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TSA Mythbuster: The Rest of the DFW Pat-down Story

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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***Update*** When a pat-down is required, TSA can offer reasonable accommodations for individuals with sensory processing disorders or other conditions that sometimes result in pain when touched. However, those individuals still need to undergo a pat-down to maintain security. ***Update***

As you may have heard, on Sunday at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), a 13-year-old passenger underwent enhanced security screening, which included a pat-down, after his laptop alarmed an explosives trace detection machine. In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes, and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to ease concerns of the mother. The passengers were at the checkpoint for approximately 45 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection.

The mother filmed the pat-down and posted it to Facebook. It has since gone viral.

So is this standard procedure? TSA screening procedures allow for the pat-down of children under certain circumstances. In this instance, a laptop alarmed the explosives trace detection machine, which requires additional screening to resolve the alarm.

We get it. Nobody likes to be patted down. And nobody likes to see their loved ones patted down, especially children. TSA screens thousands of families every day, and our officers are trained to communicate with parents, explain screening procedures before they begin, and find the best way to get everyone to their plane safely and efficiently. Many of our officers are parents too.

All of our procedures are based on current intelligence and our adversaries are always looking for ways to inflict harm, including recruiting young children to carry out attacks. Bottom-line is that passengers, including children, and their property are screened prior to boarding a plane and any security alarms must be resolved.

So why does TSA conduct pat-downs? Pat-down procedures are used to determine whether prohibited and dangerous items are concealed. You may be required to undergo a pat-down procedure if the screening technology alarms, as part of random or unpredictable security measures, for enhanced screening, or as an alternative to other types of screening, such as advanced imaging technology screening. Even passengers who normally receive expedited screening, such as TSA Pre✓® passengers, may at times receive pat-down screening.

What should you know about pat-down screening?

  • Our officers will explain the procedures to you as they conduct the pat-down.
  • We use modified screening procedures for children 12 and under that reduce the likelihood of pat-down screening.
  • A pat-down may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, hand, back, torso, legs, and feet. This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks. You may be required to adjust clothing during the pat-down.
  • Pat-downs require sufficient pressure to ensure detection.
  • Our officers use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.
  • You should advise the officer if you have difficulty raising your arms or remaining in the position required; an external medical device; or areas of the body that are painful when touched.
  • You may request a chair to sit if needed.
  • You will receive a pat-down by an officer of the same gender.
  • At any time during the process, you may request private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice.

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media

Comments

Submitted by RB on

Boldly said...
Nicolia Wiles said...
. TSA has been proven to stop zero attacks and the agents end up stealing more from travelers than protecting us.
can you provide a link to the "proof?"

I didn't think so...


April 4, 2017 at 11:34 AM
..............
Boldy, same challenge. Provide one link that proves TSA has stopped an attack or terrorist.

Submitted by RB on

Boldly said...
.............
RB said...
An interview of the mother on radio station WBAP paints an entirely different picture than the fantasy that TSA posted.

The boy did not alarm. His computer did not alarm. There was a significant backup at the checkpoint and several people had asked a female TSA screener what was going on. The mother had spoken with this female TSA screener. The mothers account was that this female TSA screener was being rude to others and herself and the additional screening was in retaliation for the mothers questions.

Once again it looks like TSA is not being honest with the public. A TSA norm.
.........................

so you were there? You can make that determination because Mom said so? Lord knows no Mom has ever been proven to be a liar after watching the video...
Glad you were there to clear this up for the American people.

April 4, 2017 at 12:55 PM
.............
Boldy, you really need to work on how you format your comments.

As to your remark. I clearly stated the mothers side of things. TSA stated theirs on this blog and in the media. There is a discrepancy between the two versions and seeing as how TSA has consistently been less than honest over the years I think we have to give a lot of weight to the mothers version of things.

TSA, the TSA Blog, and other spokespeople for TSA have destroyed TSA's and their own credibility by not being honest, no one else did that.

It wasn't necessary to be there to compare two versions of the same story. One version from TSA, known liars, and one version from a mother who only wants to protect her son from extremely abusive, and unnecessary, checkpoint pat downs. A new pat down so alarming that TSA felt the need to alert law enforcement agencies about the new procedure.

So without some hard evidence by TSA that counters the mothers version then yes I will believe the mother over TSA.

If you have some other evidence that you think changes things to post it.

Submitted by StatsGrandma's ... on

I think several of the policies need to be examined and reevaluated.

