Green Room

Video of Pat-down of 6-year-old Reignites TSA Debate

posted at 11:13 am on April 13, 2011 by

The video of a TSA agent groping a child at New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport on April 5 has reanimated the debate over whether the Transportation and Security Administration’s heavy-handed tactics are a bridge too far.

This time around, the TSA itself appears to recognize the error of its ways. Reacting to a fresh firestorm of criticism in the wake of the New Orleans incident, the agency released a statement indicating that it is

exploring additional ways to focus its resources and move beyond a one-size fits all system while maintaining a high level of security [and] has been actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers.

One hopes this round of brainstorming will produce a better plan than the one the TSA devised last December when the agency urged parents to tell their young children that “pat-downs are a game.”

And maybe while they’re back at the drawing board the TSA can also figure out ways of keeping the real potential security threats from breaching the system. Their track record in that department has been less than stellar. In February, a man described as having a history of psychiatric problems sneaked past a checkpoint at John F. Kennedy International Airport and boarded a plane that was ready to take off. Lest anyone dismiss the lapse as a one-off occurrence, it should be noted that the same man, Ronald Wong, did the same exact thing in San Francisco two months earlier. Other similar cases abound.

As to the incident in New Orleans, Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of the Louisiana ACLU, is quoted by CBS News as saying that “a 6-year-old child shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of treatment in the first place if there’s no reason to suspect her or her parents of being criminals.” She adds:

A child who is visibly, audibly complaining, ‘I don’t want to do this,’ should at the very least be given some privacy.

It’s a start, one supposes. But what ever happened to the argument voiced in opposition to the Patriot Act that when we relinquish our liberties, the terrorists have won?

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I saw this video earlier. What that poor child and parents was going through was horrible! There is no reasone what so ever for a child to be put through that! It is bad enough for an adult, but a child? NO! There probably isn’t anything the parents can do about this either.

letget on April 13, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Sorry but NO airplane ride is worth putting your child through this. I would walk to my destination before I would put up with this assault on my child.

txmomof6 on April 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

There is no excuse for this. NONE!

NOBODY should have their civil liberties violated in the name of “protection” and “safety.”. Especially not a young child.

This agent is nothing more than a child molester with a permission slip.

Badger State Dave on April 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM

It’s a start, one supposes. But what ever happened to the argument voiced in opposition to the Patriot Act that when we relinquish our liberties, the terrorists have won?

You can’t possible be that naive, Howard. That was when BOOSH was in office. Get a clue.


gryphon202 on April 13, 2011 at 11:40 AM

I wonder if any kid traveling without parents (e.g., between divorced ones) has gotten The Works from TSA. It would be traumatic enough to go through this with a parent standing by. Imagine being 12 and on your own among thousands of strangers and having to go through it.

J.E. Dyer on April 13, 2011 at 1:01 PM

One hopes this round of brainstorming will produce a better plan than the one the TSA devised last December when the agency urged parents to tell their young children that “pat-downs are a game.”

Wait, what? What the censored censored censored! TSA wants to help pedophiles?

rbj on April 13, 2011 at 1:12 PM

I don’t get it. what was the reasonable cause for this girl to be subjected to a physical pat down? Just randomly chosen? It’s insane.

rrpjr on April 13, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Looks like the post failed.

Not mentioned is that the child was upset and crying when they got onto the plane. She could not understand what she had done wrong. Her parents had a hard time convincing her that she had not done anything wrong. Take a look at the childs face at the end of the video.

To this child the TSA agent was a policeman and policemen only do things like that to bad people.

Listen to the agent tell the child she has pretty hair in an attempt to make it like a game.

Franklyn on April 13, 2011 at 2:15 PM

This child is young enough that she will still be taught about good touch and bad touch in school. Children are not young adults that have the ability to reason and understand. This child is young enough that she sees the world as being about her and what she does. How will she feel about herself when they are telling her and her classmates bad touches are bad? Would she be comfortable with telling her classmates that she has been “bad touched’? If you were her teacher teaching that lesson would you be comfortable with letting her stand up in front of class and discribe how the police had told her to stand with her legs apart, and how pretty her hair was, then ran their hands all over her body, her bottom too, and up her legs to her private spot where they felt there too, or you would ask her not to share so much information with her classmates? It is more probable that you would never hear of how she was force to allow someone to touch her in a bad way.

