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Baby's First TSA Patdown 570

theodp writes "Is there anything cuter than baby milestones? Baby's first steps. Baby's first word. And now, baby's first TSA patdown. 'Well,' writes Anna North, 'it finally happened. Airport security officers gave a pat-down to a baby.' A post on the TSA blog defended the move: 'The child's stroller alarmed during explosives screening. Our officers followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family after the alarm...The [8-month-old] child in the photo was simply receiving a modified pat-down.' Hey, at least they didn't make a federal case of the 4 oz. of liquid found in the little tyke's Pampers."


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Baby's First TSA Patdown

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  • Here's some nice TSA porn [] for all you regular folks.. Now get back to work!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:57AM (#36117986) an embarrassment to America.

      We really could be better than this.

      • We really could be better than this

        I honestly can't decide whether or not I think that's true.

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday May 13, 2011 @12:26PM (#36119344)

        Hah, my wife was just applying for a non-immigrant visa today because her old one expired. Now you have to submit an online application. There are about a million questions, all the buttons are counter-intuitive (usually continue goes on the right and back goes on the left), and the website says it will log you out after 20 minutes of inactivity, which is false. It logs you out after 15 minutes - activity or no. Considering that these forms take far more than 20 minutes to fill out (list the exact dates of your last 5 visits to the US please, never mind that US immigration likes to stamp wherever the hell they feel like it in your passport), it's a major hassle. We were logged out no less than three times during this process.

        And don't forget, you need to give travel dates (even if we're not sure when we plan on going to the US in the next 10 years) and name/address of a contact person in the US (I'm sure I have the name and address of the guy who works at the hotel I'll be staying at...). Oh and of course the "trick" questions where they try to "catch you out". My favorite was "have you ever participated in torture/extrajudicial killing". I wonder how many American government employees actually would not be allowed a visa... but I digress.

        Put it this way - I'm glad I'm Canadian and don't have to do this crap every few years but America - if you don't want tourists why don't you just say so? I mean, the Mexicans will still keep jumping the border fence anyway no matter how many questions you put on that form, but we law abiding people can take a hint.

      • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @12:42PM (#36119518)

        We really could be better than this.

        We could, but there's a major roadblock: citizens who are terrified that terrorists are out to get them and vote for whoever promises they'll stand between the terrorists and the voters' family. Common sense policy in national security that follows that quote about freedom vs security will always fail because of their paranoia, if they can vote.


        ...but they probably are expecting that...

    • One of many reasons I would much rather travel by car/bus/train than airplane.

  • Osama Bin Laden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:54AM (#36117954)

    Osama Bin Laden is laughing in his grave. He obviously won, even in death.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Osama Bin Laden is laughing in his grave. He obviously won, even in death.

      Osama Bin Laden is laughing in his grave. [] He obviously won, even in death.

      Fixed that for you.

      He even gave an interview on CNN [] and said "I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed", and we still did exactly as he predicted. We won the battle ten days ago, but lost the war ten years ago.

      Maybe I'm just an oldthinker who unbellyfeels newspeak, but "Homeland of the fee, homeland of the safe" still doesn't sound

    • Re:Osama Bin Laden (Score:5, Insightful)

      by snarkh ( 118018 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:20AM (#36118310)

      The economic damage he caused to the US economy is several trillion dollars. While he may not have won the war, but he did cause overwhelming damage.

      • I'm pretty sure Osama did win. And big.
        • by snarkh ( 118018 )

          What do you mean by winning? He showed how to cause great damage to super-powers (first USSR, after that the US) with relatively tiny resources. Btw, note that most of the economic damage to the US (e.g., the war in Iraq) is self-inflicted.

          On the other hand, his dream of building a caliphate has failed miserably.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by pnewhook ( 788591 )

            What do you mean by winning? He showed how to cause great damage to super-powers (first USSR, after that the US) with relatively tiny resources. Btw, note that most of the economic damage to the US (e.g., the war in Iraq) is self-inflicted.

