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Editorial: Ready for the new air marshals

With a tragedy perpetrated through the use of four hijacked planes in one day, airport security has come under great scrutiny in the week following the terrorist attacks on the United States. In an effort to heighten security and make air passengers feel safer, the government is considering reinstating the air marshals program. This is a good plan so long as the marshals are carefully screened and properly trained to handle a variety of situations without overreacting to minor incidents or abusing their power.

For years since the demise of the air marshal program, the airline industry has been criticized for enforcing lax security measures. The air marshals were a group of federally funded ?security guards? who patrolled the cabins of airliners in flight. The program was instituted after several planes were hijacked during the 60s and 70s, but eliminated after it was deemed such threats were no longer apparent.

However, the threats may have dwindled due to the program and many people now argue that had air marshals been on planes, the tragedy of Sept. 11 would never have even been possible.

If the air marshals program is reinstated, care must be taken to ensure that these are well-trained professionals. People chosen for such a program should undergo extensive psychological and physical training in order to be sure they are strong enough to handle the pressures of flying for long distances and hundreds of people who may be loud and, at times, unruly.

With incidents of air rage increasing before the attack, perhaps reinstating air marshals would not be far off. This breach of security may have hastened what was destined to be.

The airlines are not entirely to blame for the attacks. However, much has been learned and it would be ignorant of the nation and the government not to institute some way to keep airline passengers, and the nation as a whole, safe.