Now That Obama Administration Is Taking Terrorism ‘More Seriously,' Airport Security ‘Significantly Improved’ This Christmas, Lawmaker Says

By Chris Johnson | December 2, 2010 | 5:00 AM EST

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) (AP photo)

Washington ( - Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that airport security has “significantly improved” since last year’s attempted Christmas bombing.

“They’ve done a better job," he said. "The federal government, Homeland Security and TSA have, I think, significantly improved since last Christmas, there’s more cohesion."

The reason for this, according to King, is that the Obama administration has become more aware that terrorism is a real threat. King said the administration had a skewed idea of the danger posed by militant Muslim organizations from the outset when it first took office.

“I think the administration has taken the issue more seriously now than they did. I think in the first year they still thought we were talking about man-made disasters and unexpected overseas contingencies and didn’t face up to the fact that we’re talking about a real international threat from Islamic Jihadists,” he told

King said that now that the president has realized the threat, the situation has improved. “I think they realize that now, and they are a little bit late in the game, but the situation is better now than it was.”

King also defended the use of full-body scanners at airports, telling that scans and pat-downs were an important part of security, at least until a better alternative could be found.

“I think we have to use them until we find something better. I think that the body scanners and the pat downs, as unpopular as they may be in certain elements, they are important because I don’t see an alternative at this stage,” he said.

King made his comments on Monday at a press event announcing an exhibit in the U.S. Capitol featuring the badges of 29 first responders to Ground Zero during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Manhattan. The 29 officers died from diseases or conditions linked to the toxins they were exposed to during the rescue and clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center.

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