A leading Republican on the House oversight committee is demanding answers from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on why a 6-year-old girl was given an “enhanced” pat-down at an airport by TSA agents, an incident Napolitano defended as conducted “professionally and according to the protocols.”
A video of the incident was posted on YouTube April 9 by the 6-year-old Anna Drexel’s parents, provoking outrage. Napolitano backed the procedure, and a blog post by the TSA said, “TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.”
But Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee on the oversight panel, says TSA has publicly stated that children younger than 13 years old are exempt from enhanced pat-downs.
“I am still failing to see how the [officer's] actions followed TSA’s publicly stated policy that children under the age of 13 are exempt from enhanced pat-downs and are to receive modified treatment. If the department has indeed conducted a thorough review of the incident, then I ask that it immediately produce its step-by-step analysis and findings to this subcommittee,” Chaffetz says in a May 5 letter to Napolitano.
“On a related matter, I am also concerned that the department’s process and criteria for hiring personnel stationed at airports are substandard. For example, federal agents recently arrested Philadelphia International Airport screener Thomas Gordon Jr. for distributing child pornography via Facebook,” Chaffetz says, “The fact that Mr. Gordon had an opportunity to conduct invasive pat-downs of young children is sickening.”
Chaffetz also asks for explanations, to be answered by May 20, including:
- TSA’s current policy on enhanced pat-downs for children under 13, and its policy the day Drexel was given an enhanced pat-down
- What a “modified” enhanced pat-down consists of, since on the video of Drexel’s pat-down appears the same as a normal enhanced pat-down
- A complete description of TSA’s hiring process
- A list of all TSA employees who have been arrested for, and convicted of, crimes, including sexual crimes