Video: TSA chief Pistole says no immediate changes to airport screening

Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole told reporters at a Monitor Breakfast that the TSA had no plans to alter controversial screening practices, despite public outcry.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Transportation Security Administration administrator John Pistole delivers his testimony at a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill on Nov. 17.

Speaking to reporters at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast on Monday, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole made it clear that any changes to controversial airport security screenings would not happen immediately.

To deal with growing public controversy over pat downs and full-body scans at airports, TSA administrator Pistole released a statement Sunday saying his agency would make the security checks “as minimally invasive as possible.” He added that “there is a continual process of refinement and adjustment to ensure that best practices are followed.”

But when he was asked at the breakfast how airport boarding checks would differ on Monday as a result of his Sunday statement, Pistole said that "nothing will change as far as today. The focus is on how can we best detect that and recognizing we face challenges with additional holiday travelers and trying to make sure we are getting everybody safely and securely to the destination on a timely basis.”

Pistole, who came to the TSA after serving as deputy director the FBI, stressed his willingness to consider public response to the new screening procedures. “We do things in partnership with the American people. We need to have that partnership intact,” he said.

But he returned repeatedly to the challenge the TSA faces in balancing privacy concerns with an enemy focused on bringing down aircraft and harming both individuals and the US economy. “The goal is to be as least invasive as possible while still detecting the type of bombs that we saw on Christmas Day or even the well-designed concealed devices in toner cartridges if those could be on a person or in bags. So that is the challenge, that is my goal – to find those least intrusive means while still providing the best possible security,” Pistole said.

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