TSA chief John Pistole speaks on latest airport security procedures

TSA chief John Pistole cites 'determined, resourceful enemy' in defending airport body screenings and pat downs that some passengers say are too intrusive. But no plans for body cavity searches.

By , Staff writer

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    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) chief John Pistole talks with travelers near a TSA security checkpoint at Washington's Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Nov. 24. Pistole was the guest speaker at a Monitor Breakfast in Washington D.C. on Nov.22.
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Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole became TSA administrator in July after a 26-year career at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he rose to become deputy director. He was the guest speaker at the Nov. 22 Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C. For a video excerpt of Mr. Pistole's briefing, click here.

The challenge facing the TSA:

"The challenge that we are facing in TSA ... is how do we deal with a determined, resourceful enemy who has proven adept at the designing, concealing, and implementing of bombs that can kill not only hundreds of people on passenger aircraft but also [that target] cargo aircraft."

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RELATED: List of 10 protections available to passengers at TSA checkpoints

The need for partnership with the traveling public:

"As we do things in partnership with the American people, we need to have that partnership intact. And given the concerns raised by many members of the traveling public [about screenings and pat downs] ... we need to find the best possible way of achieving both the layered security with the privacy."

Whether TSA has yet more security procedures that it could introduce to airport passengers in the future:

"What can we best do to blend the security and privacy? So I won't opine on where we are on that continuum, other than to say that everybody wants to know that everybody else on each aircraft they're on has been thoroughly screened, and yet everybody wants their privacy, also."

The risk that terrorists will hide bombs in body cavities, undetected by screening technology:

"We're not going to get in the business of doing body cavities."

Whether travelers give up some of their rights when they buy a ticket:

"I see flying as a privilege that is a public safety issue.... [P]assengers have a number of options as they go through screening. But the bottom line is, if somebody decides they don't want to have screening, they don't have a right to get on that plane."

Why not exempt grandmothers from intense airport screenings:

"I hope no grandmother would ever be ... a suicide bomber.... There have been two 64-year-olds who have committed suicide attacks in the world.... What I'm concerned about is terrorists going out and getting someone who is 65.... So where do you draw the line? There is no perfect science to this."

Why he did not brief the public when new pat-down procedures were being tested in two airports:

"We did not publicize that because it would then provide a road map or blueprint to a putative terrorist...."

How he likes his job:

"Fascinating, in one word."

RELATED: List of 10 protections available to passengers at TSA checkpoints

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