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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 11/22/2010

Pistole the latest official to send mixed messages

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Obama administration officials spent the weekend sharing different comments on airport security, the latest example of the president and Cabinet secretaries sending mixed messages on policy or politics to the American public.

John S. Pistole, head of Transportation Security Administration acknowledged Sunday that his agency's new screening procedures are "invasive" and "uncomfortable" but told CNN that the agency would not change its policy.

Hours later, he back-pedaled, saying in a statement that screening should be as minimally invasive as possible and that TSA is constantly evaluating and adapting security measures.

Why the change? Well, souring public opinion had something to do with it (did you see the devastating "Saturday Night Live" sketch about TSA?).

And Pistole must have missed President Obama saying Saturday that he wasn't happy with the intrusive nature of the pat-downs. He regularly asks advisers whether there are "less intrusive" ways to screen for potential threats, Obama said. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

And on the same morning Pistole was vowing to keep the policy in place on CNN, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was providing a lukewarm defense on other Sunday shows.

"If there is a way to limit the number of people who are going to be put through surveillance, that's something that I'm sure could be considered," she told CBS's "Face the Nation." "Everybody is trying to do the right thing, and I understand how difficult it is and how offensive it must be for the people going through it."

Then, when asked if she would endure a pat-down, Clinton answered with a laugh: "Not if I could avoid it. I mean, who would?"

And the White House wonders why it's in trouble? This is only the latest example of Obama administration failing to sing from the same song sheet and paying for it later. Let's review:

-- Hours after the failed Christmas Day bombing attack, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano insisted "the system worked" in stopping a Nigerian man from blowing up his underwear on a Detroit-bound plane. Within hours, the administration recanted, admitting it could have done a better job. Weeks of criticism ensued.

-- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed to "keep the boot on the neck" of BP after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Within days, the president and other officials scaled back the rhetoric, Salazar slinked into the background and public confidence in the government's response sank.

-- White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs earned the ire of House Democrats when he said their House majority was in doubt and that it would take "strong campaigns by Democrats" to avert dramatic losses. Gibbs proved correct, but not after he went out of his way to express confidence in the party's electoral chances.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton once again says she's through with politics. Former first lady Barbara Bush hopes Sarah Palin stays in Alaska.

Clues to stubborn secret in CIA's backyard: "Kryptos," the sculpture nestled in a courtyard of the agency's Virginia headquarters since 1990, is a work of art with a secret code embedded in the letters that are punched into its four panels of curving copper.

Pentagon: New facility speeds NKorean nuke ability: Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he doesn't believe the facility is part of a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Air Force mixes up bidding data sent to tanker rivals: It mistakenly gave rival companies sensitive information that contained each other's confidential bids in a long-standing, multibillion dollar competition to build a new refueling tanker.

The few. The proud. The problem. Can the Corps' warrior ethos accept openly gay Marines?: A Sunday Outlook essayist thinks yes, they can.

Unspent stimulus tough to retrieve: GOP candidates talked about cutting spending by canceling as much as $300 billion of unspent stimulus funds. But Republicans preparing to take control of the House in January are already finding that far less can be clawed back.

FBI visit exposes trade-probe tactics: The agency's attempt to pressure an independent analyst to record his calls with a client offers a window into how the government is trying to build what could become one of the most far-reaching insider-trading cases ever.

IRS looks for people owed refund checks: It's looking for taxpayers who are due to receive a combined $164.6 million in the form of 111,893 refund checks that were returned to the IRS by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing address errors.

A park ranger is shot in Utah: Officers swarmed a rugged canyon west of Moab on Saturday searching for a man who shot and critically wounded a park ranger.

OPM refuses to say how long it takes to hire someone: Ask us again in January, the agency said, once again blowing off reporter questions.

Postal Service fails to reach agreements with unions: It failed to reach new agreements with two of its largest labor unions Saturday, agreeing to continue negotiations with one while reaching an impasse with the other.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 22, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Eye Opener  
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Next: Chaffetz to stay with Oversight Committee


What a bunch of morons! I hate to say anything positive about the Bush administration but at least they had their ducks in a row.

The head of the TSA comes off like a total power crazed, uncaring jerk. That guy should be fired! He works for us, damn it!

By the way, where is the data on these x-ray machines? How safe are they? What happens when one malfunctions? Once again the government is playing the U.S. public like fiddles. You know, like Nero did while Rome burned.

Posted by: jimcraib | November 22, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Why? The Government does not start with people that are in America illegally, of all races, whom may be a threat to America. How do we know, what kind of people they are? Instead of body searching respectably people of America. Please!

