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TSA agent gets mad at 16-year-old filming dad's pat down

Technically Incorrect: At New Orleans airport, a cell phone video of a simple pat down causes a Transportation Security Administration officer to call for the police.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Scott Olson/Getty Images

Filming public officials in the line of duty has become a commonplace act.

In some cases, those filming do it for self-protection or corroboration of their stories.

The latest video to cause a touch of alarm was taken by a 16-year-old whose dad was going through a security checkpoint at New Orleans airport.

As his dad is being patted down, the son films on his cell phone. It's unclear why he was filming.

However, in a comment accompanying the YouTube post of the video, the teen says: "After being denied the right to film the process of being patted down by a TSA supervisor at MSY even after I politely asked, I went back and had a talk with the supervisor that refused to let me film him." And that's apparently where the posted video picks up the goings-on. (TSA, btw, is short for Transportation Security Administration, and MSY is short for Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.)

When the clip begins, the TSA officer isn't happy with the filming. He almost immediately says to a policeman: "Officer, I need this gentleman gone. I don't care what he's seen on the Internet."


The teen explains that the TSA website says it's perfectly legal to film. This is, indeed, true. The site says: "TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down."

There's no indication that the teen was slowing anything down. He didn't appear to be filming the monitors, which is a no-no.

When the dad explains that the officer was being disrespectful, he gets the answer: "I wasn't being disrespectful at all. I just told him he couldn't do it."

When the grumbling continues, the TSA operative offers a possibly immortal: "You respect this badge right here."

I contacted the TSA with respect to this incident. A spokesman told me: "We are aware of the incident and have initiated an internal review of the matter."

It's unclear why the dad was being patted down. It may well be that he opted for it, rather than going through an electronic screening. It's my understanding that filming your own pat down is against Standard Operating Procedure, but filming the pat down of others is not.

The YouTube video has already enjoyed more than 410,000 views.