TSA

TSA Punishes Boy Who Left a Laptop in His Backpack With a Prolonged Pat-Down

The agency says "all approved procedures were followed."

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Jennifer Williamson

Suppose you forget to remove your laptop from your carry-on bag while passing through security at a U.S. airport. How should the TSA "resolve" that issue?

You might think the resolution would involve sending the laptop through the scanner again, this time in its very own bin. It might also include swabbing the laptop to see if it tests positive for explosive residue, based on the dubious supposition that a terrorist with a bomb in his laptop would invite such scrutiny by flouting the well-known rule regarding portable computers. But even that extra measure seems downright sensible compared to what a TSA agent at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport did on Sunday after a 13-year-old boy mistakenly left his laptop in his backback: He repeatedly patted the boy down, paying extra attention to his thighs, buttocks, and waistband, even though the kid had passed through the body scanner without setting off any alarms.

In a Facebook post that has elicited considerable outrage, the boy's mother, Jennifer Williamson of Grapevine, Texas, says he has a sensory processing disorder that makes him especially sensitive to being touched. She therefore asked if he could be screened in some other way, which of course was simply not possible. Williamson's video of the pat-down suggests the boy reacted with more equanimity than his mother, who described the experience as "horrifying." It is especially puzzling that the agent seems to have completed the pat-down a couple of times, only to feel the same areas again. The TSA says the examination, which took about two minutes, was witnessed by two police officers "to mitigate the concerns of the mother."

Williamson evidently did not find the cops' presence reassuring. "We had two DFW police officers that were called and flanking him on each side," she says. "Somehow these power tripping TSA agents who are traumatizing children and doing whatever they feel like without any cause need to be reined in." Several hours later, she says, her son was still saying, "I don't know what I did. What did I do?"

In addition to the pat-down, the TSA screened "three carry-on items that required further inspection." Williamson says she and her son missed their flight because all the extra attention delayed them for about an hour. The TSA says it was more like 35 minutes. Or maybe 45. According to CBS News, "The TSA said the procedures performed by the officer in the video met new pat-down standards that went into effect earlier this month." The TSA told CNET "all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger's laptop."

The problem, in other words, is not "power tripping TSA agents" who get their jollies by feeling up boys. The problem is the protocol, which makes no sense and, judging from most of the comments in response to Williamson's post, is not even effective as security theater.

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  1. “Somehow these power tripping TSA agents who are traumatizing children and doing whatever they feel like without any cause, need to be reined in.”

    I will accept her hate if it can be sufficiently proven that at no point in the past did she make any kind of case for needing to be safer.

    1. And I’ll take your opinion seriously if you can prove the same of yourself. Seriously, go fuck yourself.

      1. Awwwww, that’s cute.

  2. The agency says “all approved procedures were followed.”

    As we all know, that makes everything okay.

    1. Just following orders.

    2. The kid didn’t blow up the plane, did he? The system works!

  3. I forgot a water bottle in my bag once so of course that meant I needed a very thorough search where they took everything out of my bag and tested everything for explosives. And then they put the explosive water in a bin with all the other explosives they confiscated.

    1. A guy in front of me had protein powder in his carry-on once. You should have seen all the agents flock for a “suspicious powder.”

    2. Weird. I left a water bottle in my CPAP bag, and the guy made me throw it away. End of story. I guess you must look like a terrorist, whatever THAT looks like.

  4. Prolonged Patdown was my nickname in kindergarden.

    Also, finally now we know how to make that free massage last longer.

    1. Be a thirteen-year-old kid?

  5. “…the boy’s mother, Jennifer Williamson of Grapevine, Texas, says he has a sensory processing disorder that makes him especially sensitive to being touched.”

    TSA douchery aside, is this one of those situations where, if the effort is there, a clinician can find something wrong with a normal kid? My kid has been worked over by doctors pretty well, and one said that he has some sort of eye tracking problem. I said that when I throw a football to him he catches it. This was not well received.

    1. B.P.
      Ask the optometrist if he may have different issues in each eye. My eyes, for example, were opposites, left is far sighted with astigmatism, right is near sighted. And because, before I got vision correction, they were essentially opposites, my body tuned them to work together to give me good vision, but poor depth perception. And I remember my parents’ optometrist being confused by it at first, then after some research and consultations with other optometrists, figuring it out by using a different series of tests.

      1. Interesting. I will do this. Thanks for the heads up.

    2. Was was a pretty normal kid growing up. No sign of sensory processing disorder in sight. But if some fat grown man touched my junk you can be sure I would freak out.

      p.s. Only one fat grown man ever touched my junk as a kid. It lasted all of one second, and he told me to cough.

    3. Do his eyes “shift” a lot? If so, he may have nystagmus. My wife has the condition, as well as her brother and mother, so I’m fairly well acquainted with it. You’d need to consult a low vision specialist (if he has vision problems at least) to get a good diagnosis.

  6. “The TSA said the procedures performed by the officer in the video met new pat-down standards that went into effect earlier this month.” The TSA told CNET “all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.”

