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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: WOW
By MrTeal on 4/14/2011 11:12:49 AM , Rating: -1
I swear, someone needs to popularize an analogue to Goodwin's Law that states that as soon as "sheeple" is used in a thread, any constructive discussion is ended and the thread will now be left to the 17 year olds who watch too much cyberpunk and get their news from Alex Jones.


RE: WOW
By SublimeSimplicity on 4/14/11, Rating: -1
RE: WOW
By mcnabney on 4/14/11, Rating: -1
RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
By kattanna on 4/14/2011 2:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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

:>)


RE: WOW
By The Raven on 4/14/2011 10:47:05 PM , Rating: 4
---#1---
quote:
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??
quote:
The search left the child confused and in tears .
quote:
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.

---#2---
quote:
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??
quote:
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.

---#3---
quote:
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??
quote:
Definition of RANT 1 a : a bombastic extravagant speech

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rant?sho...

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.


RE: WOW
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?


RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
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)


RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
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'?


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


RE: WOW
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 wait...is that some cool catch phrase by some obscure blogger that I am forbidden to say, lest I be labled as a retard?


RE: WOW
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.

STOP VOTING PARTISAN

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.


RE: WOW
By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
By hyvonen on 4/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: WOW
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.


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


RE: WOW
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.


RE: WOW
By The Raven on 4/27/2011 3:17:09 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
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:
quote:
Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.

-General John Stark-

quote:
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.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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