TSA searches body-casted three-year-old in a wheelchair

Here's a video of a Chicago TSA operative searching a three year old boy who is in a wheelchair, wearing a body-cast, on the way to his family trip to Disney World. The boy's parents were not allowed to hold him or touch him to comfort him during the procedure.

A toddler in a wheelchair is stopped by the TSA at ORD (O'Hare Airport in Chicago) and forced to into a sequestered area. On his way to a family vacation in Disney, this 3 year old boy is in a body cast for a broken leg. Despite assurances from his father that "everything is ok", he is physically trembling with fear while he watches his two siblings, mother, father, grandfather and grandmother pass through along with everyone else...only to be singled out.

TSA Nabs Suspected Al Queda Terrorist At O'Hare International Airport, A toddler in a wheelchair (via Reddit)


  1. I want to see indignant Reddit posts about Muslims getting searched. Until then I remain convinced that all this backlash is nothing but privileged white folks that would breathe a sigh of relief if the TSA suddenly announced “OK, you got us, we won’t search white folks.”

    1. I don’t think it has anything to do with the child being white.  It has more to do with it being a wheelchair-bound child in a body cast who was put through a demeaning search like this.
      Last time I checked, toddlers haven’t exactly brought down many airplanes.

      1. A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.  As soon as the TSA stops searching children or children in body casts, they become the perfect vessel for some psycho to strap their hazardous materials to.  That being said.. it’s all security theatre anyways.  I’ve had friends accidentally bring knives, liquids, etc through security with no bother from the TSA. 

        1.  So the TSA don’t search each other, it might be time to start that… then they can have their own little orgies and leave the rest of us alone.

          They don’t search all the people with access to the planes, so the new conduit to blow up planes is already open.

          This is theater not security.

        2. As soon as the TSA stops searching children or children in body casts, they become the perfect vessel for some psycho to strap their hazardous materials to.

          This is more insane than any real terrorist plot I’ve ever heard of. Completely imaginary.

          “The difference between theory and practice is closer in theory than it is in practice.”

          1. Maybe you can educate us all as to why it’s impractical for someone who clearly doesn’t care about anyones life to smuggle goods on a child’s person..? 

          2. I agree, but let’s all remember that our neighbours to the south now include large numbers of people who believe that is their reality. They have been instructed to be suspicious of one another and they are. They are instructed to set aside their liberties in the name of a false sense of security, so they do. 

            I vehemently believe that there is nothing that truly goes without saying, nothing qualified by “of course” should be accepted, not one statement begun “naturally” should be unquestioned. 

            As hard as it is to read such ignorance, the person who types something like

            “As soon as the TSA stops searching children or children in body casts, they become the perfect vessel for some psycho to strap their hazardous materials to.”

             still serves the purpose of reminding me how bad it is and how bad it can get with the fear-mongers.

            It is insane, but people who will justify the sacrifice of their dignity in this way need to be highlighted to be helped or worked against. My caveat, is that your caveat to any statement as ridiculous as that is invalidated as justification. So whoever typed that nonsense, thanks for your fear, it does serve a purpose.

          3. @rydewnd2:disqus Maybe you can educate us all as to ..
            it’s impractical because nuance.

            also impractical: speaking for the group.

          4.  …seriously? What a sheltered world you live in. That any apparent attempt to secure a fundamentally insecure venue against competent, motivated threats is necessarily an ineffective, wasteful theater of abuse does not entail that competent, motivated threats aren’t present. It just means that you have to accept that going out into the world entails risks that can’t be prepared for, period. Your strange, contemptuous pseudo-optimism is just as much of an idiotic defense mechanism against that fact as a fearful drone’s belief in the efficacy of the TSA’s procedures.

            A better response would have been: Yeah, but 99% of highly competent, motivated transnational criminals are in it for the drug money, not the martyr’s cause, so if we have a concern for children being used this way, it’s almost certainly about heroin, not plastic explosives.

          5. Kairos: Where did you get “any” attempt? I try to criticize only stupid attempts.

            Plus, that’s some interesting pattern of using “competent, motivated.” Do you have an occupation where you tend to have to use statutory language?

          6. rydewnd2 Shaddup about drug smuggling when defending the TSA policies and practices. 

            Yeah, shaddup and read this from the TSA 

            “TSA does not look for drugs, nor are we tested to look for drugs.”

            So shaddup referencing illicit drugs when discussing the TSA.

          7. For those who think this is a plausible threat, do you think it’s a piece of cake for a terrorist/drug lord to get a  small child that will trust them enough to act like the person is their parent? If this presented no major difficulty you’d think it’d be a common strategy for drug lords at least, but from some googling I get the sense that it’s extremely rare, for example this story on child drug mules mentions no one younger than 11.

            It’s not that using 3-year-olds for terrorism is impossible of course, but it’s rational to weigh threats by our estimates of the likelihood terrorists would go to the trouble rather than to go by the principle that “anything you can imagine and don’t take intrusive active measures to prevent is most likely what the terrorists are planning to do.” Millions of moviegoers saw how the Joker sewed a bomb inside someone’s stomach in the last Batman movie, it’s certainly not completely impossible someone would actually do that, does that mean everyone needs to go through an MRI before boarding a plane? The reality is that most terrorists are not criminal masterminds, the most pressing threats are not likely to overlap much with the most diabolically clever ones we can imagine (remember when everyone was sure after 9/11 that terrorists were going to get Ph.D.’s in nuclear physics or genetic engineering to build nuclear bombs and super-diseases? How’d that prediction turn out?)

      2. Of course it has nothing consciously or directly to do with being white – that isn’t how civilized prejudice operates in the contemporary United States. It’s just that most of the (young, white, male) redditors are only really outraged by children and sick people and breast cancer survivors getting searched and mistreated, because it’s novel and sympathetic and most of those people are white.

        This is true inasmuch as: a) most airline travelers in general in the US are still white, something which would never even occur or matter to the libertarian, “colorblind” reddit crowd; and b) people without natural-born entitlement, who have actually had to think about getting profiled, don’t do dumbass attention-starved things like bring small body-casted wheelchair-bound children to Disneyland via TSA.

