TSA defends intrusive pat-downs, body scans at airports - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

TSA defends intrusive pat-downs, body scans at airports

Courtesy of AP Courtesy of AP

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Nation's Transportation Security chief is defending those intrusive pat-downs and body scans at airports which have caused such an outcry among the flying public.

At a Capitol Hill hearing, he explained in the most graphic way yet why the measures are needed to prevent acts of terrorism in the skies.

TSA photographs obtained by ABC News show that passengers are still trying to smuggle weapons and contraband onboard flights--anything from marijuana and Jack Daniels to ceramic knives were caught by the new body scanners. And ABC News has learned that the new screening procedures--including enhanced pat downs--- were done in part because of major gaps in security.

Government inspectors have been able to routinely sneak banned items, including weapons and bomb components, past screeners.

The new TSA administrator told Congress the failed Christmas Day underwear bombing attempt and ongoing intelligence about the threat against airplanes--pushed him to act.

But some passengers are complaining the new measures go too far. This week, a passenger punched a TSA worker in the chest after going through a body scanner. And some critics are calling for mass protests at airports on the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Homeland Security officials believe the criticism may be overstated. They say the majority of Americans are complying with no complaints.

Officials say they are not backing down. The new measures have to stay in place. They say threat is just too severe.

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