Later this week, on the 25th of April, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was all set to adjust its list of prohibited items allowed to be carried into an aircraft cabin, including small pocket knives, golf clubs and certain types of bats, however these changes have now been delayed.
In an e-mail from TSA Administrator John Pistole to the 50,000+ employees of the Transportation Security Administration, Pistole states he met with the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) earlier in the day and as a result has “decided to temporarily delay implementing the Prohibited Items List changes originally scheduled to take effect on April 25th.”
While the TSA has taken a lot of flack from certain industry groups regarding the changes to the Prohibited Items List, the rationale for the delay is one that makes little sense. Pistole’s internal memo to TSA employees states, “Last week’s events in Boston underscore our continued focus on explosive devices and Transportation Security Officer training will continue to emphasize the detection of these and other evolving threats that pose danger to aircraft.”
While the domestic terrorist act this past week in Boston was a blow to the safety and security of the United States, nothing involved in that incident involved a pocketknife, miniature baseball bat or golf club. The TSA’s continued focus on explosive devices is great, it should be a primary concern … but there is not a threat advisory from anyone warning of exploding non-locking non-molded pocketknives, incendiary golf clubs or detonating baseball bats (although Wiffle Ball Bats are hollow …)
As I have said many times before, the TSA has a challenging job. The TSA’s Mission Statement, “Protect the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce,” is a complex job. That said, the TSA’s job should be on security, not making public relations driven and politically motivated statements and adjustments. Nothing in the past week impacts the TSA; nothing in the past week indicates any new threat is on the horizon for the TSA regarding items allowed in the cabin, including the ones that would be allowed as of the 25th of April.
If Administrator Pistole and the ASAC want to delay the changes in prohibited items, that is their prerogative, however they should not blame a completely unrelated incident that not only involved none of the items being adjusted on the prohibited list, but none of the items being adjusted on the prohibited list could have played a role in the make shift bombs that blew up near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
The vast majority of travelers have a confidence problem when it comes to the TSA. These types of comments from the top of the TSA’s food chain do nothing to strengthen the confidence that the agency and its leadership are in touch with reality.
I think the TSA should consider banning tighty-whitie underwear since that is what Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was wearing when he attempted to carry out a terrorist plot to blow up Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day in 2009 … it actually makes more sense than this sudden reversal to a planned change in policy.