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TSA Tried to Intimidate Man Who Recorded Strip-Search of Child into Deleting Video (Update)

John on November 22, 2010 at 12:10 am

The TSA put up a response today to the video I posted yesterday of a young boy being strip searched:

On November 19, a family was traveling through a TSA checkpoint at the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). Their son alarmed the walk through metal detector and needed to undergo secondary screening. The boy’s father removed his son’s shirt in an effort to expedite the screening. After our TSO completed the screening, he helped the boy put his shirt back on. That’s it.

First thing to notice is that this directly contradicts the story of the witness who videotaped the incident. He wrote:

Before the video started the boy went through a metal detector and didn’t set it off but was selected for a pat down.

He goes on to say that the father pulled off the boy’s shirt because he was furious at the search. Conveniently for the TSA, there’s no video proof of their claim about the metal detector. But I also noticed that the man who shot the clip has added this to his description of what happened next:

After I finished videotaping the incident I went through the check point myself. I collected my things and went over to talk to the father and son. Before I could get to them a man in a black suit who had been talking with the other TSA officials approached me. He asked to speak to me and I obliged, wondering what was to come. He then proceeded to interrogate me about why I was videotaping the “procedures of the TSA”. I told him that I had never seen such practices before on a young child and decided to record it. The man being frustrated at this point demanded to know my plans with the video, of which I didn’t respond. Repeatedly he asked me to delete the video, hoping his mere presence could intimidate me to obey, but I refused. By this point it became obvious that he felt TSA had done something wrong and that I caught it on tape. After the interview, I left for my gate. I called my brother who told me I should put the tape on YouTube because this had been a recent hot topic in the news.

My gate was a long way off, but about 15 minutes after arriving 2 TSA agents came and sat 15 feet or so away from me. I stood up and moved so that they were in front of me and then took a picture. A 3rd and then a 4th agent came and sat down with the others. They would occasionally glance at me and talk on their walkie-talkies. I don’t know why they were there or if it was a huge coincidence but they stayed for 30-45 minutes and left just before I boarded the plan. Interesting to say the least, intimidating? Maybe a little…

That was on Friday. Obviously their attempt to intimidate didn’t work and now they’re having to respond. By Saturday, the TSA is simply confiscating the camera of anyone who videos their stupid behavior.

Update: Commenter AJ points me to this post in which TSA’s “Blogger Bob” explains the TSA policy on photos and video’s in the airport. Here’s is the critical part:

We don’t prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations. You can take pictures at our checkpoints as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process or slowing things down. We also ask that you do not film or take pictures of our monitors.

However… while the TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might. Your best bet is to call ahead and see what that specific airport’s policy is.

I included that last bit for completeness sake, but I don’t the incident above or the one where a woman’s camera was confiscated had anything to do with local or state laws. It has to do with preventing negative feedback toward the TSA. Also, it’s clear the person who shot the video of the boy was a good distance back and did not interfere with the screening in any way. In short, there’s no excuse for the TSA agents trying to intimidate him to delete the video.

For the record, I am not necessarily against the new scanners. I’ll reserve judgment on that issue. But I am definitely upset by the stupidity of TSA in searching children. And I’m even more upset that TSA is attempting to censor recordings of their bad behavior despite the fact that their stated policy allows filming so long as it does not interfere.

Finally, my comment left on the TSA website was not approved. Apparently asking embarrassing questions is enough to insure your comment disappears forever there. I’ve left a second one this morning. Maybe Blogger Bob will answer my question today.

Update 2: Noticed in the comments on the TSA blog that Blogger Bob once specifically stated that parents could opt their children out of the screenings. Is that not an option anymore? If the policy has changed, it needs to be changed back immediately.

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Category: Absurd & Outrageous |

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