Napolitano: Invasive scans, pat-downs unlikely to change

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday that controversial new airport security procedures are likely to remain in place because they have been effective.

Some airline passengers and lawmakers have objected to the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy that includes full-body scans and pat-downs.

Asked on CNN's "State of the Union" if anything is going to change with the pat-down program, Napolitano said, "Not for the foreseeable future."

The secretary called the procedures "objectively safer" for airline passengers and said they are part of a broader security strategy that involves cooperation with intelligence agencies, commercial airlines and international airports. 


Napolitano's comments suggest the administration has weathered the storm regarding the new security, which began on the cusp of the Thanksgiving travel season.

TSA, under its new policy, must screen airline passengers using whole-body imaging systems. But passengers who feel 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. 

According to TSA estimates only 3 percent of passengers have been subject to pat-downs and only after they have failed a metal detector test or refused to go through a full-body scanner.

Napolitano also dismissed a report that showed TSA checkpoint at some major airports fail to detect contraband like firearms and other weapons as high as 70 percent of the time, calling the studies "old and out of date" and claiming many of them have "methodology issues."