(CBS) Transportation Safety Administration chief John Pistole and several senators from both parties defended the new, enhanced airport security screening procedures as necessary in the face of a persistent and evolving terrorist threat in a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Pistole, calm and confident in the face of an increasing public outcry against the procedures, talked extensively about the repercussions of last year’s attempted Christmas Day bombing being the impetus for the enhanced screenings before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, TSA’s oversight committee.
“We know the terrorists’ intent is still there,” Pistole testified. “We are using technology and protocols to stay ahead of the threat and keep you safe. (Several near-misses by terrorists on airplane bombings) got through security because we were not being thorough enough in our pat-downs.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said prior to Pistole’s testimony that she believed TSA was in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, because people would be hopping mad at TSA if Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab had succeeded. She went on to say the new advanced imaging technology–which has caused uproar because of its leave-no-secrets imaging and potential health risks–is more of a blessing than a curse.
“I’m wildly excited that I can walk through a machine instead of getting my dose of love pats,” Sen. McCaskill said.