WASHINGTON – The head of the agency responsible for airport security, facing protests from travelers and pressure from the White House, appeared to give ground Sunday on his position that there would be no change in policies regarding invasive passenger screening procedures.

Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole said in a statement that the agency would work to make screening methods “as minimally invasive as possible” while still providing security.

The statement came just hours after Pistole, in a TV interview, said that while the full-body scans and pat-downs could be intrusive and uncomfortable, the high threat level required their use. “No, we’re not changing the policies,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Pistole said that, as in all nationwide security programs, “there is a continual process of refinement and adjustment to ensure that best practices are applied.”

Still, he gave no indication that screening changes were imminent, and pointed to the alleged attempt by a Nigerian with explosives in his underwear to try to bring down an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight last Christmas. “We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary,” Pistole said, “but that just isn’t the case.”

In his earlier TV appearance, Pistole appeared to shrug off statements by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the agency would look for ways to alter screening techniques that some passengers say are invasions of privacy.

Obama said in Lisbon on Saturday that he had asked TSA officials whether there’s a less intrusive way to ensure travel safety.

“I understand people’s frustrations,” he said, adding that he had told the TSA that “you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety.”

Clinton, appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said she thought “everyone, including our security experts, are looking for ways to diminish the impact on the traveling public.”

She, for one, wouldn’t like to submit to a security pat-down.

“Not if I could avoid it. No. I mean, who would?” Clinton told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview broadcast Sunday.

“Clearly it’s invasive, it’s not comfortable,” Pistole said of the scans and pat-downs during the TV interview.

But, he added, “if we are to detect terrorists, then we have to do something that prevents that.”

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. who is set to become Transportation Committee chairman when Republicans take over the House told CNN: “I don’t think the rollout was good and the application is even worse. This does need to be refined.”