TSA Chief to Get Congressional Pat-Down

TSA Chief John Pistole on the CBS Evening News, Sept. 23, 2010.
CBS
The Senate Homeland Security Committee gave him the pat-down Tuesday, so Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole is likely to get a full-body X-Ray scan during testimony Wednesday from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Pistole had been scheduled to speak to Congress long before John Tyner became a mini-celebrity for recording himself telling TSA agents, "Don't touch my junk." That incident, as well as other revelations about a series of run-ins over the invasive body scans and enhanced pat-down techniques have led to a public outcry against the TSA's new security methods.

Still, Pistole has fired back at public critics, saying Tuesday that if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the infamous Christmas Day bomber, had been successful last year, no one would be complaining about TSA's attempts to keep air travel safe, reports The Hill newspaper.

"There is an ever-evolving nature to terrorist plots," said Pistole. "It is clear we have to be one step ahead of the terrorists. If we have an individual who opts out of the advanced imaging technology, let's say Abdulmutallab … had opted out, thinking [he's] not going to receive a thorough pat-down so [he could] get on that flight, and if that had been successful on Christmas Day, I think we might be having a different dialogue this afternoon and in the public."

Part of the criticism over the very revealing X-Ray body scans now in use at dozens of airports across the country is that the images could be saved for non-security (i.e. perverted) reasons. In an interview with CBSNews.com, a TSA spokesman vigorously denied this claim, saying that all body scan images are deleted as soon as the passenger is clear.

Despite the visible outcry, a CBSNews poll says 4 out of 5 Americans are in favor of keeping the enhanced airport security techniques.