TSA Administrator: 'No Exceptions' to Full Body Pat Downs--For Religious or Any Other Reasons

November 17, 2010 - 1:56 PM

airline security, airport lines

Passengers wait in line at a check-in desk for U.S.-bound flights at Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport in Montreal Monday, Dec. 28, 2009 as tighter security measures have been implemented in the wake of a foiled terrorist attack on an inbound U.S. flight on December 25. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press)

(CNSNews.com) - Transportation Security Administration Chief John S. Pistole told a Senate committee yesterday that air passengers selected by the TSA for enhanced screening who decline to undergo either a full-body scan or a full body pat down will not be allowed to board planes in the United States.

There will be no exceptions, Pistole said, even for people who cite religious reasons for refusing to undergo the scan or pat down.

The definitive statement came at the conclusion of a nearly three-minute exchange on the question between Pistole and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

“Either the imaging or the pat down, let’s just say I don’t want either of them, because of religious reasons, what happens to me?” Ensign asked at the end of the exchange.

“So, while I respect and we respect that person's belief, that person's not going to get on an airplane,” Pistole replied.

“There will be no exceptions?” asked Ensign.

“No,” said Pistole.

The question became an issue after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last week recommended that Muslim women who wear the hijab not to submit to full body pat downs when going through pre-boarding security checks at airports.