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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Deirdre Northrup-RiestererApril 23, 2024

TSA policy change harmless

The Sept. 11 attacks ushered in an era of drastic change in the manner in which Americans travel.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) soon became the frequent flyer’s worst nightmare as the list of items prohibited from carry-on baggage grew longer and the process of clearing security became unnecessarily tedious.

The TSA has recently unveiled a change in policy which allows small knives through security checkpoints and allowed inside the cabins of commercial passenger airplanes.

While continually defended by TSA representatives, this relaxing of policy has sparked yet another debate within the public spectrum.

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Political and business officials have also effectively weighed in, including Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson, who stated in a letter to the TSA “these items have been banned for more than 11 years and will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers.”

Similar to the fiscal cliff, sequester, gay marriage, gun control or any other scary, intimate social issue, the alleviation of restrictions granted by the TSA is becoming a media spectacle with citizens worrying about unrealistic terror plots and influential people concerned about potential gains rather than public interest.

For example: almost two months after the villainous attack on American soil on Sept. 11, a devout follower of Osama Bin Laden by the name of Richard Reid boarded an American Airlines flight with martyrdom on his mind.

His shoes had been secretly retrofitted with explosives and an ignition.

On a flight destined for Miami, Reid was fully intending on taking the 197 lives aboard the flight including his own with the simple detonation of his shoe. Reid was subdued and dispensed safely to authorities by passengers. Rightfully, the TSA issued strict policies mandating shoe screening at security checkpoints for people of all ages.

Anybody accustomed to flying will testify to the time-intensive process that is the act of removing one’s shoes while feverishly trying to catch a flight.

Compounding the potential for shoe bombings, the TSA has increased the risk of flying by allowing citizens 75 and older to also travel through security stations without a thorough screening of their shoes and light jackets.

It has yet to be seen, but the amount of terror plots executed through footgear explosives will most likely remain low even with the increased number of kids and elderly people with un-scanned shoes and light jackets onboard airplanes.

Including other previously banned items, the change in policy allows for passengers to carry onto airplanes knives with non-fixed, non-locking blades that measure no longer than six centimeters and no more than a half-an-inch wide.

John Pistole, administrator of the TSA, realized there are much bigger and more legitimate threats than small knives. In a statement to ABC News, Pistole indicated “I have to make sure that TSA’s focus is on those things that are most destructive to the aircraft. It is not pocket knives. It is those non-metallic improvised explosive devices, bombs that are very small. They are concealable and they are well designed.”

Allowing children, the elderly and those with small knives on planes is not dangerous.

Neither reversal in policy poses any clear and present danger to air travel.

Aside from a few select cases used to quell the public into conformity, the threat of a terrorist attack executed with only a pocket knife is not worthy of concern from the public, any politician or the media.

If American policy were designed to prevent every potential threat to public safety, we would be living in a disarrayed mess of zealous politics with little-to-no personal freedoms.

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