Woman dying of leukemia abused by TSA

The TSA has a lesson to teach you. And by George, you’re going to learn it.

Apparently it’s not enough that the TSA humiliates breast cancer survivors, disabled children, the elderly, and — let’s face it — anyone and everyone. It’s not enough that they punish people — and admit to punishing people, even when that admission is captured on video, even when it’s recorded in court proceedings. It’s not enough that they harass people just for the hell of it. It’s not enough that thousands upon thousands of cases of TSA abuse have been documented. It’s not enough that people who’ve been assaulted have told their stories, using their real names, in the pages of newspapers and here at TSA News.

It’s not enough that the TSA’s procedures are demonstrably absurd. Beyond absurd. It’s not enough that those procedures have been proven to be ineffective and pointless. It’s not enough that while passengers are getting groped, baggage is still going into the hold unscreened. It’s not enough that the TSA lies, even to Congress. It’s not enough that they flout the law. Repeatedly. It’s not enough that they employ criminals and sexual predators. It’s not enough that thievery is endemic. It’s not enough that we have evidence on top of evidence.

No, it’s not enough. Because we still have lots of people out there who don’t get it. Who think that the TSA’s actions are just fine.

So the TSA wants to make sure you get it.

To that end, they add to their list of victims regularly. Michelle Dunaj can tell you all about it.

Michelle Dunaj is dying of leukemia. She was going on a trip to Hawaii (probably the last trip of her life since she’s entering hospice on October 17th). She travels with a lot of medication. She has medical tubes going into her body, and bandages covering those tubes. She had called ahead to find out exactly what she would have to do to comply with TSA screening and to protect her medications and tubes.

But the TSA wanted to see those medical devices. They wanted to see them so badly, that they lifted up Michelle Dunaj’s shirt and exposed her skin and tubes and bandages for everyone else to see, too. Even though she had requested a private room for a private search, which is her right, and which the TSA constantly claims is available upon request (we’ll leave aside the fact that you’re more, not less, likely to be abused in a private room), they refused to grant her request.

But that’s not all. The TSA also punctured one of Dunaj’s bags containing saline solution, which she needs to survive.

And still that’s not all.

Then they told her to “move along,” as if she were holding up their precious line. Because, of course, so many busy people with busy schedules, people more important than Michelle Dunaj, had to get on with their busy lives, and god forbid they should be held up for 60 seconds by a woman with leukemia who’d just been abused by the agency so many of them still defend.

Dunaj says she’s telling her story so that — you guessed it — “it never happens again.” But of course it will happen again. We know it will happen again. It has happened countless times, and it will happen countless more. We’ve documented those times, the ones we were able to find about. Most of them we’ll never find out about. Most people don’t have access to reporters, to newspapers, to TV stations. Most people tell their stories only to family and friends, and sometimes, not even then, because they’re too humiliated.

But none of that matters. We know that millions of people still choose to live in denial. They will refuse to believe Michelle Dunaj’s story. They will blame her. Just as they blame this breast cancer survivor.

I thought for a long time that simple presentation of facts, that empirical evidence, statistical analysis, risk assessment, logic would persuade people. That facts, when placed squarely in front of one’s face, are impossible to deny.

But I was wrong. The TSA and its apologists have proved me wrong. They demonstrate, every day, that facts don’t matter.

So let me dispense with facts and present my opinion: the TSA is a criminal agency. It abuses people with impunity. Its leaders, Janet Napolitano and, especially, John Pistole, deserve to be fired and criminally prosecuted. The elected representatives who defend the TSA and continue to allow this abuse are complicit.

And you, dear reader, if you defend the TSA, are also complicit. If you shrug your shoulders and spout such inanities as, “nothing bad has ever happened to me,” then you are implying that it’s okay if something bad happens to someone else, as long as it doesn’t happen to you. You are aiding and abetting the TSA. You are aiding and abetting the abuse of your fellow human beings. At least have the guts to admit it.

(Photo: KBOI2)

  • Susan Richart

    An observation: The TSA blog has been totally silent on this issue as well as the concomitant issue of the abuse of the breast cancer survivor. This after initially insisting that their screeners had acted properly in both instances.

    Surely, Blogger Boob would have had something to say if the TSA were, in fact, following proper procedures. Then again, maybe he’ll put up a thread in the future, hoping that the uproar over this will have died down by the time he gets around to it.

    • Susan, since all they ever say is “proper procedures were followed,” we could save them the trouble and write their blog posts for them.

      • RedRavenSounds

        I believe the same excuse was given in Nuremburg

  • her story will die along w her….”move along”…NEXT!

  • You cannot change the TSA. You can change where you live. There is no TSA in New Zealand. On domestic flights where the plane hasn’t the range to reach Australia, you often don’t even need to clear security at all. Just park the car, waive your electronic boarding pass on your phone at a kiosk at the gate, and walk onto the plane.

    If the TSA could be changed, it would already have been. There are many other places to live. Why choose to live under the TSA?

    • Eric, people said the same thing during the civil rights movement. And when women didn’t have the right to vote. “You can’t change things.” But we did.

