TSA harasses mother about breast milk

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103 Responses to “TSA harasses mother about breast milk”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “…Mother’s … without their child may bring breast milk … ”

    Ummmmm, ok, but, why would you want to have breast milk if you didn’t have a baby with you???

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon, nursing women who are NOT traveling with their babies are far more likely to be traveling with bottled breast milk than women who have their babies with them. If you are away from the baby for business reasons or whatever, then you are probably pumping.

      As long as we’re at war, then this crap will continue to happen. I have a feeling that if this woman were wearing a burka, people just wouldn’t be as upset about this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Considering the embarrassment, outrage and trauma these goons cause, I really wonder if they have any plan for someone going Second Amendment on TSA officials. People have shot up schools and offices for a small fraction of what they do every day. They really should be holding their superiors to task for the danger they’re creating for them by forcing them to carry out these procedures.

    This is a foreseeable danger, and there may even be statistical models for predicting the vigilante threat created by a given behaviour. Give it enough scientific validity and you can prove these procedures will result in deaths, which will cause movement. Privacy and dignity concerns about pornoscopes have been brushed off, but they scrambled like motherfuckers when educated guesstimates about mortality rates were published and rushed out their own assessments by anonymous and/or unqualified randoms. Showing that they don’t do the necessary research to ensure that what they do is safe and effective is the surest way to shut them down and is a great compliment to civil liberties concerns. If it don’t make us free and it don’t us safe, forget about it.

    The fact that the TSA don’t know how to deal with breast milk and urostomy bags is really worrying. A pumping woman with a urostomy bag would be reasonably able to bring anything up to a couple of litres of fluid on board. TSA operatives should know as much about urostomy bags and breast milk as there is to know, so that they actually have a chance of recognising a threat like liquid explosive or a bacterial culture and deal with it without splashing it all over the place and without giving the best possible reasons for having those items completely exempted from a search. If a urostomy bag getting ruptured by an incompetent official is nothing special, it’s less likely patient zero in a bio attack using one will be identified and his network shut down.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Schools are a soft target. How often do shooters go into someplace where they’re likely to end up in a firefight?

      • Anonymous says:

        How many TSA agents are armed? I was under the impression that it was the police who had the guns, and they aren’t spread out very evenly in most airports. And since you can’t fly with a gun, airports become soft targets just like schools, because you don’t have to worry about the general public carrying weapons.

        And anyway, the people who shoot up their own schools and their own workplaces are doing it there because that’s where the people/things that set them off are/happened, not because they analysed all the local rampage options and decided that was the easiest one to hit.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There are essential enzymes and antibodies in breast milk that babies need. Irradiating it will destroy that. As a woman who has had a child and breast fed that child, I have also used pumps and in all seriousness, just to let down milk you have to be calm and relaxed. Stress and discomfort inhibits milk production and release, and trying to pump in a bathroom is just gross, uncomfortable, and stressful, especially when said bathroom is several thousand feet off the ground. Bathrooms are notoriously unsanitary, regardless of how ‘clean’ they seem to be.

    This is just one of many examples where TSA ‘officials’ have gone way overboard to the point of being rude, invasive, harassing, abusive (as in the case of a 4 year old forced to remove his leg braces and walk unaided through an air port scanner when said 4 year old could barely walk even with the braces and assistance), and sexually assaulting (as in the case of the woman frisked ‘inside’ her underwear while her terrified child watched and then was frisked himself) innocent passengers and quite frankly makes my decisions regarding travel perfectly clear: I will never fly anywhere, period. I will take the train, bus, or drive there, but until these people are dealt with and these ridiculous, invasive, and abusive practices are abolished, I will never fly again, period. I do not have to put up with this and I refuse to be subjected to such abuse. For those who have no choice in the matter, my heart goes out to you.

    Sincerely,
    Leathurkatt

  4. Anonymous says:

    OK, for how many years have we been at war now? basically all that homeland security and travel agencies rules and procedures have done is inconvenience, harass, embarrass, humiliate, invade our personal selves, disregard our liberties and rights than that every man and woman have dedicated and given their lives to protect and to protect a way of living. They are about as effective as the “war on drugs”! If I were a soldier, and my family is full of them, I just happened to be the artist of the family…i would be most certainly pissed if I witnessed such an event or even read of it for that sake. Pissed would be an understatement. There is no doubt in mind that at some point or maybe more in this womans genealogy there are at least 2 soldiers fighting for life and liberty of their families and fellow Americans! What the hell happened to us as a people? As a civilization? This is not freedom people it is simulated freedom, Freedom: n. something we lost in the 70′s. Between this, my own medical airline hell and the latest urine incident on the airline just ended my faith in the integrity and standards (or lack of) upheld in our service and protection services. I remember reading “to serve and protect” on the sides of police vehicles…is that gone? I have yet to be treated with intention or actual consideration of the vow and what it actually means. No wonder our younger generation has no respect for our officers and people who hold positions of respect. Our poor kids.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Email this to all news agencies until it gets’ national attention. the little people have no voice only until it get “aired” out then people will see things are addressed.

