Biden: Airport screening pat-downs a 'necessary policy'

Vice President Joe Biden is defending the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) controversial new pat-down technique, calling it a "necessary policy."

Biden acknowledged people have concerns that the TSA's use of full-body scanners and pat-downs are frustrating and intrusive but argued they are crucial to prevent another incident like the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing.

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"Well look, Larry, maybe because I spend so much time every morning dealing with the threat assessment that's out there and the fact that it's real — I understand peoples' frustration, but I — unless there's a new technology that comes along pretty quickly, I think it's — I think it's a necessary policy," he said on CNN's "Larry King Live" program. "I think it will have the effect of saving lives, intercepting explosives."

Even though the TSA's new policy has riled lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Biden's comments indicate the agency will continue to scan or pat down passengers at the nation's airports. 

Biden is the highest-ranking member of the administration to comment on the policy since it was put in place. Asked if anyone in the administration is against the pat-downs, the vice president said: "No. We're all in the administration saying continue to look to see what the best technology and the least intrusive that gives us the greatest security."

TSA, under its new policy, must screen airline passengers using whole-body imaging systems. But passengers who feel that the scans are too intrusive are permitted to go through a metal detector or receive a pat-down, which some have said comes too close to groping.

GOP Rep. Ted Poe (Texas) said on the House floor Tuesday that the full-body scanners violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

TSA Administrator John Pistole this week offered to have airport screeners come to Capitol Hill to give lawmakers pat-downs in order to assuage their concerns.