Woman dying of leukemia abused by TSA

by Lisa Simeone on October 10, 2012


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)

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