  6. nina says:

    I’ve been fortunate enough in the past month, to only experience very nice individuals working as agents for the TSA. I’ve flown through 8 airports, on multiple trips. That said, all TSA agents I’ve encountered have also approached me & other travelers with an expression of “please don’t hate me,” and seemed to feel somewhat compromised for what their agency is requiring them to do.

    On the breast-milk point: I’ve seen this handled the same way, 2x, where the mother is asked to dip her pinky into each bottle of milk and then put the milk-soaked pinky into her mouth. Makes sense as a simple measure w/in a larger and very ludicrous policy. The agents have always helped her do this with un-screwing caps and then re-securing them, and helping her gather her things.

    BTW- to @bigomega73, YOU go into an airplane bathroom with a breast-pump while your baby screams for you in their seat, and pump a meaningful amount of milk from both breasts, with the pumping-rig and the bottles setup and turbulence. As an aside, it’s customary for all mothers who pump, to carry a few bottles around with them at all times.

    • sabik says:

      On the breast-milk point: I’ve seen this handled the same way, 2x, where the mother is asked to dip her pinky into each bottle of milk and then put the milk-soaked pinky into her mouth. Makes sense as a simple measure w/in a larger and very ludicrous policy.

      So, directly after handling shoes and with no opportunity to wash your hands anywhere in sight, dip your fingers in the milk to contaminate it?

      • jonw says:

        Terrorist: “this is breast milk”

        TSA: “ok ma’am, you’ll have to prove it by touching the milk and putting your finger in your mouth.”

        Terrorist: “OH NOOOES! ALLAH FORBIDS THE INGESTING OF BOMB-MAKING LIQUIDS! I SURRENDER!”

    • bigomega73 says:

      I believe you are not supposed to be in the bathroom when there is turbulence in an airplane (hence the Return To Your Seat lights?), or you would see a lot more men walking back to their seats soaked in urine.
      I think pumping your breast in an airplance bathroom is a small price to pay for all of the other passenger’s safety. Thank you for your consideration.

      • Gloria says:

        Turbulance can happen when you’re already in the washroom, and not everybody can promptly drop whatever they’re doing in there to return to their seats. I think even the most hardy of us need a second to smoothly finish our … hm … task.

        Just a point.

      • Mitch says:

        “I think pumping your breast in an airplance bathroom is a small price to pay for all of the other passenger’s safety. Thank you for your consideration.”

        Say what?

        Please explain how pumping one’s breast in the bathroom makes the other passengers safer. It just ties up the bathroom for people who need to use it for its intended purpose.

        If someone needs or wants to pump her breasts on her plane she can do it right in her seat, and if people are offended by the sight of her pumping they are not required to watch.

        If the regulations allow a mother to carry already pumped breast milk on the plane without it being x-rayed then she needs to be allowed to bring the goddamned breast milk on the plane. If she needs to put her breast milk in smaller bottles she needs to be informed of that before she goes to the airport. Everyone needs to be in sync on policies and follow them fairly.

      • Anonymous says:

        bigomega73: you obviously know NOTHING about the difficulty of pumping milk. I can’t even imagine TRYING in an airplane bathroom. First, the pump itself is the size of a stereo speaker. You need to set it on a stable surface. You need to plug it in. You need to attach suction cups to your breasts, and those need to be attached to receptacles. Then you need to hold both of these in place (this usually requires both elbows out) and then do this for 20 minutes. And oh, if you have a lot of milk, part way through you’ll need to set the containers down, put lids on them, hook up new containers, reattach, and then go again. My pumping usually took 45 minutes.

        I hope she sues the hell out of these people and they ALL lose their jobs. You can argue “why didn’t she pump later/earlier/choose not to have a job at all” all you want, but the main point here is that she knew what the rules were. She followed them. The TSA did not, got huffy when she complained, and then punished her FOR ASKING FOR WHAT THEY SAID WAS OKAY IN THEIR OWN RULES!

    • kimu says:

      Asking the mom to taste the milk is not TSA policy. Their policy clearly states neither you nor your child will be asked to taste milk. The one time that I travelled with breastmilk (in August), I declared it prior to screening and they waved some (explosive detecting?) strips over the tops of the open bottles.

  7. dainel says:

    Her kid could make some sacrifice and switch to powdered cow milk. It’s a small price to pay for everyone being safer. After all, millions of us were raise on that 25 to 50 years ago, and none of us died because of that … if you believe that …

    Those people defending the TSA. Just remember that this is exactly what you would expect in a country like North Korea. You don’t screw with the officials. You show them the proper respect they are due. Nobody likes a trouble maker. If they make a mistake or do something stupid, you ignore it and treat them like lords and masters.

