Airline passengers should get used to invasive full body scans and enhanced pat-downs, the Homeland Security secretary suggested Sunday.
CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Janet Napolitano if she expected changes to the controversial Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening procedures in the near future.
“Not for the foreseeable future,” Napolitano replied.
“You know we’re always looking to improve systems and so forth, but the new technology, the pat-downs — just objectively safer for our traveling public,” she said.
About 70 airports have put into use more than 400 backscatter x-ray machines that can see beneath passengers’ clothing. Passengers who set off a metal detector or body scan machine or refuse to be scanned receive an invasive physical pat down.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it received over 900 complaints from travelers in November who were subjected to the new screening procedures of the TSA.
“Under the newly implemented enhanced pat-down, a TSA officer slides his or her hands over an individual’s breasts, buttocks, groin, and inner thighs, and inserts his or her fingers inside the entire circumference of the pant’s waistband,” a lawsuit filed against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA administrator John Pistole stated.
“Although it is well established that subjecting airline passengers to limited searches designed to detect weapons and explosives is consistent with the Fourth Amendment, it is equally well established that such searches must be reasonable,” the lawsuit added.
Crowley pressed Napolitano to explain how she could claim security is improving when a recent ABC News report found a nearly 70 percent failure rate at some major airports.
But the Homeland Security secretary brushed off those reports.
“I think I know the test to which you refer, many of them are very old, and out of date and there were all kinds of methodology issues with them. Let’s set those aside.”
“We pick up more contraband with the new procedures,” she added.
This video is from CNN’s State of the Union, broadcast Dec. 26, 2010.
– with earlier reporting by Eric W. Dolan