The TSA Responds To Breast Milk Mom, Stacey Armato

[UPDATE: After the original publication of this blog post, the following went up on The TSA Blog: “Updated on 12/9/2010 at 8:25 P.M. to add that proper procedures were followed.” Oh, really? ]

Over at The TSA Blog, they have posted TSA Response to “TSA Breast Milk Screening” Video. It is quite short but has already acquired a large number of comments, the vast majority of which find the response inadequate.

Here are some interesting bits:

We extend our sincere apologies to any passenger who may have experienced discomfort and inconvenience during the screening process.

So is this directed at Stacey Armato whose video is being discussed or just airline passengers generally? And if they are talking about Armato, are they saying she may have experienced discomfort and inconvenience? Are we really in doubt on this point?

Well, actually maybe not. The TSA Blog’s “Blogger Bob” also writes:

We acknowledge this particular passenger experienced an out of the ordinary delay, and have worked with our officers to ensure we proceed with expediency in screening situations similar to this.

So the TSA acknowledges something happened that should not have happened. And what do they tell us about what happened to the agents involved?

After the investigation, the officers received refresher training for the visual inspection of breast milk (an infrequently requested procedure).

Really?? How about a refresher course on retaliation and false imprisonment?

There is something Blogger Bob writes that may raises some questions for those of you who have read my previous posts about Stacey Armato’s visit to the TSA plastic detention booth in Arizona here and here. And that is:

TSA investigated the matter and sent a letter of apology to the passenger in March of this year. The passenger has flown since these events occurred and has provided TSA a written confirmation that she no longer experiences issues.

Armato has said she did not receive an apology, that she continued to see the same crew at the same gate as she made her weekly flight back from Phoenix to L.A., and she is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the TSA for the damages she suffered on February 1st when she was detained. So what does she have to say about the TSA response to her video? Hang in there. Armato’s response will be posted here shortly.

Please feel free to leave a comment at The TSA Blog with your feelings about the TSA response to the video in which Armato is detained for asking her pumped breast milk go through “alternate” screening.

And leave a comment here with your thoughts. How do you feel about the TSA response posted on its blog?
Was a “refresher” enough? Should there have been a more severe sanction for the TSA staff? How do you feel about how the TSA is responding to the complaints of flyers?

Take note also that in The TSA Blog post about Armato, there is a link which we are encouraged to use to share our experiences with the TSA. I filed a formal complaint with the TSA on November 22nd after my teenage sons were separated from me without warning while going through a TSA security checkpoint at Logan Airport in Boston. Other than an acknowledgment that my complaint was received, I have received nothing from the TSA in response to my complaint.

So why is the TSA encouraging people to communicate with it if it does not respond meaningfully to complaints?

[UPDATE: Within seconds of publishing this post, I received an email from TSA customer service in Boston restating my complaint and apologizing for any “discomfort.” I have replied asking again some more specific questions concerning TSA policy on screening families traveling together. Another post coming on that point.]

