The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still can't identify an obvious breast pump used by women who are breastfeeding. According Hawaiian media, a mom was asked to prove her breast pump was real at the Lihue Airport.
Agents told her she couldn't take the pump on the plane because the bottles inside were empty. Interestingly, the same thing happened to Kossack Jesselyn Radack 8 years ago for the opposite reason: the bottles were full.
This is not just a one-off. This is what occurs with measures intended to make people feel secure while doing nothing to actually improve security.
Radack was on the No-Fly List, so maybe that's why her breasts are more suspicious. But what the Hawaiian woman experienced is eerily similar and degrading as what Radack went through.
According to the Hawaiian media,
agents told her she couldn't take the pump on the plane because the bottles in her carry-on were empty.This is on my mind because I'm on the final chapter of Radack's book, which documents a very similar incident from 2004:
I had two full baby bottles of milk in the refrigeration compartment of my breast pump. A male screener asked me to take a sip from each.Mental note here to nursing moms: empty bottles=suspicious and full bottles=suspicious.
In the Hawaiian mom's case,
I asked him if there was a private place I could pump and he said no, you can go in the women's bathroom. I had to stand in front of the mirrors and the sinks and pump my breasts in front of every tourist that walked into that bathroom.Radack, a lawyer, asked to see a copy of the written policy in which passengers are asked to personally sample liquids they take through security. (At the time, there was no policy governing liquids--that didn't come until the "3-1-1 Rule" in 2009, another inconvenient and bogus precaution.) As Radack notes, she could understand if TSA screeners wanted to make sure her breastmilk
wasn't an organic peroxide, which is a low-power explosive with unusual stability problems. But this screener was obviously not really concerned that my milk was, for example, perchloric acid, an odorless water white liquid that can be dangerously reactive. If he harbored such a concern, he would not have asked me to open the bottle because it would have blown a hole in the building.Damn her encyclopedic memory of AP chemistry.
objected because drinking from the sterile baby bottles would contaminate the milk, the milk was for the baby, I'm lactose intolerant, and it formerd, overall, a barbaric request.In the end, the screeners wiped her Medela "Pump-in-Style" with an apparent explosive technology detection cloth. As for the Hawaiian woman, the TSA apologized for the "apparent misunderstanding" (how about "gross treatment"?). But that doesn't change the fact that Radack and the Hawaiian woman were justifiably, in the words of the Hawaiian woman,
embarrassed and humiliated and then angry that I was treated this way.We need real aviation security measures, not regular showings of TSA theater of the absurd, which involves audience participation by passengers in various stages of undress and soft-porn body scanners. I'd like to get the safety vibe from TSA rather than the perv vibe.