TSA Chief: Body Scans, Pat Downs Necessary

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A growing number of air travelers are upset about the full body scans and pat downs that are conducted at security checkpoints at U.S. airports. John Pistole, the chief of the Transportation Security Administration, went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to answer questions about the new procedures.

Pistole has experienced an enhanced pat down first hand.

"It was more invasive then what I was used to," he said.

Yet, the TSA chief said they're necessary and a reality of air travel -- especially as the federal government continues to receive intelligence suggesting terrorists will keep trying to find ways to smuggle bombs onto passenger planes.

"The intelligence coupled with the repeated covert testing led me to conclude that we needed to be more thorough," Pistole added.

Several senators on the Homeland Security Committee said they were concerned about passenger privacy.

Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., said he's seen the pat downs first hand and wouldn't want his wife being "touched like that." However, the TSA has said the scanners are necessary as an extra layer of safety.

Pistole told lawmakers that in tests, federal agents are regularly able to smuggle banned items onto planes.

Passengers who refuse to go through the full body scanners must be patted down and if they refuse, even for religious reasons, Pistole said they're not getting on a plane.

Passengers continue to have mixed feelings about the new procedures.

"It's ridiculous and it's not safer they are just doing it to have us more fearful and there is no reason for it," said Cathlyn Daley, an airline traveler.

"I would much rather go through a little uncomfortableness and know that I will be safe or a least know that everything was done to protect me," said Suzanne Beaty, another traveler.

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