TSA Gropes 6-Year Old Girl: Says It's Okay Since It Followed Standard Operating Procedure

from the only-the-tsa-can-touch-you-this-way dept

There have been plenty of concerns about the new TSA groping procedures, especially when it comes to little children, who are properly taught from a young age that it’s inappropriate for people to touch them in certain ways. Many people were quite reasonably horrified when the TSA suggested that agents tell kids that the patdown was just a game — as that’s the type of language used by child sex offenders.

Apparently, the TSA remains completely tone deaf on this issue. Jonathan Adler notes “only the TSA can touch you this way,” in referencing the anger felt by the parents of a 6-year old girl who broke down crying after going through the patdown process. The girl’s mother, Selena Drexel, pointed out:

“We struggle to teach our kids to protect themselves, to say ‘no, it’s not ok to touch me in this way in this area. Yet here we are saying it’s ok for these people.”

The family videotaped the incident, as you can see here:

At the end of this post, we also have a clip of the parents appearing on TV discussing the incident, their daughter’s reaction and how they feel about the whole thing.

Given the attention this story is getting, the TSA published a blog post, and in true tone deaf fashion, defended the patdown as being “standard operating procedures”:

A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

The TSA does not respond to the rather serious issues of how do you teach children that they shouldn’t be touched in this manner… but it’s okay if a stranger in an airport does it. Does the TSA truly believe that groping a 6-year-old girl and reaching into the waistband of her pants is making us safer?

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Comments on “TSA Gropes 6-Year Old Girl: Says It's Okay Since It Followed Standard Operating Procedure”

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The eejit (profile) says:

TSA – Totally Sexually Assaulted.

Were I that father I’d tell them there’s a kickbomb aiming for their crotch and I’d demand their IDs so I could complain all the way up the chain to whichever fuckwit decided that this was a good idea and bomb them off the planet.

“But orders are orders!” I hear you cry. Tough shit. If you touched my 4-year-old daughter in that way, you’d be watching my fist hit your face until you were a bloody pulp.

James Carmichael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You can do whatever you want if you have a uniform and a law backing you up. It doesn’t really matter what the law is, or if it makes any sense, or how it was passed and how long ago.

And yes I would have definitely asked for IDs and complained. Though the bloody pulp thing… maybe not at the airport. In my backyard, maybe ๐Ÿ˜›

Pseudonym (profile) says:

Re: Re: Isn't there ANY legal redress?

Someone with some legal qualifications, please help me out here.

First off, private prosecutions are, as far as I know, still legal in most places in the US.

Secondly, assault is not just a crime, it’s also a tort, so anyone should (in theory) be able to bring civil proceedings if they have been assaulted.

Has this happened yet, and if not, what’s stopping it?

LumpyDog (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Glad I’m not the only one who had this reaction. Yes the TSA agent is being professional, and yes she’s just doing her job, but so what? It’s an invasion none of us, much less a six year-old, should be subjected to. Had that been my daughter — well, had that been my daughter the agent never would have gotten close to doing what she did — but, had it come to that, I would have punched a woman for the first time in my life.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Yes the TSA agent is being professional, and yes she’s just doing her job…”

This is all the more offensive. If it were someone abusing their authority position and molesting a child, that person would be fired and arrested and tried for the criminal act.

Instead, this is institutionalized and the agent is made to do this as a part of her duties. An institution being abusive is much worse than an individual acting outside of established laws and policies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What’s more fun is none of this theater is stopping 9/11 type threats. They are now trying to stop airline bombings.

The former we solved via the locked reinforced cockpit doors.

So why are we now trying to stop the latter that, one, didn’t happen on 9/11, and two, has been going on for decades?

The number of times someone is trying to blow up a plane are so infinitely small and the consequences so limited (but severe) it simply doesn’t justify this overboard response.

LumpyDog (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Glad I’m not the only one who had this reaction. Yes the TSA agent is being professional, and yes she’s just doing her job, but so what? It’s an invasion none of us, much less a six year-old, should be subjected to. Had that been my daughter — well, had that been my daughter the agent never would have gotten close to doing what she did — but, had it come to that, I would have punched a woman for the first time in my life.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Liberty must be defended...

Liberty must be defended even from those that say they are protecting it. (Thomas Berg, 2011)

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?


Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

And every other country besides the US does that right? Name a single country that has no homeless. FCK off only socialist countries give the basic food to people and then say work for the good of the state to get no where. You will always be poor but know you are poor with everybody else. While we live rich and (unlike capitalistic countries) you will never have any chance to be among us. We will help you be healthly enough to make us money.

Rob says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I don’t know where you refer to, and I’m certainly not disparaging that country or yours (whether or not they are the same).

However, there are some things you may not have considered about emigration/immigration — even to nations we’d both consider civilized. I have considered leaving the US, and found some interesting facts about the process.

1. Almost every country has an annual cap.
2. Almost every country has an upper age limit.
2a. Age doesn’t usually apply if you are retiring there, since you’re not entering the labor force.
3. Preference is given to younger workers. Some formula is usually used when it’s a husband/wife couple of different ages.
4. Certain professions are more sought after. This will vary by country, and will only coincide with one’s own profession by chance.
5. It helps to bring money and/or a business.
6. Most of the above are used to rank immigrants, and the ranking determines who gets in under the quota.
7. I have not exhaustively researched every possible destination.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you don’t like the procedures, get in a car and drive yourself to wherever you’re going. Either that, or come up with a 100% fool-proof way of detecting any and all potential weapons and release it out into the world for everyone to use. If you can’t do either, then drive or take a boat.

All it will take is for another September 11th for these very people to go from “unlawful patdowns” to “Why didn’t you protect us???”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“come up with a 100% fool-proof way of detecting any and all potential weapons”

Sorry, are you claiming that sexually assaulting 6-year-old girls (or anyone else, for that matter) does this? If not, why is it at all relevant?