        The routine background of racial profiling and constant irritating misbehavior by TSA employees that’s mostly directed at visible minorities may be acknowledged by the entitled normative group – when someone takes the initiative to bring it up to them – but it certainly goes unnoticed in a practical context.

        And that is still prejudice, that can still be identified and opposed in oneself.

        1. “b) people without natural-born entitlement, who have actually had to think about getting profiled, don’t do dumbass attention-starved things like bring small body-casted wheelchair-bound children to Disneyland via TSA.”

          Abuh? So it’s a sign of dumbassness and white privilege to take your child to Disneyland?

          1. Actually if you live in a world where you feel you may be subject to prejudice you probably would consider it dumb. For the same reason I would consider going out by myself to any bar near where I live dumb.

            It would be dumb… for me.

    2.  “I want to see indignant Reddit posts about Muslims getting searched.”

      Muslims in the US know better than to draw attention to themselves as much as possible.

    3.  It’s also in part about a well organized campaign to demonize working class govt. workers.  Notice how the outrage in these Boing Boing stories is *never* directed at the people who are actually creating these dumb policies and making workers in a desperate job market enforce them.  Notice how the right wing has fought tooth and nail against giving TSA workers the right to collective bargain and have some say in what they have to do.  Having said that, there’s no doubt that these security issues have an element of race and privilege that’s pretty noticeable.

      Here are the people actually responsible for the “TSA”


      1. “Notice how the outrage in these Boing Boing stories is *never* directed at the people who ^(Navin_Johnson thinks) are actually creating these dumb policies”


        Also, great observation. Do you suppose that it is a conspiracy to misinform? Or conspiracy to make you wonder?

        truth in advertising for the win.

        1.  TSA workers in the security line are creating the policies that they have to enforce?  I didn’t realize it was a worker’s collective.  Thanks for “fixing” that for me.  I thought these departments had directors, and that those directors were subordinate to congress and the president.

          1. TSA workers shouldn’t be blamed for enforcing bad policy. They should, however, be blamed for
            1. Not knowing the policy,
            2. Incorrectly applying the policy to make things worse, and
            3. Acting in a generally unfriendly and unprofessional manner.

            Even if you set aside the fucked-up policies they’ve been told to enforce, they’re still a bunch of fuck-ups.

          2.  TSA are only not responsible for their actions as much as policeman tear gassing people aren’t responsible for their actions.  There’s still a choice involved.  Jobs are important, sure, but that’s never an excuse.

            On the most part I agree with you though, although we’re allowed to dislike the TSA and their minions, ultimately our gripe is with the people making these things happen.  Attack the source, as it were.

          3. 2. Incorrectly applying the policy to make things worse, and

            That happened here?

            3. Acting in a generally unfriendly and unprofessional manner.

            If TSA workers are “generally” unfriendly to you, perhaps it has something to do with the way you carry yourself in line. 

            Even if you set aside the fucked-up policies they’ve been told to enforce, they’re still a bunch of fuck-ups.

            ^ There’s that entitlement and superiority.  This probably explains that “generally unfriendly” experience.  I imagine it *inexplicably* happens when you deal with other workers in daily life that you feel superior to, and make blanket, unsubstantiated assumptions about. I imagine for many, having a person that makes a low wage being in some kind of position of authority is intolerable, especially for those momentarily slowed down on their way to do the very special, and truly unique things they do…

          4.  Nathan,
            I wouldn’t compare a brief search before flying in an airplane to being tear gassed by police, then again, I have actually been in the street protesting wars and oligarchy before. 

          5.  The “It was an order”-defense is no longer (more than 70 years) valid.

            See the discussion on that below.  Histrionics.  Apples and mutant oranges from outer space.

      2. No.  The asshats on the front lines are 100% culpable for their own misbehavior. 
        Yes, Congress can be blamed for creating this beast in the first place, then failing to provide adequate training, support, leadership and consequences for misbehavior – and that is an enormous problem in and of itself.  How do you solve a leadership problem in an organization with no coherent mission, no metrics for success, no consequences for failure and no incentive to change?  I don’t know.

        HOWEVER! None of those things excuse the individuals who perpetrate the petty and demeaning abuses of the mis-granted authority.  If you want to be treated like a professional, be professional.  If you want to be respected, be respectable and earn it.  If you act like a douche, you deserve to be called out as one.  If you permit your coworkers or subordinates to do it without censure, comment or consequence, you deserve to be tarred with the same brush.  The vast majority of TSA agents try to be courteous and professional in a thankless ( and often pointless ) job.  It is a minority that indulge in reprehensible behavior, and that minority needs ( and deserves ) to be named and shamed as widely and as loudly as possible.  

        While I am an advocate of collective bargaining in this and other circumstances – your assertion is irrelevant here.  It wouldn’t change any of the conditions or circumstances we are discussing.

        “Dont hate the playa, hate the game”.  Bullsh%t – hate ’em both.  The game wouldn’t exist if the playas didn’t play, and they screw it up for everyone else.

        I’m not a big fan of the police.  Why?  not because there are corrupt cops – people are people, and some will be corrupt.  I don’t like them because there are almost no consequences for abuse of their authority.  In my city, the entire police force was up in arms when we passed an ordinance saying that officers had to pay tickets issued to their PATROL CARS by redlight cameras, unless their lights were on, they were responding to a call, or engaged in pursuit.  They actually almost got the ordinance overturned.  Why did we even need this ordinance?

      3. But . . . but . . . W and his boys *hired* these people and then immediately set out to demonize them? I feel like I am not sure what the point would be.

        I suspect that given the pure number of TSA people and the pure number of people they deal with, bad decisions are inevitable and TSA takes each bad decision right in the shorts.

        1. Congress did, Bush signed. And yes, now that Bush is gone and 9/11 is a decade+ in the past the right wing is obsessed with the TSA. Been asleep for awhile?

