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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 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.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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