New Hampshire Legislators Propose Bill to Make Pat-Downs a Crime

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A bill proposed by New Hampshire legislators would make random Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pat-downs and full-body scans a crime in the state.

Under the proposed legislation, an airport security screener who conducts a pat-down or full-body scan without probable cause could be subject to felony sexual assault charges – though the Manchester Boston Regional Airport does not yet have full-body scanners.

The bill would also apply to security searches at courthouses. It proposes making "the touching or viewing with a technological device of a person's breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault."

Violators found guilty would be placed on New Hampshire's Sexual Offender Registry.

At a public hearing before the state legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee yesterday, bill supporters said the TSA goes too far with its search methods.

"Call it what it is. It's sexual assault," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Andrew Manuse (R-Derry). "Let's put their name on our sex offender registry and maybe that will tell them, 'Look, New Hampshire means business.' That is a crime in this state and we should charge them every single time."

Manuse also referred to a woman who he said was subjected to a cavity search at the Manchester airport – though the TSA does not do that type of search.

Co-sponsor Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) referred at the hearing to John Tyner and his viral "don't touch my junk" video shot at the San Diego airport.

"When he said, 'No I'm not going to subject myself to having you touch my genitalia,' or as he referred to it, 'don't touch my junk,' they told him that he could not leave. How is he going to hide a weapon in his junk? I don't know," Lambert said. "When we have citizens being strip-searched and they have no ability to leave under color of law, at what point have we gone too far?"

The hearing was reportedly sparsely attended. The committee did not make a recommendation on the measure.

Rep. Laura Pantelakos (D-Rockingham) questioned the reasoning behind the proposed legislation, telling Boston's WHDH-TV, "I just could never put a worker on a sex offender list for doing their job."

While the TSA does not comment on pending legislation, the agency is under federal mandate to protect security, which would supersede state law.

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