Obama questions security checks

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The Independent US

President Barack Obama has asked security officials whether there's a less intrusive way to screen airline passengers than the pat-downs and body scans causing an uproar during the American Thanksgiving holiday season.

For now, officials have told him there is not another way, Mr Obama said Saturday in response to a question at the Nato summit in Lisbon. "I understand people's frustrations," he said, acknowledging that he's never had to undergo the stepped-up screening methods.

Passengers at some US airports must pass through full-body scanners that produce a virtually naked image of themselves. If travellers refuse to do so, they can be forced to have an inspector pat them down by hand, including through their clothes in sensitive parts of their bodies.

Mr Obama said he's told the US Transportation Security Administration: "You have to constantly refine and measure whether what we're doing is the only way to assure the American people's safety. And you also have to think through, are there ways of doing it that are less intrusive."

At this point, that agency and counter-terrorism experts have told him that the current procedures are the only ones that they think can effectively guard against threats such as last year's attempted Christmas Day bombing, in which a Nigerian man is accused of trying to set off a bomb hidden in his underwear.

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