  1. Angela December 9, 2010I am glad you are covering this incident and the ongoing events around it. My heart goes out to Ms. Armato and I hope she sees some satisfactory resolution to all this, if there can even be “satisfaction.” Of course I wish it never happened. reply
  2. Tweets that mention The TSA Responds To Breast Milk Mom, Stacey Armato | Sustainable Mothering — Topsy.com December 9, 2010[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MommySphere, Mother’s UtopiaIBCLC, Mysteriously Unnamed, NYS BF Coalition, Mysteriously Unnamed and others. Mysteriously Unnamed said: Follow up to Dec. 5 th post about TSA and breast milk. http://fb.me/FPdSeyiY […] reply
  3. KJDecember 9, 2010They cannot seriously think they’ll get away with spin like that, after that video going viral. Hey TSA dudes who are reading this blog: be aware that there is a HUGE swell of support for this woman, across not just the breastfeeding community, but a big working/flying mom segment as well.reply
  4. Christie Haskell
    Twitter: RanaAurora
    December 9, 2010 Please let me know when you get a response from Ms. Armato! I’ve been covering this story too. I’m anxious to hear what she says.reply
  5. Milehimama
    Twitter: milehimama
    December 9, 2010 It is so hard to take that TSA blog seriously. Blogger Bob is like a parody – never answers directly, ignores pointed and specific questions, spins spins spins.I don’t know ANYONE who’s gotten a (real) response from the TSA – but you might like to read this (and comments):
    http://consumerist.com/2010/12/oops-i-made-it-past-the-tsa-screeners-with-a-6-hunting-knife.html reply
  6. Momma December 9, 2010 Oh wow, now they are just digging their own grave! Those people retaliated against that mom, they had it out for her from the start…it had NOTHING to do with proper screening of the milk. I can’t believe how stupid our country is to think it is even acceptable to RADIATE BREAST MILK?!?! Most of the screeners don’t even believe the machines emit x-rays and I don’t even think ANY of them wear protective gear. Wonder how many of them will have cancer in 5-10 years. Good luck with those lawsuits TSA.TSA needs to go DOWN soon! I am glad I don’t “NEED” to fly, so it’s easy for me to “boycott” I have only flown once in my life. People need to keep standing up to this madness.reply
  7. Holly December 9, 2010 My family and I simply will not be flying. Several years ago, people were afraid to fly because of the terrorist.. now the terrorists have taken on a whole new face… TSA. A person can choose to go through the x-rays that are not being monitored by a physician and have horrible controversy surrounding them.. or can be molested. They are not supposed to do this in-depth molestation like screening on children, yet there are videos of a three year old crying and screaming “Don’t touch me” as she is legally molested. The TSA tells us to tell our children that it is a “game”. A GAME? Are you KIDDING me? That is every pedophiles wet dream! Our children are being told that being touched intimately by a stranger is a “game”.. AWESOME NEWS. :( So, my family and I will have “staycations” or like when we travel to Texas we will simply drive. I will not tolerate this insanity. More people would do better to follow suit. Eventually the TSA will decide that they need people to fly or they are going to be out of a job and things will calm down! You can’t even wear a tampon/pad without qualifying yourself for a molestation. :( Something is wrong there! Not to mention the effects these have on abuse survivors… When you choose not to allow the employees to violate you in one way or another they decide to do the restaurant equivelant of the proverbial spit in the food and take it out on mother’s like they did this one. Where will it end? When will it end? How many other people has this happened to who can’t prove it with a viral video like this one? This is above and beyond my wildest thoughts for where TSA would ever go!reply
  8. Amanda December 9, 2010 AMEN, HOLLY! I am with you 150% reply
  9. Phyllis December 10, 2010 Take a look at the map of Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. If you do not like one security checkpoint, you can choose another. The separate buildings are all connected by hallways. These hallways have “speed walks” like flat escalators. You can also catch an electric cart for faster getting around. I learned this when one security point was extremely crowded, so one of the Purple Jacket volunteers directed me to the security check point just opposite the one officially designated for my airline. He told me I could just walk around to my gate thru the connecting hallways. Neat!
    Here is the link. Terminal 4 is the last one. (Terminal 1 was torn down long time ago.)reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:December 10, 2010Not sure what your point is @Phyllis.reply
  10. Phyllis December 10, 2010I see my link didn’t come thru. You can Google “Sky Harbor Terminal map” without the quote marks to see the publicly available layout of hallways. reply
  11. Phyllis December 10, 2010 The story said that Ms. Armato has flown several times from Phx to LA since the incident and keeps encountering the same TSA agents. If she went thru a different security gate, she might not see the exact same TSA agents again.
    Just a thought. reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied: December 10, 2010 So having Armato avoid the bad actors is a solution? Why not punish the bad actors? reply
      • Phyllisreplied: December 10, 2010 My suggestion does not preclude punishment for the bad actors. They need it. The first part of that is seeing her again every time she makes that same trip. Just thought that sometime she may not be in the mood to see them again. And maybe another group of TSA agents might be better informed about their own rules.
        Then again, all of them probably know what she looks like, so just forget the whole idea.reply
  12. MeghanDecember 10, 2010 I responded on the TSA blog. As I said there, I am alarmed at how the handling of this incident can be extrapolated to the overall conduct of the TSA. reply
  13. Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths
    Twitter: bfdboobies
    December 11, 2010 Well done for confronting this disgraceful behaviour. This story has been shared widely on the other side of the ‘pond’ – and the TSA blog is not a sufficient response to the disgraceful events their staff have been responsible for. Regarding this lady’s choice of security gate – surely she can go through any gate she chooses? Even the same one repeatedly? And if the TSA staff were properly aware of their responsibilites it would make no difference. This is intimidation and discrimination, pure and simple. Good luck in your compaints. reply
  14. Latoya Bridges December 22, 2010 Take a look at the map of Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. If you do not like one security checkpoint, you can choose another. The separate buildings are all connected by hallways. These hallways have “speed walks” like flat escalators. You can also catch an electric cart for faster getting around. I learned this when one security point was extremely crowded, so one of the Purple Jacket volunteers directed me to the security check point just opposite the one officially designated for my airline. He told me I could just walk around to my gate thru the connecting hallways. Neat! Here is the link. Terminal 4 is the last one. (Terminal 1 was torn down long time ago.) reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:December 23, 2010 Someone else made this point LaToya but I think it misses the point. She should not have to go out of *her* way and there must be a penalty for detaining people without cause.reply
  15. Kim William December 24, 2010 Well done for confronting this disgraceful behaviour. This story has been shared widely on the other side of the ‘pond’ – and the TSA blog is not a sufficient response to the disgraceful events their staff have been responsible for. Regarding this lady’s choice of security gate – surely she can go through any gate she chooses? Even the same one repeatedly? And if the TSA staff were properly aware of their responsibilites it would make no difference. This is intimidation and discrimination, pure and simple. Good luck in your compaints. reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:December 26, 2010 Thanks Kim. I’d love some links to UK coverage of this. reply
  16. Roseann Smith December 25, 2010So having Armato avoid the bad actors is a solution? Why not punish the bad actors? reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:December 26, 2010 That’s what I think, Roseann.