Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hillary Clinton: I Would Not Submit To TSA Pat-Down, 'Who Would?'

Hillary Clinton gets it.

WASHINGTON — Would Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton like to submit to one of those security pat-downs at airports?

"Not if I could avoid it. No. I mean who would?" she told CBS' "Face the Nation" in an interview broadcast Sunday.

Echoing comments from President Barack Obama, she said administration officials should try to make the new airport security measures, including full body scans and intimate pat-downs, less intrusive.

"I think everyone, including our security experts, are looking for ways to diminish the impact on the traveling public," she told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I mean obviously the vast, vast majority of people getting on these planes are law abiding citizens who are just trying to get from one place to another. But let's not kid ourselves. The terrorists are adaptable," she added.

"Striking the right balance is what this is about. And I am absolutely confident that our security experts are gonna keep trying to get it better and less intrusive and more precise."

For example, she said it might be possible to consider ways to limit the number of people who go through surveillance.

"Everybody is trying to do the right thing and I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it," she said.

LISBON, Portugal — President Barack Obama on Saturday acknowledged some travelers' "frustrations" with having to go through full-body pat-downs and scans at airports, but he said the enhanced security measures are necessary to keep America safe.

In response to a question at a press conference in Lisbon, where he was attending a NATO summit , the president said that the Transportation Security Administration has been "under enormous pressure" to find better ways to screen for explosives and other dangerous items ever since the attempted 2009 Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner over Detroit. In that case, a passenger with links to an al-Qaida extremist group tried to set off plastic explosives concealed in his underwear.

"I understand people’s frustrations, and what I’ve said to the TSA is that you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety. And you also have to think through are there other ways of doing it that are less intrusive," Obama said.

"But at this point, TSA in consultation with counterterrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing."

Obama acknowledged that as president he does not have to go through pat-downs and other normal security procedures at airports, since he flies on Air Force One.

Some travelers have criticized the pat-downs and full-body scanners at some airports as overly intrusive and humiliating. In one case, a woman who survived breast cancer said she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down at an airport in North Carolina.

A loosely organized campaign on the Internet is urging travelers to boycott the scanners, which produce a virtually naked image of the body that can be seen by a screener who is in a different location and doesn't know the identity of the traveler. The U.S. has nearly 400 of the advanced imaging machines deployed at 70 airports, with plans to expand to 1,000 machines next year. Not all airports have them and not all travelers are selected for scans.

Those who refuse body scans can be forced to undergo physical pat-downs, which could make for long lines during the Thanksgiving holiday travel weekend.

"One of the most frustrating aspects of this fight against terrorism is that it has created a whole security apparatus around us that causes huge inconvenience for all of us,” Obama said.

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