Senator John Kerry Official Press Release; TSA "a Mistake" Admission and Cancellation of Its Plan Be
Fearful that fewer air marshals might travel on cross-country flights into San Francisco, Senator Boxer told reporter Edward Epstein of the San Francisco Chronicle that she had offered to send the TSA a list of hotels near San Francisco International Airport where air marshals could book rooms for well under $100 a night. In a discussion with Senator Schumer, DHS Assistant Secretary of Border & Transportation Asa Hutchinson also admitted the plan to remove air marshals from nonstop, long distance flights was "a mistake":
' said it was a mistake,' said Schumer.
TSA Spokesman, Robert Johnson, also released a statement that its plan was "premature and a mistake."
U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts told the Wall Street Journal that President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy caused the TSA to consider implementing the plan:
I am deeply disappointed to learn that George W. Bush has compromised our Nations security by proposing to cut the number of air marshals at the very time that his Administration is highlighting a new threat from al-Qaida to use commercial aircraft in suicide bombings. That is illogical, irresponsible, and an ill-conceived notion of how to protect the American people.
...George W. Bush should exercise some leadership here and immediately order his appointees to restore the air marshals to the flights which need them most.
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney of New York issued a press release on her official congressional website:
One day its taking air marshals off the flights to avoid hotel costs at Motel 6, the next its holding back on training for them to do their jobs, all in the name of cost-cutting. I don't know what to expect next - they'll probably make air marshals fly stand-by. It's clear that they are playing a shell game with homeland security programs. It is essential that they tell us which programs are next to be cut. We shouldn't have to wake up one day to find out that airliners, ports, cargo or any other targets are unguarded because they have decided to cut the programs.
Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jim Turner, and James Langevin together issued press releases about their letter to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge:
Congressman Bill Pascrell:
AIR MARSHAL DECISION AN ABOMINATION: The sheer idiocy of this determination is mind blowing. Only four days ago the TSA issued an urgent memo to all U.S. airlines and airport security managers detailing very specific intelligence related to hijacking and suicide missions by terrorists this summer. So now is a good time to pull air marshals from cross-country flights. The four planes hijacked on September 11th were all scheduled cross-country flights. Couple this knowledge with the new intelligence warnings-the most specific to date-about current hijacking plots, and there is absolutely no excuse for the TSA to scale back security.
Congressman James Langevin:
"As reports of potential terrorist attacks on commercial airliners surface, homeland security officials should be strengthening the air marshal program, not weakening it. We cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to protecting the safety of Americans. At a time of heightened alert, the thought of curbing the air marshal program to save costs on overnight hotel stays is absurd. Your statement today that 'every air marshal is being deployed' does not answer the question of whether air marshals are being removed from flights that would result in overnight hotel stays. We note that such flights would typically be cross-country routes, like those hijacked on September 11.
Congressman Hal Rogers (Republican) of Kentucky told Fox News:
The Federal Air Marshal program is absolutely critical to fighting terrorism and keeping the flying public safe. Given new warnings from DHS about possible hijacking attempts, it is foolish to even consider cutting back the number of air marshals on commercial flights.
U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina:
The word came categorically down from the White House they've got a scheme and a plan on course, 'Let's cut the taxes, cut the taxes, cut the taxes,' and then to sort of make it look legitimate, cut all spending.
Read more about this topic: Robert Mac Lean
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