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Head of TSA, John Pistole, Visits Airport to Bolster Morale

John Pistole/dhs photo

By ASHLEY PARKER
New York Times

WASHINGTON — As John Pistole strode through Concourse B of Ronald Reagan National Airport on one of the busiest travel days of the year, flanked by airport employees, a news media handler and a reporter, a bewildered traveler looked up and wondered aloud: Is a celebrity flying through?

Well, sort of.

Mr. Pistole, the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, has become the unwitting face of everything Americans hate about airport security in a post-9/11 world, the most recent outcry being the agency’s new pat-down procedure, which many passengers say feels invasive and inappropriate.

He has been maligned on Twitter — ”I won’t fly in the U.S. again until John Pistole and TSA are eliminated,” reads one message — and Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized his agency’s new security measures.

But Mr. Pistole, 54, said that while he had been surprised by the ”fullness of the public reaction,” he was happy to take the heat if it meant keeping travelers safe.

”My hope is that, whatever people want to call me, they recognize that we’re simply doing everything we can to work with people to provide the best possible security,” Mr. Pistole said.

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