            And most of the damage done to the USSR was also caused by the US. This was back when Reagan portrayed the Taliban and al-Qaeda (actually the precursor to them) as a religious group being persecuted for their beliefs by the big bad commies. So the US trained the mujahedeen and sent billions in weapons aid so they can fight the Russians. Russia eventually pulled out when they realized they could not compete.

            If the US/CIA had minded their own business then the mujahedeen would have been wiped out by the Ru

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:55AM (#36117968) Homepage Journal

    1) Nationwide, how many times has the alarm gone off during explosives screening?

    2) How many times have explosives been found?

    • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:58AM (#36118000)

      >2) How many times have explosives been found?

      None. Ever. Even the underpants bomber made it through.

      Since the inception of the TSA, they have stopped *zero* hijacking/bombing attempts from the airport.

      Biggest waste of money on security theater going.


      • by Surt ( 22457 )

        But they stopped over a thousand terrorist attempts from even considering going through their heightened security measures. Plus, the theater is just that, theater. The real security improvements are secret and invisible.

        • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:23AM (#36118352)

          Exactly, that's the same way that I know that this rock that I have bought keeps away tigers!

          More seriously, lets say that your screening procedures are 99% effective with a 0.0001% false positive rate, both of which are horribly, massively unrealistic. And then let's pretend that there are 10 terrorists that try to get on an airplane each year in the US, which is almost definitely an unrealistically high number. There are an estimated 737.4 million passenger flights each year in the US. That means that for each terrorist detected you're going to hit 8200 false positives. Screening everyone in the country just doesn't work at a mathematical level.

          • Hey, don't mock your rock. You never know when you need to ward away tigers!

            More seriously though, part of the issue of gauging the "success" of TSA is that we don't know how many potential plots they stopped from even leaving home to attempt it. How effective was the security theater in convincing potential terrorists to "just stay home".

            I see 2 possible answers to that question: Pessimistically, if those terrorists really wanted to do it, no amount of security theater is going to stop them. On the o
      • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:09AM (#36118150)

        >2) How many times have explosives been found?

        None. Ever. Even the underpants bomber made it through.

        Since the inception of the TSA, they have stopped *zero* hijacking/bombing attempts from the airport.

        Biggest waste of money on security theater going.


        The parent should be modded to 5, and all Slashdot readers should be sure to spread this point as much as possible to everyone they know. The TSA has an $8.1 annual billion budget and has yet to have a single success.

        We can't comment definitively on the deterrent effect mentioned by an AC reply, though our very limited data points make deterrence seem unlikely, given that 1) every attempted bomber in the last 10 years has successfully made it through security and 2) the 100% failure rate probably doesn't put much fear into the hearts of potential attackers.

    • I'm in favor of them taking all basic and non-intrusive steps to detect explosives.

      It's fallacious to say "they haven't found any in the screening process so there aren't any". It excludes the middle in that if they weren't checking for explosives, it'd be easy to get them through, and then terrorists would be doing it. But as it stands now, they know baggage is screened so they have to find another way.

      The trouble with these pat downs is that they can't reasonably detect any more by groping your balls than

      • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:28AM (#36118454) Journal

        If there were terrorists with the will and capability to bomb a plane, but who were put off purely by the probability of being caught by the TSA, don't you think the would've attacked one of the many, many other totally unguarded areas of our infrastructure? Airliners are big, flashy, somewhat fragile targets, but I don't understand how so many people seem to have decided that they're the only targets.

        If someone was willing to blow themselves to pieces for a cause, but couldn't because of the TSA (something I find unlikely to begin with), it's mind-boggling to claim that they'll just sit back, accept it, and become a productive member of society. If anything, it would create a lot more panic to show that we're at risk everywhere, from the subway to the supermarket to the airline security queue. If terrorism were actually an appreciable threat within the US, we'd see some evidence of it. The TSA are fighting an enemy that is vastly few and far between, and even so they're doing a terrible job of it while encroaching horribly on our civil liberties; terrorism just isn't the threat that people make it out to be.

