Op-Ed: Disarming Pilots - Plane Foolish

by Tracy W. Price

In response to the 9/11 attacks, many airline pilots have been trained, deputized as federal law-enforcement officers and armed since 2003. Now the Obama administration wants to gut the program with a 50 percent cut in funding.

In defense of the cut, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently told Congress the program is not "risk based," that pilots aren't the last line of defense and that we can trust the cockpit door to keep us safe.

Sorry: If we're going to cut $12 million from air security, there are much better places to go. This program is efficient, effective and cheap.

...Terrorists and security experts know there's no such thing as an impenetrable door. Armor will slow break-ins, but it's foolish to blithely assume that it will stop them.

Most ridiculous is Napolitano's claim that she wants to move to a "risk based" system. This, from the woman who has under her wing the Transportation Security Administration — which regularly targets grandmothers in wheelchairs and 4-year-olds afraid to leave their mothers' side for government searches. Meanwhile, the TSA "system" allowed the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber onto planes.

The administration's cuts — which are focused on the training programs — would likely reduce the number of armed pilots by more than half. We'd be far better off trimming the TSA behemoth. This doesn't look like "risk-based" budgeting but the same ideology that disarmed pilots in the first place.

Arming airline pilots is effective, safe and extremely inexpensive. How many government programs can make that claim?

Click here to read the entire op-ed at The New York Post.

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