Green Room

Dying woman hassled and humiliated by TSA

posted at 2:23 pm on October 10, 2012 by

Knowing that she was dying from leukemia, Michelle Dunaj was determined to make a trip to Hawaii so to say goodbye to family and friends. The journey, which originated in Seattle, should have gone without a hitch. And it would have if the Transportation Security Administration personnel at Sea-Tac Airport had decided not to make a federal case out Dunaj’s screening.

She had called Alaska Airlines ahead of time to request a wheelchair and to ask specifically how her medicines should be separated for the security line. “I did everything they asked me to do,” she told reporters, “so I didn’t think it would be an issue.”

But the large supply of prescription meds she had in tow raised suspicions, and agents decided they needed a closer look. The first indication that Dunaj was in for a hassle came when a scanner couldn’t get a reading on her saline bags, ABC affiliate KOMO reports. So an enterprising agent forced one of the bags open, contaminating the contents.

Agents asked next to get a look under Dunaj’s bandages from recent surgeries, which required lifting her shirt. When she requested a private search, she was told that the current location—in front of a terminal full of onlookers—was just fine.

TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis is quoting as saying that “officers are trained to perform pat downs in a dignified manner and, at any point, passengers can request a private screening with a witness present.” But Dunaj did request a private screening and was turned down. Maybe the TSA is like God. It listens to all your prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.

As an article on Dunaj’s ordeal at ABC News notes, this is not the first time a passenger with special needs has claimed mistreatment at the hands of TSA agents. In January, in two separate incidents at Kennedy Airport, agents strip-searched octogenarians. One of them, 89-year-old Ruth Sherman, was forced to reveal her colostomy bag, while 85-year-old Lenore Zimmerman’s back brace was scanned, which is a policy violation. The TSA subsequently apologized for their overzealous agents.

Not so another woman dying of leukemia, whose soiled adult diaper was removed. That would-be terrorist was 95 years old. The agency has also never apologized to Thomas Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor whose urostomy bag was burst not once but twice but airport screeners, both times showering Sawyer with his own urine.

UPDATE: According to ABC News, the TSA claims that it has reviewed a video of Dunaj’s screening and determined that agents followed standard procedures. According to the agency, at no point did a TSA officer open the passenger’s medically necessary liquids and the passenger was never asked to remove or pull off any bandages.

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Lets just get rid of the TSA. They haven’t prevented a darn thing. Every would be terroist attack has been thwarted by regular Joes springing into action not these idiots.

magicbeans on October 10, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Yet Howard wants you to vote Republican.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 2:41 PM

magicbeans on October 10, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Agreed. TSA is worse than a farce; it’s a passenger-annoying farce. Contract airport security to private firms.

J.E. Dyer on October 10, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I think you misread, Dante. Howard wasn’t praising the TSA in his article.

PXCharon on October 10, 2012 at 3:08 PM

I think you misread, Dante. Howard wasn’t praising the TSA in his article.

PXCharon on October 10, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Thanks, but I didn’t misread anything. Despite Howard’s blogs about the TSA, he also advocates for Republicans. Republicans gave us the DHS, the TSA, and the Patriot Act. For some odd reason, he thinks the solution is to keep voting Republican.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 3:13 PM

I drove to Fla from Mt just so I wouldn’t have to endure this mess. Don’t have any medical problems just don’t want to be frisked by some pervert.

Kissmygrits on October 10, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Thanks, but I didn’t misread anything. Despite Howard’s blogs about the TSA, he also advocates for Republicans. Republicans gave us the DHS, the TSA, and the Patriot Act. For some odd reason, he thinks the solution is to keep voting Republican.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 3:13 PM

I believe you have either missed or willfully ignored the fact that the small-government conservative republicans (who I believe make up most of the republicans here) are quite opposed to the big-government republicans who put those into place.

