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Alaska's Kuspuk Becomes Part of TSA Debate

March 22, 2012|By Ted Land | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) made an interesting remark this week on Capitol Hill about Alaska, the Transportation Security Administration and the kuspuk -- the loose, often colorful, traditional Alaska Native shirt.

She said during a Senate hearing that security screeners should be more culturally sensitive, and she brought up the kuspuk as an example. Murkowski said the TSA recently asked her to remove her kuspuk before a flight, because it was too bulky.

“It’s not a little bulky, you can pull it back and the bulk is gone,” she remarked to TSA Administrator John Pistole, who was testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.

Murkowski says she never got a good explanation from screeners about how they deal with cultural fashion differences, like the kuspuk.

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The TSA is in the process of moving away from a broad security model, in place since9/11, and transitioning to policies that are more targeted and identify the passengers they see as more likely to be a threat.

"The challenge has become as terrorists have evolved, we have to be able to stay at least a step ahead of them,” said Pistole.

Murkowski's point is that some people cannot easily remove their kuspuks in public, because they wear them like a T-shirt or blouse with nothing underneath. It's an example, Muskowski says, of how TSA policies should not be one-size-fits-all.

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