Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) expressed opposition to the Transportation Security Administration's recent decision to allow passengers to bring knives and sporting equipment on planes. She delivered remarks at a press conference at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) organized by the Association of Flight Attendants. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
"On September 11, 2001, our lives were changed forever! We will never forget the horror of that day! We will never forget how a small group of terrorists used knives and box cutters to take over four commercial airplanes, attack the passengers and crew, turn the planes into guided missiles, and use them to kill people on the ground. We will never forget the lives that were lost, and we will never forget how our whole nation united together in the face of such unimaginable evil.
In the aftermath of these deadly attacks, Congress passed the Aviation Transportation Security Act, which established the Transportation Security Administration or TSA. TSA consists of a trained, professional workforce of federal employees who are responsible for screening airline passengers and protecting the security of our nation's commercial airlines. Congress also acted quickly to provide TSA with the authority and resources it needed to ensure the security of the American flying public.
TSA's recent decision to change the list of prohibited items to allow passengers to bring knives and sporting equipment onboard planes defies logic. This new policy is unlikely to contribute to air travel security or efficiency. Instead, it will probably cause unnecessary delays at airport security checkpoints, while Transportation Security Officers inspect each individual knife to determine whether it exceeds the maximum size. It would be far more efficient to continue the current policy, which bars all knives.
TSA apparently made this decision without any formal consultation with the people who would be most impacted by the decision -- pilots, flight attendants, and air marshals. These are the people who are most likely to come into contact with a person who brings a weapon onboard an airplane. Indeed, these people are our nation's first line of defense against another deadly terrorist attack like 9-11.
The Flight Attendant Union Coalition, the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association have all announced their opposition to this new policy.
TSA needs to reevaluate this policy. TSA needs to consult with the stakeholders who will be impacted by its decision. TSA needs to use appropriate channels, such as the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC), to consult with the flight crewmembers and air marshals who will be impacted by the policy. TSA needs to go back to the drawing board!
I represent LAX. LAX is in my congressional district. LAX is the sixth busiest airport in the world and third in the United States. LAX offers more than 600 daily flights to 91 American cities. In 2011, LAX served more than 61 million passengers, processed more than 1.8 million tons of air cargo, and handled more than 600,000 landings and takeoffs. The safety and security of the people who work in and pass through LAX is of paramount importance.
"I urge TSA to keep knives and sporting equipment on the list of prohibited items and consult with all stakeholders before making any changes to this critical list."