Bill would require parental consent for TSA pat-downs of minors

Chris Moody Contributor
Font Size:

Under fire after a video surfaced online of a 6-year-old Kentucky girl undergoing an enhanced pat-down at the New Orleans airport, a new bill would require Transportation Security Administration agents to obtain parental permission before performing new invasive pat-down techniques on children at airports.

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, unveiled the legislation last week.

“If you’re going to do a pat-down — which I’ve got a serious problem with in the first place — then you’re going to have to have parental consent and that parent has to be there,” Chaffetz, a longtime critic of TSA, said during an MSNBC interview Monday.

Under guidelines unveiled in 2010, TSA agents run their fingers along the inside of a traveler’s pants, place the backside of their hands along the chest and pat down the inside of a traveler’s leg until they feel “resistance,” the term the government uses for the area between a person’s legs. Only a small percentage of travelers undergo the procedure, which is used as an alternative to fully-body screening machines that reveal items beneath clothing.

When reached for comment, a spokesman for the TSA said that while the officer who patted down the young girl “followed proper current screening procedures,” the agency is actively exploring new screening techniques for different types of passengers.

“[TSA] 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,” TSA spokesman Kawika Riley told The Daily Caller. “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.”

He added that TSA did not comment on specific pending legislation.

The House is currently on a two-week recess, but Chaffetz is expected to move the legislation forward when members of Congress return on May 2nd.

Email Chris Moody and follow him on Twitter