An Open Letter From Betty Ong’s Brother – April 4, 2013
Administrator of the United States Transportation Security Administration
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
March 31, 2013
Dear Mr. Pistole,
My name is Harry Ong, Jr. and I am the brother of Betty Ann Ong, an AA flight attendant who was killed while working flight 11 on September 11th.
It deeply disturbs me that you have proposed to discontinue the policy of not searching and confiscating knives less than 2.36 inches long at the airport’s security checkpoints. Mr. Pistole, you have explained that the proposed change is necessitated because “the two to three minute practice of finding the roughly 2,000 small knives the TSA finds daily ‘time consuming.” I find that this statement is totally reprehensible and utterly senseless. For example, a trained and skilled terrorist or mentally challenged person can easily take down any innocent person and sever the carotid artery with a razor-like sharpened “allowed” knife. (We must not forget that a highly trained and skilled Israeli special forces passenger on board AA Flight 11 sitting in first class was killed by a terrorist(s) with a box cutter or knife as the first passenger casualty and two flight attendants were stabbed.) We must realize that a knife of any size is an intimidation factor that can render a flight’s personnel and it’s passengers in horror and in a helpless state of mind given the violent mental state of the attacker(s). The TSA policy of not allowing ‘box cutters’ which can have an even shorter blade length than the proposed ‘knife’ length is totally illogical. An ‘allowed’ knife can be deviously sharpened to be razor-like.
The TSA’s proposed boarding allowance of “novelty baseball bats” and “sports equipment” such as lacrosse sticks, pool and hockey sticks, and ski poles is equally reprehensible. For example, can a disguised “sharpened” metal ski pole not be used as a spear?
Mr. Pistole, let me emphasize that another “Rest In Peace” is one too many if your proposal becomes reality and results in airplane fatalities because the current policy is “time consuming.”
We must all remember that there were four planes that were hijacked on September 11th, 2001 and not just one plane. Let us not forget that airport security had totally failed us on that eventful day. We must maintain our air security vigilance with full force and effect and not let our guards down for one moment. If anything, there should be an increase in TSA enforcement and oversight at the security checkpoints and not a decrease. The world has accepted that airport security screening and baggage checking is a fact of life when flying. Airline safety, human lives, and the security of our nation is more important than a few minutes saved.
Harry Ong, Jr.
AmericanAirlines + US Airways
APFA National Communications Coordinator