    4.  I don’t think you understand.  This has nothing to do with so-called ‘privilege’ and everything to do with the TSA’s tendency to overstep the bounds of common sense for the sake of security theater.  Sure, everyone knows Muslims and people of middle-eastern/Asian descent get singled out more at checkpoints (and that sucks) but there’s more than one thing wrong with the TSA, and this video highlights one particularly egregious example.  Don’t get your wires crossed.  Nobody – NOBODY is privileged when they’re subjected to this kind of invasion of privacy.

        1.  It’s just not relevant to the story at hand.  But okay. 

          And since you didn’t take the opportunity to decry the Nanking massacre during your reply, I suppose the only possible conclusion I can draw is that you fully support the Japanese in that scenario?

          Or, maybe — just maybe — our pet causes shouldn’t interfere with our perception of unrelated events?  Ya think?

    5. The thing that really irritates me about the whole TSA thing is the 9/11 hijackings wouldn’t have happened the way it did if the conventional wisdom, at the time, didn’t suggest compliance with the hijackers and that there is a very real possibility that a hijacked plane may get flown into a building.

      We wouldn’t have as many problems with airline security if the specific information about terrorist threats would be made available to the public.

      The fact that they pat down children or X-Ray grandmothers doesn’t bother me as much as that we don’t fight for the rights of everyone. If you buy into the premise that terrorists will do whatever it takes to sneak explosives onto airplanes and that you don’t remember or ignore the fact that the weapons used to hijack the planes on 9/11 were already on the airplanes when the terrorists boarded the plane, they will shove their weapons and explosives inside the clothing or carry-on baggage of the least suspicious-looking people in the security line. These people would include children, the elderly, and the disabled.

      If we had better alternative rail and commuting options, we might have better bargaining options against the TSA and the airlines.

  2. Part of me wants to say that a really committed terrorist could use a toddler to hide a bomb. But it’s so obviously not worth it if we have to search every old woman’s colostomy bag and every toddler in a body cast. You can’t destroy the village in order to save the village, and you can’t terrorize the populace to save the populace from terrorism.

  3. I’ve read indignant stories about Muslims getting singled out for bad treatment, but it’s mostly happening on planes as a result of other (white) passengers’ suspicions. The TSA is happy to hassle white folks because it won’t cause indignant comments about them hassling Muslims.

  4. I want to see *some* evidence, *any* evidence, that there is *any* sort of logic or purpose behind the TSA’s existence and methods.

    1. but usually they just mix the explosives into their food (kids, amirite, just put some ketchup on that C4 and they gobble it down like it was their last meal), which would be totally undetectable…
      (the fact that nearly every kid is being forbidden to play with matches just goes to show how prevalent this kind of terrorism is. You don’t want them to blow up prematurely)

  5. This is totally disturbing. I recently traveled and was surprised how everyone passively goes through the “New & Improved Millimeter Wave Scan” machines. I still opted for a pat down… oh the theater of security- such a grand farse. But, seriously, swabbing a three olds cast??? WTF? Utterly absurd waste of human resources!

    1. To each their own.  With the newer MMW machines and the cartoon images they show, my personal safety is much better off than letting some TSA yahoo give me the special pat-down treatment and discover that I’m a trans person.  No, thanks.  Doesn’t mean I stop protesting them as useless.

      1. Are the cartoons everywhere now? How can I find that out? The porno-scanners have always creeped me out, and the stories of how women are picked disproportionately to go through them doesn’t help. I’d be fine with general outlines though. They’re…good enough for the questionable technology they come from? Better for us passengers, anyways.

        1. I’m going off something I read on the TSA blog a couple of months ago.  The only time I’ve had to use this machine was in Tulsa a couple of weeks ago, and since that’s a fairly small airport, I’m guessing it has pretty wide roll out.  They were making everyone go through them.  The screen they can see was in view of me, also,  after I’d gone through.  Assuming  there’s no other remote screen, it’s the best I can hope for until we get rid of the damn things altogether.

      2. http://tsaoutofourpants.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/1b-of-nude-body-scanners-made-worthless-by-blog-how-anyone-can-get-anything-past-the-tsas-nude-body-scanners/

        Safe from what? Not from things large enough to be guns, knives, explosives or even, shudder, box cutters.

        If you don’t accept the above, then read the TSA response and you will be convinced. Those amateur apes also even tried to sock puppet that blog’s comments, from TSA controlled IP addresses. 

        The TSA is beyond pathetic.

        1. Safe from transphobes. The new machines don’t show enough detail to compromise my safety by showing the operators that I’m trans. The old machines or a thorough pat down had I chosen to opt out would have. I’d rather not take that risk.

  6. As a father of 2 young children (2 and 6) I think I can honestly say this was the most polite, understanding TSA officer I’ve ever witnessed. He was reassuring to the boy, allowed the father to be nearby and comfort his son verbally. The pat-down was not invasive. He swabbed the wheelchair and let them go. The kid never even had to get out of the wheelchair. Sure, it was disconcerting to the child, but at 3 years old, everything is. I would have been fine had this been my child.

    1. Yeah, the kid doesn’t really look that upset, and the parent is as interested in documenting a “violation” as he is in comforting his son.  (“What do you think about this?” he asks with a slightly bitter tone.)

      I understand the indignation from the parents (and, really, anybody who is singled out) but this is also theater.

      1. Well, the kid clearly isn’t that happy – see 0:53, but that’s only half the point.  If the TSA required that everyone strip off their clothes and run naked through the airport, my 2 year old son would be an enthusiastic participant, that doesn’t excuse the fact that it would be a stupid policy.

      2. I was actually very impressed with how the father put his son’s comfort first. Instead of ranting at the TSA guy and disputing the procedure, which would have prolonged the process and worried his kid even more, he stayed calm.
        I’m sure it was extremely difficult for him to hold his tongue and not start an argument about this ridiculous policy. A ‘slightly bitter tone’ is excusable.

