Stacey Armato Responds To The TSA Post On Her Breast Milk Detention

Stacey Armato, the mom who was detained by the TSA when she requested that her pumped breast milk be given an “alternate” screening, agreed to an interview with me to answer some questions that might be lingering since the TSA posted its statement on her case.

Q. In any earlier interview you said you hadn’t received an apology from the TSA but the TSA claims you accepted an apology from it. Did you receive an apology from the TSA?
A. In March of this year, TSA sent me a statement.  It stated that they were responding to my report that on “numerous occasions [I was] urged to put the breast milk through the x-ray machine and [was] subjected to additional screening.”  They stated that the “screening workforce [had] been briefed regarding this situation.”  The letter also stated that it was their “understanding that…the issue has been resolved” and they “extend [their] sincere apologies to [me] for the discomfort and inconvenience [I] experienced during the screening process.”  The letter concluded by stating that TSA “appreciate[d] that [I] took the time to share [my] concerns with [them].”  Of course, the complaint that I sent over to TSA on 2/2/10 addressed many important issues this letter did not acknowledge at all including being retaliated against, harassed, humiliated, degraded, threatened with arrest, held in security for an hour, among other things.  Frankly, I disregarded this letter from TSA in March as a standard form letter they would issue to any complaint and did not view it as an apology for what happened on 2/1/10. 

Q. The TSA states in its blog response: “The passenger has flown since these events occurred and has provided TSA a written confirmation that she no longer experiences issues.” Is this true?

A. The following week (2/9/10), I was ‘shadowed’ by a TSA authority assigned to me by Phoenix Airport to see what I go through each week.  As soon as I asked for an alternate screening, I was told to put the milk through the x-ray machine.  The TSA authority had to immediately make herself known to the TSA agent and said to give me an alternate screening.  It was clear that any briefing or training that had been done was futile.  In the weeks following that, after speaking with a Phoenix TSA customer service manager, I traveled out of a completely different gate.  I didn’t experience any more harassment or retaliation thereafter.  After a few more weeks, I resumed travel out of my original gate mindful never to encounter the four or five agents I had dealt with on 2/1/10. If there was a choice between two lines, I would pick the one with agents that were not part of the incident. I resumed travel out of my original gate fearful that I would encounter the same agents as on 2/1/10. I literally would start sweating wondering who I would encounter and how I would be treated.

On 4/22/10, after one of the final trips I took with breast milk, I emailed the Phoenix TSA customer service manager.  I wanted to make sure he knew that every week since 2/1/10, I had been instructed to place the milk through x-ray and had to ask again for an alternate screening…every single time.  I brought this to his attention so he knew the agents still had no knowledge or, possibly, no regard for the breast milk screening rules.  The response back to me was they were okay with that so long as, at some point, the agents remembered that my request [for alternate screening] was allowed. 

Q. How do you think the TSA should have responded to your complaint and how did its response fall short?

A. My attorneys have advised this I do not address specifically how the TSA should have responded. It may jeopardize my current tort claim against them, especially if they try to limit my relief to what I put in this response. After we exhaust all administrative remedies, we will file a lawsuit in federal court that addresses exactly what should have been done by the TSA.

What do you think about how the TSA has responded to Stacey Armato? Is the TSA “apology” and a “refresher” to TSA staff enough?


