Calif. prosecutors Say They’ll Charge TSA Agents if Pat-Downs Are Inappropriate

From The Montreal Gazette:

As nearly 2 million holiday travelers pack Bay Area airports starting Friday, local prosecutors have a warning for overzealous security agents performing the new federal pat-down: touch passengers the wrong way, and we’ll throw you in jail.

Although authorities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties said they have not received any criminal complaints since the pat-downs began this month, the searches can involve touching of the genital and breast areas, which critics say is akin to sexual assault.

The Transportation Security Administration says the pat-downs are rare and most commonly used when travelers opt not to travel through the full-body X-ray scanners, which reveal what is underneath passengers’ clothes and are used at all three Bay Area airports. Passengers who refuse both options would not be allowed to travel and the TSA could even fine them up to $11,000 if they delay other passengers.

The San Mateo and Santa Clara district attorneys’ offices said Wednesday that they would bring charges against TSA agents at San Francisco and San Jose airports, respectively, who commit sexual crimes during searches. They said charges would be evaluated case by case and that prosecutors would take into account the fact that the agents were doing a job.