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Senators Ask for IG Probe of TSA’s Decision on Knives

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration, after backing off a move to end the ban on passengers carrying pocket knives onto airplanes, may face an inspector general’s investigation into its decision-making.

The probe was requested by Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards today.

“We write to request that your office closely scrutinize TSA’s process on this critical matter going forward and complete a comprehensive special review before the change is implemented,” Schumer and Murkowski wrote.

The proposed policy change, announced in March and scheduled to take effect tomorrow, was designed to align U.S. rules with those in Europe and better reflect intelligence on active terrorist threats, the agency said. The change would ease restrictions on knives less than 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) long, hockey sticks and golf clubs.

Instead, the agency backed down after protests from flight attendants, executives of Delta Air Lines Inc., AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Inc., air marshals and the union representing airport screeners.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said in an e-mail to employees April 22 that he would delay the implementation indefinitely to consult with the industry and do more training. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday that the policy was being delayed, not reassessed, according to the senators.

“Skeptics might argue that the delay is nothing more than optics,” Schumer and Murkowski wrote. “In light of last week’s terrorist attack in Boston, this simply is an inopportune time to implement new rules that many stakeholders and a large percentage of the traveling public believe will create new dangers in the skies.”

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