More headaches for TSA E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

There are two standard reactions to videos showing TSA workers' thorough pat-downs of toddlers. The first is "that's a disgrace!" The second is "We must trade liberty, and common sense, for security." Civil rights advocates and others are outraged after a six-year-old girl received an intense patdown while passing through security at New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport recently. Video of the incident shows a female TSA agent explaining the manner in which she will touch the child as she goes through the procedure. The girl's clearly aggravated mother asks, "Can't you just re-scan her?" to which the agent replies "No."


The agent appears to behave in a gentle and professional manner. No one is suggesting that the screener was in the wrong. She was just doing her job. The TSA said in a statement that she followed proper screening procedures. The statement added that the agency 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."

In other words, everyone's waiting for the first six-year-old female Caucasian attempted crotch bomber before the TSA throws the baby out with the bath water. Others wonder if maybe the girl and her mother could have at least been searched in a secure area.

"A child who is visibly, audibly complaining, 'I don't want to do this,' should at the very least be given some privacy," Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU Louisiana, told CBS affiliate WWL New Orleans. "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 said.

"Privacy experts don't like it at all, the critics call it security theater, but we have to say the screener here appears to be doing her job," CBS News national security correspondent Bob Orr told CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday. "This patdown happens all the time ... somewhere in America. Whether we like it or not, the truth is it's part of the post-9/11 security."

Of course whether it makes any sense or is an effective counter-terror technique is a secondary concern.

"You can't take kids out of the mix, The exemption would point terrorists to a gaping hole in our security," Orr said. "It's not a theoretical threat. Terrorists have proven they can smuggle explosives aboard planes. ... The bottom line is al Qaeda is savvy, study our security system and practices and it's not beyond al Qaeda to use kids."

Or they could just hit a train instead of a plane.

That way they wouldn't have to find five and six year-old American field operatives.

In the case of last week's patdown of a 6-year-old, the TSA maintains children have been used to carry explosives in some places, and that they have to be subject to the same restrictions as adults in order to ensure safety. There was nothing in the way of details as far as the "children used to carry explosives," contention by federal officials.

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