The plan wasn’t all that unreasonable, but supporters and opponents of the policy change agree that, in the end, the effort didn’t have a chance, thanks to some serious political missteps by its own supporters.
First, we’re told that the leading knife manufacturers — Victorinox Swiss Army and Leatherman, which had invested several hundred thousand dollars in a lobbying effort, including about $300,000 in 2008 and 2009, according to congressional reports — wanted TSA to allow smaller key-chain knives, not necessarily the larger 2.36-inch blades that the Europeans allow and the TSA had planned to approve.
Then, after TSA chief
announced the new policy in March, his predecessor, Kip Hawley, told CNN the agency should have gone further than just allowing small knives, golf clubs, hockey sticks and such.
“They ought to let everything on that is sharp and pointy,” Hawley said. “Battle axes, machetes . . . bring anything you want that is pointy and sharp, because while you may be able to commit an act of violence, you will not be able to take over the plane. It is as simple as that,” he said.
Needless to say, the flight attendants didn’t think it was that simple. In fact, they went ballistic.
And it didn’t help that other manufacturers announced new pocketknife designs, which bloggers picked up and touted as “The most deadly TSA-compliant knife you can get.”
Oh, great. This move was a goner even before the House threatened a vote to block it. So the TSA pulled the plug.
The biggest losers, aside from the knife manufacturers, were golfers and hockey and lacrosse players. Some Loop Fans speculated that the old policy favored the companies: Owners of TSA-seized knives might just buy new ones.
It turns out, a knowledgeable source said, that the existing policy “depressed sales” because the TSA would auction off the confiscated knives at a much-reduced price.
Since many knives come with a “fix it free for life” guarantee, we’re told the new buyers would then simply send in the knives to get virtually new ones.
And the old policy only briefly inconvenienced
Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” movies. TSA screeners at the Denver airport briefly stopped the 7-foot-2-inch actor as he tried to board a plane for a trip home to Texas last week because his cane was made to look like a light saber.
Officials said it was suspiciously heavy, but, upon inspection, they let him board after a few minutes.
You had to be there
Director of National Intelligence
has been under a lot of pressure, with revelations of U.S. intelligence-gathering programs turning into a massive scandal and scrutiny from the Hill about what he told Congress about them.