What A Difference A Week Makes
Did Obama Have Anything To Do With The Missing
Washington Times Editorial On Banning The Pilot Gun Program?

Debra J.M. Smith 03/26/09 -

I was surprised when I went to find an article that had been posted on the Washington Times website just a week ago, to find it now gone. Normally, I would not post the writings in their entirety, but due to these circumstances, it is necessary.

The now missing writing, which had told of Obama having secretively banned a federal safety program that aloud pilots to carry guns on planes, was a rarity to have found on a main-stream news site. The website, just a week later, posted a sharply contrasting article, stating that the Obama administration has no plans of ending the program and instead, is seeking to expand it. So what gives?

An inside source, an editor for the Washington Times confirmed that the editorial had, in fact, been written by a Washington Times staff member and was removed. He said it was "a decision made by the top levels." In response to my question as to if the removal had anything to do with Obama, he said that he did not know, saying it was "pretty rare that it involved the top editors and the publisher of the newspaper."

Guns on a plane

Obama secretly ends program that let pilots carry guns 
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

The Obama administration this past week diverted some $2 million from the pilot training program to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots.

This looks like completely unnecessary harassment of the pilots. The 12,000 Federal Flight Deck Officers, the pilots who have been approved to carry guns, are reported to have the best behavior of any federal law enforcement agency. There are no cases where any of them has improperly brandished or used a gun. There are just a few cases where officers have improperly used their IDs.

Fewer than one percent of the officers have any administrative actions brought against them and, we are told, virtually all of those cases “are trumped up.”

Take a case against one flight officer who had visited the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles within the last few weeks. While there, the pilot noticed that federal law enforcement officers can, with the approval of a superior, obtain a license plate that cannot be traced, a key safety feature for law enforcement personnel. So the pilot asked if, as a member of the federal program, he was eligible. The DMV staffer checked and said “no.” The next day administrative actions were brought against the pilot for “misrepresenting himself.” These are the kinds of cases that President Obama wants to investigate.

Since Mr. Obama's election, pilots have told us that the approval process for letting pilots carry guns on planes slowed significantly. Last week the problem went from bad to worse. Federal Flight Deck Officers - the pilots who have been approved to carry guns - indicate that the approval process has stalled out.

Pilots cannot openly speak about the changing policies for fear of retaliation from the Transportation Security Administration. Pilots who act in any way that causes a “loss of confidence” in the armed pilot program risk criminal prosecution as well as their removal from the program. Despite these threats, pilots in the Federal Flight Deck Officers program have raised real concerns in multiple interviews.

Arming pilots after Sept. 11 was nothing new. Until the early 1960s, American commercial passenger pilots on any flight carrying U.S. mail were required to carry handguns. Indeed, U.S. pilots were still allowed to carry guns until as recently as 1987. There are no records that any of these pilots (either military or commercial) ever causing any significant problems.

Screening of airplane passengers is hardly perfect. While armed marshals are helpful, the program covers less than 3 percent of the flights out of Washington D.C.'s three airports and even fewer across the country. Sky marshals are costly and quit more often than other law-enforcement officers.

Armed pilots are a cost-effective backup layer of security. Terrorists can only enter the cockpit through one narrow entrance, and armed pilots have some time to prepare themselves as hijackers penetrate the strengthened cockpit doors. With pilots, we have people who are willing to take on the burden of protecting the planes for free. About 70 percent of the pilots at major American carriers have military backgrounds.

Frankly, as a matter of pure politics, we cannot understand what the administration is thinking. Nearly 40 House Democrats are in districts were the NRA is more popular than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We can't find any independent poll in which the public is demanding that pilots disarm. Why does this move make sense?

Only anti-gun extremists and terrorist recruits are worried about armed pilots. So why is the Obama administration catering to this tiny lobby at the expense of public safety?

Gun program for pilots set for expansion, officials insist - Audrey Hudson

Backers take exception to inaccurate editorial Tuesday,
March 24, 2009

The Obama administration has no plans to end a program that trains commercial airline pilots to carry guns and thwart terrorist attacks, and in fact is seeking to expand resources for oversight and training, government officials and pilots organizations say.

"We're looking for new resources and more money to bring in for next year. The benefits of the program are obvious. The pilots are an intrinsic part of our whole aviation-security strategy and one of our layers of security," said Robert Bray, director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, which oversees the program.

The Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) program was created after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and has since trained 12,000 pilots on how to carry weapons and defend their aircraft against an attack. Among the planned expansions, Mr. Bray said, is the construction of a new center in Dallas, where armed pilots can receive recurring training.

Mr. Bray and the pilots groups disputed a March 17 editorial in The Washington Times entitled "Guns on a plane: Obama secretly ends program that let pilots carry guns," which suggested that recent discussions about spending some of the program's money for supervisory jobs amounted to killing the program.

"That is completely false," said Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest pilots union in the U.S. and Canada, with 53,000 members.

After the editorial appeared, Capt. Prater said, his group called a meeting with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials and were reassured the new administration supports the program.

"We're not seeing anything other than cooperation, and certainly the fact that as soon as this opinion piece came out, ALPA and TSA met immediately, and from what we've determined, there is no truth to the fears that were put forth in that opinion piece," Capt. Prater said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS A Transportation Security Administration instructor trains a pilot to disarm a potential hijacker during a weapon-retention class at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, in Brunswick, Ga.

The Times' editorial pages recently were brought under new management and operate separately from the newsroom. Editorial writers produce content that is not reported or overseen by newsroom employees.

"The Editorial Department has been in transition these last few weeks. We're aware of the error and are investigating what happened so we can learn from the mistake and not repeat it," Associate Publisher Richard Amberg Jr. said.

Homeland Security officials and pilots say that the program has proven to be an important security layer and that they are interested in making the program more efficient.

"We look forward to working with the Obama administration to improve the management and funding of the program to make it what Congress originally intended it would be," said David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, an organization that lobbies Congress on behalf of the program.

The editorial cited information from pilots it did not name, claiming that the approval process for letting pilots carry guns on planes has "slowed significantly" and that the "approval process has stalled out."

Mr. Mackett said the approval process did slow last fall during the final days of the Bush administration, but it was before the election and possibly a result of dwindling funds at the end of the 2008 fiscal year.

The editorial also said the Obama administration recently "diverted some $2 million from the pilot-training program to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots."

However, pilots are supervised by the airlines, not Homeland Security, and Mr. Bray added that no funds were diverted; rather, he said, additional money is being sought to manage gun-training programs.

Above is a screen shot picture of the missing page.  Note the web address in the address bar.

The second writing can be found at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/24/gun-program-for-pilots-set-for-expansion-officials/

I was able to locate the first writing, via a back door type of entrance on google that is available for a short time. Click Here to see screen shot pictures of the page.

Disclaimer: These two writings are posted for news purpose only.