Search Holidays

‘Invasive’ Pat Downs Taken Too Far?

After weeks of dispute over ‘invasive’ pat-downs by Transport Security Administration officials at airports, controversy deepened today after footage of a small child being searched was placed online.

Over 650,000 people have watched the 39-second clip in which the boy can be seen shirtless and surrounded by TSA officers who complete the search.

The boy’s helpless father watches on as one officer examines the child’s shirt before touching his lower body at Salt Lake City Airport.

Infuriated passengers watched the appalling search with one asking: ‘Are they arresting a kid?’ While another was heard saying: ‘This is ridiculous.’

The footage was caught on camera by YouTube user lukemtait who alleges he was followed by security officers after making the recording in ‘intimidating’ circumstances and claims it was taken at 12pm on Friday.

The backlash against security checks is continuing with the latest instance of non-compliance arising from San Diego International Airport.

On Friday, Samuel Wolanyk stripped down to his briefs rather than walk through a body imaging scanner.

Mr Wolanyk refused to get dressed and was arrested for not allowing security officials to search him.

In a statement released through his lawyer, he said: ‘TSA needs to see that I’m not carrying any weapons, explosives, or other prohibited substances, I refuse to have images of my naked body viewed by perfect strangers, and having been felt up for the first time by TSA the week prior (I travel frequently) I was not willing to be molested again.’

In another recent shocking incident, a passenger subjected to the search at Detroit Metropolitan Airport was left covered in urine after his urostomy bag was broken.

61-year-old Thomas Sawyer said he was left humiliated and in tears by the November 7 incident and has vowed to file an official complaint.

With the public rebelling against these intrusive security checks, searches are beginning to cause huge waits for passengers at airports.

In the run-up to America’s Thanksgiving holiday, delays for passengers are expected, with two million people a day expected to fly.

John Pistole, STA chief admitted yesterday that the procedure was necessarily thorough, saying: ‘Clearly, it’s invasive; it’s not comfortable.’

However he said that the hands-on approach would remain in place over a security-sensitive holiday period.

He said: ‘No we’re not changing the policies….because of the risks that have been identified. We know through intelligence that there are determined people, terrorists who are trying to kill not only Americans but innocent people around the world.’

The TSA is warning that anyone who refuses to undergo the method of inspection will not be permitted to fly, nor will they be allowed to simply leave the airport. Instead, they will face questioning by the TSA and possibly local police.

However, pilots have been recently excused from the scans and pat-downs – although they will have to pass through metal detectors at airport checkpoints and present photo IDs that prove their identity.

So what’s more important to you? Safety or dignity?