Head of TSA, John Pistole, Defends Advanced Patdowns

The TSA's head answered questions about enhanced patdowns on the Hill.

November 17, 2010, 1:26 PM

WASHINGTON Nov. 17, 2010— -- The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was back on Capitol Hill today to answer more questions about subjecting airline passengers to enhanced patdowns and Advanced Imaging Technology.

TSA Administrator John Pistole defended the enhanced patdown policy and revealed that prior to signing off on the new procedures that allow screeners to use the front of their hands on sensitive areas of the body, he went through the screening himself.

Senator Byron Dorgan D-ND asked Pistole if the patdown made him uncomfortable.

"Yes," said Pistole, "it was clearly more invasive than I was used to."

As for why these pat-downs were put in place, Pistole said that a combination of intelligence and covert testing lead him to conclude that the TSA needed to be more thorough in their efforts. Regarding covert testing, Pistole told the Senate Commerce Committee, "one of the things they found as a common denominator was when … the covert testing was able to get through security, it was largely because we were not being thorough enough in our patdowns."

The new TSA policy of screening passengers has come under fire on the Internet and in conservative media outlets. A California man's fuzzy cell phone video of his combative patdown by a TSA agent, and his exhortation to the screener not to touch "my junk" went viral.

Relatives of Those Who Died on 9/11 Want Better Security Measures

While there has been a recent public outcry opposing the TSA screening measures, a new poll released Monday by CBS News indicates that a vast majority of Americans actually support full body scanners. After being informed in the poll that some airports are already using full body x-ray machines in security lines, 81 percent of those polled agreed that these x-ray machines should be used.

Relatives of some of the Americans killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks defended the scanners Tuesday.

"The biggest insult to those murdered on September 11, 2001 is to ignore the lessons we have learned to prevent future attacks," said Carie LeMack, a co-founder of the Global Survivor's network.

"I feel obligated to implore all those opposing aviation security measures to instead propose alternatives to ensure the safety and security of the flying public," said LeMack. "Simply complaining about current aviation security tactics is not enough - to deny the evolving threat we face is foolish."

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