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TSA agents are exempt from sex crime prosecution for feeling childrens' "sensitive" regions in an effort to find improvised explosive devices.  (Source: Corbis)

TSA frisk "little terrorist" Anna Drexel. Note, no child under six has ever participated in or been used in a terrorist attack.  (Source: YouTube)
Big Brother is touching you

Given the current “heightened terror alert” in the U.S., Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) officials find themselves staring at people in the nude via full-body scanners and executing new "enhanced" search pat-downs of peoples' private regions to ensure that our commercial airplanes are safe.

Just how far the U.S. government is willing to invade individuals' privacy in the name of counterterrorism was highlighted by a recent incident at a Kentucky airport.  

A 6-year-old girl named Anna Drexel was just returning home from vacation, with her parents Selena and Todd Drexel.  As they passed through the security screening checkpoint, to her parents' alarm, Anna was pulled aside for a special "modified" search.

During the search, the screener informed the parents and the girl, "[I'm going to] put my hand in the waistband."

She reassured the parents that she would only touch "sensitive" areas with the back of her hand.

The search left the child confused and in tears.  In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" program, Selena Drexel said her child "had a very bad feeling that what happened was wrong."

Alarmed by what was unfolding, the parents surreptitiously videotaped the incident on a cell phone, posting it on YouTube [video] as a warning to parents.  The video is now creating quite a stir, much like the infamous don't "touch my junk" screening video

Martin Macpherson, the director of the London-based Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers says that there are no known incidents in which terrorists have use children six and younger in an attack.  

But some in the U.S. government are defending the "modified" search policy in place for children 12 and younger.  They state the policy, which includes reaching inside the child's pants in an attempt to search for possible explosive devices, is clearly stated on the agency's website.

Children and adults are often extensively searched if they decline to go through the scanners, which show nude images of the passenger.

Jennifer Mitchell, co-president of Child Lures Prevention, a Shelburne, Vt., organization that works to prevent crimes against children, also seemed to defend the practice in an interview with the Associated Press.  While she admits the search is "a little invasive", she adds, "This is a hard issue because we have national security on one hand... and children's safety on the other. The only reason it would be allowed is the parents are right there, the clothes are not being removed, the parents are watching to make sure it's done ok."

It is unclear, though exactly how "national security" might hinge on reaching inside childrens' clothes, given that children as young as Anna Drexel have never been used in an attack.

U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is among a handful of government officials who have expressed outrage at the TSA and other officials' defense of the official involved in the incident.  He states, "This conduct is in clear violation of TSA's explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13."

Rep. Chaffetz is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security.  He says he was "personally outraged and disgusted" by the video of the search.

Under Rep. Chaffetz's pressuring, the TSA has agreed to review the search policy for "low-risk populations, such as young passengers."  It said it may opt to "move beyond a one-size fits all system", though it gave no clue about what policies might comprise its new varied child search system or when it might replace the current policies.

In some states a stranger touching or feeling a child's groin/genitalia can be construed as a felony sex crime.  Sex crimes against children often receive stiff sentences, including years in prison.  The TSA has stated it will not pursue any charges or discipline against the agent involved in the search, as the contact was initiated in the interest of preserving national security.

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RE: Government run afoul.
By phantom505 on 4/14/2011 10:59:50 AM , Rating: 0
Which part of the 1 billion Muslims are you referring to?

Tim McVay? Oh he was a white guy.

Dennis and Daniel Mahon, mail bombers? White.

Anthrax mailings? Unoffically, white guy.

So get off your Muslim nonsense. 6 year old girl, probably not, but not because she's not Muslim, because she's a 6 year old girl.

RE: Government run afoul.
By Motoman on 4/14/2011 11:15:14 AM , Rating: 2
Then again, ALL of the terrorists that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks were Muslim.

RE: Government run afoul.
By Argon18 on 4/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: Government run afoul.
By ChristopherO on 4/14/2011 11:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
Look, I don't want to start a religious flame war here, but.... When was the last time you traveled? The TSA has a huge board just inside *every* airport security checkpoint. And guess what, of the 30 most wanted, all of them are pictures of Muslim guys from the mid-east. Over the years I've seen the faces change, but they've never displayed any non-male, non-mid-eastern individuals. When they start posting the photos of toddlers I might be worried.

And yes, McVey was screwed up, the bombers were screwed up, anthrax nut jobs, etc. They were usually anti-government wing-nuts who went after government targets exclusively. They were evil, evil people harming innocents, but as far as I can tell they always justified as being government employees. I've never seen widely published threats against private industry.

Then you have the crazy church-shooters, school-shooters, etc. But those idiots wear black trench-coats everywhere and are loaded with weapons. A standard body scanner would see that, plus anyone with a brain would realize something was *abnormal*. Plus for the most part, those crazies don't even have enough money to purchase a ticket for an airport anyway.

Maybe I'll believe your reasoning when you can prove to me that any of these people ever considered targeting expensive civilian infrastructure. Plus, as far as I can remember, no American citizen has ever attempted violence against an American air lines.

RE: Government run afoul.
By The Raven on 4/14/2011 11:45:17 AM , Rating: 3
While I don't agree with this guy, you are turning quite the blind eye to what he IS referring to as opposed to what he is not. As an unsorted mixed up group Islam is responsible for more attacks than any other similarly separated group. Just do a word search and see how many times you find Islam as opposed to any other group.

It doesn't mean that all muslims are bombers, but to say Islam is somehow more less violent than other groups is rediculous when it is clearly the opposite.

I mean look at these lists:
Look how many of these are in the name of Allah and get back to me.

Now there is a group larger than Islamists, and that is extremists. Of course that includes all religions and political affiliations. That is why we shouldn't just say, "Screen all muslims and we'll be ok."

And also you have to remember that Islamism is in many cases tied to political beliefs (just like Christians how many of them are pro-life, a political stance, and may bomb for that belief). In the 'western world' we have less 'need' for political violence and therefore there will be less Christians (since the west is mostly comprised of them) blowing people up.

So I think what this guy is saying is that since acts of terror are more prevalent in Muslim areas of the world (be they in the name of Allah or for strictly political reasons, like something Tim McVeigh) we should look at muslims. Of course that makes sense statistically, but it doesn't make sense constitutionally ;-)

Now if we could just focus on eliminating racism in the US.
Your muslim vs. white comparison isn't apples to apples and is flat-out racist.

RE: Government run afoul.
By Stepup2themike on 4/14/2011 12:00:16 PM , Rating: 2
LOL- seriously? The instances you mention total less than 200 deaths, spread over a decade. Almost 20 times that number died on 9/11 alone. You are clearly an idoit.

RE: Government run afoul.
By MrBlastman on 4/14/2011 2:10:14 PM , Rating: 2
If you're going to call someone an idiot, at least spell it right. ;)

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