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Thu, Sep 15, 2011

Security Drops To Sixth Among US Public Concerns

But Not All Lawmakers Ready To Relax 'Security Theater'

The year 2011 may go down in history as the year the US Transportation Security Administration got a conscience. Or, at least a clue. After taking lumps over revealing body scans and so-called enhanced pat-downs of young children, TSA last week announced the deployment of less invasive scanners, and now Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says a revised pat-down procedure for children under 12 is being implemented.

Janet Napolitano

ABC News reports that Napolitano, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Tuesday, said a more risked-based approach to passenger screening is coming, "and we hope, over the coming weeks and months, to be able to begin rolling that out. It does require additional training of all of the thousands of TSA officers, and that’s under way."

TSA's adjustments seem to come at a time when the American public is losing its political patience with intrusive security measures which appear to been largely ineffective. According to the official website of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, a Gallup poll taken before last year’s midterm elections showed terrorism ranked sixth in voter concerns, behind the economy, jobs, government corruption, federal spending and health care.

Last week a study published by the Cato Institute called for abolishing the Department of Homeland Security. Congressman John Mica, a Florida Republican and an author of the legislation which originally created the Transportation Security Administration, is now saying its size and role should be dramatically reduced.

Senator Lieberman

But that sentiment is not universal. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent, and Ranking Member Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, warned the American people this week not to lower their guard against terrorism now that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 has passed.

Lieberman, noting the declining public concern with terrorism, commented, "In some ways we may be the victims of our own success because there has not been another mass-casualty terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 – something that, ten years ago, no one would have predicted."

Senator Collins

Collins added, "As has been noted often, the terrorists only have to get it right once; we have to be right every time or suffer the consequences of an attack. We are much safer than we were a decade ago, but we must be relentless in anticipating the changing tactics of terrorists."

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