TSA chief: “Not going to change”

John Pistole, the still-newish administrator of the TSA, told Candy Crowley on CNN's “State of the Union” today that the airport body scans and pat-downs are here to stay. 

Pistole: Look, it's a difficult question, Candy. There's no doubt, and I understand the public debate, but —

Crowley: But you're still not going to change anything.

Pistole: No, not going to change.

Don't go changin', Pistole. Lawmakers, however, appear to be hearing from constituents about this, and they tend to be more reactive to public pressure. Crowley also talked to Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

“I think he's trying to react to make certain that we have some means in place to detect the threat that we face,” Mica said of Pistole. “Now, I don't think the roll-out was good and the application is even worse. This does need to be refined. But he's saying it's the only tool and I believe that's wrong.”

The estimable Freeman Klopott, Examiner city hall reporter, has a story in today's paper about the TSA “outrage.” He quotes Clark Ervin, a national security expert at the Aspen Institute who was inspector general of Homeland Security during the Bush administration.

TSA afficionados (now legion) will recall Ervin's devastating 2004 IG report about the agency's berserk spending on employee bonuses, travel and…cheese displays. It was all the rage at the time.

The point is that the agency, which performs a vital service, has a troubled history and is now back under intense scrutiny. Pistole is an Obama appointee; Republicans are taking over the House.

Pistole was on Capitol Hill last week defending the new security procedures. But it does seem likely that after January (and the holiday travel rush), Pistole could encounter an even more vigorous congressional pat-down.

 

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