    The law is what they say it is, nevermind what you printed out from their own website. Even if you have a video recording of their own chief saying exactly the same thing, it does not matter. Not unless you know someone in power. One of their superiors. In case you still don’t know, this is a police state. This is what you want?

  8. delt664 says:

    I fly alot, and from what I have seen, PHX TSA goons are particularly bad. 2 weeks ago they frisked a woman inside her underwear ( she said they found her tampon) as her 18 month old was shrieking because the bad people were touching his mom. Despite the fact that the child was left unattended, the mother was told she would be arrested if she moved to her terrified child.

    When the woman asked for the TSA screeners information, the agent hid her ID and refused. And then frisked the child.

    When she tried to involve the police, they were so apathetic they basically refused to talk to her.

    Welcome to the new Amerika.

  9. Cpt_Nemo says:

    “because irradiated food isn’t preferable to non-irradiated food?!?!?”

    What is the justification for this belief?
    I’m genuinely curious.
    Are the micro-organisms in breastmilk essential for anything?

    • Anonymous says:

      @#50,
      Just as rat milk is intended for baby rats in non-irradiated form, so is human milk intended for human babies in non-irradiated form. Yes, actually, the micro-organisms ARE there for a reason: to teach the infant human immune system what is and isn’t a real threat.
      Now, to comply with my all-knowing guv’mint, I’ll get to work on growing some ionizing-radiation-spewing cells in my breasts. So that if I spawn, my breastmilk will be pre-irradiated and safe for travel.
      Christ.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I’ll get to work on growing some ionizing-radiation-spewing cells in my breasts. So that if I spawn, my breastmilk will be pre-irradiated and safe for travel.

        You’d have a pretty good shot at a role in a James Bond film, too. Well, maybe a John Waters film.

      • Anonymous says:

        The micro-organism are in fact important, but they don’t “teach” the infant’s immune system, it just complements it. When the infant stops breastfeeding (s)he will be more vulnerable than ever until he can build the immune protections by himself.

  10. Gloria says:

    I was quite interested to read a few comments here that imply breastfeeding is easy and convenient for women. At least one good thing came out of this — experiences on how breastfeeding actually operates in many people’s lives.

  11. Mitch says:

    During any of this did any of the TSA employees actually believe that her bottle of breast milk actually put anyone in danger? There needs to be room for basic common sense and discretion.

    Is a terrorist really going to disguise a weapon as breast milk and then draw attention to herself by refusing to put it through the x ray machine?

    If they are going to follow their policies to the letter then they need to actually learn their own policies. The web site that the public sees needs to have exactly the same information about their policies that their employees are given.

  12. TenInchesTaller says:

    “They run from us, are we that dangerous? There’s a war in all the streets and yes the freaks must dance or die!”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Homeland INsecurity strikes again….

    Better heads got rid of the inane color coding for alerts maybe this whole group can go back to its necessary but slimmed down original mandate.

  14. Anonymous says:

    For those who say, “Why not pump in the bathroom?” I ask, would you want your food to be prepared in a washroom? Not a very sanitary place for meal prep, regardless of what you’re making/pumping.

  15. Ceronomus says:

    So I had him read the second form which says breast milk is to be treated like a medical liquid. He then says, “well, not today.”

    Typical TSA douchebaggery.

    The fact that the police admitted that hte TSA agernts had it in for her for her prior complaint? Someone PLEASE get this woman in touch with the ACLU!

  16. kevinsky says:

    And we have to bring our new baby into your so-called “free” country to meet his great-grandmother in Arizona who can’t travel anymore.

    Can’t wait to see how your government thugs treat guests.

    • Hubert Figuiere says:

      @kevinsky: they already treat visitors like criminals by requesting their fingerprints and mugshot. Where I come from this is only done when being arrested for a crime.

  17. nyar says:

    So a friend of mine said a long time ago “Bomb them all, the innocent with the guilty”.

    Have we done that we wouldn’t have to be subjected to invasive pat dows without reasonable suspicion or the pornoscanner. Or having to harass a mother… and by Phoenix PD own admission “have it out” for anyone.

    This is getting ridiculous.

    • mdh says:

      i wonder sometimes if this is just the warm up lap.

    • imag says:

      Wait: are you arguing for the largest genocide the world has ever seen to get you out of doing a (admittedly pointless) security screening?

      Are you trying to say that bombing the entire middle east (I assume that’s who you are talking about) would actually make you safer?

      I hope I’m that I’m misreading your comment.

      • noah says:

        No, I think he was saying that if we bombed all the planes we wouldn’t have to worry about airport security.

        Which is true, but a somewhat facile point.

      • nyar says:

        lol @ noah

        I am NOT in favor of genocide of any type… unless they really piss me off.