Patdowns are intrusive and traumatic. Both sexes use incontinence products and women use menstrual products. Breasts and genitals should be off limmits completely. No back of the hand and especially no front of the hand.

SPOT has been deemed unscientific and unsound. Better methods need to be developed. Europe does a far better job in this area.

There are many ways in which security can be done more effectively and efficiently.

Submitted by Unknown on

This site claims he's thirteen. Everywhere else he's ten. Was the wait that long?

Submitted by Boldly on

RB said...
Boldly said...
Nicolia Wiles said...
. TSA has been proven to stop zero attacks and the agents end up stealing more from travelers than protecting us.
can you provide a link to the "proof?"

I didn't think so...


April 4, 2017 at 11:34 AM
..............
Boldy, same challenge. Provide one link that proves TSA has stopped an attack or terrorist.

I have never made the claim that they have. I have said they may have, and that cannot be denied. The fact is, if they did there is a very high likelihood nobody including TSA would have ever known it.

Submitted by Boldly on

StatsGrandma's Office Hours said...
I think several of the policies need to be examined and reevaluated.

Patdowns are intrusive and traumatic. Both sexes use incontinence products and women use menstrual products. Breasts and genitals should be off limmits completely. No back of the hand and especially no front of the hand.

SPOT has been deemed unscientific and unsound. Better methods need to be developed. Europe does a far better job in this area.

There are many ways in which security can be done more effectively and efficiently.
just an outsider looking in...if TSA were to make breasts and groin "off limits" completely...where do you suppose bad people would start hiding things? This doesn't take a rocket scientist to answer that one.

Submitted by Boldly on

"Once again it looks like TSA is not being honest with the public. A TSA norm."

"If you have some other evidence that you think changes things to post it."
I'm simply pointing out that you and the other haters have once again convicted TSA without all the facts. It has been proven without a doubt many times in the past that parents don't always report an accurate version of what happened. Video has shown them to be lying many times. It is entirely possible that his case is no different. The video clearly shows TSA did nothing wrong. Maybe something you disagree with, but not wrong.
You however chose to say " TSA is not being honest with the public. A TSA norm" when there is absolutely no proof that that is true. That may be you opinion, but that does not make it a fact.
Submitted by Wintermute on

Why the reluctance to answer yet another set of really simple questions, West?

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

Fix sez - "West, thank-you for deleting the comments that violated blog policy."

You are welcome, hopefully, it will not happen again.

RB sez - "Why was my post that brought attention to the non-conforming post made by Fluffy removed? My post fully complied with the TSA Blog posting guidelines.

Trying to cover up for the poor behavior of TSA employees? If so that is corrupt!"

The comment was deleted because it included excerpts of the original comment that made your comment a violation of posting guidelines as well.

Wintermute sez - "Why was my comment pointing out a violation of blog policy removed, but the violation itself still stands?"

I believe all of the comments in this thread that were violations are gone, if I have missed any, please note them for me and I will get to it.

Unknown sez - "This site claims he's thirteen. Everywhere else he's ten. Was the wait that long?"

Hah! I see what you did there! No, really, he is 13, and most media sources I have seen quote it as 13 or as a "minor" with no age attached.

Wintermute sez - "Why the reluctance to answer yet another set of really simple questions, West?"

Which questions are you referring to? I have actually had a really busy past two months, so I may have missed quite a few. All of the Blog Team have other jobs that we have to work in addition to doing the blog work.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by RB on

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "Why was my post that brought attention to the non-conforming post made by Fluffy removed? My post fully complied with the TSA Blog posting guidelines.

Trying to cover up for the poor behavior of TSA employees? If so that is corrupt!"

The comment was deleted because it included excerpts of the original comment that made your comment a violation of posting guidelines as well.


West
TSA Blog Team

April 18, 2017 at 7:20 AM

My comment was in complete compliance with the blog posting guidelines. I did quote the non-compliant comment that demonstrated the personal ethics violation of a claimed TSA employee.

For the TSA Blog to delete my comment which drew attention to this matter is nothing short of a cover-up of wrong doing by other TSA employees. That is also an ethics violation. Proper personal violation reports will be submitted.

Submitted by Wintermute on

I asked who approved the comments to begin with? You, or someone else?

I'd quote the comment that was missed, but then you'll delete or not post this comment. I believe part of the comment by "haolerot" on March 29, 2017 at 11:28 AM is still in violation, no?