    2. Sure, it was disconcerting to the child, but at 3 years old, everything is.

      Uh, no. I hope you don’t have children.

  7. Whew!  I feel safer.

    Now to share the road with hundreds of speeders distracted by their cellphones.

  8.  I think the most messed up thing about this is that the technology and methodology used on this child still doesn’t guarantee there is no bomb inside the wheelchair or the body cast.  There are still many ways to hide an explosive device or other weapons on this kid in a wheelchair that the TSA wouldn’t find anyways.

    1.  Give a 3yr old passenger enough sugar and maybe an espresso and you won’t need a bomb, the pilot will crash the plane.

  9. I thought the officer was extremely nice and reassuring to the child.  I didn’t see where the child was terrified either.  Had it not been for the Dad to keep bringing it up to the child I don’t think he thought any thing of it.  Get over it people.  If you don’t like the rules and searches, don’t fly.  Like no one has ever used a child in an act of war or terrorism.  As soon as another plane goes down because of an attack then Americans complain there wasn’t enough done to protect them.  Get over it!!!
    It you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t have a problem with being searched.

    1. Exactly. The father seems to be the one that’s uncomfortable and is attempting to prod his son into a reaction. The TSA agent handled the situation well and is heard making small talk to put the child at ease before the pat down. He even offers a private room while the young boy’s shirt is lifted. 

      No one likes the pat downs and random checks. However, if they’re gonna be in place at all, they need to be in place FOR all. The sad reality is that someone with a sick mind wouldn’t hesitate to use an innocent child in their ploy. They also wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of an unsuspecting senior citizen.

      If this happened to me, I wouldn’t think much of the 3 minute minor annoyance and would focus on enjoying my family trip to Disney. The child takes his cues from his parents, as his father clearly understands.

      1. ” The sad reality is that someone with a sick mind wouldn’t hesitate to use an innocent child in their ploy. They also wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of an unsuspecting senior citizen.”

        I think you just made that up.

        There’s no reality to what you’ve written here, sad or otherwise. You’ve just taken your fear and used it to justify the actions of the authorities. I prefer evidence based security. 

        Don’t waste your time with potential fears that might possibly happen if people are as evil and determined as my imagination says they could possibly be. You’ll be happier for it.

        1. He’s not wired for it. He’s wired to suffer indignity in silence and berate you for seeing nuance.

      2. Really, some guy tried to blow up the Saudi king by hiding a bomb UP HIS OWN ASS. Why isn’t the TSA checking for that shit? Because nobody would ever fly ever that’s why!

    2. Hear, hear. Because obviously everyone should just accept the world as it is and never question anything no matter how ridiculous, pointless or demeaning it may seem. Amirite?

      While we’re on the subject, the argument that those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear rather presupposes that those in a position of power are a) infallible, b) never going to abuse said power and c) accountable.

      Good luck with that.

      1. Most intelligent comment yet. And I shudder for all the folks above and below who are so busy navel-gazing that the impact of this experience on the child is barely worth commenting on.

    3. “It you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t have a problem with being searched.”

      Far be it from me to step on your right to let people touch your junk, but hands off my 4th Amendment thanks.  The Bill of Rights was put in place to restrict what the Government does and to specifically enumerate the main rights of the people. 

      Anything not specifically detailed is a right the people deal with through the States. It doesn’t mean that if the Constitution doesn’t say “TSA shall not touch your junk” that the TSA has the right to touch your junk.

      Moreover, the TSA is not just in airports anymore, so saying ‘just don’t fly’ is about as out of date as using a Yahoo avatar. At this point you can just as easily say ‘well just don’t use the bus’ or ‘just don’t drive’.

      As all these modes of transportation are necessary for daily business, life, and legal work in the United States you are therefore telling people that they can’t live their lives unless they give up their rights. And you are ok with that. Because hey! This is America ya’ll. Home of the Free-ish. Land of the Brave-as-long-as-someone-else-is-standing-up.

        1. I’d be ok with an Israeli style security at airports. Everything else needs a warrant ;)

          And private security probably would be more effective. They wouldn’t be wasting money hand over fist doing security theater like the TSA is. It’s bad business. Especially when customers go to other airports with better security measures that are much less intrusive and much more effective.

          1.  So it really isn’t about your “rights” apparently.

            private security probably would be more effective

            I hear Blackwater and Xe have a great reputation.

          2. Which commercial airline in the US or flying to or over the USA provides competition via a lack of TSA? 

            Especially when customers go to which other airports exactly?

          3. @twitter-212575908:disqus  actually: many commuter airlines don’t require TSA checkpoints. When I lived on Maui, I could fly between any two islands with no TSA involvement unless I went to Oahu.
            The Molokai TSA are the two most laid-back federal workers I’ve ever met. Most of their day is spent waiting for the three or so flights that day they actually work on, and the rest is spent joking around and playing Hawaiian music. God bless ’em. 

    4.  “It [sic] you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t have a problem with being searched.”

      And if I’ve done nothing wrong there’s no need to search me.

      I assume you’ll be first in line for CCTV in your living room, after all, if you’re not doing anything wrong…

    5. In the 80s when I was about 10, I traveled from the US to Dublin and then traveled to Belfast clearing the boarder between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. At the border, my mother, brother, and I were patted down and the car we traveled in was checked by the border guards. Rather than making a big crying stink while I was being patted down, a few hours prior to the incident my mother told me that it was very possible that we would be stopped and that we would be checked for weapons during the trip.

      I wasn’t traumatized or embarrassed.

  10. The dad actually appeared to try to upset the boy and kept bringging it up.  Trying to get a rise out of the boy.  He didn’t seem upset at all.

    1. You say ‘try to upset’, I say ‘encouraged to share honest feelings’. Let’s call the whole thing off.

  11. That TSA employee (notice how I *didn’t* say officer, despite the deliberately deceptive badge and uniform?) did a picture-perfect, courteous job. The job itself is extended way beyond the point of usefulness, but that’s the fault of politicians and administrators. Posting this video isn’t going to foment outrage because everything outrageous happened off camera in a conference room somewhere.

