TSA administrator: The individual is dangerous, not the object

The TSA administrator said he understands concerns about a proposed policy to allow passengers to carry small knives on planes Photo: TSA.gov

ATLANTA, March 16, 2013 – TSA Administrator John Pistole this week said he understands “concerns” raised by critics of a proposed policy to allow passengers to carry small knives on planes, but he is standing pat.

“It is not the object per se that is dangerous but the individual who intends to use that object to inflict harm that presents the danger,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said in his prepared remarks. Interestingly, that’s an argument opponents of gun control often use when countering pro-gun control arguments.

“Contrary to claims that we would see a rash of assaults on flight attendants and passengers using these items – that simply has not been the case,” Pistole claimed in prepared for an appearance before the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security.

With the change, set to take effect next month, the TSA “will allow knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs as part of their carry-on baggage.”

But, the proposal has seen blowback from a number of groups and individuals, including an association of flight attendants, federal air marshals, members of Congress and the CEO of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

“Since September 12, 2001, there have been zero planes hijacked by terrorists using sharp objects. That number cannot get better, but it can get worse with this new policy,” U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, said in a statement this week. “After questioning TSA Administrator Pistole at the Homeland Security Committee hearing, I am still concerned that this policy endangers passengers and crew, was made without formal consultation with stakeholder groups like flight attendants, pilots and transportation security officers, and will only make the security process lengthier and more cumbersome.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-New York, was a bit more straightforward in his criticism, calling the proposed policy “idiotic.”

“The TSA Administrator’s views on lifting the knife ban are borderline idiotic,” Grimm said in a Friday statement. “We live in a post-9/11 world, and there is no excuse to take liberties when it comes to public safety. As a former federal law enforcement officer, I know firsthand that even a 2” blade can cause very serious harm when used by a trained individual. There is no place for a knife in an airplane cabin; and if one must travel with a knife, it can be checked in a bag.”


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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo jouned The Washington Times Communities in May 2012. He covers travel and Georgia. A marketing professional who never gave up his award-winning journalistic ways, DeFeo revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He also serves as editor of The Travel Trolley.

 

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