Madame Ambassador, the TSA will apologize for your “humiliating” pat-down — in 2011

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By Christopher Elliott

Well, it’s about time. The Transportation Security Administration today publicly apologized to the woman detained a year ago in this video because she didn’t want her breast milk X-rayed.

TSA investigated the matter and sent a letter of apology to the passenger in March, according to the agency. The passenger has flown since these events occurred and “no longer experiences issues” — perhaps because her baby stopped nursing.

It added,

We extend our sincere apologies to any passenger who may have experienced discomfort and inconvenience during the screening process. We appreciate hearing from passengers and encourage you to share your experiences with us.

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.

I only mention this oblique and long-overdue public apology because we are left to wonder how long it will take TSA to apologize for violating its own rules and patting down a foreign diplomat in Jackson, Miss., earlier this week.

That kind of thing shouldn’t be happening to ambassadors, who are supposedly exempt from the embarrassing pat-downs.

But it did.

Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to the United States, was in Jackson last weekend. She was a guest of the Janos Radvanyi, international security studies chair at Mississippi State University.

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While she was in town, Shankar reportedly met with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, representatives from the Mississippi Development Authority and members of the Indian community in Jackson. She spoke to more than 100 people at the Executive Lecture Forum of Jackson.

When she left, Shankar presented her diplomatic papers at the airport, but was still subjected to the hands-on search. (Related: Do nursing moms need new rights?)

“The way they pat them down – it was so humiliating,” Tan Tsai, a research associate at Mississippi State University’s International Security Studies, told the Clarion Ledger newspaper. “Anybody who passed by could see it.” (Here’s how to handle the TSA when you travel.)

The clock is ticking, TSA. You have until Dec. 8, 2011 to make a public apology.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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