Former TSA administrator: After Brussels, add more unpredictable airport screenings

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ANDERSON, Ind. (March 22, 2016) – Former TSA Administrator John Pistole said Tuesday afternoon from his office at Anderson University, he’s surprised by the well-coordinated, multiple attacks in Brussels.

“I think it raises the bar in terms of what they are actually capable of,” he said in an interview with CBS4.

Pistole, former head of the TSA and counterterrorism efforts for the FBI, is president at Anderson University, but still advises Homeland Security officials as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Committee.

Pistole said U.S. intelligence officials are helping determine whether Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels were isolated, or whether more will be triggered targeting soft targets, like the airport in Brussels.

“Subway stations, rail stations, trains, buses, public transportation have always been soft targets,” Pistole said.

Airports across the U.S. increased security after the attacks as the focus of counterterrorism officials shifted to vulnerabilities in open areas before security checkpoints.

“At what point do you start the security process?” Pistole said. “Do you do it outside the airport, and if so, you’re going to have lines somewhere.”

In response, Pistole is recommending more random and unpredictable TSA checks at airports nationwide, including Indianapolis.

But even with that, Pistole said, challenges remain.

“In TSA, they’re very mindful that a long line could be an attractive target to a terrorist,” he said. “So just if there’s a long line at the checkpoint is somebody, a terrorist gets in line and the line is snaking around in the middle of 100 plus people, and sets off a bomb. Think of what that does.”

Pistole said the biggest threat to the U.S. is not an ISIS-directed attack, but rather lone wolves inspired to act on their own.

“So the FBI office in Indianapolis, and the nine offices around the state, will be going out and talking to people who may have information about possible attacks if there is any surveillance coverage that would be redoubled, these efforts typically would be.

“I think people traveling through Indianapolis International Airport will see some additional random and unpredictable type of security screening, probably more officers, both TSA and police officers with K9s, bomb sniffing dogs, perhaps more behavior detection officers who are looking for suspicious behavior.”

Publicly, Homeland Security and the FBI said they know of no imminent attack or threat targeting the U.S., and Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday the threat level in Indiana hasn’t change in response to the attacks in Brussels.

“In the state of Indiana, I’m going to continue to use all the means that I have at my disposal as governor to see to the safety and security of the people of Indiana,” Pence said. “It is a reminder we live in dangerous times and that additional vigilance is warranted around the world, around this country and in the state of Indiana.”

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