TAPPER: We have a new poll on some of these security measures being taken. Nearly half the public says that they're concerned about the health risks possible because of the new scanners, or unsure about the health risks. The administration's position is that there are no health risks.
GIBBS: Well, the administration's position, based on studies through the FDA and others, that the — the imaging technology provides so little in terms of — you're exposed — the truth is, you have greater exposure to sitting in an airplane than you do going through one of those machines.
TAPPER: Well, why has the administration failed to convince so many members of the public that there are no health concerns about these new scanners?
GIBBS: I have not see the poll, but I don't…
TAPPER: It's obvious that there are a lot of people who…
GIBBS: Let me go — let me find — if you have another question, let me try to find this in my — my paper here and I think I've got something I think I can talk to you about on that.
TAPPER: OK. And the other question I have, also about the TSA, is that the public does support, they do care about security. But when there is an intrusion on privacy, they want it to be targeted and justified. You spend a lot of time on the Internet. You watch YouTube and you obviously spend a great deal of time watching cable. Don't you…
GIBBS: …not as much as you might presume, but I'll accept the premise of your question.
TAPPER: Do you think — are you confident that the TSA intrusions onto people's privacy have been targeted and justified?
GIBBS: Well, I'll say this. There are — we — we are used to the understanding as a profile that — that looks at a range of people, for instance, you know, 18 to 35. Yet we've seen just in the past year, we know of people that have been arrested in this country for terrorism that would not fit into the range of those ages, right?
We know specifically that AQAP was targeting in Mr. Abdulmutallab somebody that did not have the characteristics that those previously that had attempted to do us harm through an airliner — that — that they shared.
We know that — we know that they are continually looking for ways — and I think the cargo example is a — is a very good one — of ways in which they can take something that looks normal or a situation that appears not out of the ordinary, to augment that in a way that gets past security and does us harm.
So I think this — what we would normally think of as, "OK, these are the — these are the characteristics of what might happen," understand that — that we — we have seen and we know about very specific efforts to find people outside of what security might normally be conditioned to look for, right?
We know that — I mean, I don't think it's an accident that AQAP through Mr. Abdulmutallab was seeking to — through concealing this device on him, get onto a plane something that wasn't going to be in a metal detector, that would be delivered by somebody that would not normally be seen as somebody associated or affiliated with AQAP in an effort to get around what you would normally be constructed or set up to look for.
And I think it's important that our — which is — I go back again to what I said to Ben (Feller of the Associated Press): that — that — that in and of itself provides the foundation and the basis for how security policy and screening has to evolve. Because the nature of whatever the threat is today is going to be different in three to six months because they're going to be trying to find different ways around what's been set up.
And I think that goes back again to what Secretary of State Clinton said: Look, we would — we would love — and the president said this — we — we have an apparatus now that greets us in going into buildings or getting onto an airplane that didn't exist before. And we'd love to go back to a world in which none of that had to exist, but we have to continue to evolve and meet the threat that is out there.
TAPPER: You're a parent, the president is — is a father. There are a lot of parents out there whose children have been subjected to pat-downs and they've been very upset by it. There have been individuals of medical conditions who have been forced into humiliating situations. This is evolution?
GIBBS: No, no. I think it's important to understand that anybody that's under 12 goes through something much more modified.
I would say, first and foremost, and I think if the TSA administrator was here, he would say this to you is well, has all of this been done perfectly? No. Is — if somebody feels as if they have been unduly subjected to something that they find to be far more invasive than the line of convenience and security, they should speak to a TSA representative at the airport.
Again, without leaning too far into this, I think it's important that it's not out of the realm of possibility to think that — I'm trying to be somewhat careful here — that those that wish to do people harm via an airplane haven't looked at some of the ways, through explosives and devices or luggage or on themselves, that that — that — that we know can get around and through security, and we have to be careful about that.
Again, I think we are trying and TSA is trying desperately to strike that balance. That will evolve.
And, again, if — the evolution of the security will be done with the input of those that go through the security.
I do think it's important to understand since the more stepped-up pat-down process has taken place, approximately 34 million people have been through the TSA system. I think the figure that I've seen is that about a percent of those that have gone through the process — have gone through the overall screening process, have gone through this more stepped-up procedure.
TAPPER: One — 1 percent?