Reps. Janice Hahn, left, and Maxine Waters, both Democrats from Los Angeles,… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)
After months of debate and protest, the Transportation Security Administration said it will indefinitely keep in place a ban on passengers carrying small pocket knives on planes--a ban that began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
TSA chief John Pistole had announced plans two months ago to lift the ban so that airport security officers could focus on bigger threats, such as explosives.
But just days before the TSA planned to lift the ban April 25, Pistole temporarily delayed the action, saying he wanted to consider the comments and concerns of a security panel made up of pilots, flight attendants and other airline workers.
Pistole's plan to lift the ban generated harsh criticism and protest from lawmakers and flight attendants who pointed out that the terrorists who hijacked the jetliners on Sept. 11, 2001, were armed with small blades, among other weapons.
TSA officials have pointed out that since the terrorist attacks, airlines have installed locking reinforced cockpit doors and the TSA has increased the number of armed air marshals on flights, among other security measures.
In a statement Wednesday, the TSA said: "After extensive engagement with the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, law enforcement officials, passenger advocates, and other important stakeholders, TSA will continue to enforce the current prohibited items list."
The decision was described as a victory for safety by the Transport Workers Union, which represents 200,000 workers, including 11,000 flight attendants.
The leadership of TSA "should be commended for taking the advice of flight attendants and other workers at commercial airlines charged with passenger safety," the union said in a statement.
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