    1. Texas, problem riddled though it is, recently saw it’s highest court rule that uniforms resembling law enforcement and titles such as “officer” were inappropriate and to be disallowed for TSA employees/screeners.

  12. “The boy’s parents were not allowed to hold him or ARM him to comfort him during the procedure.”

      1.  I was trying to make a joke, that the three-year-old was actually an explosive.  Arm as in, “prime for detonation,” not “provide with weaponry.”

  13. What the devil is up with them swabbing his body? I haven’t flown since 2010, so maybe i missed something.

      1. I would have hoped drug testing – it’s at least something that actually DOES get smuggled through airports on a regular enough basis to warrent the hoopla. Regardless of my stance on the War on Drugs.

        But I don’t have that much faith in the system. A more realistic guess would be plastic explosives or something. You know, something that barely ever happens.

        1. TSA do not look for drugs and are not trained to look for drugs and should not be using their technology to look for drugs.

          OTOH, if you have some drugs, they will take them from you… If you wink and such at the time, they will wink back and stop at confiscating your drugs.

  14. So, here’s a fact to counterbalance the indignation and snark: 

    To the chemical sniffers in use at some TSA checkpoints, cast material smells like plastic explosives. 

    Coming back to L.A. from a Christmas trip one year, we were pulled aside, and my daughter had her cast (broken arm, jumping on the bed, but that’s beside the point) thoroughly inspected, swabbed and otherwise pored over by TSA workers who are clearly under strict policy to check out anything that smells like plastic explosives. 

    She was 8 at the time. 


    1.  A majority of the sniffers are sitting in warehouses, they didn’t work as advertised.  We still bought all of them the contract said we would, and now we pay to warehouse them.

  15. Frankly, I’m ok with this. 

    As a muslimarab looking guy(I’m neither, but try telling the TSA that), the very last thing I want is some manic with brown skin blowing up another plane. Or, God forbid, using a child to do it.The second to last thing I want is brown children being singled out for such searches. The guy seemed nice, the search was random, but reasonable, the kid was ok, and it didn’t take too long. I wish this TSA guy would go train others.

    1. A polite and courteous execution of a fucked up policy doesn’t make the policy any less fucked.

      1. Hit the nail on the head. Amazing how many Americans are quite happy to give up freedom for a bit of security and a smile.

        1. But it does make it tolerable.

          Putting the poison in a juicy, red apple doesn’t make it better.  It just compounds the evil.

  16. Why wasn’t the little sister shot or at least tazed for that suspicious movement toward her brother near the beginning?! She obviously snatched the bomb when they weren’t looking.

    On a more serious note, it always amazes me to see so much understanding and support for the TSA.

    You do know NONE of the TSA is necessary, and they DON’T protect you from terrorism.

    1. On a more serious note, it always amazes me to see so much understanding and support for the TSA.

      That’s because you’re confusing workers with the policy makers.  It’s more fun to demonize some working stiff than Barack Obama, who most of the people posting in here will probably dutifully vote for come election day.

      We do know that most of you will either pull R or D on election day, and they are the ones who both created this security situation.

      Talk is cheap.

        1. It takes a Godwin to tango?  ;)

          Really tho, I wouldn’t personally compare what happened to this boy on his way to Disneyland with what Nazis did to Jewish children during the holocaust.  That’s me. I personally reject the whole premise that what they’re doing is so awful to flyers that it warrants some reference to “just following orders” either.

          1. You think it was ice cream sandwiches on Monday and Auschwitz on Tuesday?  Everybody talks about the victims being desensitized, but it’s even more important for the rise of totalitarianism that the perpetrators be desensitized and learn to treat the populace as cattle. 

            The TSA is an ideal training ground for occupations like concentration camp guard.  When you portray them as the victims, you feed that mindset that allows them to dehumanize the real victims.  Even though Nazism wasn’t socialism, there’s a reason that they called it that; it was an attempt to rally the ‘poor, oppressed Germans’ against their imaginary enemies.

        2. Aren’t most of us? Not just/necessarily now, on this topic, but one way or another every day? “Dancing around the Nuremberg Defense” to me reads as “constantly renegotiating the question of power and responsibility in a world of sprawling hierarchical organizations, while trying to avoid ever justifying participation in atrocity.”

        3. I think we fundamentally disagree on what a victim is, or what dehumanization is.  I’ve gotten more invasive searches at rock concerts and ball games.  You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t think that every U.S. soldier who refuses to quit immediately is a Nazi either. I would think that prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan would be more “ideal training grounds for concentration camp guards”. Or police depts. for that matter.

          I wonder if the same people here would demonize our U.S. service people in the same way? Want to talk some ugly incidents?

    2. You can’t say for certain.

      Sure, the TSA’s security theater is so full of holes that only a moron could believe it’s effective, but if all terrorists are morons then it will work exactly as advertised.

      1.  If all terrorists are morons (and most are), it still doesn’t work as advertised; it doesn’t actually cut the chance of even a moronic plot working.  The key thing to bear in mind about the TSA is that this was al-Qaeda’s plot. Terrorism is an autoimmune disease; Osama knew perfectly well he couldn’t do any real damage to the US just with a few planes. The point was to con the US into spending billions strangling itself for fear of him. Worked like a charm, even now he’s dead.

        1. Yep, ol’ Bin Laden combined Briar Patch & Tar baby and came up with a winner as far as plans to erode liberty go.

          Smart too, because but for his plan many more people would already be on the path to civil liberties in that part of the world. 

          We were winning there the same way we won against the ohsoscary communists, Television and Blue Jeans baby, Rock and Roll with a side of sex can shake the foundation of any totalitarian society no matter if based on religion or any other hare-brained concept.

          Being American today is not nearly so attractive as it was in 1999.

  17. Even before the “underwear bomber” I’ve been avoiding any US connections when flying abroad. The small amount of extra cash spent has saved me countless hours of time and anxiety.