If you are, then please provide a link to prove it, because it makes absolutely no sense.

At all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well she wasn’t actually sexually assaulted.

The people who suffer the most indignity from this ridiculous game are the elderly who are forced to endure these things.

Things may be different for the kids nowadays, but historically children have been much more used to close physical contact than grown adults and much more likely to not have a problem with it.

Of course I do come from back in the prehistoric times of the 70’s and with the paranoia surrounding western cultures’ overnight discovery in around 1984 of the fact that children do get sexually abused sometimes by some people (as likely to be family and/or family friends as strangers) perhaps modern day children are now being conditioned to be traumatised by any physical contact at all.

But if that is the case, then there’s more than the government to blame.

The search was ridiculously unnecessary, and the thorough searching of a small child rams home exactly how pointless these searches are, but children are not harmed by them unless their parents have raised them to be harmed by contact in which case those parents need some thinking time themselves.

Vic says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh, please! Do not tell too obvious of a lie! We might think you’re delusional and stop taking you seriously.

“Well she wasn’t actually sexually assaulted.”

Is that your best line? OK, then go to the street right now, find a 6 year old in plain view of his parents and do the same as that TSA officer did. I wonder what are you going to be charged with?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“OK, then go to the street right now, find a 6 year old in plain view of his parents and do the same as that TSA officer did. I wonder what are you going to be charged with?”

Yup, I am pretty sure I made very clear that peoples attitudes are completely wrong-headed on both issues.

The pat down is not and never could be sexual assault, borderline rape or pornography.

It is and always will be incredible stupidity from the country that has brought new meaning to cowardice and stupidity.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I do have to keep reminding myself that there are many intelligent smart decent human beings in the US, its just so hard to understand why they are so often represented in politics as well as message boards by complete morons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You have some evidence of the threat of violence?


Gosh, what a pity.

But even if we were to assume that the de facto procedure for the TSA is to insist on a full pat down search with a threat of violence to anyone including a six year old if they refused the search you would have to ask why parents would bring their child to undergo that or even risk undergoing that.

But adults probably often put their fingers under the waistband of four five six and even seven year olds pants, it only sounds terrible if the assumption of child abuse is already there. Most rational people would not call it child abuse when they know full well what is going on.

Maybe at this stage you wonder why I am so strenuously objecting to it being called pornography, borderline rape and child abuse?
The fact is children have been genuinely sexually abused, are being genuinely sexually abused and unfortunately will be genuinely sexually abused, and calling things like this, that are inanely stupid but not sexual abuse of any kind, diminishes the very real trauma that people who have really been abused go through.
So, please wise up people.

The solution is simple, you don’t fly, when people stop flying because of this then the policy will change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Either that, or come up with a 100% fool-proof way of detecting any and all potential weapons and release it out into the world for everyone to use.

Nice bar you set. The standard for replacing a completely invasive, ineffectual system is a 100% fool proof one? That’s silly.

All it will take is for another September 11th for these very people to go from “unlawful patdowns” to “Why didn’t you protect us

There is truth to this. Whenever a disaster hits the politicians will look to see what has changed recently and blame that for their own political gain.

So again, to placate fallacies ridden political arguments, we have to be groped to fly.

Great process.

Squirrel Brains (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This sort of logic is asinine. “If you won’t like your government repressing its citizens, then just look away.”

This is about the TSA’s security theater. Even if there was a fool-proof method of stopping all terrorist threats, I doubt the TSA is smart enough to find them and then use them properly. The current methods did not get put in place because people thought they were effective. They got put in place because some companies with lots of high profile lobbyists (such as Micheal Chernof) with a lot of cash got the TSA to adopt these measures.

Squirrel Brains (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They will never learn because the public has a collective action problem. People endure the abuse because other methods take longer. This does not mean the abuse is justified. For a lot of people, cars and trains (and boats) really are not a viable option. We need to actively resist the government action until we can solve the collective action problem.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you don’t like the procedures, get in a car and drive yourself to wherever you’re going.

“If you don’t want to be searched by police officers without cause, you can always never leave your house.”
“If you don’t want your cellphone conversations being screened police officers without cause, you can always use carrier pigeons.”

It’s so simple! Whenever the government does something shitty, claim it’s really okay because you can just do something else!

Either that, or come up with a 100% fool-proof way of detecting any and all potential weapons and release it out into the world for everyone to use.

There isn’t one. Deal with it and quit spending billions on shitty authoritarian solutions that treat every citizen like criminal. What a bunch of god damned pansies we’ve become. “Oenoes! I have a one in a hojillion chance of dying to a terrorist attack! Please save me gubamint! Here, take all my rights if that’ll help!”

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Re: Re:

The odds of a group of 6 year old white girls collaborating to take down the world trade center is like, what? 800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000:1?

Multiply that by the odds of them being successful of:
567,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000:1, and you have, in my estimation the odds of you ever getting a clue.


James Carmichael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They’re working on the assumption that she’s a mule for a nuclear bomb. The odds are indeed very slim that she is actually a mule, but hey, you can never be too careful with all the terrorism going on. Wait, when was last time we had terrorism, other than on TV I mean? It’s been a while… I think the last few years we’ve been fucked by our own people a lot more than from foreign terrorists… and we already took our revenge on a couple countries they may have been from… I think? I see WMDs everywhere, man.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re:

Of course patdowns are 100% effective thats why no drugs get into prisons. Its also why no weapons ever make it into courtrooms.

if this was 100% foolproof method i might agree with you. But its been proven that people can sneak guns through these scanners and pat downs as well as the underwear bombs they were designed to catch.

Here are 2 ways off the top of my head to beat your 100% foolproof system. Stick a bomb up my ass, done. Surgically implant a bomb in a dog or cat and then have them flown in the cargo hold. But i guess if either of those happened you would be happy having a finger up your ass and a TSA agent reopen any surgical scars on your dog to make you feel a little safer.

