TSA baby pat-down photographer: “I’ve never seen anything quite that bad”

Jacob Jester is the Kansas City pastor who took the infamous “poop bomb” photo of two screeners at Kansas City International Airport patting down an eight-month-old baby on Saturday. I spoke with him about the incident, and the ensuing firestorm, this afternoon.

Tell me what happened.

I was flying from Kansas City to Albuquerque, NM, on Saturday, and I had already passed through security. There was a woman with a baby behind me — she was about the same age as my son, and that caught my attention. So I looked back.

And what did you see?

I saw them patting the baby down from top to bottom. The mom was holding the baby, and she was being very cooperative.

I travel every week, and I’ve never seen anything quite that bad. I took out my phone and took a picture, and I tweeted it.

What happened then?

It’s been blown up more than I expected. It was on the Drudge Report. So far, I’ve had 143,000 hits on [the photo]. Kansas City airport tweeted me, and they said it would be up to TSA to offer a response. I haven’t heard anything from TSA, and I don’t expect to.

I’ve also asked TSA for a statement, but haven’t heard anything. What was the reaction in the Twittersphere?

A lot of the tweets I’ve received have been nasty. They’ve been very critical of the government and the TSA. I think at some point, we have to turn town the rhetoric.

How did you feel about what happened to the baby?

I was thinking, what would I do if this happened to my son? I understand that my security is at stake. I appreciate TSA trying to make flying more secure. But I wouldn’t want it to happen to my son.

Related story:   How my kids taught me to be a better consumer advocate

Should babies ever be patted down?

Some people who have tweeted me said they should be, and that there are people with extreme ideals who might try to use a baby. But I think in most cases, babies don’t pose a threat to security.

As a pastor, do you have any perspective on this?

It’s always my objective not to get political. There are too many pastors that get political. I don’t think there’s a reason to preach politics.

This is a personal preference issue to me — whether you decided to go through a scanner or get patted down.

And which do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?

I go through the scanner.

Update (6 p.m.): TSA has sent me the following statement about the incident.

TSA has reviewed the screening of this family and determined that the officers involved followed proper current screening procedures. After the child’s stroller alarmed during explosives screening, officers followed protocol to conduct additional screening on members of the family, who were very cooperative.

While children are not exempt from security screening, Administrator [John] Pistole has tasked the agency with exploring additional ways to focus its resources and move beyond a one-size fits all system while maintaining a high level of security. As part of this effort, TSA has been actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers.

TSA has also blogged about the incident.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • Linu

    Isn’t it possible for the mother carry her baby into the scanner? Or is that a high risk radiation for the child? Pretty unnerving stuff sadly..

  • I know it’s been said so many times that it’s become cliché, but this is the kind of thing that makes me believe the terrorists have won. Even now, after the death of bin Laden, it seems that our government would rather ratchet up the fear and paranoia instead of finding a way to return to some sense or normalcy.

  • I suspect the mother preferred not to use the scanner in this case, but can’t be sure.

  • cjr001

    “A lot of the tweets I’ve received have been nasty. They’ve been very
    critical of the government and the TSA. I think at some point, we have
    to turn town the rhetoric.”

    Sorry, but this is the wrong answer. The government deserves all the criticism it gets and more when incidents like this keep happening.

    Want to turn down the rhetoric? Look to where the blame belongs: the government, not individuals.

    The government is the one with the propaganda that causes people to believe they should be treated as a criminal just to board an airplane. They are the ones who choose to lead by fear and that a terrorist boogieman is hiding in every piece of luggage.

    The rhetoric will only be turned down when TSA is dismantled.

  • Annapolis2

    Can everyone please stop it with the false alternative of “scanner or patdown”? Just stop it! Pay attention for once; here are the facts.

    1: Even if you go through the naked scanner, you can be pulled aside and forced to endure a sexually invasive patdown *also*.

    2: Many people can not, absolutely can not use the naked scanner – babies too young to stand on their own, people in wheelchairs, people with injuries that prevent them from raising their arms over their heads, and more.

    3: Many people have medical conditions that mean they will *always* be
    pulled aside for a patdown after they go through the naked
    scanner – women with mastectomies, those with implanted medical devices, transgender people, various prostheses, and more.

    It’s not a choice: scan or patdown. It’s a tyrannical and inhumane gauntlet of abuse where the rules for what you’ll be forced to endure are secret and resistance is futile. If you don’t want to be sexually assaulted by a blue-shirt, don’t fly.

  • John Knoxville

    @cjr – take it easy.

  • Annapolis2

    There is no response too “nasty” when a traitor abuses both our treasured Constitution and the bodies of innocent children. None. I want the names and addresses of TSA screeners up on a website where they can be shamed and tracked so as not to let their filth infect my family or my social circles.

  • Thank you, cjr and Annapolis2. The TSA apologists will be out in full force soon enough. No doubt “Blogger Bob” and his minions are also posting on this site.

  • What the hell is the point of this “patdown” anyway?? Did they take his diaper off? No? Then how did they know he wasn’t packing explosives?? After all, “Gotta Keep Us Safe From The Terrorists!” “The Terrorists Might Use A Baby!” “They Might Even Use A Baby’s Diaper!” Therefore, check the diaper!

  • Adam

    Its important to keep in mind that Kanas City screeners are a private company and not TSA. Being my home airport, I’ve noticed incredible inconsistancy in enforcement of TSA regulations, possibly because of this. I’ve been told that I can’t keep my watch on because it breaks regulations, even though it does not set off the metal detectors (ceramic) and never being asked to remove it at any other airport, unless of course going thru the dreaded scanners.