    Although this clip demonstrates that profiling isn’t being applied here, it does demonstrate a lack of common sense. 

    Common Sense…….. the first casualty of fear.

  18. if i didn’t think i’d go right to prison for an extended stay, i’d cockpunch the next TSA ass that touched my junk in the name of “security.” it’s why i refuse to travel for work and have little interest in even domestic vacation air travel: not going to participate in your non-union theatre production, thanks.

    sorry, if i wanted to blow up your little planes/airports/whatevers, there are far more effective and “security”-transparent ways to get that done.  why do we need to search ruttin’ toddlers?!  oi!

    douchenozzles… the lot of ’em.

    1. The strange thing is that I’ve flown eight times in the last 21 days and never had my junk touched. Not even close. Just sayin’.

      1. A decade plus of flying and I’ve had only one very polite secondary search that involved no “junk touching”  and no other drama apart from an occasional long line. Neither have I witnessed any in line either.  Either we are:

        Extremely lucky
        Doing it right

  19. To all the posters condemning the father.

    Congratulations on attempting  to deflect  criticism from the TSA…..They need all the help they can get

    1. Do they really? They’ve been inundated by criticism from every angle and sector for years, and virtually the entire airline-traveling public is in consensus – so clear and deep that it barely requires comment anymore – that they are utterly incompetent, regularly abusive, and generally worse than useless. Even people who still think that there were WMDs in Iraq know that TSA employees would be subpar hires for fast food chains, and think that the pornoscanners are a stupid, invasive security tactic.

      And yet, the TSA chugs right along. So I’d much rather criticize the irresponsible asshole father – which might actually change the way politically-minded people with kids who read this blog behave, in a way I support – than waste yet more time and energy criticizing a disciplinary apparatus that is obviously completely immunized from the real impacts of criticism by government.

      1. It continues for a reason that is readily apparent upon hearing it.

        The TSA is a work program, economic stimulus. They do hire off the bottom of the barrel, they are supposed to do that.

        It is essentially a “New Deal” that happens to conform to the authoritarian ideology favoured by the GOP that created it.

      2. Why not criticize the mother and the sister too?

        The father didn’t create the “photo op”

        I agree that US Citizens need to lobby the government leaders to work towards improving security measures that have run amok. For now, I avoid America when travelling…. too bad, you have so much to offer.

        1.  If you’ll read his blog you’ll see that he created another “photo op” in a local mall.  Admittedly the rules were dumb, but it’s clear that he wanted to challenge them.

          1. She made the decision to stand up for herself and get humiliated and kicked off the bus, instead of getting a 3-year-old to do it for her and waiting on the sidelines with a camera urging him to shed a few more tears for the indignant YouTube audience.

          2. You just compared this dude to Rosa Parks.
            That is all. I woulda jumped to Alec Baldwin first.

          3. Rosa Parks was an activist. The Rosa Parks incident was a pre-planned political action. And thank God somebody was making those plans.

            Why are you arguing against people pushing the limits of increasing totalitarianism?

          4. Why are you arguing against people pushing the limits of increasing totalitarianism?

            See my comments regarding citizens in our armed services.  I think the wrong people are being demonized, and often for not very nice reasons. I also think the policies are very bad, no question.  How many “all TSA workers are ignorant, perverted, scum, who are too dumb for McDonalds” posts do you need before it becomes clear that there’s something more going on here?

            Working in a bar, I also think it’s crazy to have to check older people’s ids, and they often get very ugly about it, but I do it because we don’t want to lose a livelihood because cops decide to run a sting one night. We do it because Americans are prudes and stupid policies require it. I don’t blame myself or the owners. It’s funny to hear so many people suggesting that these low paid workers should just quit in protest. Massive privilege on display from people who probably wouldn’t even go to a an actual TSA protest if there was one.

          5. You are defending the people with the guns and the badges. For god’s sake, go meditate on that for a few minutes.

          6. How many “all TSA workers are ignorant, perverted, scum, who are too dumb for McDonalds” posts do you need before it becomes clear that there’s something more going on here?

            Lots of dodged questions when it comes to this issue.

          7. You, Sir, Are No Rosa Parks

            I think I’m a fine enough person — why, the very next morning I was having people over for waffles. But I hope I’m not being falsely modest by pointing out that I’m no Harriet Tubman. And I’m certainly no Rosa Parks. As far as I’m concerned, about the only person in recent memory who has an unimpeachable right to compare himself to Parks is that Chinese student who stared down those tanks at Tiananmen Square.

            Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,96988,00.html#ixzz1pbXG8R58

  20. The kid looked uncomfortable, but I don’t think the guy did anything wrong. The problem is the system that was hastily created out of extreme fear, but this looks like a perfectly reasonable implementation of that system.

    …and I love that the guy is begging for subscribers on top of his kid’s frowny face the whole time… Kid knows dad isn’t cool.

    1. No remedy comes from holding that one poor TSA person responsible, the problem is that some people believe that what you see there is a perfectly reasonable implementation of a security system.

      1. A perfectly reasonable implementation of a security system that was just criticized as coming hastily from extreme fear, the implication being that the system is unreasonable, and the perfect implementation of that system is therefor itself unreasonable… Just sayin’

  21. No child should be separated in any manner from their parent by any means, especially by an agency that has as many problems with abuse as the TSA. 

    1. I mostly agree with this. With a few limited exceptions looking for abuse etc. there is zero reason for the Feds to separate a three year old from his/her parents.

    2. I’m not convinced that considering the amount of people they’re handling daily (2 million? / 3 million?), that there are endemic problems as much as there are hysterical people seizing on incidents as well as seeing “abuse” where it often doesn’t exist.

  22. This is the THIRD FUCKING TIME these assholes lied about not searching Children…Just what the hell has this Country turned into? I mean really WHAT THE FUCK?

    1. THREE TIMES! I have probably seen 40 kids at TSA check points in the last three weeks. AT LEAST three times across the country they have lied! Bastards!

