Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2003

Plan to cut funds for air marshals decried

July 31, 2003

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— A suicide hijacking warning led the government to ask airlines to watch out for certain foreigners just days after it asked for cuts in the air marshal program that was boosted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Lawmakers from both parties said they would block any effort to reduce funding for air marshals.

The Transportation Security Administration asked Congress last Friday for permission to cut $104 million, or about 20 percent, of the funding for the air marshal program to help offset the agency's $900 million budget deficit.

The next day, Homeland Security -- the TSA's parent agency -- sent an advisory to airlines and law enforcement agencies warning al-Qaida may try more suicide hijackings. On Monday, the TSA directed U.S. airlines to immediately begin more intensive screening of travelers flying out of a foreign airport into the United States, then connecting to another foreign destination.

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