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April 09, 2013

Homeland Dems Refute TSA Explanation of Knife Policy

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Ranking Member of the Transportation Security Subcommittee, and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Member of the Transportation Security Subcommittee, sent a letter to John S. Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), reiterating their chief concern that proper procedures and protocols were not followed when TSA announced its decision to allow passengers to bring certain knives and sports equipment onboard airplanes. This letter, which requests more information from TSA, follows a response from the Administrator to a letter from 133 members of Congress last month expressing serious concern and urging the withdrawal of this change in policy.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on the letter: "The Administrator's response to our inquiry did not address its central concern – that TSA did not consult with appropriate stakeholders when changing this critical policy. The American public deserves to know that established procedures are followed when policies affecting security and safety are created or changed. TSA seems to believe that its primary responsibility is to protect aircrafts from 'catastrophic failure'. This agency, paid for by the American public, must understand that its mission to protect people – passengers and crew."

Congressman Richmond also released the following statement: "I am very concerned about TSA's failure to consult with all stakeholders when it adopted new rules on knives and sports equipment," said Congressman Richmond. "Administrator Pistole's response does little to explain the lack of meaningful engagement of stakeholders and I will continue to raise questions until he fully addresses the committee's concerns. As it stands, I have questions about TSA's commitment to stakeholder input as the agency takes a more risk-based approach to passenger screening."

Congressman Swalwell added the following statement: "TSA's response to our concerns about its new knife policy is shocking in its rejection of reality. Just because new threats exist does not mean old threats disappear. The prohibited items policy shows a disturbing lack of faith in the screening capabilities of our Transportation Security Officers by suggesting they cannot screen for more than one threat at a time. And, I'm baffled that although the Administrator admitted to Congress that he did not sufficiently engage with stakeholders, this most recent letter makes no similar admission and justifies the decision-making process. I plan to continue to work with my colleagues to repeal this policy so air travel remains safe for passengers and crew."

LINK TO LETTER TO TSA

LINK TO ORIGINAL LETTER TO TSA

LINK TO TSA RESPONSE

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Media Contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978
(Richmond) Monique Waters at (202) 225-6636 (Swalwell)
Allison Bormel at (202) 225-5065