Myth or fact? TSA can’t seem to get it straight

Myth or fact? TSA can’t seem to get it straight
By | November 21st, 2010

So the Transportation Security Administration wants to “get everybody on the same page with the facts” about its new security procedures by posting a roundup of rumors to dispel.

There’s just one problem: it doesn’t.

TSA’s statements twist facts, put words into the mouth of its critics, and deceive the flying public.

Let’s take closer look at the top three “myths”:

Myth: All children will receive pat-downs.

Fact: TSA officers are trained to work with parents to ensure a respectful screening process for the entire family, while providing the best possible security for all travelers. Children 12 years old and under who require extra screening will receive a modified pat down.

Actually, no one is saying that “all children” or even “everyone” will receive pat-downs. Rather, parents are concerned that if they opt their kids out of the full-body scanners, their offspring will get patted down like this three-year-old.

Here’s a video in which TSA screeners apparently remove a child’s clothing. (TSA says the boy’s father removed the shirt voluntarily.)

Fact is, TSA announced last Wednesday that it had decided to “exempt” kids 12 and under from so-called “enhanced” pat-downs. From John Pistole’s testimony:

PISTOLE: First, Senator, one thing that we did not — I did not do a good job of communicating is that children 12 and under are exempted from the enhanced patdown. So that’s one issue, because of this concerns about dealing with children.

Actually, the decision was reportedly made just last week after the agency was sued, so the TSA administrator couldn’t have done a better job of communicating this new policy. It was brand-new. What’s more, we don’t know how kids 12 and under will be screened if they opt out, because TSA won’t tell us for “security reasons.”

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I also think this doesn’t address the bigger problem of minors being inappropriately touched by adults. Would you want your 13-year-old daughter’s vagina rubbed by a same-gender screener during an “enhanced” pat-down?

Here’s another one.

Myth: The TSA pat-down is invasive

Fact: Only passengers who alarm a walk through metal detector or AIT machine or opt out of the AIT receive a pat-down. For this reason, it is designed to be thorough in order to detect any potential threats and keep the traveling public safe. Pat-downs are performed by same-gender officers and all passengers have the right to a private screening with a travel companion at any time.

But the pat-downs are invasive. Pistole even said so in his Congressional testimony. Here’s an exchange between Sen. Dorgan and the TSA administrator.

DORGAN: What — did it make you uncomfortable? I mean, what was your impressions as a person?

PISTOLE: Yes. Yes. So it was more invasive than what I was used to. Of course, what is in my mind, from almost 27 years with the FBI and all of the counterterrorism work since 9/11 is what are the plots out there, and how are we informed by the latest intelligence and the latest technology, and what do we need to do to assure the American people that, as they travel, that we are being thorough.

  • Dwalker

    “Same-gender screeners”.  Not all people fall neatly into one of the two primary gender categories.