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Begich Tells TSA Invasive Searches are Going Too Far

TSA Pledges to work with advocates of sexual assault victims and those with prosthetic devices

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today officially registered his concern with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the way it is handling security screenings of some travelers, particularly those with prosthetic devices. Begich also secured a commitment from the TSA to work with groups experienced with those with prosthetic devices or who are victims of sexual assault.

In a phone call today with TSA Assistant Administrator for Security Operations Lee Kair, Begich raised concern about last week’s incident involving Rep. Sharon Cissna at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Cissna declined a physical inspection because she’d had a mastectomy and she ultimately took a ferry back to Juneau instead of an airplane.

“What happened to Representative Cissna is just the latest grievance we have heard from Alaskans as they fly to and from and throughout our state,” Begich said. “I asked the TSA to adjust their procedures to avoid further traumatizing travelers who have already faced often traumatic situations in their lives through disease, illness or some other tragedy. Alaskans and others shouldn’t have to sacrifice their personal dignity to comply with TSA procedures.”

Begich was told the TSA is working to improve its operations and in response to the incident with Rep. Cissna, the TSA will be updating online information regarding passengers with prosthetics.

Assistant Administrator Kair also accepted an offer from Begich to host a dialogue with Alaska groups that assist victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. Such interactions would help the TSA develop a more sensitive screening policy which respects the trauma these victims encounter.

Sen. Begich said he supports a “sense of the House” that passed in Juneau last week saying ‘efficient travel is a cornerstone of our economy and our quality of life especially here in Alaska, and that no one should have to sacrifice their dignity in order to travel.’”

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