TSA Looking for Breast Milk Bombs

What Women Really Think
Dec. 1 2010 5:17 PM

TSA Looking for Breast Milk Bombs

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.

With all the hubbub over TSA backscatter scanners and overly "friendly" pat-downs, we’ve heard the woes of old men with urostomy bags , women wearing maxipads , and toddlers being subjected to pat-downs .  So it’s probably inevitable that we’d hear about a new mother fighting with TSA over the right to bring breast milk aboard a plane.


Stacey Armato is an attorney and mother who, earlier this year, filed a complaint with TSA over the way agents in the Phoenix airport handled the breast milk she was trying to transport. A week later, she says, she found herself back at the Phoenix airport and feels she was targeted because of her previous complaint against them.

PrisonPlanet.com has security video from the incident and an article detailing Armato’s struggle with the TSA. Admittedly, the site’s founder, Alex Jones, is a conspiracy theorist and the site caters to truthers as well as birthers.  So I will acknowledge that maybe Armato was picking a fight or that the whole story is not being told here. But I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, based on the video.

There is a lot you can’t be sure about when watching the video. There’s no audio, and important things happen just out of the camera’s sight line.  What is clear from the video is what a colossal waste of time and energy it was for TSA to detain her. While TSA agents were closely guarding her suspicious breast milk, someone who was an actual threat to national security could have slipped through.

The TSA is clearly losing the PR war. And instead of making any attempt to win over passengers, the agency seems to be doubling down on stubbornness. And, in doing so, shooting itself in the foot. There is probably no demographic group who yearns for safe flying than mothers of young children. We don’t want to get on a plane-or think about putting our children on a plane-in an unsafe environment. We’re probably the group most likely to quietly put up with extra security measures if it will keep us safe. But instead o thinking in a practical manner, TSA is looking to poke fights with women over breast milk and thinks it’s logical to pat down 3-year-olds. No wonder passengers are cranky.

Photograph of breast milk container bottles by Wikimedia Commons.


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