        My Tea-party friend is the one all for it. I just said have that happened… etc. etc.

        And no, it would not make us any safer. But it seems that trying to understand has not done it either… or trying to help…

        • imag says:

          I’ve known people who said things like that too, on construction sites. The irony to me is that these people will all talk about how bad the Nazis are, and play video games and watch movies which glorify the killing of Nazis because of their evil… and then they will turn around and and casually mention that we should commit the biggest mass murder in history.

          What is even sicker is that these people will argue that we should kill millions of people because it is more convenient. They don’t even give an ethical reason – just an argument that of simplicity and convenience.

          The utter disgracefulness of this kind of thinking should not be underestimated. It is sick: arguing that millions of humans should be killed because you personally feel threatened by a few hundreds of people on the other side of the planet. And those terrorists are far less likely to kill you than the car you drive every day. Would you advocate to kill millions to save a few hundred car accidents a year?

          And then of course there is the complete stupidity of the comment; thinking about it for more than 5 seconds would bring most to the realization that such mass murder would accomplish the exact opposite of its intended outcome. Nuking millions of people makes US the terrorist. It means that now our enemy is the entire world, and any human being with a conscience. Do we think that we are so loved that no one would care if we started nuking entire countries out of convenience and irrational fear?

          If we had a 9/11 attack every day – 2000 people a day – it still wouldn’t justify the killing of millions of people who had nothing to do with the attack. Would he advocate nuking Peru because of fear of Saudi terrorists? It doesn’t even make logical sense, ethical and moral issues aside.

          Letting comments like this go by without comment and opposition should make us ashamed. What would you do when a neighbor tells you that they want to start killing women in the apartment building because it would save them time in the elevator? Would you start parroting the comment yourself while you were waiting for the elevator in the morning?

          • wavechild says:

            I’ve had “conversations” with my boss about this- he argues that “we” (the US) shouldn’t have “sacrificed” even one of our own to “help” Afghanistan, and instead should have “turned it into a parking lot” with our bombs. When I argued that countless innocents would be killed, he said it was their responsibility to rise up against the Taliban and make them give up Bin Laden! This, from a guy who is pretty intelligent. I don’t know how a person can arrive at that kind of thinking, but I do plan on quitting my job! It enraged me and made me feel kind of hopeless to be working for someone like this, someone who in other respects is actually a pretty good guy. I suspect an absence of empathy is the culprit here.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Maybe you should stay at your job and accidentally mail your boss to Kandahar.

  18. Ceronomus says:

    They treat them horribly. As a VERY embarrassed US citizen, I apologize for you need to come to our once free nation.

  19. Anonymous says:

    How did this person obtain the video? Just curious, as it appears to be actual airport surveillance footage.

    • AZRead says:

      I read on another site that she obtained the video footage directly from TSA; however, they had deleted about 30 min. of it before turning it over to her!

    • Remez says:

      #6, it is indeed the actual airport survelliance video. The mother requested it (or had someone get it for her–can’t remember which). According to her, 30 minutes was removed from the version she received. The mother said this was the portion where the TSA manager wrote down the mother’s personal info and then pocketed it.

      Worth noting that this took place before the enhanced screening procedures were implemented.

      From the TSA blog: “Also, keep in mind that passengers with disabilities can contact one of our Customer Support Managers to coordinate their screening. This way, they can have a chance to speak with an expert and explain the best possible way to be screened prior to arriving at the airport.” Yeah, right–not that it actually MEANS that the gate officer will have a clue.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you watch to the end, you’ll see that it IS the TSA footage, which she requested and finally received… except that it was missing 30 minutes of footage, including, she reported, footage of the manager getting her personal info, putting it on paper, and putting the paper in his pocket as well as footage of him taking pictures of her breast milk.

  20. kevinsky says:

    I don’t get carrying breastmilk around anyway. If the boob is available, why bottle it? Or is this going to be problem for us on our upcoming visit to the USA?

    • Esmeralda_m says:

      @ kevinsky- As others have said, essentially, because the boob is not always available, as well as a plethora of other reasons. I pump for my baby exclusively even though I am with him 100% of the time I’m not at work (12 hours shifts, full time) I cannot/ do don boob-feed at home because of something called “nipple confusion”- because a bottle is much easier to eat from, many babies refuse the boob once they get “hooked” on the bottle. I regret the necessity, but there it is. As long as he’s not getting formula, that’s really what matters.

      @ cpt_nemo- …because irradiated food isn’t preferable to non-irradiated food?!?!?
      _____________________________________________

      This really seals it, of all the articles this one infuriates me the most because it hits so close to home. If I can help it, I’m never flying again. F- you TSA.

    • Kosmoid says:

      Breastfeeding in public is another controversy.

