TSA admits commercial flights to Cuba don't have armed air marshals aboard

TSA deputy administrator Huban Gowadia told a House committee that despite promising months ago that no commercial flights to and from Cuba would take off without an armed air marshal, the flights, which began last month, aren't carrying any guards because Cuba has yet to sign an agreement allowing it.

Sen. Marco Rubio was incensed and, along with Senator Robert Menendez, has introduced legislation barring any more flights to Cuba until the Castro regime signs the agreement to allow air marshals on board and agree to inspections of the ten airports in Cuba.

The Hill:

"What it means is that these are now flights that are vulnerable," Rubio said. "There's a reason why we have air marshals on flights, because of the experience of 9/11 ... and you now have flights 90 miles from our shores that could theoretically be commandeered and you could have a repeat of that." 

Rubio's comments come after TSA Deputy Administrator Huban Gowadia told a House Committee that air marshals would only be on chartered flights between the U.S. and Cuba, because the Castro government hadn't signed a deal to allow U.S. air marshals on commercial flights. 

The United States started the first commercial flights in decades to Cuba last month. Gowadia said that Wednesday that TSA officials misspoke when they said earlier this year that commercial flights wouldn't start until the security agreement was signed.

Rubio added that Gowadia's disclosure is "the latest example of an administration that is so intent on burnishing it's legacy, on getting credit for this opening that they're willing to throw everything else out the window."

The Florida Republican, who is running for reelection against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, wants the Obama administration to suspend any commercial flights to or from Cuba until it signs the air marshals agreement.

Though Gowadia noted there's no indication Cuba would reject the agreement, the revelation that it is currently unsigned could add fuel to an ongoing airport security debate.

Rubio introduced legislation with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to halt commercial U.S. flights to Cuba until a thorough security review is conducted at all of the island nation’s 10 airports. The House Homeland Security Committee passed its version of the bill this week.

Though Rubio has been a chief critic of the Obama's administration Cuba policy, he argued that his push to suspend commercial flights should be separate from the larger debate over the island country. 

"You have this situation where theoretically some terrorists can travel from any country in the world into Cuba and then try to come into the United States, commander an aircraft and I don't need to tell you what can happen next," he added. "This is an incredibly dangerous situation." 

In this day and age, to allow any commercial flight to any destiniation to take off without an armed guard aboard is idiotic.  Of course, the Obama administration was caught in another lie when the TSA witness said they "misspoke" when promising that no flights to Cuba would happen until the Castros allowed air marshals on board. 

This is legacy-building by Obama – at the flying public's expense.  The administration was so eager to garner another "first" for the president that it is exposing the public to the very real danger that Cuban airports are lacking in security measures and that flights to and from Cuba are sitting ducks for terrorists.

Given the hostility the Cuban government still holds for the U.S., is it wise not to take every conceivable precaution against hijacking? Apparently, the president isn't concerned about it.

TSA deputy administrator Huban Gowadia told a House committee that despite promising months ago that no commercial flights to and from Cuba would take off without an armed air marshal, the flights, which began last month, aren't carrying any guards because Cuba has yet to sign an agreement allowing it.

Sen. Marco Rubio was incensed and, along with Senator Robert Menendez, has introduced legislation barring any more flights to Cuba until the Castro regime signs the agreement to allow air marshals on board and agree to inspections of the ten airports in Cuba.

The Hill:

"What it means is that these are now flights that are vulnerable," Rubio said. "There's a reason why we have air marshals on flights, because of the experience of 9/11 ... and you now have flights 90 miles from our shores that could theoretically be commandeered and you could have a repeat of that." 

Rubio's comments come after TSA Deputy Administrator Huban Gowadia told a House Committee that air marshals would only be on chartered flights between the U.S. and Cuba, because the Castro government hadn't signed a deal to allow U.S. air marshals on commercial flights. 

The United States started the first commercial flights in decades to Cuba last month. Gowadia said that Wednesday that TSA officials misspoke when they said earlier this year that commercial flights wouldn't start until the security agreement was signed.

Rubio added that Gowadia's disclosure is "the latest example of an administration that is so intent on burnishing it's legacy, on getting credit for this opening that they're willing to throw everything else out the window."

The Florida Republican, who is running for reelection against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, wants the Obama administration to suspend any commercial flights to or from Cuba until it signs the air marshals agreement.

Though Gowadia noted there's no indication Cuba would reject the agreement, the revelation that it is currently unsigned could add fuel to an ongoing airport security debate.

Rubio introduced legislation with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to halt commercial U.S. flights to Cuba until a thorough security review is conducted at all of the island nation’s 10 airports. The House Homeland Security Committee passed its version of the bill this week.

Though Rubio has been a chief critic of the Obama's administration Cuba policy, he argued that his push to suspend commercial flights should be separate from the larger debate over the island country. 

"You have this situation where theoretically some terrorists can travel from any country in the world into Cuba and then try to come into the United States, commander an aircraft and I don't need to tell you what can happen next," he added. "This is an incredibly dangerous situation." 

In this day and age, to allow any commercial flight to any destiniation to take off without an armed guard aboard is idiotic.  Of course, the Obama administration was caught in another lie when the TSA witness said they "misspoke" when promising that no flights to Cuba would happen until the Castros allowed air marshals on board. 

This is legacy-building by Obama – at the flying public's expense.  The administration was so eager to garner another "first" for the president that it is exposing the public to the very real danger that Cuban airports are lacking in security measures and that flights to and from Cuba are sitting ducks for terrorists.

Given the hostility the Cuban government still holds for the U.S., is it wise not to take every conceivable precaution against hijacking? Apparently, the president isn't concerned about it.