Submitted by Chip And Andy on

Boldy, same challenge. Provide one link that proves TSA has stopped an attack or terrorist.

To which Boldy replied....I have never made the claim that they have. I have said they may have, and that cannot be denied. The fact is, if they did there is a very high likelihood nobody including TSA would have ever known it.

So we don't know how much TSA it takes to prevent attacks because the simple fact we have TSA is preventing attacks. This is an interesting idea you are asserting.... how much TSA does it take to prevent attacks? Like you say, there is a 'very high likelihood' that the TSA has already prevented at least one terrorist attack, and the number could be as high as some astronomically huge number that I won't type because your imagination can do a better job just by me saying astronomically huge number.

So if simply having the TSA has prevented attacks, why do we need the 3-1-1 rules? You don't test any of the liquids that are passed through and you don't test any of the liquids you toss into the common rubbish bins so the only real benefit would seem to be security theater. Is the 3-1-1 rule the one that has deterred all the terrorist attacks? Or if we take it out is there still enough TSA to stop terrorists?

How about the shoe-carnival? Is having people run around barefoot while going through security the rule that deterred all the terrorist attacks? Are the terrorists afraid of foot germs? Because, really, all those people running around barefoot really is unsanitary. I wouldn't blame the terrorists for ditching their plans when they learn about the shoe removal thing. If we give up on the shoe carnival is there still enough TSA to stop terrorists?

I think this assertion of yours is actually kind of brilliant. We should start limiting the scope and reach of the TSA and see just how little TSA it takes to deter the terrorists. Remove one TSA enacted policy per quarter every quarter until we get a terrorist on a plane trying to take it over. After the terrorist is foiled by the the hardened cockpit doors, or is foiled by the policies that no longer preach quiet compliance, or after passengers subdue the terrorist (and by subdue I mean when they have to use carpet cleaner to remove what is left of the terrorist after the beat-down from the passengers who don't want to die at the hands of a terrorist) then we will know exactly how much TSA we actually truly need.

Boldy, I must apologize for many of the mean things I have said about you over the last couple of years. This new idea of yours is absolutely brilliant!

Submitted by Boldly on

Chip and Andy said....( a lot of stuff...)

I'm not sure how you took my response and got your idea out of it...
Lets try this instead...
Do you have a lock on your front door? Do you use it? Why? Is someone trying to break into your house every night? Or is the lock perhaps a deterrent to a break in? If nobody is trying to break in, leave your door open at night. See if they try then. If they do, you know how much front door you need...make sure there is a sign point out your children's rooms...let me know how that works. Locks are such a waste of money...


Do you wear a seat belt in your car? Why? Your not crashing every time you drive are you?

Do you have a fire suppression system at your house or office? Why? There isn't a fire, you must not need it right?

Terrorist are like water, they take the path of least resistance. Right now, because of TSA and other agencies, there is resistance.
Right now there is very little threat of terrorism on an American based flight. I agree. And that is not because they don't want to attack there, its because they know there is a high likelihood they would not succeed. They go the path of least resistance. They go where they have the best chance to succeed. this stuff is so elementary, I'm surprised so many still struggle with it.

Submitted by Wintermute on

And, yet again, silence from West when asked a simple question.

Submitted by Wintermute on

Because you are WRONG.

Submitted by Wintermute on

With their known failure rate, than means 90 or so bombs flew. Feel better?

Submitted by Wintermute on

Also, the first was not attached to a terrorist, and the second "...posed no threat..." because it was "bomb making materials" and not an actual bomb.

Submitted by Chip And Andy on
Right now there is very little threat of terrorism on an American based flight. I agree.

So then why do we need the TSA to be very aggressively patting down ten year olds? Why do we need to take off our shoes at the walk-through-metal-detectors? Why do we need to put our liquids in wee-small bottles to go through security just so we can pour them all back into the one big container after security?

Why do you keep using the Magic Tiger Rock theorem as proof that we need the TSA?
Submitted by GSOLTSO on

Chip and Andy sez - "So then why do we need the TSA to be very aggressively patting down ten year olds?"

What 10 year old are you speaking of? Can you provide a link for me?

Wintermute sez - "I asked who approved the comments to begin with? You, or someone else?"

and - "And, yet again, silence from West when asked a simple question."

I did not approve the comments. As indicated before, I only have a limited amount of time to work on the Blog here. If this were a full time position, I would have more time to carry on more informative replies. As of this time, it is not the case.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Chip And Andy on

GSOLTSO said...
Chip and Andy sez - "So then why do we need the TSA to be very aggressively patting down ten year olds?"

