WASHINGTON, March 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole on Thursday defended his agency's decision to allow knives on board airplanes, saying focus should be on threats from explosives.
The decision would help security screeners focus on the "highest threat items, such as non-metallic improvised explosive devices, those underwear bombs, other liquid bombs that can bring down an aircraft," Pistole told NBC television.
The agency announced last week that travelers will be allowed to bring small knives and some other once-prohibited sporting equipment in their carry-on luggage. The change will take effect on April 25, which marks the first loosening of restrictions for carry-ons since the terrorist attacks on Sep. 11, 2001.
However, the agency has been under fire after the announcement. The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants at carriers nationwide, blasted the change for endangering passengers and crew members outside the cockpit. Some lawmakers also pressed the agency to reconsider.
Pistole is scheduled to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee later Thursday.