Spaceboy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So the ends justify the means? There is no 100% foolproof method for detecting dangerous objects. More common sense needs to be applied here.

Our freedoms are being eroded. Where will you draw the line? When you get patted down when getting on a train or a boat? What about entering the Capitol building or a museum on the National Mall?

We need to fight these ridiculous laws now.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re:

All it will take is for another September 11th for these very people to go from “unlawful patdowns” to “Why didn’t you protect us???”

You have invoked Giuliani’s Law: the first person to mention September 11th in a discussion about terrorism, national security, or other related subjects should be ignored, as they have nothing to bring to the discussion but “9/11 NEVAR FORGET”.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you are afraid of flying, how about you get in a car and drive. The day after 9/11 I would have flown anywhere (at the time I had no money and no where to go so I didn’t). I’m not afraid of flying. At least not anymore than is reasonable for being in a pressurized tin can 40,000 feet above ground moving at 500mph.

Terrorists don’t scare me. My government does. People like you who are more than happy to be molested every time for that slight extra percentage chance that you’ll be safe scare me. Learn something about risk. Learn about probability. If you’re so afraid of dying, look at this chart. Long before you have to worry about dying in a plane crash (much less a terrorist attack on a plane) you should be worrying about the foods you are eating, falling down, a car accident, nature, electrocution or even suicide. If you want to live in irrational fear, feel free. But please stop asking the rest of us to do so, to cow down in fear, and let the government walk all over our rights. I have the right not to be molested. You have the right to live in fear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you don’t like the procedures, get in a car and drive yourself to wherever you’re going.

Why do you believe that will solve the problem. The TSA has already begun a proposal to include this same procedure at “large public events” including but not limited to: sporting events, conferences, and concerts.

Would you be willing to go through this procedure every time you leave your house? Where is the line drawn?

If you want to sit around wetting yourself with fear, fine, but please don’t trample my rights so that you can muster up the courage to walk outside and face the day. The phrase “the only thing to fear is fear itself” has started to take on a whole new meaning for me as I see how far people like you will go to reduce their own irrational fears.

Insider says:

Re: Must be another case of typing before thinking.

The current TSA procedures serve 2 purposes:
Create TSA Jobs
Indoctrinate its citizenry into being more malleable and less rebellious.
Unfortunetly it is too many voices of ignorant people like yourself that think that just because they see a sign of authority, they are safe from harm.

FACT: The shoe bomber was discovered after he was on the plane and tried to blow the plane. THE TSA WAS USELESS
FACT: The underwear bomber was discovered ALSO after he was on the plane and tried to blow the plane. THE TSA WAS USELESS

I don’t want more security measures. I just want the ones that work.

So throwing more underpaid and unqualified staff at the problem doesn’t make me feel safer.
And reading simple-minded opinions like yours just make me realize that this country MAYBE having the type of MISS-GOVERMENT it deserves.

I EXPECT our government officials to UPHOLD the constitution, not write amendment and come up with corrupt PATRIOT ACTS that just serves the purpose of creating government overhead!

I want to be safe, and to be free, and keep my privacy. ALL THOSE GOALS IN HARMONY. NONE BEING EXCLUSIVE. If the existing representatives can’t STRIVE for that they shouldn’t be in office.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Re: If that's your standard, then they should stop now.

If your requirement for something to replace inappropriately assaulting the citizenry is;
“Either that, or come up with a 100% fool-proof way of detecting any and all potential weapons…”

Then the TSA should stop immediately. Since it’s already been shown that their procedures fall far short of 100% fool-proof way of detecting, well anything.

It’s hard to make things ‘fool-proof’ as those fools are just so darn clever.

Cowardly Anon says:

Re: Re:

I can’t tell if you are trolling are just that stupid.

Are you honestly suggesting that any of the procedures in place are 100% fool-proof? It has been proven that these new security measures wouldn’t even protect against past attacks let alone whatever is being thought up now.

Second, if another terrorist attack happened, these unlawful patdowns wouldn’t protect us. So, it wouldn’t be “Why didn’t you protect us???” It would be “Why did we give up our freedom if you couldn’t protect us???”

And last, getting gate raped wouldn’t have stopped the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Just saying.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I hate to have to point this out again, but the underwear bomber, for whose attempt these procedures were created, got on the plane in EUROPE and would not have been screened. The fact is that no terrorist attacks in the US involving planes have originated from within US borders. So groping 6 year olds on domestic flights is going to do what exactly?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Faulty and naive logic, if one can even CALL it logic.

The chances of ‘another Sept 11’ happening are slim to none. And using that as an excuse to pat down a child is downright disproportionate and inappropriate.

There IS NO ‘fool-proof way’ to detect all weapons on a person. But this method is completely invasive and can cause far more harm than good.

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It helps when your security people have a background and training in, you know, security. We license police to carry deadly weapons and give them the authority to use them, and still they are not allowed to perform perfunctory pat-downs and finger-rape little girls. But some $15/hr TSA lackey is allowed? What kind of background check are they going through? Training? Licensing? Or are they just the friendly neighbourhood finger-rapists?

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All it will take is for another September 11th for these very people to go from “unlawful patdowns” to “Why didn’t you protect us???”

That just confirms how wimpy American’s have become. Thousands more people die in vehicle collisions and from heart attacks each year, yet there is no outrage, no fear.

anonymous patriot says:

Re: There it is, justification for abandoning liberty!

There it is, justification for abandoning liberty!

Do you really think another plane will ever be hijacked with box cutters again?

God forbid one is blown out of the sky, but to so easily abandon rights that MILLIONS of citizens have FOUGHT AND DIED FOR, because your afraid is asinine.

