The public's reaction to a viral video of a six-year-old girl getting a full body pat down at the New Orleans airport should serve as a wake-up call to the Transportation Safety Administration.
TSA said its officer followed "proper current procedures" in frisking Anna Drexel's inner thighs and feeling inside the waistband of her jeans. Her parents had asked that an alternative method of screening be used and were told in what were apparently no uncertain terms that that was not going to happen.
According to her father, Anna was at first confused and then began to cry because she thought she had done something wrong. Her only error was falling into the clutches ― literally ― of a bureaucracy that falls back on "procedures" to justify its occasional mindless practices.
TSA's explanation: "Recognizing that terrorists are willing to manipulate societal norms to evade detection, TSA has been actively assessing less invasive screening methods for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers, while still maintaining a high level of security."
In other words, terrorists are not above using children to bring down an airliner.
Let's grant the screeners that. But if this were so, why did Anna's nine- and two-year-old siblings not get the same treatment? After all, they were part of the same cell, the Drexel family of Bowling Green, Ky.
TSA insists its actively seeking alternatives to its "one sized-fits-all system."
Anybody who sees the video can tell that Anna should have been waved through security. Instead of "procedures," why not rely on the common sense, good judgment and professionalism of the screeners? They'd feel better about their jobs and so might Anna.
The article was published and distributed by Scripps Howard News Service (www.scrippsnews.com).