Murkowski: Knives on Planes Add to Delays, Make Skies Less Safe

Senator Asks TSA to Rethink Allowing Knives on Planes, Wait for Inspector General’s Report

WASHINGTON, D.C — On the heels of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano telling Senator Lisa Murkowski that she believes the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to permit small knives on planes is inevitable despite its present delay, Murkowski joined her colleague Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to urge the DHS Inspector General to scrutinize and investigate the policy change, considering their numerous concerns.  Chief among the Senators concerns are new security risks in the sky, delays given the screening and decision-making surrounding measuring blade length, and inconsistencies in how the policy is enforced.

Their request (via attached letter) follows the recent TSA decision to begin allowing knife blades of 2.36 inches or smaller onto planes, despite harsh criticism and opposition industry-wide, from major airlines to law enforcement.  While the policy change was set to take place Thursday, April 25th, the TSA announced an indefinite delay on implementation on April 22nd.   In recent Senate testimony, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano informed Murkowski that she believes that the delay doesn’t “reopen” the issue of whether knives should be permitted on planes, but just creates more time to train TSA employees in implementing the policy.

(Senator Murkowski asks about knives on planes, revisiting the policy change – Click to watch)

In their letter, the Senators write:

“The TSA has argued that this new policy will speed up checkpoint screenings and enable TSOs to focus on greater security risks. We fear that the exact opposite will occur.  We are quite concerned at the prospect that checkpoint screenings slow to a crawl as TSOs and passengers disagree over the length or width of knives or knives which do not meet policy. It is our understanding the TSOs would not be provided with measuring tools to quickly determine whether or not a knife is acceptable. Instead, they would simply rely on 15 minute of training during which they would view pictures of acceptable and unacceptable knives. Based upon those 15 minutes of training TSOs would be expected make a judgment on acceptability of knives at the checkpoint.”