    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:24AM (#36118386) Homepage

      George Carlin said it best, long before 9/11:

      I’m getting tired of all this security at the airport. There’s too much of it. I’m tired of some fat chick with a double-digit IQ and a triple-digit income rootin’ around inside of my bag for no reason and never finding anything. Haven’t found anything yet. Haven’t found one bomb in one bag. And don’t tell me, “Well, the terrorists know their bags are going to be searched, so now they’re leaving their bombs at home.” There are no bombs! The whole thing is fuckin’ pointless.

      And it’s completely without logic. There’s no logic at all. They’ll take away a gun, but let you keep a knife! (editor note: Not anymore) Well, what the fuck is that? In fact, there’s a whole list of lethal objects they will allow you to take on board. Theoretically, you could take a knife, an ice pick, a hatchet, a straight razor, a pair of scissors, a chain saw, six knitting needles, and a broken whiskey bottle, and the only thing they’d say to you is, “That bag has to fit all the way under the seat in front of you.”

      And if you didn’t take a weapon on board, relax. After you’ve been flying for about an hour, they’re gonna bring you a knife and fork! They actually give you a fucking knife! It’s only a table knife, but you could kill a pilot with a table knife. If might take you a couple of minutes. Especially if he’s hefty. But you could get the job done. If you really wanted to kill the prick.

      Shit, there are a lot of things you could use to kill a guy with. You could probably beat a guy to death with the Sunday New York Times. Or suppose you just had really big hands, couldn’t you strangle a flight attendant? Shit, you could probably strangle two of them, one with each hand. That is, if you were lucky enough to catch ‘em in that little kitchen area. Just before they break out the fuckin’ peanuts. But you could get the job done. If you really cared enough.

  • You put security theater together with stupid people.

    The TSA people really believe they are keeping everyone safe while creating targets for terrorists to attack.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be getting better.
  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:06AM (#36118122)

    I think we should be able to request a woman do our patdowns instead of a man.

    The idea of some mustachioed 50 year old man grabbing my balls is a lot more offensive to me than a woman doing it.

  • privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PktLoss ( 647983 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:08AM (#36118138) Homepage Journal

    The thing that bothers me most about the TSA responding to issues is the privacy of the people going through screening. I feel like the entire process should be treated as confidential, the number of people in the party, wether or not they had a stroller, what set off what alarm, how old the child was, etc. I don't feel like the TSA should be sharing that information publicly.

  • I'd be willing to bet the "explosive" they detected coming from the kid was the load that was left in his diaper. When kids explode is really messy!

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:12AM (#36118192)

    Yes a terrorist can hide a bomb in a baby. A terrorist can also surgically insert a bomb into a baby if they wanted to.

    They could also just detonate the bomb at the airport itself (remember russia?) and skip all of this.

    All this stupid theatre does absolutely nothing, except give the 'terrorists' (and the general population) a little grope before they get blown up. Wouldn't want them to die unhappy would we?

  • We are not alone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by poptones ( 653660 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:13AM (#36118202) Journal

    Does France have such patdowns in their airports? What about Canada? What about Germany? Belgium? China? Japan?

    Why is it we also have not heard of ANY foreign terrorist activities on airliners since all this started? Are the american airport patdowns such a deterrent they can stop a "potential terrorist" from boarding a plane in S Africa with a bomb or a knife?

    This needs to stop. I really don't care personally, because I don't fly - but all the other people being displaced from the planes are filling up the trains, and I miss the extra elbow room.

    • Re:We are not alone (Score:5, Informative)

      by dbc ( 135354 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:37AM (#36118612)

      More to the point.... does Israel? I've flown in and out of Tel Aviv 3 times on business. They take security seriously -- and have for much longer than the USA. You get a thorough interview from a well-trained, intelligent professional. No pat downs. They *gasp* profile. Israeli airport security is not theater, it is effective, yet it is not degrading. Fly in and out of Israel once and you will want to strangle everyone associated with the TSA.

