Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz continues his efforts to put a leash around the Transportation Security Administration and bring some sanity to its passenger screening operations. In keeping with this mission, Rep. Chaffetz has introduced a bill which would ban TSA patdowns of children without parental consent.
The bill, designated H.R.1510, is entitled the "TSA Screening of Minors Act of 2011". The primary purpose is to amend title 49, United States Code, to prohibit a patdown search of minor for purposes of air transportation security without the consent and presence of a parent of the minor. It defines parent as either a biological parent or an adult acting in loco parentis. In the case of a minor who is not accompanied by a parent, a patdown would have to be conducted in the presence of a representative of the air carrier or foreign air carrier undertaking to provide air transportation or foreign air transportation, respectively, for which the search is conducted. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Rep. Chaffetz's action was prompted by the April 5th TSA groping of six-year-old Anna Drexel in New Orleans. Rep. Chaffetz characterized the patdown as being in clear violation of TSA’s explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13. He pledged to introduce restrictive legislation after that incident, and H.R.1510 is the result.
In response, TSA officials note 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. As usual, TSA is overreacting; H.R.1510 is NOT a blanket ban, but merely gives more control back to the parent.
According to the Provo Daily Herald, Rep. Chaffetz actually favors adopting a less intrusive form of screening -- dogs. Chaffetz says TSA could protect the country just as well with the use of bomb sniffing dogs and behavioral screenings, noting that dogs are used in the White House, the House of Representatives, and in the theater of war. Chaffetz admits that his plan to implement the usage of the dogs over the scanning machines will have an uphill battle, because the dogs don't have something the scanning machines do have -- a lobbyist.
That lobbyist is, of course, none other than former Homeland Security czar Michael Chertoff, whose Chertoff Group security consulting agency represents Rapiscan Systems, which manufactures the whole-body scanners being installed at airports.