    Yeah, just following orders didn’t get Dostler off the hook at Nuremberg either.

    1. Correction, Dostler was tried at Caserta, not at Nuremberg.

    2. Godwin, party of one.

  7. I think it’s clear by now that this country doesn’t have too much of a problem with hand rape.

  8. My parents are distressed that I’m choosing to drive from NH to TX and for my niece’s high school graduation instead of being sensible and flying.

    1. “NH to TX and back”, that is…

      1. If you lived in Mass. I would say you should make it a one way trip to TX, but NH is OK, for now…

      2. Depending on the part of Texas, you might be about halfway there when you hit the state line.

  9. There needs to be a concerted effort from the media to ask, in response to a government agency defending an employee’s outrageous actions by saying he was just following policy, who wrote the policy and why isn’t he being fired? That excuse will stop real fast once they realize it will only lead to questions being directed at the top of the agency.

  10. The alt-text should just be “Freedom”

  11. The alt-text should just be “Freedom”

  12. You know who else was just following procedures?

    1. Every bureaucrat ever?

    2. Winston’s mom?

      #WorstBJEver

  13. I was molested last month heading to CO for a ski trip. The scanner informed the TSA agent that I had a large bulge in the front of my pants. He patted my large bulge several times. I left feeling violated; the least they could do is give me two free drink vouchers from the bar after feeling me up.

  14. How many dozen dozen times does this sort of over-reaction happen every day? Whenever I fly, I see something akin to this happening. Like a commenter above observed, one wonders if this woman was one of those who always say “if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t complain because it makes us all feel safer.”

    1. Yeah. And I wonder why some people keep asking that question with zero evidence. One wonders if it is because they are misanthropic assholes.

      1. You’re clearly one of those people for whom no amount of security is too much. Until they start fucking with your family.

  15. Several hours later, she says, her son was still saying, “I don’t know what I did. What did I do?”

    You were born in the land of the free, son.

    1. “Land of the free, and the home of the felt up.”

  16. So will the progs who were silent about, if not supportive of, TSA groping under Obama go back to calling them Nazis now that Trump is their boss.

    1. Yes, why?

      1. Stupid question I guess-after all we didn’t hear much about the ICE deportation raids that happened on Obama’s watch either.

  17. I was flying home from Orlando on the same day. There, the TSA agents were telling/yelling at everyone in line to leave their computers, fluids, and toiletries IN their bags. They also didn’t require anyone to remove their shoes or coats. The line was very long so apparently it’s okay to cut corners when they need to make up time. I bet they can still claim procedures were followed.

    SCS
    Ps no one blew up the plane.

  18. I was flying home from Orlando on the same day. There, the TSA agents were telling/yelling at everyone in line to leave their computers, fluids, and toiletries IN their bags. They also didn’t require anyone to remove their shoes or coats. The line was very long so apparently it’s okay to cut corners when they need to make up time. I bet they can still claim procedures were followed.

    SCS
    Ps no one blew up the plane.

  19. I was flying home from Orlando on the same day. There, the TSA agents were telling/yelling at everyone in line to leave their computers, fluids, and toiletries IN their bags. They also didn’t require anyone to remove their shoes or coats. The line was very long so apparently it’s okay to cut corners when they need to make up time. I bet they can still claim procedures were followed.

    SCS
    Ps no one blew up the plane.

    1. I have flown out of Orlando many times and they have a streamlined procedure in place where nobody has to remove their shoes or take stuff out of their bags. I guess with the huge volume of families with young kids going through, it would be a logistical nightmare if they did.

      By the way, I hardly ever remember to remove my toiletries at any airport and its never been a problem.

      1. In all fairness, the TSA has also failed to find actual explosives the vast majority of the time when their security is tested. It’s quite definitely theatre because ‘something must be done’. In those situations where nothing can be done, the appearance of something seems to be fine with most people no matter how grossly it invades someone else’s privacy.

    2. All three times?

      1. The TSA didn’t see the squirrels in my bag.

    3. They were giving out TSA Precheck status to random people in order to accelerate line speed.

      http://www.theverge.com/2014/1…..-screening

      Pretty much defeating the POINT of the ‘pre check’ clearance, no?

  20. The TSA says the examination, which took about two minutes, was witnessed by two police officers “to mitigate the concerns of the mother.”

    Horseshit. The cops were there to make sure neither the mom nor her son got to mouthy or stepped out of line. They were there to provide the “muscle” in case the TSA goon decided someone needed a beating.

    In addition to the pat-down, the TSA screened “three carry-on items that required further inspection.” Williamson says she and her son missed their flight because all the extra attention delayed them for about an hour.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the intent all along: to make them miss their flight. Because “fuck you and your kid for failing to follow our idiotic security theater protocol to the letter.”