What 10 year old are you speaking of? Can you provide a link for me?

~~

You're kidding, right?

The ten year old in this attempt at Myth Busting.... the special needs kid from DFW that triggered the conversation we're having right now. That ten year old.

Submitted by Wintermute on

The lack of full-time position, and the fact that the blog is not directly under control of the PR arm of the TSA (does the fact that the TSA needs a PR arm scare anyone else?) just underscore the TSAs lack of regard for the travelling public. But that was not my question...

So, when there's spin to be spun, someone else higher up approves pro-TSA comments regardless of how far from the posted guidelines they stray?

The question remains... Who approved the comments?

Submitted by TraceyTravels on

As a travel journalist who flies frequently, I can tell you the enhanced TSA pat-down is an egregious violation of human dignity, and I don't think it does much to keep us safer. Since nobody is checked upon entering the airport, wouldn't a terrorist with a bomb in his pants explode it at the airport instead of waiting to get on the plane? I am no expert on security, but I know who is: Israel. The Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv has been free of terrorist attacks since the 1970s. My understanding is they use behavioral profiling to spot suspected terrorists. In other words, their security team does not consist of robots trained to confiscate shampoo and analyze breast milk. I am not advocating the USA implement all the layers of security at Ben Gurion. I’m suggesting our TSA agents could learn from these highly trained Israeli officers who focus on peculiar behavior instead of forgotten bottles of water. TSA agents seem to be so fearful of accusations of racial or religious profiling that they treat everyone like a terrorist. In the search for terrorists, the TSA is terrorizing it's own citizens. I have contacted my senator in an effort to have these invasive pat-downs limited to certain circumstances. TSA pre-check passengers have already been screened, so why waste time and resources why pat-downs unless there is something truly unusual? It saddens me that we have become a society that accepts its citizens must be humiliated and degraded in the public square to board an airplane.


Submitted by TraceyTravels on

Forgot to add in my previous comment, if you have genuine concerns about TSA pat-downs, it's far more effective to contact your senator than to vent on social media or blogs.That's how laws get changed.

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

The young man that was the subject of this post, is 13.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Wintermute on

And social media is how you get the word out.

Submitted by Chip And Andy on

"...GSOLTSO said...
The young man that was the subject of this post, is 13."

oh, that makes the aggressive pat down somehow ok?

Submitted by Wintermute on

Time to answer other questions, but not this one, West? It's pretty simple. If you didn't approve comments which violated posted blog guidelines, who did?

Submitted by Wintermute on

You forgot... 12 is the mythical age when a child crosses the threshold where aggressive patdowns are required to clear threats. And I bet you saw my eyes roll from there ;)

Submitted by Unknown on

Do they have to pat down if ur wearing sweat pants?

Submitted by Wintermute on

Neither could I, and that's why I don't have a job that exposes me to that. If you can't handle it, then you shouldn't have that type of job, either. Same goes with a TSAgent. If they cannot handle it while keeping a positive attitude, then they should be removed. Even if everything is done "according to protocol" or whatever BS TSA spouts about these incidents, the fact that they took an attitude with a travelled should be a fireable offence. I could care less about the travellers attitude towards the TSA, as they're not being paid to deal with the agent.

Submitted by Wintermute on

Where's my reply? Followed guidelines, yet was not posted.

Submitted by Gabi on

Every time I go thru I get patted down...... They say they picked up an anomaly......... Ok, really? I'm wearing jeans and a tank top, a thin tank top........ They say there could be a mystery substance on me....... It's fat, yes fat.... Nothing under that top but a t-shirt bra and fat. I'm not obese, just a few pounds over weight and every time I have to wait there as they yell ( numerous times) "i need a female officer for an immediate part down". If this happened once, well ok, but every time. They have found anomalies on my waist, ankle, wrist and back, my wrist wasn't even covered and it still needed to be patted down........ Why though do I get patted down with no bulges, and the guy next to me, twice as big as me, cargo pockets bursting and obvious items under his shirt get waved through? No checking.... No anomalies........ Why?
. I travel with my autistic son and every time he thinks I'm going to be arrested because they find anomalies.... I can't wear thinner clothes and be decent, I'm only wearing one layer of clothes, what is it you need to be able to tell the difference between a slightly overweight 60+ woman and a smuggler?

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