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TSA chief: Airport screenings may evolve

Nov. 21, 2010 at 11:48 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Transportation Security Administration chief said Sunday afternoon airport screening procedures could become less invasive as conditions warrant.

John Pistole expressed the willingness to potentially ease the screening rules in a statement to Politico just hours after saying on CNN's "State of the Union" the procedures would not be changed despite public outcry.

Screening procedures are an "evolving program," he told the Washington publication, "will be adapted as conditions warrant."

"We welcome feedback and comments on the screening procedures from the traveling public, and we will work to make them as minimally invasive as possible, while still providing the security that the American people want and deserve," Pistole said. "We are constantly evaluating and adapting our security measures, and as we have said from the beginning, we are seeking to strike the right balance between privacy and security."

Earlier on the CNN news program, said the nation faces "a determined enemy who has been adept at devising and concealing explosive devices."

He said he was "very attuned" to objections to full-body scams and patdowns, but, "No, we're not changing the policies, because of that, because of the risks that have been identified because of the current threat in the stream."

"Very few people actually receive the patdown," Pistole said. "In spite of all the public furor about this, very few people do."

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., a longtime TSA critic who will be chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the new Congress, is one of those who disagrees with the security procedures.

"I don't think the rollout was good and the application is even worse," Mica said. "This does need to be refined. But he's saying it's the only tool and I believe that's wrong."

He said a study had found that the private screeners can perform "statistically significantly better" than the TSA.

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Topics: John Pistole
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