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Transportation Stupidity Administration — Part III March 17, 2013

Posted by federalist in Transportation.

Apparently bureaucratic stupidity is contagious: A bunch of industry leaders are upset and scared that the TSA is letting commercial airline passengers carry some small knives and sticks onto planes.

When I first heard about this policy I just tweeted,

Nitpicking: TSA Bureaucrats doing what bureaucrats do best: tsa_permitted_items_update.pdf … #TSA #DontYouFeelSaferNow?”

If there was an objection, I thought, it would be to the fact that the TSA is just compounding rules for no good reason. After all, “Abandon your rights and your property if you want to board a commercial plane” was easy to understand. Then they started enumerating policies and procedures — no liquids, 3-ounce containers, shoes off, laptops out — and it just got more confusing and annoying but we didn’t really get our rights back and we didn’t get any safer.

I never dreamed people would use safety as a premise for objecting to the new TSA allowed list. For reference, this is the pocket knife I routinely flew with throughout the 1990’s, right up until September 11, 2001:


In those halcyon days the rules on carrying knives on planes were similar to those in many metro areas: no restrictions so long as the blade was shorter than 4 inches and it wasn’t spring-loaded. I would drop the knife in the little bin to pass around the metal detector and clip it back in my pocket on the other side. I only remember one time a security screener took the time to open it and measure the blade against the width of her palm to ensure it wasn’t too long.

I’ve made this point before but apparently it hasn’t sunk in: Knives in the hands of airplane passengers were never an extraordinary threat, but for two hours on the morning of 9/11 during which they were incidental in a ruse to turn heavy aircraft into weapons of mass destruction. As soon as the ruse was discovered it could never be repeated. Any future attempt to use a heavy commercial plane as a weapon will have to overcome overwhelming obstacles: A fortified cockpit door, armed pilots trained to resist cockpit incursions, and a flying public that now realizes any violent actors could be suicidal fanatics who should be stopped at any cost, not placated.



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