  • Laura
    Twitter: llgwright
    December 14, 2010 I have to say that if in my work a customer had to insist for me to provide service, I would be fired.
    Imagine going to Starbucks and having to repeatedly remind the barrista that you want you coffee “lite”. Or going to the doctor and having to repeatedly tell the nurse that you are allergic to penicillin.
    Although I am sure an argument could be (unsuccessfully) made that the agents couldn’t remember her week after week, she should only have to ask ONCE each time, not insist, cajole, or meet with repeated resistance.
    Makes me wonder if they hoped that at some point she would allow the milk through…and what they imagined that would mean to them. victory? reply
    • gardenlobster replied: December 14, 2010 I hope everyone sees the point is that they are doing this ILLEGALLY. They are not allowed to put breastmilk through an x-ray machine because it destroys the protein in the milk. They are not allowed to single out women or require extra screening for women transporting breastmilk that is properly packaged for transport. They have a habit of violating the law at that airport. And if they were singling her out, it was retaliation, again violating the law. We are not their customers. We are the subjects to their Napoleon complexes and robot minions. They are continuing to do this at that airport and destroy the nutrition of hundreds, if not thousands of infants and tearing down the rights of women around the world.reply
  • Tweets that mention Stacey Armato Responds To The TSA Post On Her Breast Milk Detention | Sustainable Mothering — December 14, 2010[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jake Aryeh Marcus, Brooke. Brooke said: RT @JakeAryehMarcus: Stacey Armato Responds To The #TSA Post On Her Breast Milk Detention #breastfeeding #bfing […]reply
  • Fern December 14, 2010I think the TSA did what they always do, cop out and take an easier road. They could have certainly bent over backwards to apologize for their blatant stupidity, ignorance and lack of empathy for another human being who happens to be a nursing mother. What they did to Stacey is completely inexcusable. A bunch of robots who are unable to admit when they make a mistake and own up to it in a humble way. Any 5 year old knows to apologize when they hurt someone. And any decent customer service person knows to apologize and MAKE IT RIGHT. Which in this case has yet to be done. Can’t wait to follow this case.reply
  • sophie December 14, 2010 They shouldn’t be asking mothers to put breast milk through the X-ray machine in the first place. Doesn’t matter how little radiation is involved. That’s food for a baby.reply
  • JDC December 14, 2010 The commenters here seem to be labeling under the misapprehension that TSA is a customer-driven organization. They are not; they are mindless goons carrying out the dirty work of a Nazi-like regime. Their orders come from megalomaniacal dictators who don’t have the guts to try these tactics on the public themselves…they know what would happen to them if they did. Cowards, every last one of them I pray for their speedy destruction, and the restoration of the rights of American citizens.reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied: December 14, 2010 I think “Nazi-like” is ridiculous and wrong as a characterization. My distaste for the TSA does not extend to accusing it of genocide. reply
      • Jack Nauti replied:December 14, 2010 There’s a LOT more to Nazi-ism than genocide. Our government has been increasingingly Nazi-like for decades, most especially since 9/11 — which, if you’re paying attention and doing your homework, was the whole point of 9/11.TSA most certainly IS modeled after Nazi Germany, and by some of the same people. Wake up!!! reply
        • Jake
          Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
          replied:December 14, 2010 Oh, I am wide awake, doing my homework and paying attention. The word you are looking for is “fascist” not “Nazi.” If what you are trying to say is that the post-9/11 legislation that made the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security possible is fascist, we agree. The Nazis didn’t invent fascism and throwing that epithet around is just inflammatory. reply
  • Maggie December 14, 2010 This is an absolute joke! These F-ing morons are completely missing the point! WTF does this have to do with terrorist screening! It is absolutely incredible to me that the American government and the TSA seem nothing more than a bunch of retards! The only way to stop these primitive third century mentality terrorists (who we know are Muslim) is to profile them! Are they crazy?!?!? America, stand up and have some “ballz”! Stop flying and bring the economy to a halt and then they will listen! Terrorists are Muslim! It seems the only people with rights are the Muslims! They get private grope sessions, the TSA gets sensitivity and cultural education about screening Muslims and mainstream America gets raped! Rise up America! This is an absolute joke! reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied: December 14, 2010 Seriously? Anti-Muslim propaganda on *this* blog? Did you only read this post and not take a good look around before leaving a comment?But, because I like a good laugh and to toy with idiots, enlighten me as to what the Muslims were doing in the third century. Yes, this is a quiz.reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:December 14, 2010Time’s up. In the third century THERE WERE NO MUSLIMS. Mohammed’s revelation of the Qu’ran is said to have begun in the year 610 which would be the SEVENTH CENTURY.I suppose it is convenient for me when bigots are also uneducated.reply
