Austin terrorism expert not worried about TSA pocketknife rule


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 7 at 11:25 AM

AUSTIN -- After more than 10 years of having to leave the pocket knife at home or check it, fliers will get to bring them on-board starting April 25.

It will be a welcome change for business travelers who don't check luggage, like Billy Billimoria of Austin. He says he likes to bring his along to open wine bottles and such. He doesn't see a terrorism threat.

"If somebody wants to really do it, even something less lethal than pocket knives can harm," said Billimoria.

Every month at the 20 largest airports in the country, four tons of knives are confiscated.

Some travelers aren't sure what to make of the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) changes announced Tuesday.

"I was surprised that they allowed the knives because they've just been for so long saying 'no knives, nothing sharp,'" said Veda White.

The move will actually conform to international flight rules, which currently allow the small knives and sports equipment on board.

Fred Burton is vice president of intelligence at Austin-based Stratfor. He is one of the world's foremost authorities on security and terrorism.

"I think the likelihood of these small little revisions would cause an aircraft to be high jacked is highly remote," Burton said. "I think it's very reasonable and measured with the change."

Though he says don't expect to bring liquids through security anytime soon.

"The challenge with liquids is the ability if you were an enterprising terrorist to cobble together some in-fight kind of incendiary in the case I worked with Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing," Burton said.

Burton said Yousef used a baby doll that would secrete an explosive device.

He said you have to deal it down to probability, so you take out certain kinds of substances, like liquids, that could be used in some sort of format that could mask an explosive.

However, the Flight Attendants Union Coalition blasted the decision to allow knives in a statement:
"As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure."

Starting April 25, passengers will be allowed to carry pocket knives with blades no bigger
than 2.36 inches and a half-inch wide.

Up to two golf clubs, ski poles, and sticks for hockey, lacrosse, and billiards will also be allowed along with wiffle ball bats and souvenir baseball bats less than two feet long.

Regular baseball bats, razor blades, and box cutters will all still be banned.