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Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano Thanks TSA Employees; Pistole Says Planned Protests Could Have 'Negative Effect'

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Transportation Security Administration(WASHINGTON) -- As the controversy over the Transportation Security Administration's enhanced screening continues, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sent a message to all TSA employees to personally thank them for their work during the holiday rush.

The message obtained by ABC News that was sent Tuesday afternoon to employees stated, "The threats we face in the aviation sector are real and evolving, and we are meeting them with a strong and dynamic response. Serving on the front lines, you ensure safe and efficient travel for the millions of people who rely on our aviation system every day."

Following the increased public scrutiny the TSA has received in recent days, even getting the attention of a Saturday Night Live skit, Napolitano bucks up the TSA officers and employees, writing in her note, "Time and again, the men and women of TSA have demonstrated poise and professionalism. Travelers and the public realize that your job is difficult and demanding. This holiday season, I am confident you will again demonstrate your commitment to ensuring the safety of the traveling public to everyone who passes through an airport security checkpoint."

In an interview with ABC News, TSA Administrator John Pistole urged the public to build in some more time to their schedule to accommodate security. The TSA chief also expressed his concern about  possible protests, saying, "If I was a traveler I would have significant concerns about it because it’s unpredictable. So I would make sure I get to the airport on time, that I don’t miss my flight," Pistole said. "Our security checkpoints are fully staffed and we’re ready for the normal rush, but if people do opt out in significant numbers it will have a negative effect."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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