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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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By The Raven on 4/14/2011 11:03:22 AM , Rating: 5
People just need to not vote for people who support what the TSA is doing.

Oh so you will be voting 3rd party then?

I ask this half sarcastically since I sometimes have little hope that sheeple of this country will ever change and actually demand what they think is right instead of choosing the lesser of two evils.

The TSA is an obvious byproduct of that thinking.

For what it is worth I actually do vote 3rd party, as both a vote for the 3rd party candidates and also a vote against the 'two parties'.

By MrTeal on 4/14/11, Rating: -1
By SublimeSimplicity on 4/14/11, Rating: -1
By mcnabney on 4/14/11, Rating: -1
By headbox on 4/14/2011 2:00:17 PM , Rating: 2
Tears because an adult male inspects her pants doesn't carry any weight? WOW.

By kattanna on 4/14/2011 2:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
Tears because an adult male inspects her pants doesn't carry any weight? WOW.

you want to know how i know you didnt read the article or look at the video??

let me tell you..

first off it was a female TSA agent

second she didnt put her hands down her pants.. only within the waistband

third.. in the video the girl isnt even crying at all, just curious as to whats going on

but hey.. dont let facts get in the way of a good ignorant rant my friend


By The Raven on 4/14/2011 10:47:05 PM , Rating: 4
third.. in the video the girl isnt even crying at all, just curious as to whats going on

You want to know how I know you didn't read the article or look at the headline??
The search left the child confused and in tears .
TSA Patdown Leaves 6-Year Old in Tears , Gov't Defends Actions

Just because you can't see clear liquid coming out of the girl's eyes in the grainy video doesn't mean it didn't happen then or after the fact. But let me also say that this may be a case of the parents making a big deal out of an incident that didn't affect the child adversely.

second she didnt put her hands down her pants .. only within the waistband

You want to know how I know you didn't read the comment??
Tears because an adult male inspects her pants doesn't carry any weight? WOW.

No mention of hands in so much as pockets. But when you slide your hands all over someone's pants... that is inspecting.

but hey.. dont let facts get in the way of a good ignorant rant my friend

You want to know how I know you didn't read the dictionary??
Definition of RANT 1 a : a bombastic extravagant speech

Of course I'm just having fun with you, but do you think this is acceptable by the TSA or not? Don't bother picking apart someone's 'one liner' that while it is not perfectly phrased or accurate get's the point across.

By christojojo on 4/15/2011 9:15:32 AM , Rating: 3
I work in a prison dealing with the pedophiles, rapist, etc.. When I read things like this I have two separate thoughts. Villains do use kids to do bad things. Villains like jobs that give them advantage. Conflicting.

No, most employees are honest, Most priests are too. The exceptions happen and are often sensationally highlighted.

Take a deep breath ask a few questions before lynching.
1. Did the action make sense with the job description?
2. Did the person follow reasonable/ acceptable practices and cultural practices?
3. Is the system in which this happened flawed?

By RivuxGamma on 4/16/2011 2:09:31 PM , Rating: 3
1. No
2. No
3. Yes

Seriously, why are we still allowing the TSA to operate this way? Is it just because someone might strap a bomb to their kid? You know what else might happen? A terrorist organization might find a way to plant an agent in the security guards and let a bomber on the plane. By the might reasoning, we shouldn't allow any security guards.

That said, I seriously doubt that the person doing the pat down got any sexual gratification out of it. I'd bet, though, that they did get gratification in doing it. It comes from being granted power and the ability to exert that power. Cops get it all the time.

By tamalero on 4/15/2011 11:12:46 AM , Rating: 2
Please, in your point of view..
how many terrorists attemps were twarted by TSA agents?
has it EVER worked?
I mean I have yet to find a single list where they say an attack was prevented by TSA increased patdown, detections, etc.. while some people even managed to introduce fireweapons, knifes & other stuff past them.

Imho.. TSA is just another excuse to leech money in a very inefficient "security" measure that in reality is just an illusion of security.

just like other agencies are being used for completely irrelevant functions leading to inefficiency and abuse (see ICE hijacking domains, even international ones)

By DFranch on 4/14/2011 2:48:10 PM , Rating: 3
The article said She in reference to the TSA agent. I think it was a woman not a man who performed the search.

By hyvonen on 4/14/2011 6:09:30 PM , Rating: 2
Hardly makes it better. How about a 6yo boy? Should it be a female or a male agent touching the 'sensitive parts'?

