A frequent guest on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City and co-host of “The Moms” Denise Albert was recently flying through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) when she was given an aggressive and humiliating pat-down by agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Denise Albert has breast cancer, is on chemotherapy, wears a wig, has a medical port in her chest, and suffers from open sores resulting from her chemo. She’s able to treat the sores with a special cream that she carriers around.
When she came to the security check line, she notified the TSA agents about her medical condition and about the cream that she needs to carry around. Usually, it’s not a problem. “I always let them know I have a medical port and that I am wearing a wig,” she told WPIX. But this time, agents were feeling particularly patriotic and protective, so they pulled her aside for a “full pat-down with pressure,” after she notified them of the medical cream.
They told her to remove her shoes. If you’re familiar with TSA PreCheck, you’ll know that those passengers in PreCheck don’t have to remove their shoes. In fact, they’re told specifically not to. In addition, she had an infection on her feet due to the chemo, and she didn’t want to take her shoes off. WPIX reported:
She posted a video to her Facebook page of the two TSA agents “aggressively attempt[ing] to do a body cavity search in public” after making Albert remove her shoes and explaining that they needed to conduct a full body search using “as much pressure” as they needed to.
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Albert said she told the agents she could not remove her shoes since she was not wearing socks and had an infection on her feet, a side effect of her treatment and chemotherapy. So they let her sit down and remove her shoes.
“After at least 20 minutes of sitting there because they were debating how to proceed, I told them my feet were freezing,” Albert’s post reads. “Also a side effect from chemo. They refused to help me.”
Then, after a female TSA agent “forceabl[y] and aggressively” put her hands down the back of Albert’s jeans, the agents explained they would have to “apply pressure from head to toe” which presented another set of problems for Albert. She wears a wig and did not want them to remove it, and has a lumpectomy medical port in her chest, which she did not want agents to touch.
“I started crying,” said Albert. “It was overwhelming and horrific. I could not believe what was happening.”
After the female agent conducted a search and a supervisor arrived, Albert said her bags were emptied and she was made to feel humiliated once again after another agent joked about the fake eyelashes in one of Albert’s bags.
“I told her, it’s because I don’t have real ones from my cancer treatment,” Albert’s post reads. “I would have thought at that point, the humiliation would have ended.
She had medical cream for an infection in her feet that is one of many side effects of chemo. So, they wanted to give her a full pat-down with pressure. How does this make sense?
When you watch videos like this of TSA conducting pat-downs, and humiliating elderly people, wounded soldiers, ill or disabled people, I always think how and why Americans put up with it. It’s like a grand social experiment to see just how far they can go before Americans say, “Enough!” Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet.
Denise Albert is way too nice to the TSA. I’m sure that there are agents who are kind and professional, but that’s hardly the point. Would we say the same thing about IRS agents? “Most IRS agents are kind and professional people who are just trying to do their job, but this time, they went too far.” I don’t care how nice they are, the IRS is bad. The TSA is bad. And it needs to be shut down.
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