Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano disrespected Federal Flight Deck Officers (armed pilots) during a hearing yesterday in testimony presented to the House Homeland Security Committee. Sec. Napolitano showed a lack of knowledge about the program in addition to an intent to kill it over the next few years. The testimony yesterday provides further evidence of "President Obama's Plan to Kill Armed Pilots Program."
Representative Chip Cravaack (R-MN) a former commercial airline pilot and Federal Flight Deck Officer, asked Napolitano some tough questions at the hearing. If you look at the evidence of the Obama Aministration's proposed 50% cut in funding for the program and the comments of Secretary Napolitano yesterday, one can only conclude that this administration has marked the armed pilots program for elimination over the next few years. Expect no armed pilots if President Obama is allowed a second term.
Rep. Cravaack estimated that it costs the American public about $15 dollars to cover each flight with an armed pilot. That is a cost effective means to provide national security. The Congressman also argue that armed pilots pay more out of pocket than they receive in the value of training. FFDOs are patriotic Americans who are volunteering their own time to protect our skies. And the DHS thanks them with a massive cut to the FFDO's budget.
Napolitano argued that the FFDOs are not "risk based." What does the Secretary consider risk based?
Maybe a pat down of 3 year olds as reported by Fox in Tampa Bay, Florida?
The cell phone video, taken by a Houston television reporter, shows his 3-year-old daughter crying and screaming as an official from the Transportation Security Administration tries to conduct a pat-down at the airport in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Or maybe it is risk based to ask 90 year olds to take off adult diapers according to Time's NewsFeed?
Jean Weber of Destin, Florida filed a complaint with federal authorities last week alleging that security officials forced her 95-year-old mother to remove her adult diaper as part of a security pat-down at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport. “It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” Weber told the Northwest Florida Daily News on June 24. “Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this.”
Or maybe it is risk based to force extra screening on the most dangerous of Americans, members of the United States Senate (from Politico)?
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was blocked from boarding a flight Monday by the Transportation Security Administration in Nashville, Tenn., after refusing a full body pat-down, POLITICO has confirmed. “I spoke with him five minutes ago and he was being detained indefinitely,” Paul spokesperson Moira Bagley said. “The image scan went off; he refused patdown.”
This means that the Department of Homeland Security is relying on a trust based system. They want you to trust them to weigh the risk and to figure out the most risky passengers and flights. They want this trust notwithstanding the fact that they completely botched the attack by the "underwear bomber." They also want to jettison a program that has proven to work. There is no rational reason to kill the program.
When asked by Rep. Cravaack if Sec. Napolitano believes that the FFDO to be the last line of defense, she responded with the following:
The reduction for the Federal Flight Officer Program is predicate on the fact that it is not risk based. And to have an FFDO just, you know, whether somebody is on a flight or not and we are moving in the TSA to risk based systems and those are the ones we are going to put money into.
Rep. Cravaack then asked again if an FFDO was the last line of defense against terrorism. Sec. Napolitano tried to dodged the question again then responded that there are "many layers of defense before people even get a ticket and one of the things I continue to emphasise is the checkpoint at the gate that has caused some concern is only one of many other layers." Then came the zinger from the Secretary to armed pilots.
Rep. Cravaack - Is a Federal Flight Deck Officer the last line of defense for our travelling public?
Sec. Napolitano - I think the armed cockpit door actually is.
There is no such thing as an "armed cockpit door." The Secretary must mean a reinforced cockpit door, but to say that an armed pilot is not a last line of defense is disrespectful to all the commercial airline pilots who are volunteering their time today to protect the cockpit from attack.
When further asked if it was Sec. Napolitano's intention to phase out armed pilots, the Secretary said "I think as the budget request shows, it is our intention to reduce it. Yes." The Secretary admitted that they want to reduce it and wind down the program.
The FFDO program is under attack by the Obama Administration. Hopefully, Rep. Cravaack and other allies of the program can save the program from attack by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Congress has the ultimate authority to either fund or not fund the program. The flying public is not served well by an administration driven more by an animus to guns than a concern about aviation security.