In the wake of concerns regarding a video of a Transportation Security Administration screener patting down a young child at an airport security checkpoint, one of the agency's leading critics is pushing Congress to pass a law requiring it to seek parental consent before performing enhanced pat-downs on young children.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who has railed against what he considers to be an invasive procedure since it began, introduced the bill late last week. It would prohibit TSA from patting down a minor unless it’s conducted with the consent and presence of a parent.
In the case of young children traveling alone, TSA wouldn’t be able to perform a pat-down unless a representative of the airline transporting the child is present.
Last week’s incident involving a 6-year old Kentucky girl earned national attention and revived a debate on whether TSA is going too far with its security procedures.
TSA officials said the screener who performed the pat-down properly followed the agency’s current procedure — emphasizing that it may soon change. The agency’s administrator, John S. Pistole, ordered a review of passenger screening policies last year and has said he would be willing to make it easier for some passengers to pass through checkpoints if they offered up details of their personal information in advance.
But agency officials also stressed that a blanket ban on screening children could inspire some of the worst terrorists to exploit young children and use them to carry explosive or other dangerous devices onto planes.
Chaffetz and TSA have had a rocky relationship since he joined Congress. In his freshman year, he accused TSA agents at his hometown airport in Salt Lake City of unfairly targeting him to pass through a full-body scanning machine — a device Chaffetz believes is invasive. The Republican lawmaker said he believed he was targeted partially for his opposition to granting TSA screeners collective bargaining rights. The union representing some of the officers said at the time that agents followed proper procedure and that an officer who had recently returned frommilitary service in Iraq didn’t recognize Chaffetz.
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