  • Leeannewrites

    DISAGREE. @ef3e8d75651a7b6dcaf5025a7487558a:disqus should NOT take it easy. None of us should. Why are ANY of us allowing our own government to force us to subject ourselves to humiliating an offensive sexual assaults at the hands of uneducated, unskilled, marginally trained workers? Why do ANY of us allow these unskilled workers to touch our sex organs, physically assault our children, elderly and disabled, and steal our personal belongings? Why do ANY of us believe the tripe that the TSA is doing ANYTHING to increase our safety and security? Why do ANY of us roll over and play sheeple while the DHS blows billions of our tax dollars on a make-work program for the otherwise-unemployable?

  • Scott

    I don’t think Chris would have asked the TSA for a comment if they did not provide security at KCI.

  • 1twothree4

    Babies of the multiple wives of a member of the religion of peace are the only babies that should be thoroughly checked.

  • Screwthemilitary

    the stroller tripped an explosives scan so they stuck their dirty rotten hands down the babies diapers..

  • Adam

    The company is called First Line Security. Please note in the above picture that the uniform is different than the TSA ones.


  • Guest

    I’m sure the British thought the colonists’ response to their high taxes and heavyhanded bureaucracy was nasty too.

  • @eb7f8d1a5a85b7c7d4a90a2808fd3064:disqus and @ab04f67eca6f60c1da9624b1cba17164:disqus TSA responded (see update). And yes, they were the right agency to call for a reaction. They supervise the private screeners at KCI, and the private screeners are held to TSA standards.

  • Jeanne in NE

    @Lisa Simeone: If they check the diaper, they should be prepared to change it, too!

  • NJK

    This woman would be waived right through though.

    Does anyone else get the impression that whites are being targeted more than others. Obama and Napolitano have appointed Muslims with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood to DHS. I think it’s another form of Jihad from within. They are targeting white children.

  • Okay, this is utterly wrong. Beyond the pale. I am struggling for words here, but then, I have been struggling for words to describe my reaction to hearing that a breast cancer survivor was forced to remove her prostheses…that a little boy with cerebral palsy was forced to take off his leg braces and crawl through the metal detector…that I, a paying passenger with no criminal history whatsoever as well as a middle-aged mother of three who weighs 52 kilos soaking wet am considered such a serious threat, I must be pulled out of line repeatedly and and patted down, even outside on the tarmac as I walked toward the aircraft, where I had my eye-shielding hand smacked away from my face while being yelled at to do as I am told and stand still.

    I feel sick to my stomach looking at that helpless baby. I cannot judge the mother’s state of mind or reasoning, though I will say she appears to be rather young, and since this rubbish has been going on for a while, she’s probably becoming conditioned to the fascistic abuse one must endure these days if one wishes to be afforded the privilege of being shoehorned into a skybus and strapped into a row of miserably uncomfortable seats in order to travel. Which would appear to be the point of this Security Theatre: condition the public to accept ever-greater intrusions and humiliations.

    Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. I have not flown in a long while; I do not plan to fly, either–barring an emergency–until and unless this abuse ends.

  • cjr001

    “TSA has reviewed the screening of this family and determined that the
    officers involved followed proper current screening procedures.”

    Funny how they always say that.

    “Administrator [John] Pistole has tasked the agency with exploring
    additional ways to focus its resources and move beyond a one-size fits
    all system while maintaining a high level of security.”

    And that.

    Yet, things only get worse.

  • Fisher1949

    Blame TSA/DHS and the politicians who have created this
    absurd hysteria over an imaginary air travel threat. Al Qaeda was planning
    attacks on moving trains all along, not airplanes.

    After spending over $1 Trillion dollars, we learn that we were just as
    safe without this circus, they haven’t found one threat and now we find out
    that Bin Laden was going to sabotage the rails, not put bombs on the train..

    Looking in diapers? Really? Even if the diaper was
    packed with C4, there isn’t enough volume available there to pose a realistic
    threat to anyone but the baby and the mother.
    I am also sick of hearing TSA recite the “we are actively reviewing our procedures……” every time they get busted abusing a passenger. They’ve been saying that since November along with the “abundance of caution” refrain. They not only useless as a security agency, they can’t even construct sentence.

  • Sungold

    You could easily fit 3 + oz. of gel in a diaper! My kids did just that, many a time. (Love your idea, Jeanne!)

  • Nj07208

    My 10 month old’s stroller had to be hand checked by TSA and no one asked to search my child. I would never allow that to happen. I would have to find another way to get to my destination.

  • Unreal.

  • Jack

    They are conditioning children as young as possible to accept these kinds of worthless and ridiculous intrusions as ‘necessary’ for their safety, so that they will be more cooperative and pliable as adults.

  • Serena

    And you don’t think the tepid, non-specific response you got from TSA isn’t precisely that – rhetoric? What is going on in your head? If the biggest risk you take all day is boarding a plan with an unmolested baby, you are living in a total cocoon with no concept of danger at all.

    P.S. Not being nasty. Just trying to shake you back into reality for a second. This isn’t ok, and a dozen Osamas couldn’t make it ok.

  • If TSA said tomorrow: OK, we won’t check private spaces (eg. genitals) or babies, honestly, if someone wanted to get a bomb on a plane, where do you think they’d put it? My feeling: just go through the scanner. If you are physically unable, then your choice is: pat down or don’t fly.

    Then if there is a successful terrorist attack despite the TSA’s security screening, we should revisit the issue. But guess what? No matter how much they’re hated, there haven’t been any attacks since they’ve been instituted.

    Just went through Nepal’s airport and had a very uncomfortable pat down, so I understand how invasive it is (no scanner option available). But if it’s going to stop another 9/11, personally, I’m willing to put up with it.

  • djp

    I am just surprised they didnt put the baby in a tray and put them through the scanner.

  • danni88

    I don’t think Chris would have asked the TSA for a comment if they did not provide security at KCI.

  • Rflees

    There are crazy people out there and they would not think twice about using a baby to serve their purpose. I would not object to my baby being patted down because then I know they are being thorough and checking everyone. Better safe then sorry. People complain when they are not doing a good job and then they complain when they are trying to do a good jb.

  • Rflees

    The government didn’t cause 9/11 – because of that we have to be more vigilant -the government doesn’t owe you anything but they are trying to keep us safe. Remember what Kennedy said- Ask not what your country can do for you BUT what you can do for your country!!!!!

  • Rflees

    I offer 2 suggesstions –
    1. DON’T FLY !!!! No one is forcing you to fly!!!
    2. How about we put all of you people that do not want to be scanned or patted down on the same plane – if you can find a pilot that will fly the plane- good luck !!! I for one don’t care if you get checked, just don’t fly on the same plane as me !!!

  • Rflees

    I agree – you make sense !!
    We are not the only country that does this – so how is it our governments fault !

  • Can we stop with the racist crap, people? This is such a load of nonsense. I bet you would’ve been just fine with the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, as well.

    Stop turning on each other. Stop demonizing people who are different from you. Did you also castigate blue-eyed blond-haired white Christians after Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City? Nah, didn’t think so. And do you really think actual terrorists — of whom there are a TINY percentage in this world — are so stupid that they can’t figure out how to exploit racist Americans’ prejudices against Muslims by recruiting non-Muslims? You think only swarthy people know how to detonate bombs??

  • Annapolis2

    There is nothing, nothing *safe* about strangers putting their hands all over your child’s sexual organs. This is sick and shameful. If I have to explain that to you, I question your fitness as a parent.

  • 9/11 was not caused by somebody bringing a bomb aboard a plane. And no bombs were brought aboard planes BEFORE 9/11, either, or after! For the hundredth time, Pan Am over Lockerbie was in 1988 — 23 years ago — and it was a bomb in the cargo. Cargo. Cargo that still isn’t being screened today, while you acquiesce to getting your groin searched. No bombs have been brought onto planes after 9/11 even before these insane, worthless, bullying procedures were put in place.

    9/11 happened because of the incompetence of the US intelligence services and because the attackers were able to gain access to the cockpits. Cockpit doors have since been hardened, and no passengers will ever again meekly submit to a threatening person on board. THAT’S what has changed since 9/11. That’s what will keep you safe, not these idiotic procedures.

    Do you want to live as a free citizen or a slave? Do you want to cower and quake because you believe A Terrorist Is Hiding Around Every Corner? Then better not leave your house. Because “The Terrorists” — of whom there are a tiny number anyway — aren’t so stupid that they can’t figure out how to target other locations besides airplanes.

    What happens if somebody detonates a bomb in the arrivals or departures concourse, like they just did in Moscow’s Domodedovo, or in a cafe? Why wait to get on board? Why don’t you security cheerleaders ever answer this question? You’re all in favor of giving up your rights — our rights — while standing in line like sheep, yet you never answer this. What do you want — for us to get stopped on the highway leading up to the airport and groped and stripped there? How about at the entrance to every mall, every stadium, every theater, every museum, everywhere? After all, Gotta Keep Us Safe From The Terrorists! The Terrorists Are Out To Get Us!

    Do you drive? 43,000 traffic fatalities a year in this country. Guess you’d better stop driving. Worse, do you talk on your phone while driving? Well, may as well just kill yourself now, cause you’re far more likely to die from that than from the hyped-up threat of Terrorists On Airplanes!

  • There aren’t nearly as many “crazy people out there” as there are cowards who would happily bend over and spread ’em every time they hear the word “Terrorist!” What a pathetic country we’ve become. Al Qaeda has achieved precisely its explicitly stated goal: get Americans to cower and whimper in terror, while bankrupting our economy through never-ending spending on bogus “security.”

  • Guest

    If they want to keep us safe, if that’s really their objective, they wouldn’t be ignoring cargo in favour of 8-month old babies.

  • Guest


  • Guest

    But it’s not going to stop another 9/11 because the problem there was cockpit access–a problem which has been solved. Do you not understand how much MONEY is being made on these scanners, how many lucrative high level Federal careers are being made in building the bureaucratic empire known as “Homeland Security?” Do you have any idea how high the wage scale is in our Federal government and how difficult it is to kill of an unnecessary Federal bureaucracy once it takes root? This is about money and power and not at all about solving problems that simple do not exist or have been solved. TSA is the epitome of ineffective, reactionary, Soviet-style bureaucracy.

  • Guest

    So… you’re still flying on planes on which the cargo hasn’t been checked, right? The pilot still flies that plane, right?

    Also, circumstances and topography force people to fly. It’s often not a choice. Or do you think people should simply give up their careers, not show up at their mother’s death bed because you don’t mind being groped or exposed to unnecessary and useless radiation?

  • Guest

    But you wouldn’t have been allowed to leave the area without a search. This is what people really, really do not understand. We now have our very own KGB.

  • And as we’ve explained umpteen times:

    1. The TSA is invading every space — as was predictable — not just airports. Not to mention thousands of people must fly for work; they have no choice, other than be unemployed. So the response “Don’t Fly” is not only inane but callous. Some of us have stopped flying because of these abuses. We’re able to make that decision; not everyone can.

    2. Your Constitutional rights don’t come and go based on where you set foot in this country. They exist inherently. They exist independently of what you or your overlords believe. You have just as much of a “right to fly” as you have a right to walk around your block, get in your car and cross state lines, bike around the park, or take a bus, train, or boat. The reason these rights are being taken away is because people like you are allowing it to happen.

  • Rflees

    If you don’t like our country or our government for better or worse – do something about it – run for office !!! But if you don’t know what you are talking about – and you are so unhappy- go to another country.
    It’s easy to talk about things you do not know. Unless you have access to confidential information on how our government is protecting us then put your money where your mouth is.

  • Guest


    This is a serious question, not a slam. But, at what point would you draw the line? Seriously, they’re touching women’s labia in some searches. Would you allow that to be done to your 8-month old daughter by a stranger?

    If so, do you not understand how pathetic an attempt at controlling the uncontrollable that would be? When you reach the point of basically strip searching babies you have already lost the game. It’s really sad to think there are people who actually would subject their child to sexual abuse by a stranger to, to… well, I really don’t know what the point would be as long as humans have rectums.

  • Rflees, it is our government that has created the TSA and instituted these abusive, boneheaded practices. I can’t fight the abusive, boneheaded practices of every other country out there. I’m an American citizen living in the USA and I can only fight here.

    Corporations are making billions of dollars off these scanners AND OFF THE PARANOIA AND HYSTERIA OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC. DHS is growing by leaps and bounds, the budget for TSA alone is $8.1 billion. That’s our money. Our money they’re spending to abuse us. Are we going to lie down and take it? Or are we going to fight? Do we stand for anything in this country or not? It’s easy to spout words like “democracy” and “freedom” and “liberty” and “values,” which Americans love to drone on about. But here they are — half the population anyway — blithely giving up their rights, one by one, to the security overlords who are playing them like fools.

  • That’s what I’m trying to do, Rflees. Speaking up for my country, for the citizens of my country, for the rights of those citizens. That’s what a responsible person does. That’s what someone worthy of the name “citizen” does.

  • Annapolis2

    What I can do for my country is fight, fight with everything I have to ensure its Constitution is respected and its people are free. You are an un-American coward for begging to be stripped of the rights people died to secure for you. John Adams said that warrantless searches were the spark that ignited the American Revolution. Read up on it sometime – warrantless searches really were one of the principal complaints of the revolutionaries, and I for one am not going to stand idly by whle warrantless searches infest our once-free country. Americans aren’t guaranteed safety, and by the way no one can guarantee your safety. But Americans are guaranteed freedom from warrantless sexually intrusive searches that serve no purpose, and I will never ever stop fighting for my Constitution, until the rule of law returns.

  • cjr001

    Oh, yeah, there’s a conversation starter: “Don’t like it, go to another country!”

    “Don’t like having a stranger’s hand shoved down your pants, don’t fly/take the bus/drive a commercial truck!”

    Please stop speaking the cliches of the ignorant masses. It was tiresome the 10th time it was said, much less the 1 millionth.

  • cjr001

    “where do you think they’d put it?”

    So, I ask the same question I always ask and never get an answer to:

    You would have no problem then with receiving a cavity search?

    With people randomly receiving cavity searches? With grandmothers and babies receiving cavity searches?

    Shoe-bomber: stopped by passengers

    Underwear-bomber: stopped by passengers

    Liquids: stopped by passengers

    Printer cartridges: cargo planes, discovered through intelligence and forewarning by the Saudis

    Now, tell me again, where is TSA in all of those? How valuable and worthwhile has all the sexual assault and groping and pornoscanning been worth?

    Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

  • cjr001

    “Better safe then sorry.”

    Liberty, safety, etc. Oh, wait, you don’t care one whit about that, as your comments prove.

    But go on living in your little bubble of reality, where you think TSA is actually keeping you safe. But hey, if you think terrorists won’t hesitate to use a baby – even though they haven’t – don’t blame us when it’s your turn to bend over for your courtesy prostate exam at the airport.

  • Litofeit

    The amount of radiation received from the scan would be far less that a normal day outside exposed to the sun. They really do not pose a threat to your health. To small of an amount to be considered acute exposure and not frequent enough to be considered somatic(chronic).

  • Pauletteb

    What’s the big deal? The baby’s stroller set off an explosives alarm, which meant extra checks for the entire family. So what? More people blowing situations way out of proportion. Anyone who thinks that a terrorist would hesitate to use an infant to carry an explosive device is an idiot!

  • Although please, let’s remember — it’s not about trains vs. planes, buses vs. malls, etc. It’s not about what al Qaeda supposedly did or didn’t plan to do. We didn’t need al Qaeda or bin Laden or whatever bogeyman-du-jour to tell us that life without risk is impossible. This whole stinking “security” mess is about power, control, paranoia, hysteria, passivity, fear-mongering, profit-making. But I’m so tired of saying it, in so many different ways. Let Glenn Greenwald say it:

    And if there’s a
    “no-ride” list for Amtrak, why not for subways and buses, too?
    If Al Qaeda is found to have discussed targeting restaurants, will we have a
    no-eat list? If Al Qaeda is found to have discussed targeting large
    intersections or landmarks, will we have a no-walk list? How about a
    no-shop list in response to the targeting of malls?But this, more or less, encapsulates the U.S.
    response to Terrorism since 9/11: the minute Al Qaeda utters a peep about
    anything, the political class collectively jumps to restrict our freedoms,
    empower the Government, and bankrupt ourselves in self-destructive pursuit of
    the ultimate illusion: Absolute Security. Al Qaeda has caused us to do
    more harm to ourselves than it could have ever dreamed of imposing on its
    own. And even in death, Osama bin Laden continues to serve as the pretext
    for all of this.

  • america is dead

    you obviously are a sucker and if you truly buy that crap i have a bridge in arizona id llike to sell to you. TSA and homeland security do nothing to enhance the safety of this nation they are merely the tools of a out of control govt. who rules by fear and terror, submit to them and allow yourself to be violated and you will have what you desire, no freedoms and total police state

  • Annapolis2

    The big deal is that this makes us less safe. Grooming children to cooperate with pedophiles in blue buttondown shirts with plastic badges is just par for the course to these TSA monsters. Let’s run down allll the ways this makes us less safe, shall we? (1) We now have parents telling children it’s just fine for strangers to start touching the parts their bathing suit covers. (2) We now have responsible parents, who would never dream of lining their kids up to be irradiated and pornographically imaged and sexually abused by government agents, who have to drive instead of fly for their long distance vacations. Driving is far more dangerous than flying, with or without TSA sexcurity theater, and so the TSA is causing needless deaths on the road. (3) Sincerely traumatized people, those who have already been victimized in horrific ways by predators, are forced to graphically relive those assaults when TSA screeners touch their sex organs in airport hallways.

    This absolutely IS a big deal. “Doing something” isn’t always better than doing nothing, and the TSA’s abuse makes us much, much less safe. I will stop at nothing to stop them.

  • cjr001

    “Anyone who thinks that a terrorist would hesitate to use an infant to carry an explosive device is an idiot!”

    You are going to need to provide proof of this, or it’s going to be rightfully dismissed.

  • JJWeldon

    More name calling and screaming so people tune out. Keep up the good work.

  • JJWeldon

    After years of screaming, YouTube videos, and useless blogs the people decrying the TSA have been labelled as whackos. You folks are taken about as seriously as the folks putting up the billboards that the rapture is scheduled for May 21. And for what? The government isn’t even looking into the issue! You guys are the modern equivalent of the dude on the street in the toga with the sigh “the end is near”.

    Congress doesn’t care, the airlines don’t care, and 99% of the people don’t care because we know bad people are trying to get on jets with bad things. You folks have become theatre. Get over it.

  • dccooks

    This picture brought to mind how our three month old daugher was patted down in going through security. We were quite amazed at the time. The pat down happended in October of 1974 on a flight from Paris to London

  • Goldbar69

    TSA= feckless incompentents

  • cjr001

    The truth hurts.

  • cjr001

    Why do you support the terrorists?

    For all the patriotic crap thrown about in the last 10 years, people like you have given them exactly what they want and with open arms.

    “We, the sheeple…”

  • Heather

    A couple points:

    1) As others have mentioned you cannot carry an infant into the scanner and other people are unable to stand or raise their hands due to disabilities. By default these people will receive a patdown if they are pulled aside.

    2) If you have scarring or certain medical devices you will almost always receive a patdown.

    2) The scanner cannot be compared to sunlight; one is UV radiation and the other is ionizing radiation. They are not the same as far as the damage they do. UV radiation creates thymine dimers which is essentially the fusing of complementary base pairs. It happens every time you go into the sun and your body can repair it by excising those pairs, but if you have too many or the proteins responsible for repair have been denatured you can get skin cancer because the DNA now has permanent mutations. Ionizing radiation is more dangerous because it breaks the sugar- phosphate backbone of the DNA and can create free radicals. It has a higher risk of permanent mutations due to the greater damage caused and is not an environmental hazard that you body deals with everyday like sunlight.

    3) To those saying take the train, bus, or car; that may not be an option in the long run. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I do read the news and Mr. Schumer has proposed a “no-ride list” for Amtrack along with there being numerous TSA sightings outside of the airport.

    4) Lastly I’m sorry if you disagree with my point of view or other people’s. You are entitled to yours just as I am mine, so I ask that if you disagree please be courteous to myself and others as name calling or insults just make people sound less credible.

  • Heather

    lol my numbers are off, whoops sorry guys

  • David

    Didn’t some guy try to blow up a plane with a suitcase lined with explosives with his PREGNANT GIRLFRIEND on board? He was willing to blow up his unborn child and the mother of that child.

    So please, don’t tell me they wouldn’t do it. They find a hole – they climb through it.

  • Fab comment from “yacko” over at The Consumerist:

    May 10, 2011 8:21 AMYou’re right! And any lethargic infants should automatically have their brains x-rayed to see if some has been scooped out and explosives planted.

  • Not

    Anything that might, even remotely, keep a baby off my fight is OK

  • So let’s all get strip-searched. Yes, rectal exams for all!

    Better yet, rectal exams on the highway leading up to the airport! Because, ya know, those pesky terrorists could plant a bomb in their butts and detonate it on the exit ramp to the airport, or in the loading area, or the arrivals/departures concourse, or in an airport cafe. Rectal exams everywhere! After all, Gotta Keep Us Safe!

  • Chickenmama

    I’m not able to check right now, but I’m pretty sure I remember reading that TSA has found at least one pistol stashed in a baby’s diapers.

  • No. 1, prove it. Provide the link.

    No. 2, who cares?! How can a pistol stashed in a diaper bring down a plane??

    No. 3, are we really so far gone in this country that we’re going off into fantasyland, with all these loony, outlandish, what-if scenarios? What if The Terrorists stash some kind of wacky bomb in their hair? Let’s all get shaved before we board. What if The Terrorists invent a retinal bomb implant? Let’s all gouge our eyes out before we board. What if The Terrorists put some explosives thingies under their fingernails? Let’s all get our fingernails pulled out before we board.

    Why not? You’re in favor of digging into people’s diapers, Depends, and sanitary napkins; why stop there??

  • See my comment above. That was meant to go in this “Reply” thread.

  • Lglyspkng

    It is indeed sad that it has come to this….unfortunately,there is no end to how far people will stoop. I work in a correctional facility where employees are required to go through a security procedure that includes ion scanning, metal detection, wanding, and everyone’s favorite, the pat-down. This is required of visitors as well, and yes, infants wearing diapers must have their diapers searched. Seems like overkill on first blush, it isn’t. Despite the huge signs posted everywhere about the bringing in of contraband and the consequences therein, there will be, on a regular basis, someone arrested right in Front Reception because they thought they could cleverly conceal it in the diaper a baby was wearing. Guardians are taken into custody, the infant gets handed over to children and youth services. My point is, if it can happen where I work, it would be ridiculous to think that it can’t happen anywhere else. The baby is probably the first place I’d look, since that is where it happens for us with the greatest frequency. Sorry to say. Trust no one in this regard. You can’t tell what they are stowing just by visual inspection.

  • Stacey

    I flew from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California and my dog, a pug, was given a pat down from TSA security. He didn’t seem to mind it as it felt like a massage. I thought it was kind of strange……

  • B J Antigua

    The scanners have never been properly tested for safety, especially long term side effects. It is outrageous that it should even be allowed for infants and children, since it is absolutely proven that radiation causes DNA damage. It is not sunlight, there are different types of radiation, Mr. Shill Troll.

  • B J Antigua

    911 was indeed an inside job. There are over a dozen very professional videos that present some much information that it cant be refuted. In terms of security, the Pentagon does not use body scanners. Nor any other government building as they value their DNA! The most effective way to find explosives is with dogs. Period. But you cant make billions from manufacturing dogs. The TSA scanners were ordered months before the underware incident that was used to demonstrate a “need” for them.

  • cjr001

    Well, airplanes certainly feel like maximum security cells at times, but there’s no excuse for treating innocent people like the criminals who belong in such cells.

  • Kweed

    You do realize it is NOT SAFE to spend a day outside in the sun, right?

  • Clare

    I’m trying to imagine whether there is ANYTHING that a TSA-er could conceivably do that Fuhrer Pistole would acknowledge is excessive? Seriously, can anyone envision him ever saying frankly, “Yes, we concur that the TSA Agent in question acted improperly and will be disciplined…”?

  • In the interview it was stated….

    “I understand that my security is at stake. I appreciate TSA trying to make flying more secure.”

    Are you really that gullible to believe the TSA is making airline flights safer? If you do, then you’ve been drinking too much of the TSA Kool-Aid! What the TSA offers is not “security,” but simply ridiculous theatrics designed to make the gullible feel safe.

    If you think having private parts squeezed and felt up by strangers is perfectly OK, then go right on ahead and continue helping the TSA with their little charade
    … but I’ve more dignity than that!

  • There’s a B I G difference between going into a correctional facility…. and taking a flight from here to there. If you can’t see that difference by now…. you never will!

  • Zod

    Did they find out why the scanner alarmed for an Explosives screening? What on that stroller or baby could be construed as an explosive?

  • From what I understand the baby was a male. Need I say anything more about his “big gun”? (wink)

  • Zod

    I doubt that the radiation from the scanner is not any greater than the cosmic radiation everybody on an airplane receives while it is flying without the protection of the full atmosphere above it.

    Here, read this and educate yourself on cosmic radiation on airplanes:


  • How many “bad people” has the TSA ever caught at the groping station trying to get on jets with “bad things”? I thought so. Exactly NONE!!

  • An airport isn’t the same as a prison! (Though god knows plenty of Americans are treating it like one.) Of course people bring all kinds of contraband into a prison. Good grief, it’s practically de rigueur.

    If you want to hand over your rights — and your body — to our security overlords, then do so. But don’t force the rest of us to do it with you.

  • Lglyspkng

    There is absolutely no difference. How many terrorists boarded planes on 9/11 carrying box cutters? How did Richard Reid board a trans-continental flight with explosives in his shoe? It is just THAT easy.

    Why should a nun or a priest entering a correctional facility be subject to a search? Things are NOT always what they seem. Do you really think that someone who wants to complete a terroristic event on the airways is wearing a sign on his/her head? They will employ those methods that would arouse the least amount of suspicion. How do you know that the woman in front of you carrying the child hasn’t been paid off to mule drugs from New York to San Francisco? You don’t. Spend a little time researching how many times TSA standards have been breached by average looking folk who are now doing time because they were caught. Very few of them reach front-page news

  • auntbee

    I think everyone, down to babies and their diapers, as well as pets’ collars should be inspected. You never know where some subversive will plant a device.

  • Hilarious! You obviously haven’t been reading any of the comments.

  • You’ve been watching too much TV. And drinking too much Kool-Aid.

    Box cutters didn’t bring down planes on 9/11. Breaching the cockpit and taking over the controls did. Richard Reid the Lunatic Shoe Bomber didn’t succeed in doing anything but arousing his fellow passengers to action; ditto the Crotch Bomber (false flag operation if ever there were one). And there you have it, in two sentences, the reason why we won’t have another 9/11. It has nothing to do with the incompetent, bullying, harassing, power-hungry, fear-mongering TSA.

    The TSA hasn’t caught one single terrorist or prevented one single terrorist act. We’ve repeated this, oh, only about a hundred times at this blog.

    How is it that there were no bombs going off on planes before 9/11? Or after?? Even before these inane, bogus security practices were put in place? Nobody was smuggling bombs on board even before the strip-search scanners and gropefests were implemented. The security cheerleaders refuse to acknowledge this.

    While Uncle Sam is putting his hands down your pants, he’s also letting most of the cargo go through UNscreened. There’s logic for you.

    And yes, I know potential attackers aren’t wearing signs on their heads. That’s precisely what I’m always arguing against the racist commenters here who are always screaming about “dangerous Muslims.”

  • tech_ed, I don’t know if we’ll ever find out. But other people have been pulled aside and not only groped but harassed and prevented from boarding because of the obvious explosive-similar residue on their bodies — fertilizer.

    I feel sorry for landscape gardeners and ordinary backyard putterers — if they haven’t scrubbed every micron of fertilizer off themselves, they’ll be treated like criminals by the TSA.http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/01/05/security-airline-bakersfield-idUSN057258620100105

  • Just doing their jobs, the end.


    They are cheaper to maintain. They are much more appreciative of the care they receive. They don’t ask for two weeks or more vacation a year. They don’t steal things out of suitcases in the name of “searching for contraband”. They’re much more lovable than your average TSA agent. They are much less intimidating than either a porn-o-scan or a TSA agent having a bad day. They are able to detect a multitude of odors as well as differentiate between lotion and explosives. (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-a-dogs-sense-of-smell.html) I had a dog trainer once that used to train dogs for the soldiers during the Vietnam War. He was able to train the dogs to differentiate between North and South Vietnamese people, based on their diet.

    If dogs are okay to use for the military, border patrol and other law enforcement agencies, why aren’t they good enough for airport safety? They could also walk them around the cargo areas to locate problems (smell like coffee? Could be a problem package).

    Finally, TSA (or better still, let’s use our guard or reservists, they at least take their job seriously and are actually TRAINED) can troll animal shelters across the country and help empty them out – in short, killing two birds with one stone.

    At least the worst that can happen with the dogs is them shoving their noses into someone’s “No place” and moving on. I had a dog that did that every morning while I made that first cup of tea. Annoying? Yes. Endearing? No. Easily managed? Absolutely.

    To reiterate – DOGS! DOGS! DOGS! DOGS! DOGS!

  • Right. We’ve never heard that excuse in history before.

  • Nancy, we’ve discussed dogs on this blog before. Problem is, they need to go out and play every half-hour. They can’t work constantly. And though the TSA is, in fact, training dogs right now (though would you trust their training, given the agency in charge?) — ads pop up all the time seeking temporary foster homes for these puppies — just think about how many thousands upon thousands of dogs it would take to staff every airport, train station, bus terminal, etc. I don’t think it’s realistic.

    Botton line: we need to stop wetting our pants about minuscule, infinitesimal threats, and instead go on about our lives like free citizens.

  • Mark K

    I had an “explosives” experience at the Anchorage, AK airport. I visited a gold mine that had been actively blasting a hill side and touched some of the ore that had just been blasted. I went to the airport right after the tour of the mine. I was selected to have my carry on swabed and it tested positive for TNT residue. So did my hands. My carry on was torn to shreds looking for the explosives I was trying to smuggle on the plane. I was also given the most thorough patdown ever right in front of the other passengers passing through security. Of course nothing was found and luckily I was able to make my flight. And I had to dispose of my carry on once I got home because of the residual explosive chemicals and the total destruction caused by the search. And this was in 1999 so we can’t blame the TSA for this.

  • Jack

    Trained scent dogs actually have a pretty high false positive rate – see this:


    But then again, human searchers aren’t much better, according to tests with decoy bombs and weapons. Turns out they’re great at finding bottles of water and nail clippers and shampoo that’s not in its little baggie, but all that is distracting them from
    honing in on actual dangers.

  • Twin_king2378

    What a crock of crap :-). Typical TSA rhetoric!

  • Waynebollman

    That is complete bullshit.

  • Waynebollman

    The next buck-toothed moron that tells me to “tone down the rhetoric” for getting angry about the tyranical and deceptive manner in which our government is increasingly conducting itself is going to get cussed out and possibly injured.

  • cjr001

    With apologies to Christopher, but to life from another article of yours that was just posted on BNet, since it applies so well to this article as well:

    Make your customers think they asked for all of this.
    The real genius behind the (TSA)
    initiatives is that it’s managed to convince a significant portion of
    its passengers and the press that this is exactly the way passengers
    want it.”

  • Clare, I doubt it. When has he or Napolitano ever apologized for anything? Oh, that’s right — once. When the TSA assaulted that man with a urostomy bag and broke it, thus dribbling urine down his body. That’s the only time Pistole apologized. Then called the man to try to placate him and flew him and his wife out for a personal meeting — can anyone say “damage control”? Not that anything changed after that.

    The ABC-TV producer who was gynecologically groped at Newark International, the man who had his surgical scar poked and prodded “to see if you had anything sewn into your stomach” (you can’t make this sh*t up), the women who were victims of the strip-search ring (yes, an organized ring) at Reagan National, the parents of the 4-year-old with cerebral palsy who were forced to remove his leg braces so that he could crawl through the metal detector, the thousands upon thousands of other people who’ve been assaulted by the TSA? Suck it up, folks; that’s the message of John Pistole and Janet Napolitano.

  • privacyfirst

    If he posted a picture of my kid on the internet without my permission…..he would be in court so fast it would make his head spin.

  • Or, to quote a monster from the past, “The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it.” -Josef Mengele

  • What we’re getting for all our billions — more incompetence (and more fear-mongering):

    GAO: Investigators drove ‘explosive’ into secure port — CNN

  • cjr001

    I’m sorry, but It doesn’t seem like ‘privacyfirst’ is really your objective here.

    You would go after the guy for taking the photo… but not the stranger working for the government putting his hands all over the kid?

  • Howard

    I wouldn’t put it past the terrorists to try to get something through security by hiding it in a baby’s clothing, so I’m in favor of this type of search as long as they are respectful and careful. If you want security you have to allow these sorts of things. If they had found some sort of an actual threat this would have been a very different story, and they would have been applauded for properly doing their jobs. The parents’ cooperation and even holding the baby for TSA to inspect is very telling. Kudos to the parents who realized that this was the right thing to do, and to the TSA agents for a job well done.

  • Former Nuke

    I heard a similar argument from the TSA guy giving me the pat down when I opted out of the additional radiation exposure. More people need to realize that radiation damage, however minute, is cumulative. Yes, you are correct that it may be minimal and you also get radiation damage from the sun, however damage to your DNA does not go away, or “heal”. Any extra radiation adds to the possibility that you will suffer some form of cancer or other illness.

    No, I am not a doctor, however I did operate a nuclear power plant for six years and went through the training necessary to do that, including constant radiation safety. The government went through great pains to make sure that my radiation exposure was minimal. In the civilian world I worked with medical diagnostic imaging equipment, and there are also great efforts taken to minimize unintended exposure. In both professions I was required to wear a radiation dosimeter to keep track of how much exposure I had received. (Interesting that TSA workers do not wear these.) Now I’m supposed to buy the fact that the radiation “isn’t that bad”?? Making statements like this is dangerous, or at the very least ill informed.

  • Sadie Cee

    Are you really serious? What evidence do you have? Your comment is preposterous and cannot be taken seriously.

  • MarkieA

    You know, I’m gonna get blasted for this, but I’m gonna say it anyway. I’m willing to risk being one of the terrorists’ “successes” if it means my rights are still intact. The chances of getting blown up on an airplane are miniscule; the chances of having my rights as an American violated by my own Government are getting larger and larger. It’s worth the risk, to me, in order to live in a country that doesn’t ask for my “papers” on a whim, or search my car because I’m within 5 miles of the airport. Find another way to make us safe without treating us as criminals. I can’t help but think that this was the easy way out. Stand up an agency, staff it with brain-dead automatons and run everybody through humiliating, privacy-invading procedures.

  • Harry

    it is sad that 3 people like this.
    You SHOULD tone down the rhetoric.
    Also threating people who disagree with you is troublesome.
    I guess you only like parts of the constitution, since last time I checked the first amendment allowed freedom of speech.
    Now before you cuss me out or possibly injure me i just wanted to let you know that I do not have buck teeth. I got braces when I was a teenager.

  • Annapolis2

    There’s no “respectful” way to force an unwilling victim to get to third base with you. Rubbing my clitoris against my will is disrespectful to say the least. I’ll call it criminal. And when the victim is a child? Horrifying to see people defend this filth.

  • How can you be “respectful” and “careful” while digging into a diaper, Depends, or sanitary napkin? Oh, that’s right, they’re not actually digging in because they don’t want to touch icky stuff. They just want to humiliate people; that’s the point. What do you think they could possibly find by groping a diaper anyway?? Other than the obvious?

    Lemme guess — a gun. You people have watched too much TV.

  • cjr001

    How respectful and careful would a prostate exam at the airport be? A pap smear? After all, criminals make use of both orifices for drug trafficking, so why not terrorists and bombs?

    And TSA has never found this kind of threat, nor will they. They’re too busy looking for nail clippers that they can’t even find the guns and large knives (neither of which will bring down a plane), much less bombs (most of which would not bring down a plane).

    The threat is blown out of proportion, and the security theater, in response, has become over the top.

  • More false-positives, more idiocy on the part of the TSA:

    Not only fertilizer, not only heart medicine, not only flipping hand lotion, but now baby food can cause false positives.  And what does the TSA do?  Confiscate!  Confiscate!  I’m surprised they didn’t confiscate the baby as well, since he had already ingested baby food in the past.  Why, his entire body might’ve been primed to explode!  Can’t Be Too Sure!  Gotta Check Everything!  Gotta Keep Us Safe!

  • The hits just keep on coming!  2 Planes delayed, swept, all passengers RE-screened for “security” because a — gasp! — letter and a knife were found.http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/05/13/2292618/2-planes-searched-while-in-charlotte.html

  • cjr001

    What’s terribly ironic with the confiscation is that often just thrown in a trash bin… right there at the security line.
    Which means if there was a bomb, it would be allowed to blow up right there in a crowd of people in the middle of an airport.
    Maybe we could spend a few billion dollars and buy some common sense?

  • Exactly, cjr.  But we can’t allow common sense to prevail because how, then, would paranoia and hysteria flourish?  Need those two to drive the War On Terror and keep it permanent.  Lots of money to be made, lots of civil liberties to shred.  Sigh.  So much idiocy to propagate, so little time . . . .

  • joshua82

    Let’s face it, the baby fit many of the characteristics in the profile of a terrorist:
    Young unmarried male
    No job or source of income
    Had a poor command of the English language


  • Carrie Charney

     You obviously know what you’re talking about, so please enlighten us!

  • Carrie Charney

     Setting off an “explosives alarm” is the excuse that was given for the baby search. That doesn’t mean the stroller really did set off any alarm.

  • Carrie Charney

     You work for the TSA, don’t you? Or are you invested up to your neck in the scanning machines?

  • Carrie Charney

     5) The younger you are, the more sensitive you are to the harm of radiation.

  • Carrie Charney

     This happened in Israel, where, in spite of the incident, they do not scan or grope you. They do have conversations with everyone boarding a plane and they are trained to assess you psychologically. All luggage is screened by scanners, however, and some bags get manually screened. I’m sure, with really due cause, some people are taken into a private area and wanded, as everyone was during times of active war.

  • Carrie Charney

     In “the end” is exactly where they have been focusing their searches!

  • Anna

    My 4-year old has been patted down numerous times. And me too. I don’t get what the fuss is about? Don’t like it – don’t fly. 

  • Right, Anna, and when the TSA invades the trains, buses, and subways, as they’ve already begun to do, they can pat down your 4-year-old there, too.  And maybe before you get into your car.  Because your 4-year-old might be harboring bombs on the highway.  And when Uncle Sam starts sticking his fingers up your a*s, then you can feel really safe.  Don’t like it?  Don’t leave the house.

  • Ahoffman7

    As far as I see it the risk of exposure to an unhealthy dose of radiation is not the point at all.  I am shocked that the powers that be would ever consider that a parent would put a bomb or some such thing in or on their child.  Wow!  What a sad sad thing to even think is a remote possibility.  That is the point as I see it.  

  • locoh

    Hi. I work for TSA and it is not a common pratice to pat down babies. For your information, special permission needs to be obtained before patting down a child under 12. Now, Im pretty sure there was a reason behind it and Im pretty sure the mother understood. (You mentioned she was cooperating). With all your respect.. individuals like you think that TSA is the worst of the worst.. we are not. That day something happens and those sick bastards use a kid, then it will be perfectly fine to pat down kids right?

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