TSA baby pat-down photographer: “I’ve never seen anything quite that bad”


Jacob Jester is the Kansas City pastor who took the infamous “poop bomb” photo of two screeners at Kansas City International Airport patting down an eight-month-old baby on Saturday. I spoke with him about the incident, and the ensuing firestorm, this afternoon.

Tell me what happened.

I was flying from Kansas City to Albuquerque, NM, on Saturday, and I had already passed through security. There was a woman with a baby behind me — she was about the same age as my son, and that caught my attention. So I looked back.

And what did you see?

I saw them patting the baby down from top to bottom. The mom was holding the baby, and she was being very cooperative.

I travel every week, and I’ve never seen anything quite that bad. I took out my phone and took a picture, and I tweeted it.

What happened then?

It’s been blown up more than I expected. It was on the Drudge Report. So far, I’ve had 143,000 hits on [the photo]. Kansas City airport tweeted me, and they said it would be up to TSA to offer a response. I haven’t heard anything from TSA, and I don’t expect to.

I’ve also asked TSA for a statement, but haven’t heard anything. What was the reaction in the Twittersphere?

A lot of the tweets I’ve received have been nasty. They’ve been very critical of the government and the TSA. I think at some point, we have to turn town the rhetoric.

How did you feel about what happened to the baby?

I was thinking, what would I do if this happened to my son? I understand that my security is at stake. I appreciate TSA trying to make flying more secure. But I wouldn’t want it to happen to my son.

Should babies ever be patted down?

Some people who have tweeted me said they should be, and that there are people with extreme ideals who might try to use a baby. But I think in most cases, babies don’t pose a threat to security.

As a pastor, do you have any perspective on this?

It’s always my objective not to get political. There are too many pastors that get political. I don’t think there’s a reason to preach politics.

This is a personal preference issue to me — whether you decided to go through a scanner or get patted down.

And which do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?

I go through the scanner.

Update (6 p.m.): TSA has sent me the following statement about the incident.

TSA has reviewed the screening of this family and determined that the officers involved followed proper current screening procedures. After the child’s stroller alarmed during explosives screening, officers followed protocol to conduct additional screening on members of the family, who were very cooperative.

While children are not exempt from security screening, Administrator [John] Pistole has tasked the agency with exploring additional ways to focus its resources and move beyond a one-size fits all system while maintaining a high level of security. As part of this effort, TSA has been actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers.

TSA has also blogged about the incident.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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