The Latest TSA Outrage: Baby Subject To Pat-Down At Kansas City Airport

Another day, another TSA absurdity:

The Rev. Jacob Jester wasn’t trying to start anything.

But when he saw security screeners at Kansas City International Airport patting down a baby — a baby — he took a picture. And then he shared that picture on Twitter.

It went viral, and voila: Jester’s snapshot is the flashpoint of the day in the debate over who should be considered a threat to the flying public.

Not what he intended, Jester said Tuesday, after the image had been picked up by The Drudge Report and the Daily Mail in London, among others, and viewed nearly 300,000 times.

“I thought it was a curious situation,” said Jester, a pastor at a youth ministry in Independence. “I have a son about the same age — 8 months old — and I thought that I would not want that to happen to my own child.”

Jester had just cleared security Saturday afternoon on his way to Albuquerque, N.M., when he saw that the woman and young baby were about to be searched. The baby’s stroller had “alarmed” during explosives screening.

Jester tweeted his picture with the message: “Just saw #tsa agents patting down a little baby at @KCIAirport Pretty sure that’s extreme.”

His wife retweeted it. Another local pastor did, too.

The picture spread across Twitter as others, many with no connection to him, shared the image through retweets.

“The picture took on a life of its own,” Jester said.

The Transportation Security Administration, which has contracted with FirstLine Transportation Security to handle screening, issued a statement saying the officers followed proper procedures.

After the stroller set off the alarm, “officers followed protocol to conduct additional screening on members of the family, who were very cooperative,” the TSA said.

I have a feeling that these agents may have taken Congressman Louie Gohmert’s fears about “Terror Babies” just a little too seriously.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    After the stroller set off the alarm…

    It must have been the baby powder that did that.

  2. wr says:

    Sorry, but why is this such an outrage? If the TSA assumption is that anyone could be carrying a bomb, then should they assume that a parent who is willing to blow up a plane with his or her child on board would not use the kid’s diaper to hide the explosives? The people who are busily getting outraged at this are the same ones who whine and cry about how we need to drop nukes on Iran because there’s a chance that some Muslim somewhere might hurt them.

  3. The people who are busily getting outraged at this are the same ones who whine and cry about how we need to drop nukes on Iran because there’s a chance that some Muslim somewhere might hurt them.

    Are they? My perception tends to be that people who are pro-attacking Iran are also the most paranoid about terrorism, and therefore more likely to support heightened domestic security.

  4. Franklin says:

    The people who are busily getting outraged at this are the same ones who whine and cry about how we need to drop nukes on Iran because there’s a chance that some Muslim somewhere might hurt them.

    Yeah, what the hell are you talking about? This security theater is a bunch of wasteful nonsense, and no I don’t particularly think constantly dropping bombs on random Arabs helps anything.

  5. wr says:

    They are — until it affects them or another midwestern white person. Try listening to talk radio, in which the right wing hosts alternate between screaming that the eeeevil Muslims are going to kill or convert us and shouting about the most recent outrage perpetrated against a good (white, Christian) person at an airport.

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Ray LaHood is making Norm Mineta look good, which is saying something since Mineta might have been the worst Cabinet-level official since Janet Reno. There must be something in the water over in Chicago that makes politicos there astonishingly inept.

  7. Boyd says:

    Whenever something like this happens, the TSA consistently responds that the officers were following proper procedures. Okay then, let’s let the individual officers off the hook.

    The prescribed procedures, on the other hand…

  8. Liberty60 says:

    I recall arguing with people after 9-11 about the Patriot Act, and I was assured that warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detentions, having the government read my email and pretty much have free rein to do anything it wanted, we absolutely necessary to “keep us safe”;

    Now as wr notes above, notice how only the draconian policies that actually affect “normal” people- that is, white middle Americans- are being objected to?

    I mean, I see the patting down of babies as being stupid, but mostly harmless; but giving the government power to wrietap, open email, and rifle through my bank records without any oversight at all, is dangerous. Yet I don’t see anyone objecting to that.

  9. wr says:

    Again, why is this inapropriate? Is it so unthinkable to believe that a baby’s diapers might be used to convey an explosive? If everyone else is getting searched and babies aren’t, wouldn’t that be the obvious move?

    You want to undo this security aparatus that Bush built? I’m fine with that. But this fake “outrage” is tiresome and silly. You can have all this security and some inconvenience, or you can be free free free and take the risks. So far, the American people seem to want the security and to whine about the consequences. Grow up.

  10. anjin-san says:

    and therefore more likely to support heightened domestic security.

    Unless of course, Obama is President at the time, in which case airport security is a “dry run for tyranny”…

  11. mantis says:

    Next they’ll be searching fetuses in the womb. Wait, did I just write that?

  12. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    This security theater is a bunch of wasteful nonsense…

    Amen to that! I have flown all over the world and have seen real security screenings elsewhere, particularly in Paris. And all of that was prior to 9/11. Anyone who has flown only in the US hasn’t got a clue about real security. Our TSA is only a feel-good organization for the liberal weenies that costs us billions.

  13. Fisher1949 says:

    Looking in diapers? Really?! Even if the diaper was packed with C4, there isn’t enough volume available there to pose a realistic threat to anyone but the baby and the mother.

    TSA is violating the Constitution on a daily basis, not improving security whatsoever and yet uninformed sheep and cowards among us endorse these criminals. TSA poses a more present threat to American liberties than Al Qaeda.

    Twenty one screeners have been arrested so far this year including one last month for child pornography and one for raping a 14 year old..

    Twenty one criminal acts, twenty two security failures, 4,000+ groping complaints and dozens of lawsuits, all in five months, yet TSA hasn’t found stopped anything in nine years. People are beginning to realize that they are being misled by TSA’s paranoia.

    Still some defend this criminal conduct of this agency while their children are being groped by child molesters. Support for these police state tactics is repugnant and those who defend these police state tactics should be embarrassed by their lack of character, humanity and decency.

    Of course, the many pro-TSA comments are likely from the TSA trolls that DHS pays to post these twisted opinions in hopes of convincing the public that public molestation by government is somehow normal so perhaps these don’t reflect American’s as a whole. I certainly hope that is the case.

    Currently nineteen other states have some form of anti-TSA legislation pending and hopefully these measures will pressure the agency into adopting a more sensible approach to security other than strip searching and groping babies, children and grandmothers.

  14. Southern Hoosier says:

    The only people that use children as suicide bombers are Muslims.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Fisher… perhaps you could give us some detail about your background as an explosives expert…