On Sunday, we brought you the video of a shirtless boy apparently being searched by TSA agents in Salt Lake City. At the time, we were skeptical. Today we learn that skepticism was warranted. While the video is real, the way it has been portrayed is inaccurate.
The video's poster has been identified as Utah Valley University student Luke Tait. In an interview with the Salt Lake City Tribune, Tait described the video he took: "Twice before the video starts, his dad had to hold him and pulled his arms up in a V-shape to allow the TSA agent to continue."
The father pulled the boy’s shirt off "in frustration," prompting an agent to shout, "Sir, sir!" Tait said.
But Tait's description of the events over the weekend, included with his YouTube post, is a little different:
Lets get the facts straight first. Before the video started the boy went through a metal detector and didn’t set it off but was selected for a pat down. The boy was shy so the TSA couldn’t complete the full pat on the young boy. The father tried several times to just hold the boys arms out for the TSA agent but I guess it didn’t end up being enough for the guy. I was about 30 ft away so i couldn’t hear their conversation if there was any. The enraged father pulled his son shirt off and gave it to the TSA agent to search, that's when this video begins. [Emphasis added]
Call me silly, but it appears we are lead to believe that the TSA agent told, or at least requested, the father to pull the boy's shirt off -- that's the reason for the "but I guess it didn't end up being enough for the guy" comment.
But according to TSA, Tait's "facts" aren't straight. In a response posted on the TSA blog, the administration says the boy did set off the metal detector and thus had to go through secondary screening. He was also never asked or told to disrobe.
"On November 19, a family was traveling through a TSA checkpoint at the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). Their son alarmed the walk through metal detector and needed to undergo secondary screening," the blog says. "The boy's father removed his son's shirt in an effort to expedite the screening."
"No complaints were filed," the blog says, "and the father was standing by his son for the entire procedure."
In addition, the TSA goes out of its way to make sure passengers know that they won't be asked to remove clothing. "It should be mentioned that you will not be asked to and you should not remove clothing (other than shoes, coats and jackets) at a TSA checkpoint," the post adds. "If you're asked to remove your clothing, you should ask for a supervisor or manager."
After recording the incident, Tait told the Tribune he was ordered by a man in a dark suit who didn't show a badge to delete the cell-phone video.
"He started to question me: ‘Why was I recording the procedures of TSA?’ ‘What are your plans with this video?’ " Tait said. "I said it looked like something was going on; I never [before] saw a shirtless young boy getting patted down."
"I said, ‘I’m not going to do that,’ ... and left for my gate."
Should we be skeptical again?