The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

March 6, 2013

New TSA rules on knives draw fire from 9/11 families

NEW YORK — Some family members of victims killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks said Wednesday that they are outraged by the Transportation Security Administration's decision to let passengers carry pocketknives on planes.

TSA Administrator John Pistole announced Tuesday that airline passengers will be able to carry pocketknives with blades less than 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide. Souvenir baseball bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment also will be permitted starting next month.

The agency said the policy aligns the U.S. with international standards and allows the TSA to concentrate on more serious safety threats.

Unions representing flight attendants and other airline workers decried the change, and several relatives of people killed when terrorists hijacked four U.S. airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, criticized the move as well.

"I'm flabbergasted," said Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son was killed at the World Trade Center. "I'm really disgusted by this latest news."

Regenhard said she recently had a container of yogurt confiscated by the TSA because it was a gel. "I'm just wondering why a yogurt is more dangerous than a penknife or a golf club," she said.

Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, said a pocketknife can be just as deadly as a box cutter, like the ones the hijackers used. Box cutters will still be banned under the new rules.

"When you're drawing a blade against someone's neck, they're quite lethal," Burlingame said. "This is bad news."

Burlingame said Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told interrogators that the hijackers each used "a Swiss knife," a brand of pocketknife, to butcher a sheep and a camel as part of their training. The transcript of the 2003 interrogation was part of the 9/11 Commission Report.

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