Representative Cissna Testifies in Congress

Photo and Story by Libby Casey, APRN – Washington D.C.

Alaska State Representative Sharon Cissna was the star witness at a U.S. House hearing today (Wednesday) about TSA oversight. The Transportation Security Administration was under scrutiny in Washington for its use of full body scans and hands-on examinations. Cissna told members of a House Oversight subcommittee about her experience getting what she describes as an invasive pat-down at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport last month.

Cissna is a breast cancer survivor and has scars from a mastectomy that showed up in a full body scan. When a TSA worker insisted on touching her, Cissna refused. She was not allowed to fly, so she left the airport and made the long trip to Alaska by road and ferry instead.

Cissna told the committee that the innocent phrase “pat down” didn’t begin to describe what she went through the first time she had to get a body search after her scars registered on a scanner.

Cissna said after the hearing that the first invasive body search was a horrible experience for her, and she vowed never to go through it again.

Members of Congress praised Cissna for sharing her story. The top Representative on Oversight issues, California Republican Darrell Issa, said after the hearing that Congress has heard from minority groups which believe they’re being racially profiled, but that Cissna’s testimony brought a new perspective on who is being affected by the TSA rules.

Issa says that he’s against them not only because they are in his opinion invasive but because he believes they’re a waste of money.

Sharon Cissna isn’t alone in her experience. Her written testimony included letters she’s received from Americans who have also felt assaulted or invaded by the TSA pat-downs. She says she’s now a part of a movement of people fighting the TSA rules.

Alaska State Representative Sharon Cissna (D-Anchorage) speaks with a Washington, D.C. reporter after she testified before a subcommittee on U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing on TSAOversight featured Cissna telling her story about what she calls an invasive pat down at the Seattle Airport.

Download Audio (MP3)