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October 10, 2012 at 7:47 AM

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TSA's humiliation of woman with leukemia at Sea-Tac

Michelle Dunaj

TSA screening is a humiliating experience for everyone. We strip down to shirts and socks. Our bodies are bombarded by X-rays in full-body scanners that are questionably medically safe. We wait in 45-minute lines that we wouldn't even tolerate at Costco. But I had no idea TSA agents could stoop so low, according to a KOMO-TV report about how a dying woman was treated at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

A woman with leukemia, who was making one of the last trips of her life to Hawaii, was embarrassed by a TSA security pat-down at Sea-Tac airport. Michelle Dunaj told KOMO TV in a Monday report that agents refused to give her a private screening when she asked for one, asked her to pull back bandages and forced her to open a saline bag, which contaminated it.

TSA, which has not spoken to Dunaj, denies that its agents asked Dunaj to open the saline pack or her bandages, according to this report from the Associated Press. I mean, I suppose it's possible Dunaj volunteered to pull bandages off her feeding tubes. It's possible that a woman on one of the last vacations of her life wanted to spend it taking phone calls from reporters. It's possible the story was made up. It's possible, if we all got stoned, like my colleague Bruce Ramsey.

There seems to be no end to the degradation we face for the privilege of traveling by air. I realize these screenings protect us from terrorists. I would prefer to wait in line than to end up on a plane with someone wearing a bomb molded into underwear. That's what I told myself as I waited in a 40-minute line on Sunday at Reagan National Airport to fly out of Washington D.C. That was followed by a 10-minute wait for a woman TSA agent to come do a pat-down because I didn't want to go through the body scanner. To be fair, she did ask me whether I had sore spots on my body from recent medical procedures. She also asked whether I wanted a private screening. Millions of air travelers and I endure the TSA security rules.

But a dying woman deserves the same protection from unreasonable search and seizure (see U.S. Constitution, 4th Amendment). The TSA owes Dunaj an apology. And lifetime pre-check status. This woman should never have to wait in a TSA line again.

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