    If Trump were to propose disbanding the TSA, that might be yuge enough for me to vote for him for re-election. He won’t, because “NASHUNAL SEKURITEE,” but still…

    1. This echos what I was going to post. The TSA guy clearly got pissed off at the bitchy mom. She copped an attitude because she was worried that her son was going to freak out. TSA guy put her in her place. She copped more attitude.

      Son dealt with it OK. Probably more freaked out by mom’s reaction.

      But once she got all pushy about it, TSA guy calls in the police so they can arrest her if she steps one toe over the line. He then takes his sweet time getting them on their way….. because he can. And he’s probably hoping that she’ll get pissed off and touch him so that they can arrest her.

      Lessons learned: Be polite. Particularly when dealing with folks in a position of authority or power. In this little corner of the world, TSA guy has lots of power. So be polite. You want TSA guy on your side.

      Lesson 2: Give people power over others, no matter how small, and they will abuse it. Some people will abuse it a lot. Some people very little. But people are people. You give them the power to give everyone who wants to ride in a plane a hassle and guess what? They are going to use that power for their own reasons from time to time. Maybe because some lady gave them attitude on the wrong day. Or maybe because that chick was super hot and they want to see what’s in her carry on. Whatever the reason…. people will abuse their power.

      1. I would be willing to bet that ‘hot chicks’ end up in those full body scanners a lot more often than your average person even though the picture isn’t that great. I also wonder if breast implants need to be ‘investigated’ since they could be explosive devices that were implanted.

      2. Give people power over others, no matter how small, and they will abuse it.

        Especially when the people being given the power over others are mouth breathing retards who – in a just and fair universe – would be relegated to flipping burgers or something equally menial. Those types seem to be some of the worst abusers, probably because “deep down in places they don’t talk about at parties” they know they’re worthless pieces of shit, and so they abuse their power over others in order to make themselves feel bigger and more important than they really are.

        1. When you put it that way, I feel like cheering them on.

  21. The answer to ” The TSA told CNET “all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.”
    is;

    “Then fire the idiot who came up with the approved procedures.”

  22. One cannot watch that video and not conclude that that particular TSA agent is a fucking pervert. He should be stripped of his job, spend time in jail, and be released with his name permanently attached to a national sex offender list.

    If I were not in such a happy carefree mood today, I might even suggest those patting hands be treated with a hot waffle iron until such a time as he was permanently unable to pat.

    1. I suspect he’s a pervert, and he was trying to provoke a response from either the kid or the mom in order to justify the cops beating them down and arresting them.

      What was going through the TSA perv’s mind: “Oh, you say your kid’s sensitive to being touched, eh? Here, let me grope the shit out him while these two cops watch for any kind of furtive movement to use as an excuse to arrest him and/ or you. You like that, you uppity soccer mom bitch?”

    2. Now now, Brandybuck. Lets be sure and fire all of TSA. Why stop at just one Brownshirt?

  23. “The TSA said the procedures performed by the officer in the video met new pat-down standards that went into effect earlier this month.” The TSA told CNET “all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.”

    The problem, in other words, is not “power tripping TSA agents” who get their jollies by feeling up boys. The problem is the protocol, which makes no sense

    The protocol may be at fault too, but how do you know there was no element of truth the headline writer discerned by using the word “Punishes”?

    I see too much of this sort of thing around here, like in the Garner case, saying something broader (like taxation) is wrong, and minimizing the wrongdoing of the persons on the scene. TSA is a shitstorm or shitshow institutionally, but that doesn’t mean the actors on the scene aren’t piling on shit of their own.

  24. Next time, pull your computer out.

    1. Yeah, because feeling up a minor child is a GREAT response to having to pull the laptop out yourself… you know… the laptop sitting on the conveyor belt… not currently in the possession of the minor child you just molested.

    2. Next time, keep your idiotic bullshit to yourself. Fuck off, slaver.

  25. Hey but this is making us safe. What if the kid was actually a bad bad person ? In fact we must revoke citizenship for any American who makes mistakes at TSA.

  26. The TSA says the examination, which took about two minutes, was witnessed by two police officers “to mitigate the concerns of the mother.”

    This is my favorite part.

    1. It is a lovely bit of verbal judo, isn’t it?

    2. She was concerned he wouldn’t be able to detonate his dynamite belt.

    3. If the TSA perv started massaging the kids balls, would the cops step in? I doubt it, unless it was to taze the kid or his mom when they made a fuss.

  27. At what age would a child not get into trouble for kicking the TSA agent in the nuts?

  28. Thanks DubYa!

  29. Hysteria.

    The stupid TSA min-wage drone (look, we all agree it’s pointless security theater) was crazy thorough BECAUSE THE MOM MADE A BIG STINK and his supervisor AND two cops were standing there watching his every move.

    What’s a min-wage drone to do but try to do his job as exceptionally thoroughly and carefully as possible? Hell, he may have even suspected that this was a test.

    Her histrionics helped nothing, of course. One might even be suspect of the sounds-like-it’s-fake ‘sensory processing disorder’.

    Personally I applaud the kid for acting like an adult, getting through it, and moving on (unlike his mother…and Reason).

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