Essentially you’re saying the lives of the 3000 that died on 9/11 are worth more than the millions who have died in the past defending my kids right to not be molested.

blaktron (profile) says:

Just so you know, as a Canadian it is highly unlikely that I will ever visit your country because of this, and other customs actions taken (laptop searches, etc.)

And thats too bad, because I have lots of tourism dollars. My organization has ceased sending us to training in the US because they dont want to be held liable under Canadian law for some American sexually assaulting us. They would rather the extra expense of sending us to Europe, or waiting for things to come here.

Also, how do you say that China treats dissidents poorly when your government sexually assaults law abiding citizens? And yes, it is sexual assault. Did that girl ask the TSA agent to put his hands in her pants? Even if she did, can she legally give consent for that? Can parents legally give consent to have another adult put their hands in her pants?

*shudder* thank god I’m Canadian….

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I dont think we will, our airport security is still fairly benign. I fly lots, and never have a problem. The only real issue I ever had was trying to take my 1 lighter on board, but once it was a nice zippo, and the security agent told me I had to check it in case it exploded with the change of pressure.

I tried to explain that a) a zippo did not use pressurized fuel, but soaked cotton and ignites fumes, and b) travelling in an airplane decreases your pressure, and then back to normal but never increases it as that involve travelling below the surface of the earth… But rules are rules and I checked my lighter.

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

This is true, however, I was travelling from Ottawa to Edmonton, and regardless, zippos arent pressurized, and the policy is set specifically forbidding zippos, and NOT pressurized lighters. Its just stupid, and makes 0 technical sense. If pressure were actually the reason, then zippos should be allowed and bic lighters banned (although they arent pressurized either, they are sealed, so pressure could conceivably be applied if the relief valve at the bottom failed).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Being from Europe I had decided a long time ago, that I would never willingly set foot in the USA.

Thing is, I know there are lots of smart, bright intelligent pleasant decent people in the US.
But I do actually have to remind myself of that over and over and over again because my concept of the USA is so overwhelmingly negative.

A lot of people in Europe struggle with this, which considering that the attitude towards the US as we were growing up was so generally positive that it has taken some serious doing by the representatives of the people of the US to turn that so massively on its head.

Adam G (profile) says:

I would be interested to know the statistics of TSA agents ever actually finding anything using this method?

I would also like to see the same statistics comparing what they do find, to actual threat based things. I.e. I don’t care if someone had a 1oz too large toothpaste bottle in their pocket or a misc overzealous rule violation.

Pocket knives, scissors, explosives.

I also don’t care about them finding drugs through this method.

I personally feel like it only adds inconvenience to everyone, and protects no one. Though I understand the airlines desire to look “proactive” in security and the public image of trying to be “safe” even if their methods are completely misguided and useless. Too bad we didn’t have a choice. “Safe airline” and “dangerous airline” whereas safe airline is current standards, and dangerous one did very minimal intrusion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps the agents that are failing realize that it’s all just theater. They read techdirt and they know that they’re essentially actors that nobody even wants to look at, and so they can’t even be bothered to half-ass their performance.

I mean really, if they think about it even a little bit and have come to the conclusion that the odds of their encountering an inspector (who holds their job and livelihood in their hand) are so slim that they needn’t bother with doing it right, where does that put the odds of an actual threat? From their point of view it’s basically free money, they are making double min. wage (at least) to pretend to work.

Rich says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

That’s some guy’s Wikipedia write up on the law. It doesn’t make it so. Godwin wrote the law when he saw many Usenet arguments devolving into name-calling, which eventually reached the point of someone bringing up Nazis, et. al. Just mentioning them as the OP did in his comparison does invoke the law.

rob worth says:

child molestation

even if you believe the “official 9/11 story”, how many planes have been hijacked by terrorists since then?

more people die from drinking, smoking, and driving on highways, than hijacked planes.

this is simply a way to brainwash the american people into submission to the government. it is starting to look like nazi germany in america.

and for the person that said “get in a car and drive”, well, do some home work mole.. the tsa is already starting to have check points on highways.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: child molestation

It’s not about facts at all. It’s about propaganda. They started by taking away your liberties, you were fine with it. Then they started taking more away… and people started complaining. Now they’re testing new “we can do what we want” ‘laws’ (used loosely) in the airports. It’s just another step towards annihilating your rights and liberties.

If they told everyone 9/11 was a lie, then the 10 years of propaganda they did since would die right there. That can’t happen, not with their current agenda. Also take into account that of they do, in fact, agree once, that this is non-sense, again their entire agenda drops dead. Can’t let that happen, ever. Why do you think all those complaints fall on deaf ears?

Andrew Norton (profile) says:

Re: child molestation

“even if you believe the “official 9/11 story”, how many planes have been hijacked by terrorists since then?

more people die from drinking, smoking, and driving on highways, than hijacked planes.”

ACtually, more people died on US roads in SEptember 2001 alone, than due to terrorism in the US between 1995-2010. You’re even 80x more likely to be murdered than killed by a terrorist. Explains why we’re cutting police funding, and spending what we DO have on ‘anti-terrorism’ crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree that patting down children is not the best idea, but the whole argument of “How do we teach our children to to be touched there!” is pure bullshit.

When children go to the doctor they are violated much worse that was was shown in the video, but we accept this because it’s in the child’s best interest, and the parent is there to let the child know it’s ok. I don’t see where the TSA pat down is any different.

Besides having a youtube video of the incident, what exactly makes this issue a “tech” issue?

James Carmichael (profile) says:


Did anyone mention Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four yet?

Seriously though, that’s messed up. Not just the TSA, but the agents themselves. What’s their best moral defense, honestly?

“If I don’t touch your kid’s private parts, I could lose my job.”

We’ll look back at this footage in a hundred years and be like, “Wow, 2011 was messed up, good thing I wasn’t alive then.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Seriously if you think this even approaches pornography, never mind hard core pornography, you have led too sheltered a life even for the most devout of silent order nuns.

