The likely incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee lauded the work of the TSA on Wednesday in the face of a firestorm of controversy over new body scan and pat-down procedures.
"The fact is, we have an enemy that's out to kill us," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said. "The fact is, TSA does a very good job and John Pistole, the head of the TSA, is as dedicated, a counterterrorism fighter I've met in all my years in Washington."
While acknowledging that the system can be improved, King said "there's really been a mistake over the last week to 10 days that somehow making TSA the enemy when it's al Qaeda."
Speaking on Fox News, the ranking Republican also sharply criticized talk of slowing the security system down in a Wednesday "Opt-Out Day," which never materialized.
"I think some of the hysteria that was generated, of people actually saying that they would try and slow the system down yesterday, well then, if you have a plane that had gone down the blood would have been on their hands," he said.
King said there would always be trial-and-error in the TSA evolving and trying to come up with the best systems, but "right now I think the body scanners are the best we think we have."
King also said discontinuing the color-coded terror alert system put in place after the 9/11 attacks "is the right thing to do."
"I think it's more form over substance because the fact of the matter, we really stopped doing very much with this several years ago," he said.
"The enemy is more dedicated than ever," he added. "The real threat now is not so much coming in from overseas but from people living right here in the country under the radar screen. And that's been a change in tactics by al Qaeda."