    • TenInchesTaller says:

      Because some women don’t like being at-will feeding devices and would rather breastfeed at a time that’s comfortable for them?

    • Egypt Urnash says:

      > If the boob is available, why bottle it?

      The kid’s at home; she travels a lot. Presumably she’s leaving bottles of her own milk at home to feed the baby. Possibly she’s gone long enough sometimes that she’d start to dry up if she wasn’t pumping, as well – making milk isn’t a cheap operation and your body would generally like to stop doing it as soon as possible.

      • kevinsky says:

        You’re right, fair enough.
        We’re also coming from a place with 1 year mat leave, so this travelling for work and leaving a breastfed baby at home is new to us. By the time my wife goes back to work breastfeeding won’t be as much of a concern

    • Anonymous says:

      Women may need to travel with expressed breastmilk when they are away with their babies. For example, on a business trip for several days. Mom must express her milk to keep up her supply. Why does she need to travel with it? First of all, she probably needs it to replenish the milk that was given to her child while she was away. Second, while easy to express, using a breast pump is very time consuming and you never get as much milk when you pump as when your baby feeds at the breast. Every drop, every ounce, is valuable. Unless there’s a good reason not to, if you go to the trouble of pumping the milk, you want to bring it home to your baby.

      Expressed breastmilk is called liquid gold for a good reason.

    • HerkyDerky says:

      Because the mother stopped breastfeeding months ago and is going through her supply?

    • Anonymous says:

      Depending on where you’re at in our once-fine country, public breast feeding can get you arrested for indecent exposure.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I feel for the lady, the TSA should follow its own rules, she got the run-around, etc., but is there any scientific evidence that x-rays affect breast milk…especially the low-level doses emitted by airport machines? I’m reasonably sure there’s evidence to the *contrary*…that mild doses of x-ray radiation do *not* impact breast milk. I get the principle argument: TSA allows for a courtesy screening, TSA ignored her request and apparently detained the woman; but I feel (a little) less bad for the lady if her concerns (and, really, the reason for the courtesy screening policy) are rooted in personal or non-scientific beliefs that the x-ray machine is someone impacting the milk or her child’s health. As a fellow passenger, I’d feel safer if *every* item that isn’t impacted by x-rays passes through the metal detector.

    • myke says:

      Reply to Leonard Low, #25

      I hope, each time you sing your national anthem, you will reflect on
      the irony of those lines:

      “O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner still wave
      O’er the land of the free; and the home of the brave?”

      Not to be too pedantic, but I don’t think those lines are ironic.
      It is just that the answer to the question is currently, No.

      Reply To Anon 57:

      I feel for the lady, the TSA should follow its own rules, she got
      the run-around, etc., but is there any scientific evidence that
      x-rays affect breast milk
      ?

      Is there any scientific evidence that ANY of the post 9/11
      additional TSA rules actually reduce terrorism?

      Although I do agree that the safety of x-rayed breast milk is a
      lower priority than the vast quantities of civil rights and money we
      are throwing away without any actual evidence it is doing anything
      positive for us.

      • Anonymous says:

        @myke – great point, and I agree; if there’s no evidence that current TSA procedures improve safety, TSA should improve the procedures.

        I realize my question is tangential to the original poster’s point (TSA should follow its own rules), but I’m still interested in scientific evidence showing that irradiating breast milk impacts any aspect of it. I’m very much in favor of personal liberties, but I’m also a fan of logic when creating policies and rules.

  22. SonOfSamSeaborn says:

    I was really looking forward to maybe visiting the US for the first time ever in the next year or two. Now this has happened and there’s no fucking way I’m putting up with it on the US end or mine. A transatlantic ferry would cost more money than I will ever have at once in my life.

    In short, TSA and the UK government that panders to ridiculous US security demands: fuck you both. The world is ours, not yours.

  23. Anonymous says:

    She probably had to pump breast milk the whole time she was away from her baby, not just before getting onto the flight, so this whole argument about pumping in the bathroom or not is not even relevant. As a mother who recently breastfed two children, I applaud her for breastfeeding at all, and pumping while away from your child is even more work. Good for her for being so dedicated. The TSA should be horribly embarrassed by the actions of these workers.

  24. Trixi says:

    Are you fucking kidding me. Not today? Really. Well today I don’t feel like being sexually assaulted by someone.

    As for bottled breast milk, here are some reasons;

    The baby needs extra breast milk as a ‘top up feed’ following a breastfeed.
    The baby may not be able to suckle well at the breast.
    The mother is going back to work.
    The mother may prefer to feed using a bottle.
    The mother is going out or simply wants a break from the responsibility of feeding the baby.
    Some women regularly express to maintain or increase their milk production.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is true. I breastfed my baby from a bottle for 12 mth, b/c she had trouble nursing directly from me. I often traveled and had to take breast milk on my flights. So, women with babies will be found with extra breast milk for various reasons.

