Cuba Flights Spark Security Concerns After TSA Admission
One U.S. senator warned of the possibility of 9/11-style attacks on Cuban flights.
Following an admission from the Transportation Security Administration that air marshals have not been allowed to board U.S. commercial flights to Cuba, some lawmakers have called for the flights to be suspended.
“I think we need to unite across the aisle and basically say no matter how you feel about Cuba policy, we all agree that travel to Cuba should be safe, no less safe than travel to the Bahamas, no less safe than travel to the Dominican Republic, no less safe than travel to Mexico,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said.
He also pointed to the security necessity of having air marshals on flights following the terror attacks that took place on 9/11: “You now have flights 90 miles from our shores that could theoretically be commandeered,” he said, the Hill reported.
Rubio’s remarks came after TSA authorities revealed that despite statements affirming that U.S. marshals were onboard some of the commercial flights to Cuba that began in late August, Cuba has not yet signed an agreement that would allow marshals onboard.
U.S. Rep. John Katko, who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and has also accused the TSA of deception, criticized Cuban airport security earlier this month, arguing that the U.S. needed more clarity on Cuban screening capabilities before continuing the flights.
"They haven't told us whether or not there have been any inspections done," Katko told local news source the Auburn Citizen, adding, "They haven't told us anything."
JetBlue began the first non-chartered flights to Cuba at the end of August. American, Frontier, Silver Airways, Southwest, and Sun Country have also either begun flights or obtained permission to do so.
Diplomats have hailed renewal of the U.S.-Cuba routes after five decades as a landmark moment between the two nations. President Barack Obama in particular has looked to rebuild ties with the U.S.’ neighbor to the south since December 2014.