Another state has joined the battle to criminalize overly aggressive pat-downs by agents of the Transportation Security Administration at airport checkpoints.
A bill introduced in the Texas State Legislature by Rep. David Simpson would make invasive pat-downs a felony. The bill has already gained some momentum in the legislative body.
A factor fueling the initiative is the widely publicized pat-down at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport of former Miss USA Susie Castillo. On her blog and in a video that has gone viral, Castillo claims the agent at the checkpoint “felt around my breasts, and even came in contact with my vagina!” The experience left the beauty queen in shock and reduced to tears.
Previous victims, some of which are currently suing the Department of Homeland Security, describe their ordeals variously as “groping” or in extreme cases “molestation.” One such victim, urban planner Nancy Campbell, reports that she had already cleared security at LaGuardia Airport in New York when she was singled out for a pat-down. Shortly after the incident, she told a New York Post reporter, “If I had been physically attacked, this would have been a very, very similar experience.
The Texas bill would make it illegal for a security officer to intentionally touch someone’s private parts—even outside their clothing—unless the agent can show probable cause.
A bill similar to the one in Texas is currently before the New Hampshire state assembly. In addition, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), head of a subpanel on national security in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is proposing a bill at the federal congressional level that would place restrictions on the pat-down of children.