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NY lawmakers slam TSA proposal to reduce security screenings

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
A proposal from the TSA would end security screenings at 150 small and midsize airports as a way to save more than $100 million a year

Some New York lawmakers are among those criticizing a TSA proposal to allow thousands of passenger a day to board commercial flights at smaller and mid-sized American airports without TSA screening. 

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says scrapping this kind of security would be a disaster waiting to happen. He sent a letter to the TSA administrator asking that current passenger screening be maintained, suggesting the idea risks national security in the post 9-11 world.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) agrees, and expects there will be congressional oversight on this.

"I hope we can have hearings.  I hope we can have a very significant debate about the risks we are running," said Gillibrand.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), chair of the House Homeland Security Transportation subcommittee, is also opposed to the idea, citing security risks, saing this isn’t the time to be pulling back on security.

"Because the bad guys are constantly probing the weakness in our air systems, and their technology is advancing tremendously," said Katko. "It’s not a time to let our guard down. It’s time to get our guard up even further."

Katko said he’s not sure where this proposal originated, coming at a time when more secure technology that takes 3-D pictures during screening is on the way to airports later this year.

"That’s going to get people through quicker. It’s going to make things more secure. And it’s going to be easier for them. It’s going to get to the point where you only have to stop someone if the alarm goes off.  You don’t even have to look at the screen unless the alarm goes off, that’s how good this stuff is.  It’s going to really be a game changer," said Katko.

The proposal is still in preliminary discussion stages.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.