SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R-NEVADA): Are you going to, you know, allow certain groups to be exempted from that because of, you know, religious beliefs?
PISTOLE: Senator, we try to be sensitive to each individual and in groups that have particular sensitivities as to whether it's head-wear or certain garb or sensitivities about being viewed or touched and everything. So we try to be sensitive to those issues. At the same time, the bottom line is we have to ensure that each person getting on each flight has been properly screened. And so we have options such as, if somebody does not want to go through the advanced imaging technology, it is optional. They would just do the walk- through metal detector and then--and have a pat-down that would identify any possible items.
They can request private screenings. So if they don't want to be screened in public, they can go to a private area, have a witness with them.
And so we try to address those concerns in every way possible, recognizing, again, in the final analysis, everybody on that flight wants to be assured with the highest level of confidence that everybody else on that flight has been properly screened, and including me and you and everybody.
ENSIGN: I realize this is a difficult question for you, but--so are you going to make no exceptions, then?
ENSIGN: I know you're trying to responsibly accommodate.
ENSIGN: But within those reasonable accommodations, OK, let's just say that--that, listen, you know, my religious whatever does not allow me to be touched by somebody else, does not allow me to go through that screening. So what happens in those cases?
PISTOLE: So a very small percentage of people would have and will continue to receive pat-downs. So if somebody comes through...
ENSIGN: So they have to at least go through the pat-down, if not the screening?
PISTOLE: No, they--unless there is an alarm in the walk- through metal detector or they opt out of the advance imaging technology, they would in all likelihood never receive a pat-down. So it's--the pat-down is only a very, very small...
ENSIGN: No, no, I--let me--maybe not (inaudible) my question. If somebody is--a random screening. I just got randomly screened at the airport. For whatever reason, my number seems to come up quite often.
But if that, you know, happens and either the imaging, OK, was one of the options or, you know, the pat down--let's just say I don't--I don't want either of them because of religious--because of religious reasons. What happens to me?
PISTOLE: So while I respect and we respect that person's beliefs, that person's not going to get on an airplane.
ENSIGN: OK. And there will be no exceptions because of religion.