Clinton: I'd Avoid Airport Pat-Down if Possible

A man undergoes a pat-down during TSA security screening, Friday, Nov. 19, 2010, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
A man undergoes a pat-down during TSA security screening, Friday, Nov. 19, 2010, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would not want to submit to an airport security pat-down, one of the new "enhanced" measures instituted by the Transportation Safety Administration ahead of the holiday season to screen airline passengers.

"Not if I could avoid it. No, I mean, who would?" Clinton said during an interview aired on Sunday's "Face the Nation."

Clearly, as Secretary Napolitano has said, we're doing this because the terrorists keep getting more creative about what they do to hide explosives. You know, crazy things like underwear," Clinton told host Bob Schieffer. "So clearly, there is a need."

President Barack Obama has asked security officials to find a less intrusive way to screen passengers than the pat-downs and body scans that are causing uproars. But the president said they've told him that, for now, there isn't one.

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"Now if there is a way to limit the number of people who are going to be put through surveillance, that's something that I'm sure can be considered," Clinton said today.

"I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it."

Steny Hoyer, D-MD., the majority leader of the House, said he also would not want to be patted down by a security officer.

"I don't think any of us would want to undergo that. I don't think any of us feel that the discomfort and the delay is something that we like. But most people understand that we've got to keep airplanes safe," Hoyer said.

Currently, all passengers going through airport security are asked to submit to a full body image scan when it is available. The body scan images are seen by a single agent in a closed room who cannot see the face of the person in the machine and who cannot bring any mobile phones or cameras into the room. If passengers refuse the body scan, they are offered a private pat-down, which is based on a thorough (some say invasive) technique used by police nationwide.

TSA chief John Pistole has defended the pat-downs because of the next generation of "non-metallic" explosives currently being used by terrorists.

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