Actually, he does have the latitude, and the duty, as a public employee to say something else, the truth! He could have said something much more realistic, like, "While much has been accomplished in increasing air security, there is still much to be done". I don't think anyone would have felt that such a statement was undermining confidence in the system, and it wouldn't have sounded nearly as self serving.
Just my two cents worth, but I would have a lot more faith in what was said if it even approximated the truth.
"The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity"