Senators call for investigation of TSA knife policy

 

Friday was supposed to be the start of a new airport-security policy that would allow travelers to carry small knives on board airplanes.

Instead, the Transportation Security Administration this week postponed its rule change indefinitely and two senators called for an inspector general to examine the potential consequences of the plan.

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked the Homeland Security inspector general to address a number of concerns, including whether the relaxed standards, which would allow passengers to carry pocketknives with blades up to 2.36 inches long, would subject transportation security officers and travelers to greater harm.

(George Frey/Reuters) (George Frey/Reuters)

Knives have been banned from aircraft in the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The TSA has said its proposal would conform with international standards and allow the agency to focus on other items such as explosives.

The senators also asked the inspector general to examine whether the policy change would lead to uncertainty and delays at checkpoints. They said the TSA planned to train its officers to identify improper knives with a 15-minute video instead of providing them with measuring devices.

“The TSA has argued that this new policy will speed up checkpoint screenings and enable transportation security officers to focus on greater security risks,” their letter said. “We fear that the exact opposite will occur.”

The union that represents transportation-security officers opposed the policy change in a statement earlier this month.

“This decision compromises the safety of TSOs, flight attendants and the flying public for the benefit of the knife industry,” said Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox Sr. “Congress must step in and reverse this misguided policy change.”

Critics of the plan said TSA made the decision without consulting stakeholders or the advisory committee that has helped develop security policies for the agency in the past.

The TSA said it delayed the change this week in order to hear input from stakeholders.

 

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Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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Josh Hicks · April 25, 2013

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