My mother's experience
I have not read this whole thread, but I want to tell our story, and this seems like a good place. It's not recent, it's before they implemented the "enhanced" pat-down...but it just emphasizes that this problem has been building for a long time.
Last year my mother and I were changing planes in Atlanta from an international flight, heading home to LAX. After going through customs, we had to stand in the long security line to get to our gate for our domestic flight. We had a 2-hour layover, which should have been plenty of time.
My mother is 73 years old, has a metal hip and cement injected into a shattered spinal disk. She walks with a distinct limp and a cane.
As soon as we landed in Atlanta we used the facilities. Unfortunately the security line took almost 90 minutes, and by the time we got near the front, my mother had to use the restroom again. But there was no way for her to leave the line and go find the restroom, and then get back to me - she couldn't have fought her way out and back through the crowd. I would have had to go with her, losing our place in line and missing our flight home.
She had her doctor's notes for both of her medical conditions, but naturally she set off the metal detector, so she was moved over to a roped-off area out in full view of the public. When they walked her over, she begged them to allow her to use the restroom before the pat-down. They refused. She waited there for over 10 minutes before a very large, very scary-looking TSA agent - who looked like she'd spent the first half of her life running with the crips and the second half as a prison guard - came over to pat her down. My mother asked AGAIN if she could use the restroom. The agent refused, and began her molestation. She wanded her entire body, including between her legs, then began the physical rubbing. She ran her hands up my mother's legs, and when she got to her crotch area, she discovered that my mother was slightly damp there. She yanked her hand out and started SCREAMING at her, "DID YOU PISS ON ME? DID YOU PISS ON ME?" My mother started crying, calling out my name in distress.
I was not allowed to approach her. I was so angry, but there was nothing I could do - I was told repeatedly by the agent groping my mother, and by two others nearby, to STAY BACK from the roped off area. Finally the grope session was over, and she was allowed to leave. We both felt sick, and violated.
Tomorrow my mother will take the first flight she's taken since that horrific experience. Since that happened, she's been diagnosed with breast cancer, and recently had a lumpectomy and targeted radiation treatment, which involved inserting multiple rods into her breast, irradiating them over the course of a week, then removing them. She is still very sore and tender in the surgical area, which is on the side of her breast.
She is going to attempt to go through the porno-scan to avoid the groping, but my understanding is that both the metal in her hip and the cement in her spine will appear as anomalies, so she'll be groped anyway. She is going to the airport wearing depends (something she doesn't normally need to do) and a heavily padded bra, hoping that her tender breast isn't prodded too painfully. She is terrified, but her desire to see her grandkids and spend Thanksgiving with family is outweighing her horror over the torture she is about to experience.
I'll report back tomorrow how it goes. I'm just sick that my mother has to go through this, just so she won't spend Thanksgiving all alone.