Sen. Charles Schumer Sunday criticized the Transportation Security Administration's decision to allow small knives on airplanes, noting the "very small knives used by Mohammed Atta and other hijackers on 9/11."
"What the heck is the TSA doing?" Schumer asked at a news conference at his Manhattan office. "They ought to immediately repeal this rule."
TSA Administrator John Pistole announced recently that the agency would allow small knives, blades, small baseball bats, toy bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks, ski poles, lacrosse sticks and billiard cues to be carried onboard airplanes.
Last week, a TSA spokesman told reporters that the new rule allows the agency to focus on searching for explosives. The agency didn't immediately respond to emails and calls asking for comment Sunday.
Schumer held up a shampoo bottle and an X-Acto knife and said that he had a hard time understanding how the TSA considers the small blade less dangerous than liquid personal care products, which remain banned in containers over certain volumes. "Everyone is befuddled," Schumer said.
The Association of Flight Attendants, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Delta CEO Richard Anderson and others have urged the TSA to reconsider the new rule, which is scheduled for implementation on April 25.
Schumer said that if the TSA didn't reinstate the ban on small knives before then, he would consider legislative action, which he expects to have broad bipartisan support.
"Very few people call my office complaining that they can't take knives on an airplane," said Schumer.