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Jack Simpson: Allowing pocket knives on airplanes a dangerous step backward

 

 

Think back to 9/11. Do you remember the news coming over the television? There were four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by Islamist terrorists upon the United States -- in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. The weapons used were hijacked airliners, spray, box cutters and knives. The 19 hijackers died, as did 2,990 innocent people.

So great was the damage that the United States created the Department of Homeland Security and enacted the U.S. Patriot Act to give the government greater power to detain foreign terrorists. Airplane cockpits were reinforced. Sky marshals were assigned to flights. Security was increased and passengers and luggage subjected to greater searches. Everything possible was done to protect the traveling public. Carry a weapon onto an airliner and you were in big trouble.

So wow and holy cow. TSA head John Pistole has announced that beginning in April, it is permissible to carry knives aboard airplanes. He feels reinforced cockpit doors, better intelligence and motivated passengers have made the carry-on rule about pocket knives unnecessary. Is he living on Cloud 9? Flight attendants, sky marshals and some people, just like me, are surprised and confused. Maybe we missed something. Aren't knives just as dangerous as a box cutter or razor blades, which are still illegal to carry on to an airplane? Maybe the pilot is safe behind his reinforced door, but what about passengers and crew?

Suppose a hijacker decides to take command of an airliner. He grabs a crew member, puts a pocket knife to her throat, and begins issuing demands. Is the captain, safe in his cabin, going to sacrifice his crew member rather than follow the demands? Are those motivated passengers going to take a chance that the crew member will not get her throat cut if they take actions? Did it help when airport security neglected to look for knives when screening because it gave them more time to look for bombs and reduced the time it took to go through the detectors? Are passengers and crew to be made more expendable in the interest of saving screening time?

Yes, right after 9/11 we were deeply concerned and we placed more emphasis on airport and public safety. We did not want a repeat of what had happened to us on American soil. We relied on multi-layered security measures to make our aviation system safer. It has worked, so why mess with something that isn't broken? Why take pocket knives out of the safety layer?

Undercover agents just recently smuggled a mock bomb through Newark airport security. This shows we need more, not less, vigilance. Even Sen. Charles Schumer is asking TSA to roll back the decision permitting pocket knives on aircraft. Maybe he cannot see the logic of considering passengers and crew expendable and irrelevant to our safety in the skies. Keep cockpits safe and by all means gather more intelligence, but please do not insist that Americans believe little damage can be done with a weapon as small as a pocket knife. Didn't the 9/11 hijackers prove this claim untrue?

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.

Comments

Newtownqq 1 year, 9 months ago

Hey Jack maybe you can blame OBAMA for this, you seem to think hes the one who is creating all these problems we have!

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Newtownqq 1 year, 9 months ago

Oh Jack there are no such thing as Sky Marshals. Those people you are refering to are United States Air Marshals!

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John 1 year, 9 months ago

Newtownqq, You might want to retract your statement after reading the following. "A sky marshal (also known as air marshal or flight marshal) is an undercover law enforcement or counter terrorist agent on board a commercial aircraft to counter aircraft hijackings. The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) is a United States federal law enforcement agency under the supervision of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)." I'll let you find out on your own what the duties and responsibilities of a U.S. Marshal that serves all three branches of the federal government.

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John 1 year, 9 months ago

I have to agree with Jack on this one. When our leaders don't pay attention to history, that is a problem. When you get sucker punched one time, you always keep your guard up, especially when the enemy still doesn't like you. In the mid 80's, the states of Texas, Oklahoma & Louisana (all 3 signifcant in size & population) went through an economic recession when the oil bust happened - the housing market crashed, values dropped by 25 to 50%, S & L's collapsed, Exxon was in big time financial trouble, people defaulted on their mortgages left & right when the ARM rates kicked in but their income was significantly cut and in many cases to zero, many simply loaded up the moving van at night and drove away. How soon we forget. In the mid 90's Clinton made it possible for everyone to get an American dream and the results were the same, except all but one of the 50 states were affected (that one is North Dakota). Our leaders fell asleep at the wheel one more time - it is easy to do when things are "rocking & rolling" up a N.E. curve adn everyone is in Wonderland. But like the Boy Scouts motto goes - "be prepared". Yep, I lived in Texas, have family that worked for Exxon then and still do, had friends that had to walk away from their home, because of income loss, others did because they were upside down on their mortages. Also, I was a Scout and boxed competitively in HS.

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Newtownqq 1 year, 9 months ago

I stand by what I said John! There is no such thing as a Sky Marshal. The DHS and US Marshal service web site speaks nothing of this. As for your anger towards our leaders who fell alseep is well they seem to always be voted back in! So who are you blaming about walking away from homes? Blame the banks here buddy! An super you were a scout and boxer!

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John 1 year, 8 months ago

Newtonqq, The info I posted on the Sky Marshal is a direct copy & paste job from a reliable source that I found on the 'net. In other words, the term Sky Marshal is just another term for meaning the same thing - i.e. an acronym. I harbor no anger towards anyone but I do have the right to respect or not respect and question the actions of others especially the elected leaders of this country/state/county & city. And it does seem that long term incumbents are beginning to lose their seats.
Certainly, overzealous mortage lenders had a role in the collapse but so did the people that signed the documents - they also did not read and understand the documents they were signing. Especially on all these non traditional mortgage programs - zero interest, etc. And buyers were greedy too they thought they could live in a house for a few years and "flip it' to make some big bucks or went out a got a second mortgage to get some more 'cool" stuff.. History has shown us what goes up will come down - the question is when and when it happens can you handle it. See i had worked & lived through & survived three previous recessions 73/74, 81/82, 91 - what great teachers. Those two activities I was involved in taught me to always "to be prepared and keep my guard up". They served me well.

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