Transportation security is constantly evolving and aviation can expect more changes as terrorists probe for ways to cause destruction and technology perfects ways to keep ahead of them, John Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, told a Senate Committee Wednesday, Nov. 17. The possibility of more security actions affecting general aviation became apparent early in the hearing.
Committee Chairman Sen. John (Jay) Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.) acknowledged the need to protect the traveling public and balance this with privacy. He said in his opening statement, “I continue to have concerns about general aviation.” He said he can walk right out to a private aircraft with no one taking a look at him.
Pistole told the panel intelligence helped defeat terrorists’ attempts this past year and are constantly evolving methods and tools. “Our enemies are observant, patient, stealthy, and ruthless,” he said. When asked if he would change the passenger screening because of current objections being seen as intrusive, Pistole said flatly that he would not change policy. He pointed out that patting with the open hand came only after continuing test showed much was missed with back-hand examination. A pat down examination is given only when screening rings an alarm. Two female members of the committee admitted they had metal knee replacements and had “love pats” each time they flew.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) asked if “to use a football phrase, the defense is keeping ahead of the offense.” The administrator replied he believes it is, but “it is our job to stay ahead of them.”