The Washington Post

TSA delays relaxing knife policy

The Transportation Security Administration on Monday postponed plans to allow passengers to carry small knives and other prohibited items on board aircraft, changing course on the policy proposal less than three days before it was to take effect.

TSA spokesman David Castelveter said Tuesday that the agency delayed the change “in order to accommodate further input from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC), which includes representatives from the aviation community, passenger advocates, law enforcement experts and other stakeholders.”

The agency has not set a timeline for ending the delay, Castelveter said.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, announced the TSA decision Monday night, encouraging the agency to consult with stakeholders and transportation security officers before making further decisions on prohibited items “so we can have a sensible security policy with stakeholder buy-in.”

“I am pleased that TSA listened to the flying public and the concerns,” Thompson said.

Labor groups that represent security and airline workers had accused the TSA of disregarding the safety of travelers and airline workers with its earlier decision to relax carry-on restrictions.

The rule change would have allowed passengers to carry onto airplanes pocket knives with blades less than 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide.

Critics complained that the TSA had made the decision without consulting stakeholders or the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which has helped develop security policies for the administration in the past.

The TSA said the proposed policy conformed with international standards and would allow agency personnel to focus on finding other items such as explosives, which can turn airplanes into weapons of mass destruction.

A group of 133 congressional lawmakers signed a letter in March urging TSA Administrator John S. Pistole to withdraw his plans for the new knife policy.

Castelveter justified the proposed change in March by saying pocket knives would not enable passengers to break through cockpit doors and take down airplanes. He noted that cockpits have been heavily fortified since four planes were hijacked in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.

Critics have noted that heavily fortified cockpits can stop would-be attackers from reaching pilots, but they don’t prevent travelers from using weapons against each other.

Castelveter said in March that the 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 the 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.”

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

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.