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TSA Administrator John Pistole Opens Up About Lessons Learned, Future of Agency

tsa.gov

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

TSA Administrator John Pistole knows his agency has made some mistakes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a candid interview with the Los Angeles Times, Pistole said the TSA’s policies are constantly evolving to protect U.S. travelers.

Last year, the TSA announced that it would allow passengers to carry small knives onto planes, but you rescinded that decision. Will you allow small knives on planes in the future?

Given the lobbying efforts against it and members of Congress weighing in against it, I decided to take it off the table as something that was not furthering our efforts to transform from a one-size-fits-all to a risk-based [system].

European airports are testing devices to analyze liquids carried by passengers for explosives. When will travelers in the U.S. be able to fly without having to toss away bottles of water, soda or other liquids?

We have over 900 what we call bottle liquid scanners that we use for such things as mother’s milk and certain medicines that are larger than 100 milliliters. We could allow any liquids to fly, but it’s a time-consuming process so we don’t have an efficient way of doing that. One of the options that we looked at is to have a dedicated lane for people who wanted to bring liquids aboard, but that might be a long line.

The TSA announced a contest recently to find new ideas to speed the passenger-screening system. Why is that such a big challenge?

Each of the 450 airports where we provide screening is unique. Most airports were built and designed pre-9/11 and security is kind of an afterthought. So we’ve tried to cobble our way into some pretty tight spaces.

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