WEB EXCLUSIVE: ‘Crossfire’ tackles airline safety

Posted 4 a.m. Sept. 25 — CNN’s “Crossfire” returned to GW Monday night, looking to the future of the airline industry after the Sept. 11 hijackings of four planes, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon, killing thousands.

The panel included Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Rodney Slater, former transportation secretary for the Clinton administration, and Capt. Dennis Dolan, vice president of the Airline Pilots Association International.

The GW community joined hosts Bill Press and Tucker Carlson to ask questions about increased airline security, recent instances of racial profiling within the airline community and the future of airline safety.

The Airline Pilots Association proposes that pilots be armed with guns to protect planes. Dolan defended the proposal, which also includes a layered security process starting at baggage check and ending with armed federal marshals on selected flights. He also supported police-type training for pilots.

“We feel that the issue with pilots is mainly protection of the cockpits,” Dolan said.

Like last week’s live broadcasts at GW, guests avoided the usual political banter of “Crossfire.” The panel discussed improvements of airline travel for disabled passengers and bullet-proof cockpit doors.

A question which seemed to loom overhead until the end of the show was the fate of Reagan National Airport, which is closed indefinitely because of its proximity to D.C. government buildings. Carlson noted that flight paths into Dulles International Airport are only three minutes away to downtown D.C. by jet, making Dulles just as dangerous as National.

Responding to a question whether National Airport should be re-opened, Slater said, “I do believe that we can balance again our security interests and also deal with our desire as a nation to remain an open nation. That’s what makes America America.”

Freshman Michelle Kessel said the show’s topic was appropriate for students going home this weekend.

“I thought the topics discussed really hit home because a lot of people are flying home this week, and I was originally very nervous,” she said. “But after hearing expert analysis on airline security, I feel much better.”

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