  25. Anonymous says:

    This is nuts, if we give in to this our right to even have rights are completely shot to hell, Good luck USA, And Canada’s right behind ya.

    Breast Milk!!!! Good God help us.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I’ve nursed in public places (while trying to be modest). Just bring a towel or small blanket. I’ve seen other women nurse and paid them no never mind. You may get looks but they can jump in a lake. I’d rather do it that way instead of fighting with the TSA and missing my flight.

  27. blosey says:

    This is absolutely absurd!

    People being picked out for no other purpose than bullying.

    Not only was she in compliance with TSA rules, TSA officers neglected to follow their own regulation. Upon being cited the rules the ‘manager’ decides to change the rules, just for her, just for that day.

    Seriously? Is that how it works?

    So on one side there’s the absolute incompetence of interpreting regulation as to asses a situation and respond using common sense when enforcing those rules. On the other side there’s the ignorance and arrogance of patronizing and humiliating people when being told the rules you’re supposed to follow.

    Just look at concept of the ‘Special holding area’. It’s a glass box in between two lines where you can stand ashamed for everyone to see. Until some centuries ago the same technique was used. People were tied up in the most populated town squares for all people to see.

    ‘Want to have your personal stuff?’ Won’t happen.

    ‘Want a seat?’ There is none! You should have thought about that before acting up.

    ‘Want to communicate?’ Well you can’t! You have to stay in the box like all suspects!

    The saddest part is that all these stories we read are the few people who 1) don’t give in and comply with a x-ray/absurd policy and 2) people caring enough to get their story out to the world.

    Are there statistics on how many explosive devices TSA has prevented from boarding a plain? Or would that number be 0.0?

    To all people hinting the lady should have altered her behavior and should have complied with the regulations made-up on the spot: I pity you poor poor sheep!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I have been watching all these TSA stories from a UK point of view and I find the whole thing incredible. This latest story is nothing short of disgusting. Bending and outright ignoring of rules coupled with antagonism and intimidation seem to be the order of the day from these jumped-up little Hitlers and it is pretty obvious that they were out to get her and make her miss here flight by any means possible. I hope she gets some legal advice for redress, as these “officials” and their excesses need slapping down for good on the evidence presented here.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Once again, a counterpoint:
    Perhaps the TSA, as many oversized government agencies can be, is a bureaurocratic nightmare, staffed by underpaid and ill-educated individuals. Perhaps said individuals are simply doing things to the letter of their training which is provided by some underpaid and ill-educated middle manager. Is it sad that these people are the one’s protecting our country, perhaps, but the demographic wouldn’t really be all that different from the US Army now would it? They are McDonald’s employees who don’t care about your troubles because its not their job and they don’t get paid enough to care about you out of the thousands of people they see a day. You and your breastmilk are an irrelevant inconvenience because there is a line behind you that goes on all day long. If you want to appeal to the higher-ups to change things, great, but the front line employees don’t care about your whining and tantrums. Use some common sense ie if you want to make your flight pour out the dern milk.
    Also, the whole “these people are destroying My America with their pat downs” bit is exaggerated and tedious. If you disagree with it, great, but some of you are really stretching it.

  30. Leonard Low says:

    Dear American friends,

    I hope, each time you sing your national anthem, you will reflect on the irony of those lines:

    “O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner still wave
    O’er the land of the free; and the home of the brave?”

    For a country ruled by fear, instead of courage, can never be free. God bless you all, and may you find both the will and the means to make your great country free again one day.

    • imag says:

      I reflect on those words quite a bit since 9/11. We have fallen far.

      The so-called “Freedom Tower” is the biggest symbol of fall. Instead of realizing that airplanes can no longer be used as missiles (because our citizens, the passengers, are the deterrent), we are building a fortress tower, armored with concrete, as a “World Trade” center. We will no doubt proclaim our freedom and bravery many times at the commissioning.

      A really brave nation would have built those towers back, taller than before. It would be providing more freedom rather than taking it away. It would be spending more money on sustainable, local, clean energy than weapons. That was the America I thought I lived in. People like Nyar’s friend prove me wrong. Cowardice, bullying, and the trivialization of human life seems to be their preference.

  31. Emo Pinata says:

    The lawsuit that I would bring from this would make those employee’s lives hell.

  32. Anonymous says:

    For the people saying this lady should have pumped her milk in the airplane bathroom, your point is totally irrelevant!

    She was trying to carry on previously pumped breastmilk that she pumped on her business trip when she was away from her baby.

    Nursing mothers must pump very frequently when they are away from their babies in order to keep up their supply and frankly to prevent their breasts from exploding. If she was on an overnight trip, she probably had at least 5-6 bags full of milk that she was attempting to bring home to her baby. Milk that she pumped in her hotel room or wherever she was on her business trip. So quit saying she should have pumped in the airplane bathroom, because that makes no sense and does not solve the problem. The problem is that the TSA agents didn’t know their own rules, and this poor woman suffered as a result.

