TSA's John Pistole: Scanners Might Not Stop an Underwear Bomber

More

I'll have more on this later, but I had a very interesting conversation yesterday with John Pistole, the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, and I wanted to bring you some of it, via my Bloomberg View column. Bruce Schneier, Goldblog's security guru (and the guy I used to break into airports with), has argued that the recently discovered underwear bomb 2.0, a more sophisticated device than the Christmas 2009 device that failed to ignite, doesn't mean that we should necessarily increase airport security, in part because if the bomb plot matures to the point where it's two hours away from completion, and the TSA is the last line of defense, then it is probably too late. I'm sympathetic to the Schneier argument. Pistole, not really sympathetic at all. Anyway, here's some of what Pistole had to say about the scanners and their ability to detect complicated, well-disguised bombs:

...Would the TSA have been able to identify this most dangerous anomaly in the crotch area, had al-Qaeda managed to build one in the U.S.?

(Pistole) mentioned the TSA's new scanning devices, now in use at about 180 airports.

"The advanced imaging technology gives us the best chance to detect the underwear-type device," he said.

The best chance? "This is not 100 percent guaranteed," he said. "If it comes down to a terrorist who has a well- concealed device, and we have no intelligence about him, and he comes to an advanced-imaging technology machine, it is still our best technology. But it's really an open question about whether the machine, or the AIT operator, would detect the device."

You can read more here.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In