What it is, is ridiculous.

The TSA proudly serving America by protecting it from 6 year olds and their evil schemes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does anyone know what the official legal argument is that describes why this doesn’t violate the 4th? You have citizens making their way from their homes, to the airplane own by a private business, how is virtually strip searching everyone at the airport “legal” while doing the same to people on the street is not?

someone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The supreme law of the land still states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

As I have said before, wanting to fly on an airplane does not make you a terrorist and as such they have no probable cause to perform a search.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s disgraceful.
But the answer is in the hands of the citizens of the US and those who go along with this in other countries. Stop flying. They’ll soon drop back to actually sensible security procedures instead of this ridiculous theatre.

Keep tolerating this behaviour and flying and it can only get worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Remember this theatre is all for your benefit anyway.
Nobody else actually wants it which is why TSA agents tasked with securing the airways from terrorist threats are paid so well.

But yours and some other western governments are so convinced that their citizenry are such cowardly fearful pathetic personages that they feel they have to put on a show to help keep you feeling safe.

The point of not flying isn’t just a meaningless protest depriving yourself of your few special pleasures, if people stop flying the airlines themselves will feel the pinch sharpish and the security procedures would change sharpish once they get on the phone to the gov and tell them its change the security procedures or lose an entire industry.

Airlines on the whole do not have vast reserves, if you want change fast stop flying.

If you want to drag this out for decades, then keep whining and complaining but still flying.

known coward says:

My youngest child was shown a “good touch, bad touch” video in school that was revised to say Parents, Doctors and nurses, and the TSA” ( i did not see the video). My kid said the TSA personn was grabbing the kids private parts fairly hard. He then asked me not to fly when we go to florida, because he does not want to be grabbed like that (he is a very sensitive special needs child).

Glenn L. says:

young girl pat down

Why you would use the word “grope” in your title is very unfair and biased. The TSA personnel doing her job never groped the little girl. She used the back of her hands when she came to her buttocks, as she is suppossed to. She also never slid her hand in an upwards direction on the girls thigh. It was done according to procedure. As evidenced by the tape, the little girl was not concerned & she didn’t have any verbal concerns.

We may not like pat downs, but they are there for a reason, and the TSA officer did everyting by the book.

If you don’t think that terrorists would use a young girl, even unknowingly on her part, or a woman or a mentally diminished person for their purposes – you’re dead wrong. They have !

If you’re going to attack something, you ought to get it right & not make false accusations & use hyperbole. Youre comments on the video and the little girl are quite simply amateurish rhetoric.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: young girl pat down

@Glen L. Your comment confused the hell out of me. I immediately looked for which button to push and could only find insightful funny and report.

It is now OBVIOUS that Mike needs to add a moronic or dumb fuck button so that we can accurately tabulate comments like yours.

Let’s compare and contrast your comments.

“If you don’t think that terrorists would use a young girl, even unknowingly on her part, or a woman or a mentally diminished person for their purposes – you’re dead wrong. They have !”

“If you’re going to attack something, you ought to get it right & not make false accusations & use hyperbole.”

You clearly group women children and mentally diminished people as possible terrorist tools to defend your stance on pat downs for children and then you state that one should get things right and not use hyperbole.


Could you please link me to all the attempted or successful terrorist attacks on airplanes that used children as tools? I’ll wait.

Whilst I’m waiting…. Mike, could we get that “dumb fuck” or “moron” button added?

Elohssa (profile) says:

What troubles me most is the inability to opt-out. I’m under the impression that once they choose you, there is no out, even if you decide not to board your flight, until they check you. This is understandable from their POV, as it would allow trouble makers to test the defenses without being detected, but they need to make it clear when you have been detained by a federal agency.

A big sign and a red line explaining the rights they are about to give up would settle this for me. I will avoid flying until they knock it off. I feel for people who are forced to travel for work, though.

Natch, some terrorist is working on a taint cannon right now, if only to prevent the TSA from becoming rational.

Ben Franklin said it best with the old “libertysecurity” blather.

Anonymous Coward says:

If not the children, then nobody

I’m horrified by the video. But I’m also equally horrified at what happens if children are not searched. If not searched, then children become potential unwilling participants in terrorism because they become the ‘loophole’ that allows terrorists to succeed.

Clearly the whole pat down program is a failure and TSA needs to look at more intelligence focused methods.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If not the children, then nobody

If there were no unnecessary pat downs of children, then the terrorists would spot the loophole, kidnap a child, perform an operation on the poor innocent planting a bomb in their stomach and then putting them on a plane to go back to their parents only to blow them up at a critical point.

So pat downs save children from such a fate,
NOW whose going to complain?

I recommend a full autopsy on anyone who wants to fly.
This will ensure complete safety.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

The TSA is just a symptom...

The TSA is just a symptom of our -civilized- Western Democracy’s inability to recognize a cleverly executed slow-motion WAR plan being waged against us by the ultra-violent (via 1600 years of first cousin marriage created inbreeding) forces of -uncivilized- Islam.

Until we summon the courage as a nation and as a people to openly name and face this evil totalitarianism masquerading as a religion, we will not know peace within our own borders.

The misguided, self-hating apologists that currently infest our federal government will continue to harrass YOU and YOUR CHILDREN because -they- are feckless, unprincipled cowards.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Re: Re: really?

“Really, your calling all practitioners of Islam ultra-violent uncivilized inbreeds?”

Yep, Pretty Much.