Franklyn on April 13, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Until and unless movement conservatives are willing to denounce Bush for his nationalization of airport security, Republicans will not touch this. So, how many of you are ready to blame the original nationalizer (socialist) in this area? George W Bush. C’mon, you know you can do it!

flawedskull on April 13, 2011 at 3:22 PM

flawedskull on April 13, 2011 at 3:22 PM

In case you haven’t noticed, Mr. Bush is no longer President. I fail to see how denouncing him for this or any other reason will influence policy now.

Mary in LA on April 13, 2011 at 3:27 PM

By that logic, denouncing Richard Nixon would be an effective way to protest current Internet wiretapping laws.

Mary in LA on April 13, 2011 at 3:29 PM

[email protected]:22,
I doubt in their wildest dreams Bush and team would have thought a six year old child would have this done to her. The plan, or so we thought, was to get those who looked like they might be among those who DO blow up and kill people get a little extra notice. The pc group, or bho and team, won’t allow the rop type to get extra attention or pat down! Can’t get cair and the rop type bent out of shape, now can we? Bush did do this, but now the pc group have gone so far off the scale, we now have this with this child and adults who DO NOT fit any form of terrorits! Sure sucks doesn’t it?

letget on April 13, 2011 at 3:36 PM

To add to [email protected]:36,
We did have a little thing that happened on 9/11. The worse lose of life of American’s, worse than Pearl Harbor. The d’s also gave their ok to keep those God horrible terrorist’s from doing this again. It is both the r’s and d’s who have taken this beyond what our Founders wanted and our Constitution allows! The tsa have made themselves judge and jury. Think what we will be in for when they go union?

letget on April 13, 2011 at 4:09 PM


Oh I have noticed. In case YOU haven’t noticed, there is this thing in Government called “ratcheting.” It happens when one party tries to justify the means by the ends, and then feigns surprise when their opponent does the same, or, takes the power that was abused further! The Founders knew all about it. I suggest you read them.

The ratchet-up of government power is always one way. And unless conservatives are willing to forcefully denounce the repugnant Republicans who do disservice to the cause of liberty, their cries will ring hollow to the rest. Not to mention, if they don’t, then what incentive do Republican politicians have to undo $hit like the TSA?


That is precisely why power should not be sought, as it will surely be abused, one day by your enemies. It’s not very hard to understand. For example, FDR abused the Commerce Clause to set a precedent. And 70 years later, Tom Coburn banned partial-birth abortion using this expansion of the Commerce Clause. Whether or not you support that FEDERAL ban, this is how the abuse of power works.

flawedskull on April 13, 2011 at 4:11 PM

The TSA telling parents to tell their children that the invasive pat downs that involve being touched in their private areas that no one is suppose to touch them there is just a game. That is right out of a pedophile’s how to molest or rape a child book. That is probably the oldest and first ploy that one would use on a child. Worse they want the parents to do it, making it akin to the mother or father assuring their kid okay to go along with the pedophile who wants to molest them. In this video the Agent telling the kid she has pretty hair, is another page out of that book; telling their victim that they are pretty.

Why they would need to run a finger around the inside of her panties makes no real sense. It is however the way a pedophile would see if the child was compliant with being molested further.

Considering the early defense for the pat down on children’ it is interesting to see that they have a small modification, using the back of the hand on the bottom, the least sensitive private area of children, and yet they still use the hand to feel up her legs and up between her legs, areas that for girls are clearly bad touch places.

Perhaps being called sexual perverts for feeling and viewing images of adults is agreeable but the greasy feel of pedophilia with the naked views of and pat downs on children is not desirable enough for them to keep doing it. Maybe there have been too many complaints lingering pats in children’s private areas that we never hear about.

I may be a bit harsh but there is no appology for that.

I raised a very talented and loving daughter and enjoy a very close father daughter relationship with her. I would have insured that someone who touched her as a child like the TSA is doing to children today, never had the approtunity to do it again. And yet today it would be me arrested and sent to prison,and the pervert who did it handed the next kid in line.

I am also a teacher. I have taught all grades, but the first five years were my second and third graders. I understand how children precive the world around them, view themselves, other children and adults and for that reason,why they need to be protected.

There are grandchildren in the near future. I suppose my daughter can handle the pat downs and being young and cute she probably will be selected more often than most, but I will never allow a grandchild to fly to me if this continues. They will just have to get off handling my old junk, that is if they are agreeable that they are going to change those gloves first.

Franklyn on April 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM

Up next – TSA uses a picture of a “lost puppy” to entice children into the pornoscanner. This will pave the way for TSA to insist that children have to have their pat-down without the parents present & then threaten the kids to never talk about it, because afterall it’s their fault.

Just wait until TSA has their own purple shirts “this is what democracy looks like!”

batterup on April 13, 2011 at 11:51 PM

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