TSA defends extra airport screening for kids, elderly
Almost every traveler through U.S. airports has seen little children and the elderly go through extra screening and often are left shaking their heads in disbelief that those individuals could be a threat and questioning whether someone else is slipping through the cracks.
However, the acting head of the Transportation Security Administration Gale Rossides told Congress that all sorts of dangerous items are smuggled with kids and older travelers.
“Every day I will tell you that we see things coming through checkpoints in the United States that are amazing, either on their persons, in wheelchairs, in canes, people will conceal long knives, swords in canes,” Rossides told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“At least a couple times of year, particularly around the holidays, we find guns in teddy bears, we find component parts in children’s toys, it is amazing what we see,” she said.
That prompted Republican Senator Susan Collins to point to the news that a blond-haired, green-eyed American woman living in Pennsylvania was charged with working with militants overseas in a plot to kill a Swedish man.
“I think you performed a very important service today by reminding us that you cannot have profiles in our minds of what a terrorist looks like and that a terrorist can use a young child or an elderly person in a wheelchair. We should all be reminded of that by the story that broke in the news,” Collins said.
U.S. officials have been increasingly concerned about Americans being radicalized by militants, particularly since they may be able to blend in more easily, making it harder for law enforcement to detect their plots.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith (two individuals make their way through security at San Francisco International Airport)