  • Anonymous December 14, 2010 If this incident isn’t a clear violation of 4th amendment rights I don’t know what is.I’m waiting until this gets to the Supreme Court. If they refuse to hear the case or judge that what TSA is doing isn’t a 4th amendment right violation I’ll know our judicial has gone to the dark side as well. reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied: December 14, 2010 The pending 4th amendment challenge to “enhanced” security is definitely a lawsuit to watch. I am excited about it. reply
  • tenwii December 14, 2010 This sucks in every way.But: Muslims do NOT get any special treatment due to religion. Females get frisked by females and men by men– just like us. The “no religious exceptions” issue was a huge problem for them and they lost the argument.reply
  • Christie Haskell
    Twitter: RanaAurora
    December 15, 2010 I applaud Stacey for her activism and persistence, and obviously her drive to not only make better the situation for herself, but for other mothers as well.
    Thanks for continuing to cover this. reply
  • We Won’t Fly TV – Episode 1 – Dec 15 2010 | We Won’t Fly December 15, 2010[…] Stacey Armato Responds To The TSA Post On Her Breast Milk Detention […] reply
  • Basil December 16, 2010 Maggie, you are seeing the larger picture here… Thank you. This is all about government control & money in the pockets of many within our government, their friends & family. American citizens are being groomed to be sheep!! What greater invasion of privacy is there beyond porno scanners & groping the folds of one’s genitals(& their children’s)beyond a physical rape? Cavity searches are now possibly next after the groping sexual assault becomes the common norm. Some have serious control issues and sexual addictions… Surely they will be drawn to the TSA for employment now. It’s appalling that so many just fall in line and accept this abuse, when there are obvious other true safety measures that can be taken by our government without the trauma of this incredible invasion of privacy! Have you heard of “Fusion Centers?” There are around 72 in the US today in the guise of only fighting terrorists. I say “guise” because apparently they also gather information on all innocent, law abiding citizens, tracking spending habits, medical records, credit & all personal data. It’s certainly easy to imagine that those naked scanner images might be added to this personal file one day, if it’s not already happening. It seems that all this information would come to the benefit of the government(not citizens)when “Universal Healthcare” is in full swing. How can anybody trust the TSA? What logic is there in scanning pilots(as they initially did) when a pilot can crash the plane if desired? They say that images are not saved… Ridiculous! If a plane blows up, they won’t have images of all passengers to review? Legal action has already proven that a scanner trial run in a courthouse saved 30,000+ images! It’s also very rare to find the new, clear & detailed scanner images online. Most examples are scans that are far less invasive, rather than a view that clearly shows where one shaves their body, genital specifics, etc. There are millions that are not currently flying & funding our airlines due to these current sickening policies, which will financially harm our economy & the airline industry. Sadly, with numerous other financially destructive government policies in place, it’s beginning to look deliberate. When the value of the American dollar completes it’s fall from grace, be prepared for enormous individual financial suffering in the United States Of America, as costs of our basic needs soar! All the more reason for our growing Socialist government to save us, right!? The evidence is all around us… Do the research for yourself & open your eyes please! God help us all & please bless our once amazing country. Oh, & Jake, you can go & jump in a lake (to put it nicely)!! PS Google “Fusion Centers,” & research why Government affiliated Google records & saves all of your searches!reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied: December 16, 2010 Not exactly sure why I am being told to jump in a lake. You are aware that would make it difficult place from which to approve your comment and thus defeat whatever purpose you think this rant serves?But I *did* approve this comment as a sort of “compare and contrast” exercise. This is ignorant paranoid lunacy, not sane opinion about the TSA. I actually agree with the “citizens as sheep” bit except I don’t see it as the future. I see it as the present. As sheep we allowed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. As sheep we allowed the passage of the Patriot Act which flushed our constitutional rights down the toilet.Self-defeating bad form to insult your host, by the way. And really folks, it is well past time to learn the differences between capitalism, socialism and fascism. I suppose in your muddled mind you see some connection between the fascism of the TSA and healthcare reform which, sadly, is not remotely socialist. If we had socialized medicine in the U.S., we would be far better off. reply
