Friday, April 15, 2011

Napolitano Asks for Law Guaranteeing Right to Search Minors

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In response to scrutiny over the newly released video that shows a TSA agent patting down a six-year-old girl, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today requested the implementation of a law that would guarantee the right for government officials to search minors at will and without parental consent. In the letter sent to President Obama, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker John Boehner, Napolitano stated:

“With the unrelenting threat of terrorism, we must constantly evaluate the security of our country and close off loopholes before they emerge. There are people in this world who would stop at nothing to undermine our great nation, to destroy our way of life, and steal our freedom. That is why we must act now. Every child that is waved through security by virtue of their age is a walking vehicle for the diabolical devices of our enemy. We must do what we can to close this loophole before it gets exploited.”

Proposed Revisions to TSA Screening Procedures
The proposed legislation would grant law enforcement and the TSA the right to briefly detain minors and perform “whatever search is deemed necessary,” depending on the officer’s suspicions. In order to protect security professionals and the integrity of the searches themselves, police officers and TSA agents would be allowed to conduct the search of a minor in private, without the consent of the parent.

In a conference call with reporters this morning, Napolitano again defended the actions of the TSA agent who administered the controversial pat down of six-year-old Anna Drexel at Armstrong Airport in New Orleans, saying the search was “appropriate.”

She added, “The TSA is trained to pat down travelers based on their expert opinions. All agents are required to pass an intensive two-week ‘Terrorism Identification’ course, and upon completion they become government certified experts in counter-terrorism, in every official capacity. Of course, we don’t want to search every child that passes through security, but something in that little girl’s behavior must have triggered an internal alert. Anna Drexel provoked the search through her behavior, mannerisms, and her dress; she was basically asking for it.”

When asked what criteria is used to determine whether or not a child is a threat, Napolitano declined to answer, saying the release of that information would undermine national security.

“The mentality of law enforcement and TSA officers is classified information. If we get into the habit of rationalizing their behavior, we run the risk of giving our enemies a blueprint to exploit our vulnerabilities. Real Americans would not question why they are being detained or searched, and that’s actually one of the criteria TSA agents may look for when identifying potential terrorists. If a TSA agent stops you and says he needs to search you or your children, it’s important to just stand aside and let it happen. Otherwise, you’re just inviting suspicion.”

TSA Supports and Fully Backs DHS
John Pistole, head of the TSA, who is also facing criticism in the wake of the video, supports the proposed law to “protect our security agents from dangerous criticism.” Pistole, shopping for a summer home in Prague, was unavailable for comment, but his office released a statement saying in part:

“The TSA is committed to upholding the values of the American people, and we are constantly re-evaluating our methods to ensure an even balance between national security and constitutional rights. That being said, this unnecessary and unfounded criticism is getting dangerously close to sedition. It’s important to understand that the TSA is an expert in counter-terrorism, and the people whining about our methods are simply ignorant to the dangers they face on a day-to-day basis. We have already altered our methods to limit searches to same-sex personnel, and it would be unwise to alter our methods any further. Any attempt to do so would give terrorists greater opportunities to take away our freedoms and attack our way of life.”

Napolitano echoed these statements in the conference call, but admitted that she understood how the new law might be “perceived” as an invasion of privacy.

“I understand the public’s concern,” Napolitano explained. “It would be nice if everyone could just walk into an airport without worrying about the government reaching into their pants. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. We must do these things to preserve our way of life; the American people need to understand that they won’t have freedom until we have the unquestionable right to search anybody without complaint.”

Asked whether Napolitano would be willing to subject her own younger relatives to the same type of search seen in the video, she responded, “I don’t see how that would be necessary. Remember that I’ve gone through the process once before in a simulated experience in my office, so I understand how every business traveller and vacationer feels in that situation. Mr. Pistole also went through the same thing, so despite all the complaints alleging that high-ranking government officials never have to suffer the real-world experience of a public groping, we know exactly how everybody, including that little girl, must feel. And I must say, again, that I think the response to this has been really overblown.”

One directive that will remain untouched by the new law is the Homeland Security “See Something, Say Something” program. Napolitano stressed that the law would not give private citizens the right to search any child for any reason, even their own.

Pistole agreed: “I must emphasize that only authorized personnel can perform body searches. TSA agents are highly trained and trustworthy individuals. Leaving your child alone in a closed room with an officer while he conducts a thorough cavity search should raise no more alarm than your child visiting a priest’s chambers. But the same certainly can’t be said of any stranger off the street.”

“This is something that needs to be left to the experts,” Napolitano reiterated. “It would be morally wrong and completely reprehensible if members of the public attempted to use the law as a reason to ‘pat down’ innocent children. Remember, it is still a crime for the public to engage in this type of behavior with children. The penalty is still a very long prison term and a lifetime of living as a registered sex offender. I repeat, it is not okay when the public touches children; it’s only okay when the government does it.”
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