Posted by: Toshadow | November 22, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The TSA is so busy trying to show the American public and the world who's in charge, that the idiots overlook the most important thing. Millions of visitors enter the US every day from other countries. They're not being x-rayed or felt up in their home countries, yet they're being allowed on US soil. Meanwhile our own people are being subjected to humiliating screening procedures in the name of protecting us from terrorists. SNL's TSA sketch was right on point and funny too!

Posted by: sjcsando | November 22, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

This is one area we can't afford to fool around in, face it people terrorism is a fact. What would the American public do if they were in Northern Ireland or Israel? They've got men and women walking around with Uzi's....go ahead try this wussy A$$ boycott. there. We Americans don't know how good we have it.

Posted by: dadofkmm | November 22, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Toshadow..point's another, four words Tim McVeigh, Oklahoma City.....nough said?

Posted by: dadofkmm | November 22, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Mabey our government should try a lot harder to keep terrorist out of our country. Stop letting anybody who want in here to come in. Secure the borders, for one thing. Do not let anybody from a foreign county in here until they are FULLY investigated. Better they are scrutinized then our citiznes genital areas!! Get out other countries business and mabey not so many of them would want to kill us!

Posted by: brnfream2 | November 22, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I think the very real possibility of law suits will help get us over this violation of privacy.

If TSA was effective in keeping terrorists off of flights, instead of cosmetic liquids,the public might have a different response. The fact that TSA hasn't been able to stop any, particularly the fiasco last Christmas, terrorists makes it obvious that TSA cannot follow it's own rules.

The pat downs and the nude screenings are in obvious violation of our rights.

Posted by: hebe1 | November 22, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

People calm down! This is another media hyped non-story. Less than 20% of travelers will actually step through a scanner and even less than that will get the patdown. Stop falling into the trap the media sets for you to generate hysteria and ratings. Wise up people!!! Turn off the television and hold the Post to some higher standards!!!

Posted by: Misty630 | November 22, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

When are they going to start tatooing our wrists? Keep the terrorist out of our country. Start the screenings on the other sides of the borders. Secure our borders. Does our government even know what that means?
They are supposed to "examine" the people coming in here. Do they do that? This is outrageous.

Posted by: brnfream2 | November 22, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for bringing up Timothy McVeigh. This is a very important point. Given that McVeigh did not do anything whatsoever to an airplane, but instead constructed a truck bomb, it is imperitive that every motor vehicle in America be subjected to x-ray scans at random roadblocks. I'm sure that a few hours delay in your commute will be worth it.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 22, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Gropen Führer Pistole has no intention of listening to the American people. His attitude is literally "his way or the highway"

Posted by: cybernaut | November 22, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

None of the people that decide how we are mistreated by the TSA are subject to these searches. Have someone pat down (grope, sexually molest) John Pistole and Janet Napolitano every time they want to enter their buildings. Or expose them to the backscatter x-ray machine. Every scientist will tell you that radiation exposure is cumulative. Think how much exposure pilots and flight crews are being subjected to. Wait until some terrorist hides a chemical bomb in his anus. Then we will really feel the strong arm of government.

Posted by: happyid | November 22, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

great, no nobody can fly after having Mexican food

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 22, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Since it’s still not against the law, let’s try to think this thing through; like where and how did it begin and what can be done to change what is becoming a grimy situation that may only be the prelude to random strip searches and full body scans in the malls. Clearly the freedom and liberties we once enjoyed and, unfortunately took for granted are being downsized. Now many are obviously upset about the airport procedures. This situation didn’t just happen out of the clear blue sky. WE HAVE OUR ARMIES IN MUSLIM LANDS. Damage done and the potential damage by our opponents won't be limited to downing planes. The huge expense of airport safety, the indignities now suffered by Americans not to mention feeling up kids is only the start of the price to be paid if we don't get our armies out of Muslim lands. Two guys and a rifle tied up the Eastern sea board with random shooting of whatever was in front of them. Imagine a few hundred of these teams from coast to coast. That Israel can't prevent attacks within its comparatively small borders with a highly refined security organization and heightened public levels of public awareness, should tell us something. Some ask how many bombs have been detected at our airports; no answers are available. Terror attacks in this country will remain a possibility and change in form as we are not fighting the Viet Cong, who at least had the decency to stay home. The only way to stop the diminishment of freedom attendant to the terror war, (downsizing of freedom being one of Osama’s goals) is to declare victory, pull out of Muslim lands, wait a few years and then our corporations can do business with today's terrorists as we now do with yesterdays', the Viet Cong. Perhaps we'll resuscitate strategic alliances with today's terrorists like we are doing with yesterday’s terrorists, the North Vietnamese. Free no log-in editorial cartoons

Posted by: saintpeterii | November 23, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

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