Monday, April 23, 2012

4-Year-Old Gets Terrorized by the TSA Because She Hugged Her Grandma

I'm sick (again - what the hell ...), so posting will be light until I'm well. But, I came across this story, which is so horrible that it made my blood boil, so I wanted to throw up a quick post.

Here's the key part of the story, from a Facebook post, via Consumerist:
My two young children, aged four and six, were particularly excited their Grandmother was catching the same flight out of Wichita. Since she lives in California, and we live in Montana, they've never had a chance to fly with her. Tired and eager to return home, we began passing through security. My children and I went through without an incident. My Mother, however, had triggered the alarm. She was asked to go through the scanners again, and when the source of the alarm could not be identified she was told to sit aside and await a pat-down. All of this was perfectly routine.

When my Four-year-old daughter noticed her Grandmother, she excitedly ran over to give her a hug, as children often do. They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds. The Transportation Security Officers(TSO) who were present responded to this very simple action in the worst way imaginable.

First, a TSO began yelling at my child, and demanded she too must sit down and await a full body pat-down. I was prevented from coming any closer, explaining the situation to her, or consoling her in any way. My daughter, who was dressed in tight leggings, a short sleeve shirt and mary jane shoes, had no pockets, no jacket and nothing in her hands. The TSO refused to let my daughter pass through the scanners once more, to see if she too would set off the alarm. It was implied, several times, that my Mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter.

My child, who was obviously terrified, had no idea what was going on, and the TSOs involved still made no attempt to explain it to her. When they spoke to her, it was devoid of any sort of compassion, kindness or respect. They told her she had to come to them, alone, and spread her arms and legs. She screamed, “No! I don't want to!” then did what any frightened young child might, she ran the opposite direction.

That is when a TSO told me they would shut down the entire airport, cancel all flights, if my daughter was not restrained. It was then they declared my daughter a “high-security-threat”.
That's right - you hugged your grandmother, little girl? You must be a terrorist. That's obviously the most likely explanation, TSA agents.

Amazingly enough, they eventually managed to make their flight, though they had to endure even more harassment from the TSA.

But all of the above isn't even the most ridiculous part of the story - after all, there are tens of thousands of TSA agents, and with so many employees, some of them are bound to do stupid things from time to time. No, the most ridiculous part of the story is that the TSA said, in response to this incident, that the agents did everything according to "proper current screening procedures":
TSA has recently implemented modified screening procedures of children 12 and under that further reduce — though not eliminate — the need for a physical pat-down for children. In this case, however, the child had completed screening but had contact with another member of her family who had not completed the screening process. TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper current screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child.
Dear TSA:

We hate you.

The American public hates you.

This story is one reason why. I've also posted previous posts - one infographic and one personal story - explaining in greater detail why we hate you. You are so ludicrously disconnected from the actual security threats facing the flying public and from the desires of the public you purport to protect that I fear your idiotic procedures, inhuman "agents," and radiation nude-o-scopes far more than I fear an actual attack on a plane I'm flying in - because there is an absolutely miniscule probability that I will fall victim to a terrorist attack, but there is a 100% chance that I will fall victim to the TSA every time I fly.

You can't protect the public when the public hates you. I don't view the TSA as an agency trying to protect me that I want to cooperate with; I view it as a threat to my person and property. I'm not going to cooperate more with you than the absolute minimum required by law, and I'm guessing most people agree with me - and this decreases our collective safety. You've made us hate you, and this decreases our collective safety.

The TSA is so obviously and completely broken that it should simply be scrapped. I don't know whether the solution is a new government agency or to re-privatize airport security, but the current system as implemented by the TSA is beyond ridiculous - a system in which 100% of flyers, 99.999999999% of which are utterly innocent, are harassed, abused, and/or irradiated by an unaccountable government entity in the name of useless security theater. Furthermore, when thinking about how to spend government dollars, is it a better idea to spend an extra dollar on childhood education, research, or bridges, or on paying the TSA to troll Tennessee highways for non-existent threats?

End the TSA. If you work for the TSA, quit. Don't apply for TSA jobs. Don't fly, if you can avoid it. Enough is enough.


  1. This is the one issue on which I and my Republican friends can always find common ground.

    1. Indeed, it seems that this is one of the few instances in which almost everyone on the political spectrum seems to agree. Therefore, I really don't understand why nothing changes regarding the TSA, since people of all political persuasions and a vast majority of the American flying public hate the TSA and want drastic change. Someone should do an academic study on the TSA as a case study for the difficulty of effecting change within a bureaucratic organization.

      -The Angry Bureaucrat

  2. The TSA is a scam that is run by private profiteers and career politicos with their hands out for bribes, items from checked baggage are still being stolen. It is not farfetched that anything that can be taken can be replaced with something else. we have the safest air traffic system in the world that is being made unsafe by incompetence at the TSA from the top down.