WASHINGTON (AP) — With the Thanksgiving holiday travel gearing up, the White House said Monday the government will take into account the public's concerns and complaints as it evaluates rigid new airline boarding security checks.
President Barack Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the government is "desperately" trying to balance procedures that maximize security and minimize invasiveness. He says the Transportation Security Administration procedures will continue to evolve.
"The evolution of the security will be done with the input of those who go through the security," Gibbs said.
Gibbs underscored that the president's highest priority during the holiday season, "is to ensure that when you or I or others get on to an airplane, that we can feel reasonably sure that we can travel safely."
Air travelers are protesting new requirements at some U.S. airports that they must pass through full-body scanners that produce a virtually naked image. The screener, who sits in a different location, does not see the face of the person being screened and does not know the traveler's identity.
Those who refuse to go through the scanners are subject to thorough pat-downs that include agency officials touching the clothed genital areas of passengers.
Earlier Monday, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole urged passengers angry over safety procedures not to boycott airport body scans.
He said he understands public concerns about privacy in the wake of the tough new security checks, but said that a relatively small proportion of the 34 million people who have flown since the new procedures went into effect have had body pat downs.