Tales from the Trail

Could there be two John Pistoles?

USA/RTXUQYN_Comp-150x150Could John Pistole have an identical twin who helps him run the Transportation Security Administration — a John Pistole and a John Pistole, maybe?

Here’s why…

John Pistole appeared over the weekend on CNN’s State of the Union to say that TSA’s highly invasive airport security screening procedures are here to stay. Those would be the ones that give travelers the choice of having their physical accouterments inspected either by sight or by hand — but always by complete strangers.

“No, we’re not changing the policies,” he told CNN.

Then on Monday, John Pistole showed up on NBC’s Today show and ABC’s Good Morning America with the news that TSA is rethinking its methods of operation.

“What I’m doing is going back and looking at: Are there less invasive ways of doing the same type of screening?” he said.

But at the same time, John Pistole was in front of the cameras again, this time on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he defended full-body scans as USA/safe and patdowns as effective at preventing people from boarding airliners with bombs.

Obama transport security pick avoids Iraq contract pothole

President Barack Obama’s pick to oversee U.S. transportation security appears to have dodged a major pothole on the road to being confirmed by the Senate after assuaging concerns about a government contract his old firm won to provide interrogators in Iraq.

Retired Major General Robert Harding was under the microscope at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday for his nomination to head the Transportation Security Administration, a job that has been filled on a temporary basis since Obama took office.

Harding spent more than three decades in the U.S. military, including a stint as deputy to the Army’s chief of intelligence and director for operations in the Defense Intelligence Agency. After retiring, he set up his own security consulting firm which he sold last year. SECURITY-AIRLINE/

TSA defends extra airport screening for kids, elderly

Almost every traveler through U.S. airports has seen little children and the elderly go through extra screening and often are left shaking their heads in disbelief that those individuals could be a threat and questioning whether someone else is slipping through the cracks.

AIRLINES-SECURITY/However, the acting head of the Transportation Security Administration Gale Rossides told Congress that all sorts of dangerous items are smuggled with kids and older travelers.

“Every day I will tell you that we see things coming through checkpoints in the United States that are amazing, either on their persons, in wheelchairs, in canes, people will conceal long knives, swords in canes,” Rossides told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Bomb plot thrusts Obama into political storm

President Barack Obama is weathering a political storm over last month’s suspected al Qaeda plot to bomb a Detroit-bound plane, particularly from Republicans who say he dropped the ball on security while pursuing healthcare and climate reforms. But how much substance there is behind the allegations may depend on who’s talking.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told NBC’s Today show that he believes Obama just woke up to the gravity of the al Qaeda threat. SECURITY-AIRLINE/OBAMA

“A lot of us have been concerned over the last year that the president did seem to downplay the threat of terror. He doesn’t use the word anymore. He hesitates to say that there is a war on terror,” DeMint said.