  23. I just realised that the security employee is using only his gloved hands to swab the kid. Every time I’ve been through that they use a wand and only handle the swabs by the edges in an area that doesn’t get analysed. I’m no expert but didn’t he just contaminate the whole batch by handling them all that way?

  24. The kid was obviously being uncooperative, first he goes limp in a classic passive resistance move the he refuses to answer the agents questions about “tigers, animals, stuff like that”, asking for his “mom” in an attempt to escalate the situation. A couple of years in Guantanamo might change his attitude.

  25. This may seem gross and wrong…but I have known a lot of people that worked in Loss Prevention for retail and some gross amount of theft is done by parents hiding stuff in strollers because they don’t expect people to check them.

    Yes it’s unfortunate that this poor child was put through an invasive search…but if if someone had taken advantage of his situation and used it to smuggle something elicit/dangerous on board an aircraft we would all feel like idiots.

    1. That was not invasive. It may very well have been useless and silly, but “invasive” in the context of searches is much, much worse.

      And I agree that if you had a policy of not checking ____________, you could expect people to immediately use __________ for illicit purposes. Because people suck.

    2. They might put bombs up the child’s anus.  Should we check that?  You can never be too safe, right?

  26. I’ve seen several comments asking why stories keep pointing out these sorts of situations, and not focusing on abuse of minorities, or the system overall.

    The answer is that it is important to show that these cases of abuse or ridiculous frivolity are of more importance to show than just the general incompetence. Why? Because they give a face and a name to what otherwise is faceless and nameless.

    People’s brains cannot process the concept of people in large numbers, and also have extra empathy for women/children/etc. If you try to say, “we inconvenienced 100,000,000 people, but stopped 1 terrorist” people will accept it. If, on the other hand, you say, “we tormented and psychologically scarred these 1,000 children, cancer patients, etc., but stopped 1 terrorist”, people start to actually think about if it’s worth it.

    1. Because they give a face and a name to what otherwise is faceless and nameless.

      ?  The TSA is a government agency with a boss just like any other agency:  John Pistole.

      The answer is that it is important to show that these cases of abuse or ridiculous frivolity are of more importance to show than just the general incompetence.

      “frivolity” “abuse”, you think this dude wants to have to do that to this kid?  Like it makes his job easy and awesome?  It’s policy and like many others he knows he’ll get fired if he doesn’t follow it.

      1. Maybe you should try reading more than half a post before replying to it — you might then have noticed that, when Rizz said “what otherwise is faceless and nameless”, he was referring to the TSA’s victims, not the TSA.

        Nice strawmanning, though.

        1. I read it but I missed “his” context, perhaps it was the creative use of “abuse” and “frivolity”. 

          I think you’ll find that was “taxation without representation”.

          Or was it “freedom to grope or view naked everyone going in or out of the country”? I forget.

          I see you brought up TSA in a completely unrelated thread. Obsessed?

      2. Yes and the SS guards at the concentration camps also knew that they would get fired if they did not ad-hear to SS policy in the extermination of Jews.  The same applies to the Roman Catholic Christians who would not ad hear to the extermination of heretics during the inquisition….   If you take the job, you are an undignified degenerate by definition…..  NICE…!

        1.  Comparing TSA workers to the extermination and torture of millions, these are the arguments of *adult* men and women on Boing Boing.  Embarrassing and disgusting.

          1. It’s all incremental….  First they separate you from your child….  That’s okay…. Then they fondle your child….  That’s okay….. Then the next thing you know they’re sending you into the showers….  All in the name of this “abstraction” that they call the “War on Terror”….  Where does it stop being okay….?  You, tell me….  If a supervisor ordered one of these inane clones to attach electrodes to your testicles and turn on the juice, they would blindly comply….  Perhaps that’s exactly what you need to wake you up…..   However, you would probably think that it’s okay, since they are protecting us from “terrorists”…  Ple-e-aseee…….  These TSA employees are creeps

    2.  True. Although please don’t imply that they’ve stopped even one terrorist as a result of harming all the individuals they hurt; they haven’t.

    3.  The thing is, I don’t know how a scenario could play out where a terrorist is caught by the TSA.

      It seems to me, a suicide bomber would blow themselves up the moment they were under suspicion. And lord have mercy dealing with the TSA the day after an incident like that.

      But the 9/11 terrorists’ main weapon was their brain and the element of surprise. People were taught to “give the bad men what they wanted and no one will get hurt.” Couple that with enough airline training to turn the plane into a weapon, and really, the TSA would never have caught these guys even if they were in place on 9/11/2001 and took away their box cutters and water bottles. Plane-bound terrorists since then have been stopped by astute passengers (including the fourth plane on that fateful day).

  27. Hey, if I were gonna try and get a bomb on a plane I’d totally plant it on a 3 year old in  a body cast in a wheelchair.  Well, I would have done before today, anyway.

    (A disclaimer for the authorities: I have absolutely no intention of bombing anything, I have neither the time, skills or inclination.)

    1. Authorities: Sorry sir, your Security Certificate was created before we read your disclaimer.

      No, we can’t add your disclaimer to your Security Certificate.

      Because there is a Security Certificate.

      No, you can’t see your Security Certificate.

      Because there is a Security Certificate.

      No, you can’t go home again. Sorry.

  28. “Apparently, there’s a lot of children in wheelchairs being used to bring down airplanes. It’s a brilliant plan if you think about it. PRETEND you are going to Disney […] when you smuggle C4 in your toddler’s cast.”

    They really should target the families who PRETEND they are going to crash their plane into a large skyscraper or important government building.

  29. Of course his child could be a threat.  Everyone is seen as a potential threat.  The TSA guy was polite about everything too.  Of course the child will be scared…he doesn’t know what the dickins is going on! But he’ll survive 5 minutes of discomfort  and the TSA officer made his part in making sure everyone on the plane will survive as well. 

    I’ve heard about and seen some pretty nasty TSA videos, but this is petty.  Nothing to see here.  Move on, folks. 

