Watch CBSN Live

TSA Chief Asks for Public's Pat-Down Cooperation

The head of the Transportation Security Administration is asking travelers for their cooperation as the government tightens security during the busy holiday travel season.

TSA chief John Pistole will be seen in a new video and other public service efforts at airports across the country. Security screeners are preparing for long lines and frustrated travelers during the Thanksgiving rush on Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year.

Pistole's announcement comes amid backlash against the government's use of 10-second full-body imaging machines. A full pat-down can take four minutes, reports CBS News correspondent Don Teague.

Pistole explains that passengers have the options of private pat-downs if they prefer not to undergo screenings.

When asked what he would tell those who would participate in National Opt-Out Day, an Internet protest movement calling for air travelers to opt-out of the new body imaging scanners and choose a pat-down on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel days of the year, Pistole said, "What I would hope that they would consider is the vast majority of people just want to get home for the holidays and spend time with their loved ones."

The procedure for airline security screenings isn't likely to change significantly so long as air travel's terrorism threat remains, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday.

Few passengers receive pat-down searches and minimally invasive searches must be weighed against security risks, Napolitano said at the Trenton train station.

One pat-down left a Michigan man covered in urine. Tom Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor who wears a urostomy bag that collects his urine says a rough pat-down by a security agent at Detroit Metropolitan Airport caused the bag to spill its contents on his shirt and pants.

Tom Sawyer told CBS Affiliate WLNS that on Nov. 7, after electing to go through the airport's new full-body scanner, he was pulled to the side to be patted down by a TSA agent.

The 61-year-old retired special education teacher said he asked to be examined more discreetly.

Sawyer told WLNS correspondent Jessica Maki that after being taken to a private area, he alerted the TSA agents about his urostomy bag and the danger of its lid being undone, but they didn't listen.

And when the pat-down began, Sawyer says the agent was so rough, the cap on the urostomy bag came off, spilling urine on him.

"No apology, no recognition - Is that urine? - no nothing, no offer to help me," Sawyer said. "And I had to face the fact that I had to walk through the airport with urine."

More Screenings Coverage

New Undies Protect Privates from TSA Scanners
Could Behavior Analysis Help TSA Debate?
TSA Pat-Down Spilled Man's Urine Bag
TSA: We're Trying to Balance Safety, Dignity
TSA "Always Evaluating Security Operations"
Security Protest May Hinder Thanksgiving Travel
Clinton: I'd Avoid Airport Pat-Down if Possible
Less Invasive Scanners Technology is Out There
TSA Modifies Screening Rule for Pilots
Torches & Pitchforks at Airport Security
Poll: 4 in 5 Support Full-Body Airport Scanners