Reproductive Health Journal reports the following rates on consanguinity in Muslim countries:

Algeria: 22.6%
Bahrain: 39.4%
Egypt (North): 20.9%
Egypt (Nubia-South): 60.5%
Iraq: 47.0%
Jordan: 28.5%
Kuwait: 22.5%
Lebanon: 12.8%
Libya: 48.4%
Mauritania: 47.2%
Morocco: 19.9%
Oman: 56.3%
Palestine: 17.5%
Qatar: 54.0%
Saudi Arabia: 42.1%
Sudan: 44.2%
Syria: 30.3%
Tunisia: 20.1%
United Arab Emirates: 40.0%
Yemen: 40.0%


Ouch. Bet that one hurt.

“Take your bigoted posts elsewhere”

Nope. Staying right here.

And may I point out that your order for me to leave this discussion board is very anti-free speech and is fundamentally Un-American. A very Totalitarian tactic. Hint: Try countering my statements with fact-based counter-arguments next time instead of insults.

“Im sure christwire.org/ would love to have you.”

Wow! They seem like nice folks.

I bet if I went there and posted that I had just burned a Bible and even posted video of me dancing around it while urinating on it, they might get mad, but they would probably mostly -PRAY- for me. You know, quiet, reflective thought and focused hope. As opposed to rioting in the streets killing and BEHEADING random, foreign looking people.

You have now been fully basted with my incisive rebuttal. Care to try again?

Dirkmaster (profile) says:

As so many have rightly said...

This kind of security theater is to comfort the sheeple. It accomplishes nothing, but gives our “leaders” something to point at and say “See, we’re keeping you safe”. Right up until the next incident. The terrorists look at what we are doing, and then plan their actions around it. Just like the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that…

Those who accept this “to be kept safe” deserve not our anger or frustration, but our pity. Their ilk can be found in every dictatorship, quietly accepting whatever they are told. Sad, really.

I actually am glad that at my age, I will not see the unpleasant end result of the continuing landgrab of liberty. I feel sorry that my children will have to go thru the inevitable American Revolution II.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Pointless to complain

Every time this issue comes up on here there are hundreds of commments complaining. And even with the outrage nationally the TSA managed to keep this policy through the Holidays and it’s just as strongly seated now as ever before.

This practice isn’t going away anytime soon, and no amount of complaining or voting is going to change things. The TSA and Homeland Security has been voted into a position that they are almost out of reach, and those who they are within their reach are more afraid of crossing the TSA/Homeland Security and finding themselves sitting in a cell with no ability to communicate with anyone.

The world thinks that the President of the USA is the most powerful leader in the world. The reality is that the Leader of the Homeland Security is the most powerful person.

Voters put the Homeland Security in place, but there is no taking that power away no matter how hard we try. Hell think about it, not even the Supreme Court is willing to stand up against them for clear and blatant violations of the 1st and 4th amendments. The Supreme Court is the last of the battle grounds in the USA, and effectively that battleground isn’t even available to us.

The Day that Bush sold the American public on the Homeland Security Bill is the day that the United Stated tore up the Constitution and danced on it’s pieces.

It’s also the day that every American Soldier that has died in the name of freedom collectively rolled over in their graves and wept.

Anonymous Coward says:

If that little girl was sexually assaulted, then you all must be pedophiles for watching that entire video of the assault! Oh Please! The child was not touched in a sexual manner and will probably only remember the situation because of any adults around her talking about it afterwards.

Have you ever seen a child (or group of children) explode into tiny pieces because one of her relatives wired her with explosives? I personally know many military members that have seen this first hand. My husband being one of them. It happens. It is real.

I’d rather have a trained person pat down a 6 year old little girl then have her blown up because she sat next to the wrong child that was not searched for that plane ride!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Then you and your 6 year old girl can take Fear Airlines. Leave the rest of us out of your quivering little nightmare of a life.

I’m so sick of hearing just how fearful our country has become. You know what?


if my family or I end up as a smudge on the ground because of a terrorist attack. At least I’m going to live life instead of being afraid of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Searching anyone by hand should be the last resort, not the only choice from Column B.

Do you think someone psychotic enough to wire a child with explosives is going to wait until they’re on a plane to blow them to bits? What’s keeping such a monster from doing so right inside the entrance to a busy terminal?

I’d rather have, and honestly, would more likely trust, a trained canine sniffing people for explosives than this touchy-feeling or proven-worthless scanning nonsense.

taoareyou (profile) says:

TSA Can't Touch Me

I used to fly with my daughter on holidays to see family. Now I just rent a car. Takes a little longer, and costs the same. Yeah flying is more convenient time wise, but not worth giving up personal freedoms and being submitted to warrant-less, unconstitutional searches. I know the airlines aren’t impacted by the loss of revenue due to my choice, and I don’t care. I choose not to fly because I choose not to submit to criminal searches.

Nick says:

Oh jeeze. Watching the video, the pat-down was done in a professional manner. The agent let the kid know what she was doing as she did it. Everyone yelling foul that our kids are being sexually molested are retarded.

I agree that pat-downs aren’t 100% effective, but name one system that is. Also, while you’re sitting there, come up with a better way to detect and prevent the smuggling of drugs, weapons, etc. onto planes with many thousands of passengers, both foreign and domestic traveling through your station a day.

Unfortunately, the world that we live in today, people use children for these sorts of things. There’s proof enough of this if you give it a search. Wars, attacks, drugs, etc. People have used children to do their dirty work simply because they are young and innocent. They use them for the same reason many of you are crying and screaming outrage over this matter.

MBraedley (profile) says:

If the TSA (or the government at large) thinks that sexually assaulting 6 year-olds will make the skys safer, then the terrorists have already won. As a Canadian, it’s disconcerting to see my neighbours to the south have their rights and liberties slowly whittled away in the name of national security. I’m also not ignorant that the same thing is happening here, but at the very least, things seem to be a bit more reasonable.

teknosapien (profile) says:

Wonder what the fall out would be if

People just didn’t fly for a specified amount of time
How much money would the Airlines lose before they demanded a different approach to airport security.

