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January 21, 2011

TSA Administrator Pistole Discusses Privacy Concerns at Law and National Security Event

TSA Administrator John Pistole

TSA Administrator John S. Pistole

“Two words come to mind when thinking about the current threat environment:  persistent and evolving,” said Transportation Security Administration head John S. Pistole addressing the _’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security Jan. 13.

During his remarks titled “Providing Security and Respecting Privacy: TSA’s Efforts to Protect the American People,” Pistole candidly discussed difficulties and concerns of balancing privacy with security, explaining that changes in security screening happen because of both new intelligence and perceived threats.

While talking about the reasons for advanced imaging technology and enhanced pat downs, Pistole stated, “we need to address yesterday’s threat,” referring to the 2009 Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Pistole continued, “We [TSA] need to make sure we use the least intrusive means, while providing the best security and the best privacy possible.”

Pistole then spoke to the question of what the future vision for transportation security should be, inviting participation by the audience. He discussed TSA’s interest in relying more heavily on using the latest technology, tactics and techniques, along with behavior detection, to apply a risked-based intelligence approach to security. Pistole noted “curbside to cockpit is a long time to talk to and observe travelers, and to learn valuable information about them.” He then explained that using a more tailored approach to security might allow for a less physically intrusive way to ensure the security of the American people.

Pistole will be presenting the closing address at the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Sixth Annual Homeland Security Law Institute on March 3 at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C.

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