Written by Robin Berger
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Topics: Washington, Security

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

image for TSA imposes "5-day waiting period" on flyers
Space crews must book flights five days in advance. "We don't want shuttles getting blown up by terrorists," a TSA spokesman said.

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Transportation Security Agency announced it will impose more airline restrictions following the terrorist threat in the United Kingdom. Beginning immediately, all passengers will be required to wait five days before traveling.

"Travelers must wait five days after buying a ticket before they can board an airplane," TSA spokesman Kip Hawley explained. "The purpose of this is to prevent terrorism by giving the purchaser a chance to 'cool off,' rather than potentially boarding an aircraft in a fit of anger or rage. Too many terrorist acts are completed within hours of a ticket purchase."

The waiting period will be applied to all domestic and international flights. "The September 11th hijackers boarded domestic planes," Hawley recalled. "Had a waiting period been in effect, the attack would have been foiled until September 16th. We could have completely evacuated the World Trade Center and the Pentagon during that 120-hour window. Thousands of lives would have been saved."

The new restriction caught some travelers off guard, including Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. "I was not allowed to take a flight because my ticket was only three days old," she told reporters. But she said that TSA's refusal to let her board an aircraft may have saved lives. "I often want to throttle the passengers sitting near me," she admitted. "And God knows I wanted to accost that TSA official who ejected me from the airport. There's no telling what I might have done if I'd been allowed on a plane."

McKinney went on to praise TSA's new waiting period. "It gives me time to reflect on my abusive behavior toward my fellow human beings," she told reporters. "I pray all potential terrorists will follow my example."

TSA's new waiting period also caught Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by surprise. "Israel's prime minister asked her to fly out to negotiate a cease-fire in Lebanon," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "But that's just not possible. Dr. Rice has to wait like everyone else before catching a flight on Air Force One."

Snow assured reporters that Israel's government "understands the necessity" of the TSA waiting period. "If five more days without a cease-fire saves one air passenger's life, then it's worth it."

Hawley insists TSA will impose the five-day delay for as long as possible. "Termination of this 'cooling off' period could lead to a sharp increase in aircraft hijackings and bombings," he said. "America cannot afford to take that chance."

Hawley added that a five-day waiting period "will also give TSA officials the time they need to run adequate background checks" on every air traveler. "Waiting periods combined with background checks could potentially stop 250,000 terrorists from buying airline tickets by the end of this decade. That's 157 terrorists a day."

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