It has always amazed me that Israel has no such procedures in one of the most volatile area of the world yet they have one of the safest airports in the world. The whole thought of that makes me wonder if there is another hidden agenda – or have we Americans just gotten stupid with fear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wonder what the fall out would be if

While I think the TSA is a bunch of morons, and I like the system the Israelis use, I do have to mention that they only have a few airports to guard, rather than the several hundreds we do, so it’s much more economic for them to hire the highly trained (read: expensive) people to properly profile passengers.

Will Sizemore (profile) says:

I haven’t seen the video, but I’ve read enough of the comments here to say that the procedure used was consistent with how the soldiers in the US Army were taught to conduct pat-downs when I was active duty. This is how we were taught to conduct these searches on DETAINEES/SUSPECTED INSURGENTS, not on obvious private citizens.

Those of us who cite facts here are missing, or omitting, something very important with regard to this issue. While these procedures are invasive and time-consuming, as well as taxpayer-dollar-consuming, they do impose the same inconveniences upon would-be smugglers of weapons and paraphernalia.

That being said, as time passes and new technologies and techniques are being produced, the methods by which we can detect them are going to have to also be advanced in order to remain comparable to the threats, or preferably a few steps ahead.

Pat-downs are so low-tech but fiscally inexpensive that they are accepted by the administration as a ‘good’ tool. Some would prefer that a checkup be conducted by a licensed medical professional, but how many cases have we seen in recent history in which doctors and dentists have molested their patients? Is it because they stand to lose more, by losing their licenses in addition to serving prison sentences that they choose not to do it? I say, “No.”

In the Hollywood presentation that really is an increasingly valid look into our dark future that is known as “Idiocracy”, the patients at the hospital were required to insert three probes to receive a proper diagnosis. In “Star Trek” they used a wonderfully non-invasive (at least not physically invasive) tool called a Tri-Corder. Every time people needed to be screened for ANYTHING, it isn’t a far stretch to say that they also received a much more complete medical checkup, to include DNA screenings and brain-pattern matchings, at nearly every turn.

Personally, if I’m getting patted down by an attractive member of the opposite sex, a patting down might be fun, but I think I’d like something more like a Tri-Corder in the future. And as long as there are physical probes involved, I think I’d prefer the pat-down.

But that’s my personal opinion. My wife doesn’t want to be patted down. My 11 year old daughter doesn’t want to be patted down, nor do I want her to be. My 4 year old and 4 month old sons don’t need to be patted down, and I don’t want them to be either.

So should I have to drive or take a train from Arizona to Georgia so my two older children can see their mother, but not be exposed to pat-downs or 3D nude imaging? That’s hardly fair. I would burn up a week’s worth of time off just to travel there and back, not to mention the gas money, wear and tear on my car, hotel stays, and fast food costs all of which are increased because it takes several days to make the trip, and we’d all drive each other nuts in the process. So no, I’ll opt for the pat-down because I’m legally bound to let my cheating ex-wife spend time with the kids, and not because I think they are necessary for our safety, even if properly conducted.

We ARE slowly but with a rapidly increasing intensity, moving toward a police-state and as we do so, certain freedoms are being truncated in order to preserve others. Its sad. I think THAT was the motivation behind many terrorist attacks in the first place, because we Americans gloat about our many freedoms so profusely that others in this world become sick of us and decide to ram some humility down our throats, or up our rears, and our reaction to their misplaced hostility is to tighten our sphincters.

Remember my name, Mike, and you Techdirt fans should too. I am planning a move into politics, not because I like them, but because I’m not afraid to fight our government, from within, to preserve as many freedoms as we can.

I’m a conservative Independent with a STRONG idea of separation of church and state, freedom of information, and most importantly, I support government OF the People and FOR the People, and I will campaign against laws that make it illegal to observe and record government officials while they are acting within the confines of their duties. I will campaign against copyright and patent enforcement and I aim to help devise a new plan to inspire and protect innovation, that isn’t self-defeating.

I hope this doesn’t prompt any of you to label me a troll in the future. I do value this blog and many of the opinions stated here, even if I disagree with some. Mike, you can tend to be a bit one-sided and somewhat scathing in your titling, but hey, it gets readers, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“I’m a conservative Independent with a STRONG idea of separation of church and state, freedom of information, and most importantly, I support government OF the People and FOR the People, and I will campaign against laws that make it illegal to observe and record government officials while they are acting within the confines of their duties. I will campaign against copyright and patent enforcement and I aim to help devise a new plan to inspire and protect innovation, that isn’t self-defeating.”

Unfortunately, having this sort of ideals will ensure you don’t get very far as a politician…

Anonymous Coward says:

To all the apologists....

Has anyone noticed the similiarities between the current USA laws for “safety & security” recently passed (or about to be) and the initial rise of the 3rd Reich??

I commend to you your history lessons – else you will be doomed to repeat them.

The very early indicators – rehtoric etc are remarkable similiar in effect on a populace that has a very strong “entitled” society with firm beliefs that it’s way is best.

(apologies to Godwin… I was too factual to invoke his law…and someone else beat me to it anyway – my point stands)

Sparty says:

Get over 9/11

It’s been 10 years. Your government has killed more than 200,000 people in retaliation for 3000 deaths. You’ve sparked un-ending wars in 3 countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan). Isn’t your blood-lust sated by now? Stop crying and whining about 9/11 at the drop of a hat, and bringing it up to excuse and justify every crime on the planet commited under the name of “security”.

Anonymouse says:

Overton Windows

All this debate about “rights” and “inappropriate” and “how did this happen” and “does this stop terrorist attacks” is a distraction; a managed debate and smokescreen to obscure the bottom-line:

TSA is big business. The scanners, the procedures, the taxable pay, the huge employment… this country was set up to fall down hard with the S/L and home loan scandals by 2003-2005. The depression/”recession” was already on the horizon and those in the financial markets knew it.