      • You get a thorough interview from a well-trained, intelligent professional.

        Good luck finding those working for the U.S. government, especially the runts of the litter known collectively as the TSA.

        And therein lies the problem.

    • Re:We are not alone (Score:4, Informative)

      by horza ( 87255 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @12:12PM (#36119162) Homepage

      I can talk about Nice, France. On the way in they will X-ray your bag. They may or may not ask you to remove your belt or your shoes, it's pretty random (they never ask me but I've seen it happen). There is one person for every two lines who will to a cursory pat-down of anybody that gets 'beeped' when walking through the X-ray doorway. It's definitely not intrusive.

      England security is awful to the point I avoid going back when possible. It's not just being treated like a potential terrorist, and having to strip off my shoes and belt like some kind of prisoner, but the insane queues this produces. In Nice I bank on about five minutes to go through security, so I allow ten minutes to be sure, but try going through a London airport during the summer...

      My sole trip via New York the only thing I found objectionable was the finger-printing. Being an affluent white middle-class male I had no experience of the TSA, only passed a few laid-back quite cool security guards. I broke my US boycott due to a promise to a friend. I really enjoyed the trip, and the people were great, but the security theater is still off-putting.


  • I'd just like to point out that a terrorist draws the line as using children to blow things up. No one would *ever* think to sacrifice a child for their religious views. They should obviously be allowed to pass through any security points without any problems!

  • idle? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by locallyunscene ( 1000523 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:22AM (#36118344)
    Why is this idle? We only idly wonder at controversial and arguably ineffective security procedures being followed to the letter? Especially when "I was just following orders" are the dirtiest words a lackey can speak?
  • Texas vs. TSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:25AM (#36118402) Homepage Journal

    Texas has had enough. Other states will soon follow. On top of states rights, there are individual airports excercising their "opt-out" privileges and replacing TSA with private security.

    This morning CBS in Dallas/Fort Worth reports:

    "The Texas House passed a bill that would make it a criminal offense for public servants to inappropriately touch travelers during airport security pat-downs.

    Approved late Thursday night, the measure makes it illegal for anyone conducting searches to touch “the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person” including through clothing."

    If TSA ignores the new Texas law Texas has grounds to go to the US Supreme Court and challenge TSA's authority.

    • Re:Texas vs. TSA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 3vi1 ( 544505 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:44AM (#36118730) Homepage Journal

      It's incredibly weird to see a story on Slashdot where I agree with the way laws are being implemented or enforced in Texas.

      Maybe there's hope for us yet.

  • by awilden ( 110846 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:29AM (#36118464)
    In November 2001 we were traveling and didn't realize that our return flight had been canceled. We were able to rebook but of course that gave us a XXX rating for risk (though we didn't understand that until later). But our 13 month old (and the rest of us) had to go through three different screens between the ticket counter and the gate, the last of which was a full pat down for all of us.
    First I was screened, then our baby was made to stand away from both of us (since he wasn't screened and they were screening my wife) while my wife was being screened. This step took a long time, because of course the kid was screaming bloody murder about being kept from his parents, and several times he broke free and ran to his mother and if she moved (not reached, just moved out of her crucifixion position) or the kid touched her, the agent yelled at her and started over again. After about the third time when she got yelled at w/o moving, I was about ready to punch somebody but the supervisor intervened, patted down the baby and got him into my arms, at which point they could finish the stupid screen on my wife. This was the closest by far I've ever come to physical violence in my adult life. And it wasn't caused by a false-positive on an explosives test, it was because our flight was canceled.
  • by devent ( 1627873 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:31AM (#36118512) Homepage

    "Terrorists could hide a bomb in a diaper, and we don't seem to have anything much better than pat-downs to detect it. "

    Terrorists could just go to the next mall in kill 1000 people with a bomb. Or they could go to a train station and kill 500 people. They could just go to the next restaurant and kill 50 people.