AndStatistics on October 10, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Yep, threw that one a little high…

PXCharon on October 10, 2012 at 3:36 PM

I believe you have either missed or willfully ignored the fact that the small-government conservative republicans (who I believe make up most of the republicans here) are quite opposed to the big-government republicans who put those into place.

AndStatistics on October 10, 2012 at 3:25 PM

There are very few small-government, conservative republicans on this site. Still, my statement stands: Howard constantly blogs about the TSA yet his solution is to keep voting Republican, even though the Republicans have given us the DHS, TSA, Patriot Act, TARP, etc.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 3:38 PM

There are very few small-government, conservative republicans on this site. Still, my statement stands: Howard constantly blogs about the TSA yet his solution is to keep voting Republican, even though the Republicans have given us the DHS, TSA, Patriot Act, TARP, etc.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 3:38 PM

A Republican also gave us OSHA and the EPA, both of which conservatives love to demonize now. Square the circle…?

gryphon202 on October 10, 2012 at 3:42 PM

After the election is over, I’d be happy to see a “Stupid Republican Tricks/Stupid Democrat Tricks” thread.
I’d bet that the latter list would be longer than the former, but I’m also sure there would be some mighty cringe-worthy items on the GOP side.

And a good wrap-up question would be: To date, which side has done the better job of mitigating its own stupidities?

Mary in LA on October 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Mary in LA on October 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Why? They’re the exact same party: big government, infringing liberties, ignoring the Constitution, spending, and warfare.

Free your mind from this phony R vs. D thinking.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Why? They’re the exact same party: big government, infringing liberties, ignoring the Constitution, spending, and warfare.

Free your mind from this phony R vs. D thinking.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 5:00 PM

…You ever hear of a thing called the tea party movement? Getting small-govt pols elected as Republicans?

AndStatistics on October 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM

And a good wrap-up question would be: To date, which side has done the better job of mitigating its own stupidities?

Mary in LA on October 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Without a doubt, Democrats. That they continue to be a viable political organ after Chappaquiddick is proof enough of that.

gryphon202 on October 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM

…You ever hear of a thing called the tea party movement? Getting small-govt pols elected as Republicans?

AndStatistics on October 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM

I have heard about it. They elected people who voted to raise the debt ceiling.

Have you ever heard of the Liberty Movement?

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Have you ever heard of the Liberty Movement?

You bet. They hold their meetings inside a Chevy Suburban, which has enough room for them and their pets.

Howard Portnoy on October 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Howard Portnoy on October 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

A so-called conservative mocking those who desire limited government. How cute.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Have you ever heard of the Liberty Movement?

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 5:36 PM

…No, I haven’t. Unless that’s what the “coffee party” folks are calling themselves these days?

AndStatistics on October 10, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Actually, I’m just mocking you and your naivete.

Howard Portnoy on October 10, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Actually, I’m just mocking you and your naivete.

Howard Portnoy on October 10, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Naivete is thinking you can continue to vote Republican and get different results. Actually, there’s a more apt adjective for that.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Naivete is thinking you can continue to vote Republican and get different results. Actually, there’s a more apt adjective for that.

Naivete is not an adjective.

Howard Portnoy on October 10, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Romney could sew this up tomorrow if he would only pledge to end TSA’s theatre.

SarahW on October 10, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Actually, I’m just mocking you and your naivete.

Howard Portnoy on October 10, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Naivete is thinking you can continue to vote Republican and get different results. Actually, there’s a more apt adjective for that.

Dante on October 10, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Hey guys, after you get done arguing, let’s see who can piss the farthest!

gryphon202 on October 10, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Romney could sew this up tomorrow if he would only pledge to end TSA’s theatre.

SarahW on October 10, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Romney has pledged and will pledge to do a lot of things he won’t end up doing for one reason or another. That’s a politician for you.

gryphon202 on October 10, 2012 at 9:55 PM

I’m sure they’ll behave better once they are unionized. That ALWAYS brings out the best in employees.

FineasFinn on October 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM