It’s been another interesting week for the TSA

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By Christopher Elliott

Patting down toddlers, security failure and whistleblowers. It’s been another interesting week for the TSA.

Let’s start with this unbelievable story about a 17-month-old being patted down at at the Minneapolis airport last Saturday.

The metal on his overalls set off the magnetometer. TSA protocol is to give the child a “modified” pat-down.

Mom tried to record the procedure but was ordered to put the phone away. The report was posted, but later removed from a North Dakota TV news website. How odd.

The agents pat down a baby

What’s even odder? That agents would pat down a baby. I’m willing to bet good money that the only thing about that youngster that was explosive was his diaper. (As the father of three, I’m allowed to say that.)

Next up: more TSA incompetence.

Last week, the New York Post — which has some of the most aggressive TSA coverage in old media — reported that a Miami Lakes, Fla., mom inadvertently packed a steak knife in her carry-on bag.

TSA agents in Newark let her breeze through the checkpoint

So the TSA lets a deadly weapon through its screening area, but forces a baby to undergo a pat-down? You don’t have to be a TSA critic to know something’s wrong with that.

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And there’s more, lots more. But I want to spend the rest of this post talking to the TSA agents and supervisors who have contacted me in the last week.

Some of you have sent me internal memos that show just how troubled your agency is. Another TSA employee shared his personal story of falling ill after working next to a millimeter-wave body scanner — a scanner the TSA assured him was completely safe, but then said may emit more radiation than previously thought.

I want you to know that I hear you

I want to report your stories, because your problems are our problems. I’m not afraid of publishing your memos and having another special agent show up at my doorstep with a subpoena. I’m ready.

Here’s what I want you to know: You are doing something very brave by reaching out to me, and trying to right an agency that is out of control. By becoming a whistleblower, you are demonstrating that you truly care about the security of air travelers.

I commend you for that.

To those of you reading this, get ready for another interesting week. I will probably be publishing these memos. And then they will probably show up at my door.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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