    1. “Of course the child will be scared…he doesn’t know what the dickins is going on! But he’ll survive 5 minutes of discomfort…..”

      He’s also getting a good dose of conditioning to understand he belongs to the Government and must submit to whatever it demands.  By the time he is old enough to vote he will be nice and compliant.

  30. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-tsa-patdown-of-toddler-in-wheelchair-not-all-it-seems-20120319,0,6554763.story?track=rss

    “It purportedly happened at O’Hare International Airport, according to text accompanying the video. Not true, according to a TSA official. It actually was at Midway Airport.

    The incident took place in the spring of 2010, well before the TSA in September 2011 eased its rules regarding screening procedures of children 12 and under, the TSA said.”

    1. Haha, I know not of the veracity of this,

      but let me point out that if the TSA eased it’s rules regarding screening of children in 2011, that MOST OF THE ARGUMENTS HERE DEFENDING THE TSA are now officially destroyed.

      All ya’ll claiming that if we don’t screen the 3-year old then we are not safe, well, I already knew the TSA didn’t make you safer, and now you do too.

  31. don’t you think that by now any real terrorist would have blown a plane out of the air long ago, if they really existed?

  32. We, as Americans, need to be allowed to VOTE in or OUT BULLSHIT LIKE THIS.
    Only a handful of complete idiots believe in the TSA and think their “efforts” will result in a terrorist free America.     It seems obvious to me that if a petition was formed and enough people signed it the TSA would be a forgotten mistake of the past.

    I for one would sign a petition stating that I would completely forgo anyone being searched, fondled, xrayed, back scattered, anally intruded, etc. without PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF AN IMPENDING EVENT or PROOF that they are possibly linked to terrorist activities.  Simply going on vacation with family should not be such an ordeal to say the least.  The truth is that the TSA makes nobody feel safer, it only make many feel violated.

  33. If you think Al Queda operatives haven’t gotten to our nation’s three year olds yet, you’re DEAD WRONG.

  34. I fly from Montreal, Québec, Canada, to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to Japan and back, but I take the train back and forth to NYC.

    I walk with a cane so you know that I am always flagged for special screening and I am not interested in dealing with those land-bound thugs and pirates from the TSA and their ionizing radiation machines…

  35. I cannot believe you still let this happen. You will write to every representative when the internet is about to go down (which is a great thing in itself) But are you still this afraid, to not fight against this sort of bullshit? There has got to be something the populace can do. 

  36. This is just plain stupid. I’ll take my chances with “terrorism”from now on if we can stop taking our shoes off and stop hassling 3-year olds and the elderly. How many planes have blown up in the last 200 years? And we are doing this crap? Come on.

      1. Ignorance? Are you saying there HAS been an attack? The fact is we spend way too many resources “pretending” to be safe. If we did nothing, we would have more resources, more freedom, more sanity, and the EXACT amount of plane terrorism. It’s a joke. If you think searching this little boy accomplishes anything than you sir, are the one already living in Ignorance.

        1. It’s like the Cold War.  In retrospect, the idea that the USSR could have occupied the US seems like a joke; they can barely even keep the electricity on over there.  People just love to have something to freak out about.

  37. completely unexceptable the poor child is in a wheel chair really stupid tsa people they could have showed some sympathy and told the child it would be ok and atleast have let the mother and father confort him..he is a child not binladin come on stupid tsa..!

  38. I mean REALLY….!  I don’t know what everybody’s so upset about….  If you don’t like being searched or having your children fondled, buy yourself a jet…..  I did, and now all I do is drive up to the tarmac grab my overnight bag and hop on my jet….  No searches, no questions, no fondling, no indignity of being treated like a worthless peon….   I can even smoke cigarettes or weed while in the air, use my cell and pad during takeoffs and landings, get drunk, have temper tantrums and scream obscenities at my flight crew…  Travel for me is just wonderful…!  If you want to buy a private jet, you should just go into the mortgage and foreclosure business, or just get a job with Bank of America, J P M Chase, Bain Capital, or get elected to public office, in which case, you can use my jet anytime you want, so long as you reciprocate every once in a while by providing oral sex for me…..  

    Love and Kisses to all you unworthy pedestrians,


  39. I blame the parents.  My child knew enough at that age to ask to see the warrant, and if he was being detained.  Now you talk about funny, the look on a cops face when a four year old demands to see the warrant, and if he is free to go.  I was never so proud of him, and the cops jaw hit the floor, he just got flustered and couldn’t make a sensible sentence.
    The TSA is even better in that they would have no evidence of the child giving up it’s rights, since I doubt the 3 yo bought a ticket.
    Study up on local citizen arrest laws, then use them. He may beat the rap, but he will still be fingerprinted, searched, and have it on his record as arrested for child molestation.

    Albie Farinas: You will find it is much cheaper to build your own, then you don’t have to get robbed just doing basic maint.

    flickerKuu: Can’t reply to you so… He was 4, but I had been drilling it in to him since two. Cops are not your friend, they only want your money or your freedom. We were at an illegal stop and they were trying to coerce him into being sepperated from me. I was smiling so much, I was never more proud then at that moment when he stood up to them.
    Yes arguing the law with an idiot TSA will waste your time, that is why you study up on local laws to arrest them. Have you noticed that the only difference in the uniform and the nazi SS is the insignia? Same jack booted thug getup.
    But standing up for your rights is never a waste of time.

    1. I severely doubt your story about your 3 year old being stopped by the police.  Did you mean it hypothetically?   Try this with TSA by the way. They get paid like 7 dollars which is way less than it takes to hire someone who knows any laws. Try this on TSA and the only thing you will accomplish is waiting longer.

    1. The terrorists are laughing at North America. We are spending BILLIONS on an overblown threat….exactly what they wanted. 
      More people die in their bathrooms, children starve and die every day, don’t even talk about highway deaths! Where is the money spent on the real killers in our society? 

      Quite simply, A greedy few profit greatly from waging war and supplying security.

      VIVA FEAR!!

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