(Video) TSA pat down of child in wheelchair not all it seems

Mar 19 2012 - 4:51pm

CHICAGO -- A video viewed more than 200,000 times since it was posted to YouTube on Sunday is apparently supposed to show that the Transportation Security Administration is harassing the traveling public, in this case a young boy on his way to Disney World with his family. But the video is not exactly what it appears to be.

The 3-minute, 14-second clip with the sarcastic crawl line "TSA nabs suspected Al Queda terrorist" shows a TSA screener chatting up, patting down and swabbing a toddler in a leg cast and wheelchair. View at www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmVLw5su3gQ

During the incident, the unidentified boy's father can be heard off camera reassuring the child and cooperating fully with the TSA screener. The video paints a somewhat different picture than the accompanying text which describes the child as "visibly confused, nervous and squirming."

It purportedly happened at O'Hare International Airport, according to the text with the video, neither of which provided the date. Not true, according to TSA spokesman Jim Fotenos in Chicago. It actually was at Chicago's Midway Airport.

The incident took place in the spring of 2010, well before the TSA in September 2011 eased its rules regarding screening procedures of children 12 and under, Fotenos said. The rule change allows young children to keep their shoes on during screening and reduces, though does not necessarily eliminate, pat downs that would otherwise be conducted to resolve alarms by metal detectors and other devices.

Fotenos would not say whether the child would still have had his cast and wheelchair patted down and been swabbed for bomb residue if the screening were done after the rule change.

"Terrorists are willing to manipulate societal norms to evade detection," including using children to hide bombs, Fotenos said.

All in all, the toddler, identified as a 3-year-old in the text, seemed to handle the pat down well.

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(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune

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