deficient because we haven’t sued TSA. When he follows his own preaching, then we can listen to his sermon.

          Until then, all I can say is good luck suing TSA for $10 million.

    • David Sims

      I haven’t flown commercially since TSA first got going. I knew what was going to happen, and there is no place I need to reach fast that I’m willing to have it happen to me. The airlines can just do without any of my money.

  • wiley willy

    I started a campaign of reverse groping. I go read a maxim magazine, or low rider, or other picture magazine, then “opt out” of the scanner, requiring them to give me an enhanced pat down… And they’re trying to do it without getting poked in the eye.

    • Michelle_Hubbart

      LOL

  • Flo Thompson

    When is our government or our courts going to do something about this? Not until we revolt in a more public way. Picket! Protest! Revolt! It’s now or never folks. We are at our low point as a country. Government prosecutes the victim instead of the violator. They started 5 minutes after Snowden made the truth known. First words out of their mouths were: we need to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. What about the NSA? The true criminal? The NSA violated the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. When do we prosecute them for treason, for failing to uphold the oath they took to uphold the Constitution? Speak out people. It’s now or never if we want our country back!

    • PATROIT

      SUE THEM TAKE THEIR MONEY
      IT IS THE ONLY THING THE WORSHIP
      SO HURT THEM TAKE THEIR MONEY

  • Cani Lupine

    When are we going to say enough is enough? It’s time for a god damn revolution. The government has been destroying our Constitutional rights for FAR too long.

  • frostysnowman

    Disgusting.
    I can imagine how weary you are, but please keep writing about the TSA and keeping us informed of these abuses. Someone has to, and we know the government isn’t interested in keeping track for us.

    • Indeed, they’re not interested in keeping track for us, they’re interested in keeping track of us.

  • Chris Bray

    Lisa, you should push this one. I’d like to see you request an interview with John Pistole, or corner the fucking weasel on the street. He must show his face in the light from time to time.

    And FOIA the checkpoint video.

    • Checkpoint video, if it shows anything for which the TSA is at fault, mysteriously goes missing. This happens all the time, as people here who’ve tried to get it for their own cases can attest, and as Stacey Armato, herself a lawyer, can attest, since 20 crucial minutes of her checkpoint video has gone missing. She’s filing suit, but my money is on that video never showing up.

      As for Pistole, first of all, he’s a liar. He spews the same shit, over and over and over again, no matter what. He’s been interviewed countless times. I’ve posted some of the videos and transcripts at this blog. The case of ABC producer Carolyn Durand, whose bare genitals were groped, back in 2010, was the only time I’ve ever heard Pistole admit that his gang of goons was at fault. The only time. And nothing came of it. As we know, TSA agents are still pawing genitals.

      Second, the man so disgusts me that honestly, I couldn’t conduct an interview with him. I’ve had to talk to some scum in my day, but he takes the cake. I cannot look at this man and accord him any respect. I’m not going to put into writing what would be going through my head.

      The fact is that Suzanne Steiner’s story isn’t new. It and things like it haven happened to countless people. And still nothing changes. As with the abusive, rampant surveillance in this country, things in this country are going to have to get worse — a lot worse — before they get better.

      • Chris Bray

        I understand all of that, but it’s just so frustrating. I just keep wondering what the next step is. So here we have this long and growing list of abuses: today, another post about a disgusting personal assault, then another post tomorrow, and another one, and another one.

        And then what?

        • Chris, yes. Frustrating beyond words. But then, battles for civil liberties have always been frustrating. I try to remind myself of that when I feel like throwing in the towel.

          I took a stab last year at listing the many different ways I could think of to resist. Of course we know that most people won’t resist — not for this nor for any other social justice cause — but for those who are willing, here it is:

          http://tsanewsblog.com/5431/news/de-profundis-clamavi-or-why-we-can-talk-till-were-blue-in-the-face-but-until-we-put-our-money-where-our-mouth-is-we-wont-get-rid-of-the-tsa/

          Oh, and I would add: Put your comment in the public record. Links to do so abound at this blog, including at the top-left-hand corner of every page.

          • Daisiemae

            About ways to resist, I always imagined singing the national anthem at the top of my lungs while being groped down. I have a pretty loud voice, so it should attract attention and make an interesting statement. In reality though, I would probably be too upset to get out a squeak.

            However, I simply do not fly. That’s my resistance.

          • Kitten

            Perhaps the third verse is most appropriate:

            And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
            That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
            A home and a country, should leave us no more?
            Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
            No refuge could save the hireling and slave
            From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
            And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
            O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

          • anc1entmar1ner

            Not a bad idea. America the Beautiful would also be a good choice:

            Oh beautiful for patriot dreams
            That see beyond the years
            Thine alabaster cities gleam
            Undimmed by human tears!
            America, America!
            God mend thine every flaw,
            Confirm thy soul in self-control,
            Thy liberty in law!

            A little of verse two, a little of verse four, but it would get the message across.

            Of course if they can arrest you for reciting the fourth amendment, they can probably arrest you for singing patriotic songs.

          • Daisiemae

            Yes, I thought of that. Imagine the headlines: Woman arrested at Newark Airport for singing the National Anthem. That should draw a few loud mouths out of the wood work.

