The Transportation Security Administration came under fire last week after a YouTube video surfaced showing a little girl being frisked. Now, a Utah congressman is sponsoring legislation that would restrict the TSA's ability to pat down minors.
"I am personally outraged and disgusted by yet another example of mistreatment of an innocent American at the hands of the TSA," Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz wrote in a letter to agency administrator John Pistole.
The video appears to show a New Orleans TSA official frisking a tearful six year-old Anna Drexel by passing her hands over the girl's chest, hair, and inside the waistband of her pants.
"Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes," the agency said in a blog post about the video. "TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures."
"Blogger Bob" of the TSA Blog Team further explained that the agency is reviewing its screening policies. "[O]ur Administrator is looking into ways to move past the cookie cutter approach to screening," he wrote. "TSA has been actively assessing less invasive screening methods for low-risk populations, such as young passengers, while still maintaining a high level of security."
But Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, said the agency needs to "get serious" about balancing personal privacy and national security. The long-time TSA critic's proposed legislation, H.R. 151, would bar screening officials from patting down minors without the consent and presence of a parent, or, in the absence of a parent, a representative from the airline with which the child is traveling.
The lawmaker's own daughter 15 year-old daughter was separated from her mother for a TSA pat-down at Washington Reagan's International Airport last week. And it's not the first time Chaffetz has taken the TSA to task over its screening procedures. Legislation he introduced last month would require the agency to equip its full body imaging systems with privacy filters. He also cites a 2010 letter written by full committee Chairman Darrell Issa inquiring about an incident in which a four year-old disabled boy was asked to walk through a metal detector without assistance.
"Continual examples of mistreatment by TSA demonstrate that its policies and strategies have failed," Chaffetz wrote in his letter to Pistole. "At the very least, it cannot continue to operate under the belief that little girls and handicapped children pose such a serious threat that TSO's must abandon all manner of decency in interacting with them."