    What we really should be doing is just accept terrorists as a threat but not overreacting. We should spend our tax money for real things that are proven to save lives, like improving highways, get more police officers, improving hospitals and health care, invest in more public transportation.

    We could even just give capital to the third-world countries, or invest in their education and infrastructure. Even that would reduce the risk of a terrorist attack way more then the stupid TSA. But instead we giving Millions of money to people to search babies, kids and some random people so we have a one in a million chance to find anything.

    • Terrorists could just go to the next mall in kill 1000 people with a bomb. Or they could go to a train station and kill 500 people. They could just go to the next restaurant and kill 50 people.

      But if a terrorist attacked a mall or a restaurant, only that mall or that restaurant elicits fear from the public. If the terrorist attack airplanes, all airplane travel becomes suspect. In this way the terrorist impacts the entire US economy, instead of just ruining one local mall or restaurant.

      They could have the same effect by attacking the train system, but it's not used as much as the air travel system and isn't as tied in with the economy. They'd have a bigger economical impact by attacking freigh

  • by aclarke ( 307017 ) <.ac.ekralc. .ta. .maps.> on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:36AM (#36118590) Homepage
    I have a hard time understanding how this could be news to anyone who has travelled with children in the last few years. While travelling from Canada through London to Amsterdam last year, our then 7 month old girl was given a patdown (at LHR IIRC). It was pretty comical, really. My wife stood her up, and my daughter stood there looking a little confused, like babies do, while some woman patted her down. I guess if I'd been a blogger with a sense of self importance, I'd have taken a photo and informed the world about it.

    I'm sure ours can't have been an isolated occurrence. There must have been thousands of little kids given a patdown by now. Maybe it's not news because it didn't happen In America.
  • America is safe so the tsa needs to have their budget slashed and these draconian measured ended. The US is suppose to be free right?
  • by Combatso ( 1793216 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:41AM (#36118694)
    The sign should read "if we think you have a bomb or weapon, we will stick fingers in your butt".

    I'm no islamic scholar, but I am thinking, that would be enough to deter anyone from trying.
  • Our officers followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family after the alarm

    Gee, folks. They followed proper current procedures, so I don't see how they could have done anything wrong. What more do you want from the TSA? You have to follow procedure after all, and procedures are always right! I'd almost think you people would suggest that the procedures may be misguided, detrimental to our liberties, damaging to our Constitutional rights, or even criminal in nature, and I'm sure none of you think that, right?

    Note: All responses to this comment will be logged for review by authorized agents of the federal government, as per proper current procedures.

  • by Stregano ( 1285764 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:13PM (#36119878)
    when it will fit through the x-ray machine?
  • SECURITY BROADWAY, Iron Curtain, Wednesday — In the wake of Transport Security Administration staff forcing a "full pat-down" on a three-year-old child, Catholic priests have been clamouring to work for [] the government department.

    The TSA, which has apprehended only slightly less than one terrorist in its nine years of operation, welcomed the new recruits to the fold. "We need people with experience in dealing with young people," said TSA head John Pistole, "in telling people what to do and in making the innocent feel guilty. And the enthusiasm! They're not your typical bored minimum-wager, no way! Also, they have better uniforms."

    Mr Pistole reiterated the patriotic duty that drives the TSA in their work. "Fondling little girls' genitals is vital to protecting America from TERRORISTS. Remember: if TSA staff can't finger your daughter, the TERRORISTS have won!" He then strangled a kitten for our photographer.

    Cardinal Bernard Law returned to America from the Vatican especially for the opportunity to create government-funded child pornography with the new "naked" scanners. "It's top quality stuff, too. The tears, the pain — the things that make this sort of thing really worthwhile."

    "They were nasty men," said three-year-old TSA molestee Mandy Simon. "But it clearly demonstrates the iron necessity of the holy Jihadic destruction of the West. Allahu akbar! Daddy? I done a boo-boo."

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.