Critic: Texas TSA pat-down bill 'gutted'

June 28, 2011 at 3:09 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, June 28 (UPI) -- A bill limiting pat-downs by security agents at airports in Texas has been amended to the point of being ineffective critics said Tuesday.

The state Senate passed the revised bill Monday night, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The House passed another version Monday and has to vote on the amended bill before the special session ends Wednesday if it is to become law.

Alex Jones, an Austin talk radio host, led a demonstration of supporters of the original bill outside the Statehouse on Tuesday. He said the Senate has "completely gutted" the measure.

The measure would make Transportation Security Agency employees or other government security workers liable to a Class A misdemeanor if they touch genital areas or other private parts during pat downs. In the original bill, agents had to have "probable cause" to conduct a pat-down search, but that was amended to "reasonable suspicion."

Jones and other critics say the change allows agents to justify almost any search. The bill applies to security checks for public transportation and admission to public buildings.

The TSA has said it will take Texas to court if the bill becomes law.

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