      Injustices aren’t righted overnight. These battles, unfortunately, take years. And the main reason they take so long is because there are so many people, whether out of denial, willful ignorance, or malice, who are on board with the injustice.

      Wish I could visit New Zealand. It and Australia have always been on my list. But now that will never happen. Anyway, glad to hear you don’t have TSA-type molesters and that the only sheep in your country seem to be on the grassy hills. But Australia is following the lead of the U.S. It has started to use the scanners.

      • Agreed on Oz. I hope we don’t import their silliness. And I really hope that the US fixes things. I’m just not optimistic. So we emigrated.

    • RedRavenSounds

      Eric, I would love to relocate to New Zealand, I have heard so many wonderful things about it, but I just don’t know how to begin the process

  • cjr001

    Cut off the head and the body will die.

    I’m not holding my breath that this would work with Pistole and TSA, but I’m willing to give it a try.

  • Lisa, was your “scientist” referring to this incident:


    For as scary as the headlines makes this seem:

    “He has been charged federally with one count of transporting hazardous materials.”

    As far as Ms. Dunaj’s treatment is concerned, if you want to read some despicable comments about her experience, go to the KCTV5 webpage, and read:


    You’ll end up gagging. Fortunately, since yesterday afternoon, more intelligent minds have prevailed there and given several well-deserved “thumbs down” to several commenters.

    Sadly, about Ms. Dunaj we will hear from Blogger Bob that the TSA did everything properly and always treats passengers with respect and dignity. I wonder if he ever gets tired of regurgitating that chum. Does he really believe what he writes?

    John Pistole needs to be relieved of his position and tried for treason.


    • Susie, I don’t know what she heard. She doesn’t seem to know either, since her reply to me was the equivalent of closing her eyes, sticking her fingers in her ears, and shaking her head.

      As for the KCTV5 story (about the breast cancer woman, not about Dunaj), yes, as you can see, I tried posting several comments there. They were removed by the moderator. When I challenged her on it, she allowed two comments to remain. The others are gone. Wendy Thomson’s comment was also censored. We talked about that thread and the moderator’s behavior here:


      Edited to add: That guy in Boston was caught by Customs and Border Protection, not by the TSA. Furthermore, he had already flown on the plane with all that stuff, and the plane didn’t fall out of the sky.

  • Response I got on email; I won’t, of course, reveal the person’s name. Direct quote:

    “I just heard they caught a guy with all kinds of terrorist stuff.”

    My reply:

    1. Vague. What constitutes ‘all kinds of terrorist stuff’?
    2. Where?
    3. Who?
    4. How?
    5. If it was metal that was caught — meaning guns, knives, etc. — metal is detected by — uh — metal detectors. Not by stripping people of their clothing or groping their genitalia.
    Guns and knives are routinely brought on board airplanes, as DHS itself has documented. Routinely. Guns and knives are often not caught. So there’s TSA competence for you. But ya know what? I don’t care. I don’t care how many Swiss Army knives, box cutters, and unloaded guns are brought on planes. Because none of those can take a plane down. Fact. You’re a scientist. Surely you appreciate facts.”

    Yes, this person is a scientist. A university professor, no less. This is what we’re dealing with.

  • T Kauff

    Agree with everything Lisa says and would add, in a just world Obomba would also be prosecuted. This is after all going on during his watch but than, we have so many things to prosecute the Pres. for – like war crimes, crimes against humanity etc, etc.

    • LeeAnneClark

      Can we NOT turn this into another right-wing-spewing site? We lefties hate this just as much as righties. And we are just as angry at Obama for not doing anything about it. But we have to choose between two evils – this one, or a proven liar who will take away women’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions, panders to the wealthy, denies gays basic human and civil rights, and whose plans for medicare will end up with people dying of treatable conditions because they can’t afford insurance.

      See how that works? Fighting against TSA abuse is one of the few truly non-partisan issues. There are people from both sides working together to fight this. Stop trying to destroy that.

      • Actually, LeeAnne, I know this man. And he’s way left.

        Though I agree that we should strive, as always, to keep TSA News focused on the TSA and the abuses of the National Security State, and not politics per se.

        • LeeAnneClark

          Thanks Lisa. I guess I should have picked up on the clue that he’s anti-war…not a stance usually seen in the right. 😉 I just frankly am tired of all the horrific negativity I’m seeing towards our president lately. I too am disgusted at his refusal to reign in the TSA, but I still consider him a whole heckuva lot better than the only alternative, for the reasons stated above. And I’m just sick of seeing him called “Obummer” and other disrespectful names, and I’m horrified over the disgustingly racist displays such as lynched empty chairs on front lawns, or his face photoshopped onto an ape.

          TSA abuse truly is an issue that impacts all of us, and reaches across both aisles.

      • Michael

        But have you seriously considered the possibility that your approach is wrong? It is clear that the solution will only come with political change. Apparently, you can’t identify the cause of the problem, or the reason why highlighting injustices is going nowhere. You just wallow in frustration that ‘someone’ isn’t fixing the problem. Hopeless.