Napolitano says pat downs to continue

on December 27 2010 10:58 PM
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jan Napolitano greets TSA workers as she arrives to speak about heightened passenger vigilance and airport security at Reagan National Airport in Washington November 15, 2010.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jan Napolitano greets TSA workers as she arrives to speak about heightened passenger vigilance and airport security at Reagan National Airport in Washington November 15, 2010. REUTERS

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano believes her department's more thorough pat downs at airports provide more safety for travelers and that she has no plans to change the policy.

Asked in a televised interview if anything had changed in the six weeks since the pat-down policy had taken effect, Napolitano said no.

Not for the foreseeable future, she said. You know, we're always looking to improve systems and so forth. But the new technology, the pat downs, is just objectively safer for our traveling public.

A Christmas Day bombing attempt in 2009 and other terrorism-related concerns led to the pat downs and used of the imaging devices. Debate over the balance between safety and privacy ensued.

The pat-down procedures performed by security personnel at airports, which can involve touching on genital areas of the body, are an option when air travelers opt out of full body imaging scanners installed at airports.

Some travelers have also raised concerns about the effects of radiation from the scanners. Government officials say the machine is not harmful.

Napolitano says the pat down and new machine, which provides three-dimensional images of a person's body, are just part of a larger intelligence-based system to provide security for travelers locally, and internationally.

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