By bio123 on 4/15/2011 1:16:35 PM , Rating: 2
It was a woman.

By The Raven on 4/14/2011 11:59:04 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah someone is a 17 year old because they use a certain word. Nice.

Do you disagree with me or not. This looks like disagreement to me since you are writing off my comment as something written by a child.

"Any constructive discussion" is ended by comments like yours.
So put up or shut up. Oh that some cool catch phrase by some obscure blogger that I am forbidden to say, lest I be labled as a retard?

By MrBlastman on 4/14/2011 1:02:16 PM , Rating: 5
I don't think you're a 17-year old at all. I actually think you make sense and are doing what I've been saying everyone in America should do for some time.


There, I said it in big letters. I'm shouting! It doesn't matter if you vote Republican or Democrat, they BOTH support this kind of "fearmongering" that is being subjected to our country. You're right. Our freedoms are going down the toilet and even if we vote opposite the current majority power, we still get the same thing, just a slightly different way.

The sad thing is, as you "sheepishly" put it, ;), the people in America really are "sheeple" as they truly lack the wit, care or willingness to sacrifice a few minutes of their precious little self-centered lives to actually read up on independent candidates that want to end this circus once and for all.

Sad, truly sad, isn't it?

I happily vote independent now and will continue to do so. No, I'm not throwing my vote away. I'm actually casting a vote as you're supposed to vote--with conviction and reason. It is too bad more people don't do this.

I have a 14-month old daughter and a week ago, my wife took a trip via plane across the country. I witnessed my daugher's food/bottle bag being seized by TSA authorities, who then unscrewed the tops of her bottles and then tested the milk inside of them. At the same time, I also witnessed my panicked wife freaking out over this. A babies bottle might be a deadly weapon.

What has our country come to? I suppose, as I sit here at at my keyboard I should be afraid to even breathe out of fear the terrorists are polluting our air. America should just resign right now, roll over, poke their arms and legs stiffly up in the air and just give our country away to the meanest looking people.

This is essentially what we have already done.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/11, Rating: 0
By ClownPuncher on 4/14/2011 3:41:48 PM , Rating: 3
We just need to stop travelling by plane if we can. The industry will crash and airline lobbyists will blame the TSA, and lobbyists can probably have it crushed.

By MrBlastman on 4/14/2011 3:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
I concur. Unfortunately even I find that on a rare occasion, there is no alternative to flying. The rest of the time, they can have fun missing my money for fares.

By ClownPuncher on 4/14/2011 4:04:26 PM , Rating: 3
It is hurting our tourism industry, too. I know several people out of country that simply refuse to travel to the US ever since the TSA has clamped down so hard.

By sviola on 4/19/2011 10:31:54 AM , Rating: 2
You can probably add me to this list. I was looking forward to flying to the States on my next holiday, but after seeing this, I'm certain that I would end up in jail for punching a TSA agent if he ever touches my kid.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/2011 3:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
Except the Government would never ALLOW the industry to crash. They have bailed them out before and they would do it again.

Hell Obama and those like him would like nothing more for an excuse to "reform" the air industry like health care and GM. I.E Government takeover.

You just can't win man.

By hyvonen on 4/14/11, Rating: 0
By myhipsi on 4/15/2011 10:12:15 AM , Rating: 3
If the bloated U.S. government keeps spending the way they are now, the bailouts will end when U.S. treasury bonds go to junk status and the dollar crashes and burns. There will be no partisanship then. This is exactly what Osama Bin Laden's goal was; to bankrupt America, the U.S. government played right into Al-Qaeda's hands.

By vortmax2 on 4/15/2011 11:41:16 AM , Rating: 2
America, the land of opportunity... ;)

By Davelo on 4/17/2011 10:53:50 AM , Rating: 1
Don't blame the TSA. Blame Islamic terrorists. They are the ones who brought this on. What else are we to do? I see a lot of people bitching but nobody has a better alternative.

By The Raven on 4/27/2011 3:17:09 PM , Rating: 1
What else are we to do? I see a lot of people bitching but nobody has a better alternative.

Here are a couple people with a better idea:
Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.

-General John Stark-

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

- Patrick Henry-

Of course there are things we can do to mitigate the chances of death, but giving up our liberties (and in turn the liberties of others) is not one that is acceptable.

It is unreasonable search and seizure: Period.

