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TSA delays knife policy set to begin Thursday


(John Moore/Getty Images) (John Moore/Getty Images)

The Transportation Security Administration has postponed its plan to allow passengers to carry small knives and other prohibited items on board aircraft starting Thursday.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, announced the TSA decision on Monday night.

Thompson encouraged the TSA to seek input from stakeholders and consult with transportation-security officers before making further decisions on prohibited items “so we can have a sensible security policy with stakeholder buy-in.”

Labor groups that represent security and airline workers accused the agency of disregarding the safety of travelers and workers when the agency announced its decision in March to relax carry-on restrictions.

In Congress, a group of 133 lawmakers signed a letter a letter urging TSA Administrator John S. Pistole to withdraw his plans for the new knife policy. The change would have allowed passengers to carry pocketknives with blades under 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide.

“I am pleased that TSA listened to the flying public and the concerns,” Thompson said of the agency’s reversal on Monday.

TSA spokesman David Castelveter justified his agency’s position in March by saying that knife-wielding passengers could never break through cockpit doors, which are required to be heavily fortified since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Critics pointed out that heavily fortified cockpits wouldn’t stop travelers from using weapons against each other.

Castelveter said in March that TSA’s primary mission is to “stop a terrorist from bringing down an airplane,” and that traveler safety is only a “tangential or residual benefit of the things we do.”

Thompson criticized TSA’s stance in April, saying in a statement: “This agency, paid for by the American public, must understand that its mission is to protect people — passengers and crew.”


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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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