Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack of Minnesota's Eighth district said Tuesday that aviation security in the U.S. needs to be smarter.
Cravaack, vice chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, questioned the need for such invasive security screenings for certain groups, including the military.
"They're on orders, they have military I.D.," said Cravaack, a retired Navy pilot. "Why do these guys have to take off their combat boots, their combat packs and everything else?"
Cravaack said he's seen the new procedures' effects firsthand and recalled seeing a woman being patted-down in a wheelchair on his recent trip to Washington, D.C.
"We can do it better. We need to have a good system," said Cravaack, who also serves on the Homeland Security and Transportation and Infrastructure committees. "We have to assess our threats a little bit better and react to those threats."
Cravaack said the U.S. can take Europe's lead, establishing better levels of questioning in airport screening procedures. But he said questioning isn't always enough, citing the example of the man who got through security in Amsterdam with explosives in his underwear.
"The threat level is always there," Cravaack said. "You have to always [at first] go with the most extreme because if somebody slips through, the results could be disastrous."
New screening procedures, which include body scanners and pat downs, have come under fire by travelers who say they are violating their privacy. About 500 body scanners are now being used at 78 U.S. airports, including Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport.
Former Gov. Jesse Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA Monday, asserting that airport body-scans and pat-downs are a violation of his freedoms.
Cravaack said the Transportation Security Administration has to make sure safety isn't compromised.
"We're trying to make it as easy for the general public to get through the screening process and as less invasive as possible," he said.
Cravaack also spoke to MPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday.
(MPR reporter Tom Scheck contributed to this report.)