Speaking in a press conference at the Tom Bradley International Terminal Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joint by local law enforcement officials and airport authorities in charge of safety and security, urged the federal government to expand the installation and use of full body scanners at LAX and other aerial ports; a high-tech device that would allegedly minimize the risk of a terrorist attack.
Considered as one of the prime U.S. terrorist targets, LAX -the nation’s third-busiest airport- is in possession of only three of 40 similar devices that operate in 19 airports nationwide, quantity considered as insufficient to overcome the random possibilities of detecting a terror plot as the one occurred last Christmas in Detroit.
The TSA has reportedly ordered about 150 scanners to be installed in airports across the country this year, although authorities are urging to expedite the process due the gravity of current circumstances. The controversial technology permits an entire body scanning projecting a clear corporal image similar to the one produced by X-Rays and its high resolution detects any type of materials. The sophisticated device was introduced several years ago, but its installation has been delayed due to privacy concerns and civil liberties issues raised by activists and members of Congress.
At the present moment -crucial for the safety of all U.S. ports of entry- the TSA has no leader and pressures intensify as Villaraigosa also criticized Congress for delaying the endorsement of Erroll Southers, assistant chief of the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, as head of the federal Transportation Security Administration, the agency in charge of airline security.
Also Tuesday, President Obama promised further steps to reinforce airline security and the nation’s counter-terror system because “American lives are on the line.”
“We have to do better, and we will do better,” Obama told reporters in Washington, after meeting with the chiefs of counterterrorism agencies that failed to detect the Christmas Day plot that triggered the feds to rethink airport procedures and to expand the watch-list and no-fly list database.