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"Lawmakers lash out at TSA chief John Pistole over airport screening"
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Lawmakers lash out at TSA chief John Pistole over airport screening
By Corbett B. Daly
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday bashed the Transportation Security
Administration chief for being slow to respond to both the changing threats
to the air travel system and the changing needs of travelers increasingly
frustrated by inconsistent experiences with airport screeners.
"It's palpable. The American people are just really disgusted and outraged
with the department that they see as bloated and inefficient," said Rep.
Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on
"Progress at TSA has come at a snail's pace and in some ways has gone
backwards," Rogers said, adding "the American people need to see immediate
changes that impact them."
TSA Administrator John Pistole shot back.
"Chairman Rogers, I would respectfully disagree with your assessment," he
said, noting that the agency has made significant progress becoming more
efficient and more effective over the last two years.
Pistole noted last month's disruption of an al Qaeda plot to blow up a U.S.
bound airliner "highlights the challenges that the men and women of TSA face
every day, to keep safe the 1.7 million or so travelers who fly within the
US and from the US from the 450 airports, while we strive to provide the
most effective security in the most efficient way and we are taking a number
of steps to achieve those goals."
The top Democrat on the full committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi,
called for an independent analysis of the TSA's way of doing business.
"Maybe we ought to have a fresh set of eyes," Thompson told Pistole, noting
that the Government Accountability Office has recommended a third party
audit of the TSA's performance.
At the same time, Rogers chastised Pistole for not being willing to reduce
the size of the TSA workforce.
"I want you to cut out those people that are standing around not doing
anything at the airport screening checkpoints," Rogers said.
Pistole said he was not prepared to make any pledges to eliminate jobs as
the TSA needs to be able to confidently say it is protecting the flying
"I'm not prepared to say a percentage that I'm willing to reduce because I
believe the personnel we have currently, again using that part time
construct, are necessary to provide the security the American people expect
today," he told Rogers.
To which Rogers replied: "you and I both know, everybody in this room knows,
you can get by with less folks."
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