  33. Cpt_Nemo says:

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the TSA, whats the big deal about X-Raying the milk anyway?

  34. Anonymous says:

    I love how suddenly people care about this invasive behavior. Where was everyone during the Bush administration when all these policies were written?

  35. Loraan says:

    Glad to see so much education on breast-feeding in this post. Breasts are not a pump that you can just turn on and off whenever you like. A woman’s breasts can become uncomfortably or even painfully full if she doesn’t feed when she’s used to doing so. Expressing before going to the airport may simply have been a desire to prevent that from happening during the trip.

  36. The Mudshark says:

    The pig in the foreground holding on to the victims belongings can´t even stand to look at her. He (she?) knows what they´re doing is completely fucked up, but is wallowing in dull self-righteousness at the same time.

  37. pauldavis says:

    I’m suprised that nobody has posted here the note from the TSA website that actually “justifies” the absurd behaviour by TSA staff during this incident. Its from http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/editorial_1059.shtm and states:

    To prevent your medication, associated supplies or fragile medical materials for contamination or damage, we will ask you to display, handle, and repack your own medication and associated supplies during visual inspection. Any medication and/or associated supplies that we can’t clear visually will be X-rayed. If you refuse, you will not be permitted to carry your medications and related supplies into the sterile area.

    This is an explanatory section that acts as an “addendum” given that breast milk is elsewhere acknowledged to be treatable like a medication.

    The behaviour of the TSA staff was reprehensible. But the current rules do give them the “authority” to deny the woman the ability to bring the milk with her. And of course, just what “visual clearing” is supposed to mean is anyone’s guess – it appears completely arbitrary. But the wiggle room is there, surprise surprise.

  38. Nonentity says:

    I’m sure that once the TSA releases the security footage on their blog, it’ll be obvious that this was blown out of proportion by the woman and didn’t happen at all the way described.

    Oh, wait..

  39. Frank_in_Virginia says:

    Lots of you have commented on how “she” could have handled it better, how she could have pumped at a different time, how she should “be reasonable”, etc.

    To those commenters; Fuck you!

    It matters far less about the breast milk and far more that as an American citizen she is treated as a criminal and harassed by her government!

    Those of you who say “better safe that sorry”; fuck you too.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Every woman that flies should now bring a 2-liter of (soy/cow/goat) milk with her and claim it as breast milk in protest.

  41. Anonymous says:

    to be honest for a brest feeding mother to be xrayed it would affect her milk and could cause a lot higher chance of cancer to occur in her young child as brest milk is rather delicate … I see the sence of being able to test it and I understand many of the reasons for added security (though I hope the cabin crew and pilots also have to go through these strict regiments) lets face it 9/11 was caused by people who had there pilot licences.

    seams its the same everywhere (if you complain you are targetted for more stringent measures the next time as your red flaged (literally))this means as soon as you hit a counter and they access your info the red flag pops up and they will do every test and go through your stuff slowly with a fine tooth comb.

    Im glad I live in New Zealand but I would like to visit USA one day … sighs ah well Ill just go to England first

  42. BookGuy says:

    Slightly OT, but on the topic of people saying stupid things about genocide and torture: While I was waiting to go through security for my return flight from Thanksgiving (two flights, no scans or pat downs, FWIW), an elderly couple queued up behind me. It was clear that they didn’t fly very often, or not recently, because the man seemed fairly confused about what to do. When his wife explained that they had to take their shoes off, he grumbled a bit, which I thought was a reasonable response to someone with obviously limited range of motion. Then be busted out this gem while trying to catch my eye: “This is a pain in the rump! And some do-gooders want to protect those bums from torture in Guantanamo Bay!”

    I’m still trying to parse this. Torture would stop us from having to remove our shoes? (Seems an unlikely assumption, since it hasn’t worked yet.) Taking off your shoes is worse than being waterboarded? Or, I suppose the most likely, “I’m mildly inconvenienced, so any and all suspected terrorists, even though they aren’t the people who are actually doing this to me, should be punished with any inhuman act available.”

    Warms the heart, hurts the brain.

  43. ackpht says:

    An unpopular policy being badly implemented. Even the most fervent flag-waver will chafe at being subjected to petty officials making up rules as they go.

  44. RenaldoSugarbush says:

    Funny how Americans are cool with being spied on and having the govt reading their emails but a little bit of touching and inconvenience and they lose their shit.

  45. anansi133 says:

    Mostly I’ve been able to laugh cynically as this embarrassment deepens. But today I just want these motherfuckin’ snakes off this motherfuckin’ plane.

    That the TSA changed their screening procedure to accommodate a political protest makes it blindingly clear that this is not about security. It’s political.