Of course I can volunteer to die for our liberties, but I cannot make that decision for my fellow citizens. And that is why it gets complicated. But we should all understand why this is a problem and how we affect the liberties of others though our own fears may be miniscule.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/11, Rating: 0
By MrBlastman on 4/14/2011 3:26:59 PM , Rating: 3
The reality of U.S politics is that there never will be a third party in power, sorry, that's just the way it is.

As long as you have that kind of attitude along with the rest of America, it will stand true.

However, if a few of us start relenting against it, and more start to follow with time, things just might change. If the original settlers of America said, "Aw screw it, the British know best," then where would we be now?...

... Not here, or at least, under our Republic system of Government.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/2011 3:31:29 PM , Rating: 1
As long as you have that kind of attitude along with the rest of America, it will stand true.

Sorry but politics isn't run on Unicorns and Rainbows and good wishes. It's run on money and public opinion. But mostly money.

You might want to research how politics actually WORK in this country before spitting your vitriol at me and others for being realistic.

By MrBlastman on 4/14/2011 3:43:03 PM , Rating: 3
Roll over and die. That's what you preach.

Yes, politics are run on money and that is a huge problem with the whole process right now. In no way shape or form should a presidential candidate be allowed to raise nearly a billion dollars of private money to help them "buy" their way into office. There is an extreme need right now for reform in this area.

However, I won't let that stop me from voting for who I feel will do the best job. I quietly go to the polls and do just that instead of voting for the "lesser of two evils."

The last twenty years has been Americans voting in just that way. When is going to stop? You can tell me I'm wasting my vote but you'll never convince me. I'm more convinced you are wasting yours if you don't vote for a candidate you truly feel will do the best job.

It all starts in your attitude, along with the rest of our country. Thankfully, attitudes can be adjusted.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/2011 3:46:14 PM , Rating: 2
I like how I'm just supposed to accept your premise that the third party candidate is always better, and I'm wrong for having the beliefs that I do...

By myhipsi on 4/15/2011 10:23:54 AM , Rating: 2
I say, take advantage of the system. We all know that the two party system is extremely biased toward Republicans and Democrats, with independents and the Libertarian party not included in debates, can't get on the ballot, etc.

Ron Paul learned this well after his 1988 run for president as a libertarian candidate. He got zero press coverage, wasn't included in the debates, and got on very few ballots. When he ran again in 2008, even though he never achieved the ultimate goal of the presidency, he got the exposure and the press coverage to get his message out there and inject meaningful discourse into the debates. The sad part is, he was the only candidate that focused on the upcoming (at the time) economic problems and how to solve them while the rest of the idiots were talking meaningless drivel, yet very few voters listened.

By The Raven on 4/15/2011 7:10:30 PM , Rating: 2
So you are assuming the opposite (that either the dems or reps are ALWAYS better) and leaving us locked in this dysfunctional 2 party system.

You have got to be a moron if you think either of these corrupt parties are making good on their platforms over the past several decades (even if those were good ideas which many are not in my eyes). So even if you do agree with the platforms you should vote 3rd party to send a message to these 2 parties so they will straighten up.

Voting 3rd party to break out of this rut would still leave you the option to vote R or D and it still mean something (err at least more than my current 3rd party votes.)

But I vote libertarian for the future. And that means something at this point. But I don't expect the tide to turn overnight. And I don't expect (or possibly even hope) that the tide will go all the way down the libertarian path, but I do know that I want it to head in that direction away from either of the Ds or Rs.

Anyway at least look into it some more bro. You know politics in this country are ridiculous when you have teachers unions pushing for pro-choice candidates and props. What does that have to do with teaching? Oh yeah, nothing. It is the same as corporate bribery on the other side of the aisle. Despicable.

By Ausdrake on 4/15/2011 8:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
The situation may be different, but in the past election here in Australia the people spoke with their votes and the two major parties were essentially tied. The only way Labor managed to eke out a victory was by appealing to the THREE independents and the one Green representative that won seats in parliament (an almost unheard of scenario). The system is still flawed, but the point is the voters can and DO make a difference, they just don't realize it.

You've resigned yourself over to the status quo like it's as rigid and inevitable as the rotation of the earth, which is exactly what the political circus wants you to think; control is easier when the public think they're powerless.

Mind you I don't disagree, politics is dirty and is more about corporate lobbying and pandering to constituents than actual policy, but that doesn't discount the fact that it is still something that can be changed if said change has enough momentum behind it.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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