TSA Chief Defends Body Scanners


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Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole defended controversial full-body scanning techniques that have endured withering criticism from Republican leaders in Congress.

Speaking at a Department of Homeland Security conference in Washington Friday, Pistole said the body scanners that have attracted much attention in recent months were TSA’s best option for preventing non-metallic explosive devices.

And they are not new, he added. 

“There was a lot of interest last fall (in the scanners), even though we’ve been using them for about three years,” Pistole said his 20 minute speech.

Critics have said the scanners caused an invasion of privacy, but Pistole said they were vital to protecting airline passengers. 

“They are the best possibility we have right now of detecting Christmas Day…type explosives,” he said, referring to a thwarted 2009 bombing attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit.

Earlier this month, Republicans called the body scanners, and pat-downs used for passengers who denied being screened, “thoroughly useless.” 

“The equipment is flawed and can be subverted,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said during a March 16 meeting. “Our staff has subverted it. (TSA Administrator) Pistole said ‘GAO is very clever.’ Well what the hell does he think a terrorist is?”

The TSA scanners have also come under fire for concerns about increasing travelers to radiation, which Pistole made no mention of in his remarks Friday. TSA has maintained the scanners are safe and a study released this week shows the radiation risk is minimal.

(Source: The Hill)


  1. As I pointed out many times, if they were truly sympathetic to the cause of privacy they can easily develop simple software to scan instead of a person looking at an image. A computer that knows the human shape can scan for irregularities, without creating an image.