washingtonpost.com
Napolitano defends new screening at airports

By Derek Kravitz
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; A06

Amid criticism over intensified airport screening measures, Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the Department of Homeland Security's use of full-body scanners and pat-downs as essential to "match the changing threat environment that we inhabit."

"This is all being done as a process to make sure that the traveling public is safe," she said, adding that officials would "have an open ear" if adjustments to the new rules needed to be made.

Passengers, civil liberties groups and airline pilot and flight attendant unions have complained that the X-ray machines could equate to a "virtual strip search" and that the new pat-downs are too invasive.

Napolitano said she "regrets" calls to boycott such screening measures, including one group's plans for the day before Thanksgiving, but that "if people don't want to play that role, if they want to travel by some other means, of course that's their right."

John Prater, head of the Air Line Pilots Association, told the Associated Press that, based on discussions Monday with TSA officials, he is optimistic the agency will soon allow flight attendants and pilots to undergo less-stringent screenings.

Travel industry groups are growing concerned about the issue and its potential impact on the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, an advocacy group representing corporate travel departments, told the AP, "Almost to a person, travel managers are concerned that TSA is going too far and without proper procedures and sufficient oversight. Travel managers are hearing from their travelers about this virtually on a daily basis."

Beyond the scanning process, passengers will also be subject to greater scrutiny of their luggage and personal identification and stricter enforcement of long-standing rules like the ban on carry-on liquids over three ounces.

Post a Comment


Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company