Credit to Buzzflash for the story.
The Transportation and Safety Authority will soon be allowing some items that were banned post-Sept. 11, including small pairs of scissors (4 inches or less) and screwdrivers back on board in carry on items. Later, nail clippers are also mentioned as now being allowed in carry on bags. Sharp knives and boxcutters are still not allowed.
And I think this is well overdue. Not only because it was making travel a bigger headache than it had to be:
"We are opening a lot of bags to take away objects that do not pose a great risk," [TSA Deputy Administrator Kip Hawley] said. "We found that a disproportionate amount of our resources go to line-slowing bag searches directed at objects that do not pose a real threat of taking control of an aircraft."
But also, it is a step in the right direction because it makes a great deal of sense. The reason why 9/11 worked was because it was a surprise. The passengers and crew didn't expect it. And at that, once the passengers on the fourth flight learned from cell phone conversations what was going on, they prevented that flight from reaching its target. In a post-9/11 environment, the idea that a few people could take over a plane with four inch scissors, nail clippers and screwdrivers is ridiculous. Modern crew and passengers are well aware of 9/11 and would not simply sit by and let it happen (in addition to new security measures designed to prevent an unauthorized breach of the cockpit.)
In fact, I was a bit embarrassed that the person speaking out against making these changes is a Democrat:
Congressman Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he will introduce a bill that would roll back the new TSA changes.
"Mohamed Atta and the other September 11 hijackers used box cutters as a weapon to launch their deadly attack against our country," he said. "TSA should not make it easier for future Mohamed Attas to arm themselves with razor sharp objects and bring down a passenger plane."
But Mr. Hawley said truly dangerous objects will still be banned from planes.
"TSA is not removing items like ice picks, box cutters, or knives of any kind from the prohibited list," he said. "Based on our research and analysis, however, I am convinced that the time now spent searching bags for small scissors and tools can be better utilized searching for the far more dangerous threat of explosives."
Just because something is proposed by some Republicans doesn't automatically make it bad. In this case, Mr. Markey, who hopefully simply bit before looking very closely, is wrong.
September 11, 2001 was a horrible day. And it makes sense to take measures to prevent it from happening again. But all too often, the specter of 9/11 has been invoked to justify actions that in fact have very little to do with fighting terrorists and all too often have everything to do with maintaining or gaining control over the American people. This includes provisions in the Patriot Act authorizing the storing of every single email sent in the United States on a government computer (for how long? Given how much the government is averse to getting rid of information, we can assume it's forever), or authorizing Federal agents to search your home while you are not there and without telling you. It also includes the invasion of Iraq, and the announcement that you will need a passport to get into the United States from Canada or Mexico starting in 2008 (which real terrorists always have their paperwork impeccably in order, so this one is aimed more at forcing Americans who cross the border to buy prescription drugs to pay the much higher prices for the same drugs that the same manufacturers charge when they selectively gouge only Americans).