DHS is not going to go away, and is going to only increase, for one simple and solid reason: it’s employment for thousands of people and a moneymaker for hundreds of tech firms. It’s the hottest business going now.

The poster above who compared this to the pre-3rd Reich was good, but I’d also point to pre-Mussolini Italy for a little pertinent and thought-provoking history.

Jenna says:


Dude, you’re a tool and a dink. You’re suggesting that violation of civil rights and illegal search and seizure (on a child, no less) is A-OK so long as it’s done in a professional manner?

“I agree that pat-downs aren’t 100% effective, but name one system that is.” How about a dog? Dogs don’t get high on authority and drunk on a power trip. Plus, they can do a better job of detecting illegal stuff WITHOUT TOUCHING ANYONE. Plus, they work cheap!

Ray says:

Lighters and pressure.

I tried to explain that a) a zippo did not use pressurized fuel, but soaked cotton and ignites fumes, and b) travelling in an airplane decreases your pressure, and then back to normal but never increases it as that involve travelling

It is not that the pressure outside the lighter increases, it is that the pressure outside decreases, which would increase the [i]relative[/i] pressure [i]inside[/i] a sealed lighter (or any air-tight container, or that matter).
The science is sound, and to some degree this makes sense, but is sadly, (as in your case), treated is a blanket rule without regards to the individual case.
I once heard of the TSA not allowing a paintball gun canister, with the regulator removed, (ie you could stick you finger into it and wiggle it around if you wanted to) only a plain because the canister was marked “pressurized,” even though any 3-year-old could have told you it wasn’t.

Ben says:


It is true. People committed genocide during WWII and blamed it on orders… they were severely punished for their crimes, despite the fact that they were given orders to do what they did and would likely have had their jobs revoked or been executed had they not.

== Sexual abuse is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as:
1. forcing of unwanted sexual activity by one person on another, as by the use of threats or coercion.
2. Sexual activity that is deemed improper or harmful, as between an adult and a minor or with a person of diminished mental capacity.

== The Federal Criminal Code definition of sexual abuse includes:

1. Causing another person to engage in a sexual activity by threatening or placing that person in fear.
2. Engaging in a sexual act if that person is incapable of declining participation in, or communicating unwillingness to engage in that sexual act.

So by the dictionary and by law, forcing someone to accept the touching of their private areas, for any reason, is sexual abuse. And what of the penalties? Criminal penalties may include imprisonment, fines, registration as a sex offender, and restrictions on probation and parole. Civil penalties may include liability for damages, injunctions, involuntary commitment, and, for perpetrators related to their victims, loss of custody or parental rights. There are also heavier penalties for child sex offenders, especially repeat offenders and offenders who are in a position of trust, like a parent, guardian or TSA official.

vivaelamor (profile) says:


“You have now been fully basted with my incisive rebuttal. Care to try again?”

You mean where you counter someone calling out your accusation that all of Islam is evil by providing tenuously related statistics that don’t even uniformly approach 50%?

You implied that violence is a product of inbreeding. I might surmise that the fall of the British Empire was due to a decline in royal intermarriages, were your statements not merely concentrated ignorance.

Cody Jackson (profile) says:

It could have been worse

Honestly, I didn’t see anything wrong with the pat-down, per se. It looked like a standard pat-down that is done all the time on adults.

My only complaint is that, based on the pat-down procedures I learned as part of private investigation training, the back of the hand should be used. This is to prevent accusations of inappropriate contact and to protect the inspector’s hands in case something dangerous, e.g. fishhooks in a seam, are found.

That all being said, I do think it is inappropriate to pat-down children. Well, I think the pat-downs are stupid period but doing it to children could conceivably be traumatizing, especially if they equate it to being under arrest or some similar situation.

Although, it does give children a good argument when “playing doctor”: I was only giving a pat-down, Mom, honest! (Do kids play doctor anymore?)

Realist says:

People need to wake up

You know, there is a reason why they must do this. Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW it looks bizarre to see a little girl getting a pat down. But that woman did nothing wrong to that little girl. She did her job, in full view of the parent in a professional manner.

I may think that things have gone a little too far myself, but you can’t exclude anybody if you want the it to be fair. And working in the field, and having seen people sneak in all kinds of things on their children, YES some parents really are Scum Bags, even if its a one in a thousand chance, you still have to check.

I am not saying its going to be terrorists, or weapons of mass destruction on that little girl, but I have seen other illegal products such as drugs and alcohol. AND when you find that on these children, you are now able to phone child services on that parent, I mean do you really think a person who would smuggle in cocaine on their baby, should be raising that child??

Unfortunately the average citizen doesn’t see everything that goes on, they just see a little snippit of a little girl who doesn’t want a stranger touching her on the internet. They don’t see or hear of the MANY times that that dirt bag parent used their child to traffic illegal stuff. It’s sad, but it happens all the time!

Anyways, thats just my two cents!

Gerp says:

The bottom line is that these kinds of horrifying policies are set by an aged section of the populace that still fears boogeymen like Communists and Terrorists even though there is no reason to do so. These people are still so shell-shocked by the 9/11 narrative that they are willing to hold everyone’s freedom hostage to get a tiny bit of security. When we are nailing the coffins shut on the last of the Baby Boomers I hope we will finally see all of this paranoia disappear. I REALLY hope.

Anonymous Coward says:


@”I tried to explain that a) a zippo did not use pressurized fuel, but soaked cotton and ignites fumes, and b) travelling in an airplane decreases your pressure, and then back to normal but never increases it as that involve travelling below the surface of the earth… But rules are rules and I checked my lighter.”

The decrease in outside pressure is why you get explosions: the inner pressure isn’t held in check by the outer pressure, and the vessel ruptures, so the TSA guy is right about that, not you. (all moot if zippos aren’t pressurised though)

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