    I want my country (back?)

  46. Anonymous says:

    Instead of commenting (like me) about this injustice in our current security system, are there ways of forcing the government or TSA to be held accountable?

    I would love to hear of them, just in case I have to deal with some ass-groping thug while trying to get through the airport.

  47. bigomega73 says:

    So my question is, why can’t the woman go into the bathroom on the plane and pump her breastmilk? Why did she have to do it beforehand? Since she had already had an altercation over this before, it seems to me like she was baiting the TSA. Sorry, but I think that a lot of these situations become so elevated because people go in into them WANTING to be offended and outraged. And I’m afraid Boing Boing is fueling the fire here. I love this site, but sometimes things can get a little out of hand here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even in dictatorships, most people can avoid trouble by laying low. Faulting someone for not doing so when the TSA openly changed the rules on them is shameful victim-blaming.

    • Anonymous says:

      Three reasons: 1) Sanitation. Would you prepare your child’s food in a public restroom at an airport? 2) The mental process required to produce milk to be bottled. It’s not like a tap, people. It can be hard enough when the baby is present. Being in a stinky, cramped bathroom stall is not the most relaxing environment for a person to try to express breastmilk. 3) Most reasonably efficient breast pumps require external power. This is not something that a public restroom typically has available in a place where boobs are accessible.

      Things may be getting out of hand, sure, but your comment is ill-informed.

    • Leonard Low says:

      If you get sold a faulty product, you can try to find a way to “make” it work. But frankly, it’s better to ask the manufacturer to fix it.

    • Remez says:

      @bigomega73, the other passengers might not be too happy about someone occupying a restroom for 20 to 30 minutes, if not longer. There’s the time to set up, the pumping time, and then clean-up and storage. Since airplane bathrooms are loud, tiny, and uncomfortable, that can affect the speed with which milk is expressed. The flight attendents or other passengers might get a little twitchy about someone carrying a large package into a restroom and then bolting themselves in there for a lengthy interval.

      Also, she is going to be used to pumping (or nursing) at certain times, give or take an hour. The time from when she left for the airport to when she’d be able to get up and go to the restroom on board would be a couple of hours. That’s assuming no storms, no flight cancellations, no delays. She can’t pump at the airport, since she’d need a private stall with an electric plug nearby. She could use a handicapped bathroom, but then she’d be shutting out a handicapped passenger for half an hour.

      If her account is as represented, she’s not baiting the TSA. The TSA is baiting HER.

      • bigomega73 says:

        OK, your explanation is defintely a lot more helpful than the others, so now I understand your point of view. Thank you Remez! I stand corrected

    • Caroline says:

      Others have explained why it’s not necessarily that easy to just wait and pump breast milk on the other side of security, or on the plane.

      But actually, it doesn’t matter why she is bringing breast milk through screening, nor why she doesn’t want it to be X-rayed. It’s TSA’s published policy that mothers can bring breast milk in quantities greater than 3 ounces, and that passengers may request alternate, non-X-ray screening for breast milk. It’s hardly “baiting” to expect TSA to follow its own clearly stated policies without harassing you.

    • blueelm says:

      Mmmm… yeah. What was that about privilege. Oh yeah.

    • kimu says:

      Airplane bathrooms are: tiny, disgusting (way worse than a bathroom on the ground), and in high demand. Taking up bathroom space on a plane for 15-20 minutes to pump? I’m sure that wouldn’t raise any red flags for the flight attendants or other passengers – especially if using an electric (read: pretty noisy) pump.

    • Ari B. says:

      Would you prepare food or eat in an airplane bathroom or public restroom? Probably not. Why would you expect someone else to do so?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      why can’t the woman go into the bathroom on the plane and pump her breastmilk?

      Maybe she uses an electric breast pump, which works a wee bit better than the manual ones. And have you ever been in an airplane bathroom? Good luck having enough elbow room to get your hand to your breast.

      Perhaps you’d like to share with us some of your personal experiences with breast pumping and feeding at airports and on planes. I’m sure that it would be edifying.

      • bigomega73 says:

        Not enough elbow room to reach your breast? Really?! Come on! Be serious. People have sex in plane bathrooms and you can’t even reach your breast?

  48. Anonymous says:

    It’s so interesting to me to read all these comments about people wondering why this breast milk was such a big deal and hwy the woman didn’t just dump it.

    Have you wondered what her baby was going to eat without the milk? We can’t tell women that they are to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life and they make it difficult/impossible for them to do so.

  49. Anonymous says:

    The TSA folks are jerks, but what possible objection could she have to having them x-ray bottled breast milk? It sounds like she was technically within her rights, but was acting so completely nonsensically that can see how her insistence might legitimately seem suspicious. Seriously, have I missed something? I’d hate to find myself on the TSA’s side on insufficient information.

    –Beryl

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