Next step for tight security could be trains, boats, metro
By Jordy Yager - 11/23/10 02:09 PM ET
Editor's note: This story and its headline have been clarified to show that the Department of Homeland Security has not indicated it plans to use body scanners to tighten security at transportation sites beyond airports.
The next step in tightened security could be on U.S. public transportation, trains and boats.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for U.S. vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary.
“[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,” Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on "Charlie Rose."
“I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”
Napolitano’s comments, made a day before one of the nation’s busiest travel days, come in the wake of a public outcry over newly implemented airport screening measures that have been criticized for being too invasive.
The secretary has defended the new screening methods, which include advanced imaging systems and pat-downs, as necessary to stopping terrorists. During the interview with Rose, Napolitano said her agency is now looking into ways to make other popular means of travel safer for passengers and commuters.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, introduced legislation this past September that would authorize testing of body scanners at some federal buildings.
Napolitano’s comments were in response to the question: “What will they [terrorists] be thinking in the future?” She gave no details about how soon the public could see changes in security or about what additional safety measures the DHS was entertaining.
The recently implemented airport screening methods have made John Pistole, who heads the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the focus of growing public ire.
On Monday, Pistole said he understood peoples’ privacy concerns and that the TSA would consider modifying its screening policies to make them “as minimally invasive as possible,” but he indicated the advanced-imaging body scans and pat-down methods would remain in place in the short term, including during the high-volume Thanksgiving period of travel.
Lawmakers from both parties have received hundreds of complaints about the new methods — some have likened the pat-downs to groping — and have called on Pistole to address the privacy concerns of their constituents, who were not informed about changes ahead of time.