  • Basil December 16, 2010 Please see the link below for the entire letter by Ted L. Gunderson (FBI retired). One paragraph is also listed below. God bless & save the United States Of America, that has been the land of the FREE & home of the BRAVE!!Ted L. Gunderson
    Senior Special Agent in Charge (Ret.)
    California License # 12878
    PO Box 18000-259 * Las Vegas, NV 89114
    VM: (310) 364-2280 * Fax: (702) 696-1004 “As a result of 9-11, we now have Homeland Security and the USA PATRIOT Act. The U.S. Department of Justice, Homeland Security and who knows how many other alphabet agencies will be able to “legally” keep track of all credit card records, bank transactions, car rental receipts, gun purchases, passport applications, magazine subscriptions, medical prescriptions, academic grades, bank deposits, trips everyone books, events we attend, drivers licenses, bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, rental car records, telephone records, internet traffic and complaints by nosy neighbors to the FBI. It has been publicly announced that one in every 10 Americans are expected to become informants for the U.S. government. The Pentagon has developed an urban surveillance system that can track, record and analyze the movement of every vehicle in a “foreign” city. And what about searches of our neighbors’ and our property without a search warrant? And randomly tapping our phones and seizing our property?”
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:December 16, 2010See now I agree with this assessment but fail to see what God has to do with it.reply
  • Amy
    Twitter: anktangle
    January 6, 2011 This same thing happened to me this Tuesday at the New Orleans airport. I was forced to put my breastmilk through the x-ray machine and denied the alternate screening for medical liquids: reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:January 6, 2011 I left a comment at your blog before seeing you left a comment here. Email me, Jake at jakemarcus dot com, if you want to work together to publicize this more broadly? What happened to you is absolutely outrageous!reply
  • Compiling TSA screw ups and overreaches – Page 2 – Flyer Talk Forums March 20, 2011[…] Stacey Armato Responds To The TSA Post On Her Breast Milk Detention…ilk-detention/ Rutherford Institute files second suit over TSA procedures […]reply
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  • Anon – R July 25, 2011 Jake, I’ve just started reading your blog and was outraged to hear about Stacy’s story. Do you know if TSA rules require/permit a woman carrying properly declared breastmilk to be subjected to a full-body pat-down? I was just traveling and was subjected to a full-body pat-down because I requested that the screeners not open the breastmilk containers. They said that because they did not have the electronic “sniffer” equipment at their small airport, their only option was to give me a pat-down if I refused to let them open the breastmilk. Do you have any advice for me on whether that really does accurately reflect TSA policy?
    And your blog is awesome, by the way.
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:July 25, 2011The TSA may do a full body pat down – the so called “enhanced pat-down” – of anyone they wish, including women traveling with breast milk. However, this is the first time I have heard of someone getting pat-down while being told explicitly it was as retaliation for refusing to allow breast milk to be opened. The “sniffer” rational is absurd. After all, you weren’t carrying the breast milk on your person through screening, right? It was going through on conveyor or in a bucket, correct? Can you write more about what happened?reply
  • Anon – R August 10, 2011 Jake, thanks for your response to my comment. Correct — I was not carrying the breastmilk on my person. After I posted my comment, I submitted a complaint to the TSA and also wrote a letter to the airport’s TSA manager. The airport’s TSA manager actually called me in response to my letter and said that because the airport has so “sniffer” machine or body scanner, they have no choice but to subject a parent to a full-body patdown if the parent does not want the breastmilk to be opened. If that is true, I find it outrageous that the airport can’t invest in a little “sniffer wand” to save breastmilk-carrying parents from being patted down every time they go through security. If I receive a response from my TSA complaint I will update you. Thanks again for bringing attention to this issue.reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied: August 10, 2011 I would ask for a written copy of that policy. I have never heard of it and it is not on the TSA website. Also, unless you are holding your breast milk (which you were not and no one is allowed to) what makes you any different from any other passenger? So why should security measures taken for you be any different from security measures taken with anyone else? Makes no sense and I suspect you are being fed a line of bull. I would pursue this.reply
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  • USA Today: Phoenix airport screening draws angry complaints – Page 11 – FlyerTalk Forums October 30, 2013[…] Here’s a response by Ms. Armato to the TSA’s statement published after her false imprisonment:…/#comment-1648 Excerpt: […]