            But as I said, I’m certain that I would be so frightened that I wouldn’t be able to get out a squeak.

          • anc1entmar1ner

            Which reminds me, it’s way past time for an update on the “pornoscan” public comment period.

            So far, 3626 comments have been posted.

            Anti-scanners: 3307 (91.20%)
            Pro-scanners: 294 (8.10%)
            Neutral or undetermined: 25 (0.69%)

            By far the largest number of pro-scanner comments are from people with artificial limbs who would rather be scoped than groped. Seems like they think TSA is doing them a favor by nuking them with microwaves instead of feeling them up. However, at least an equal number of comments against the scanners are because people submitted to the scope but still got the grope. TSA seems to have a talent for pissing people off.

        • Jarrod Dowell

          Everyone needs to stop flying, 0 participation in this flying business. Take trains, busses, or drive. I know that these are not always feasible but whenever possible people should choose alternative modes of transportation that the TSA is not involved in. I plan on taking any method of transportation where there is no TSA groping. It’s only one small option but if enough people start avoiding flights for other modes then maybe enough profits will be lost by the airlines to put the ball back into their court.

          • Jarrod, exactly. See the link I posted elsewhere in this thread about the importance of boycotting and other ways to resist.

          • Jarrod Dowell

            I was just discussing taking a train trip with my girlfriend sometime, not to circumvent the airlines, but because I’ve never taken one.

          • Jarrod, train travel is great. We took Amtrak from Baltimore all the way to Montreal and back last year specifically to avoid the TSA (the Customs & Border Protection guys have waaaaay more power, and if they decide to abuse it, they can, but they’re not rank idiots like the TSA). Sommer Gentry, who occasionally writes here at TSA News Blog, is also a seasoned train traveler. So are several of my friends out west.. If you’re doing an overnight trip, the sleeper car is fantastic. Privacy and a bathroom!

            And hubby and I just got back from a trip to Europe where we took a ship — the QM2 — again to circumvent the TSA. We flew back (using miles, at the airlines’ expense) because I have no problem flying in/from other countries. They don’t have anywhere near the abusive idiocy of the TSA.

            I now do all business trips by train or car, or I don’t do them. I just turned down an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy, because we couldn’t get me there without flying from this country. The schedules with ships didn’t work.

          • Jarrod Dowell

            Do you have any destination recommendations for this side of the globe? I have a good salary but not nearly enough to travel abroad. I have my passport so Canada and Mexico are no problem either.

          • Well, I don’t know where in the country you live or how much time you have, but several of the National Parks are reachable by train. In fact, Amtrak has a kind of luxury train that goes all across the country, stopping at the National Parks. It’s expensive from what I remember — it’s been a while since I researched this.

            Also the overnighter on the East Coast down to Key West. That’s one we’re thinking of doing. A friend of mine in Tucson swears by the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle. He’s done it several times. Huge picture windows. Beautiful amenities. And, of course, you get to meet lots of interesting people, many of whom are train buffs.

            On the train to Montreal I mentioned, there are volunteers from the National Park Service who come on board and give little talks in the cafe car at an appointed hour. They were wonderful. They tell you about the geography, history, wildlife, of the areas you’re passing through.

            I’ve also been told that Mexico has good train service depending on where you’re going.

          • TestJeff Pierce

            Lisa – you can go through Philadelphia with a 100% guarantee of metal detectors, FYI.

          • I know. But that’s still no guarantee you won’t be groped. The TSA has absolute power. They can paw (and rob) you at whim.

          • TestJeff Pierce

            Since I have to travel on business occasionally, I am fortunate to go to a couple of airports where I can guarantee 100% metal detectors.

            If you do that, you can pretty much avoid groping. Only once was I swabbed for the ineffective ETD test (it was random swab) and it did not turn out positive.

            That is the highest chance of getting groped and it is almost non-existent.

            That being said, I avoid personal airport travel as much as possible….I don’t want to give the airlines any money.

          • Kitten

            I would love to travel by train. Unfortunately, Amtrak will not allow me to bring my fur children on board their precious trains, even though I’d be happy to purchase a suite. So we travel by car.

    • RonBonner

      Skunks are only active when it’s dark.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Sickening. Truly sickening. It brings to mind the time when my elderly mother was flying three weeks after breast cancer surgery, and when she told the TSA groper that her right breast was still tender due to that surgery, the groper rubbed and SQUEEZED her breast so viciously that it left my mother in tears.

    Actually, “sickening” doesn’t even begin to describe how these ongoing abuses make me feel. Powerless, angry, sad, ashamed, disgusted…and that’s just a start.

    I simply will never understand why so many people think this is okay.

  • 1amWendy

    Lisa, I’m with you… it really is wearying to keep writing about these travesties. I guess we need to remember that the TSA is using the wear-down tactic, so we need to collectively say ‘Oh yeah? see you and raise you one.”

  • Robert Hollis Weber

    TSA has really stepped up its game this week. Pistole must be concerned that the NSA is defending-our-freedoms-by-invading-your-privacy more thoroughly than he is defending-our-freedoms-by-invading-your-privacy.

    • TestJeff Pierce

      Too funny Robert! In a dark humour sort of way.

      GeTSApo vs NSAstasi