Two Senators Seek Ban of Lighters on Airplanes

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Two senators said on Tuesday that the Transportation Security Administration (search) should reconsider its policy of allowing butane lighters and matches in the cabins of passenger airliners.

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said they're concerned that terrorists could use a disposable lighter or a match to ignite improvised explosives, such as jackets or pillows that have been chemically treated.

The senators sent a letter last fall asking the TSA to review the decision it made in February to allow passengers to carry two butane lighters and four books of matches onto planes.

On Dec. 2, then-TSA chief James Loy (search) responded in a letter, saying, "Allowing two small lighters and four books of matches for personal use has been determined to be an acceptable level of risk in the balance of protection and customer service."

Wyden said Loy's response indicated a lax attitude toward security.

"Richard Reid (search) was one good flare-up away from blowing a hole in the side of a jet and taking 200 people with him," said Wyden, referring to the convicted terrorist who tried to light a bomb in his shoe on a trans-Atlantic flight in December 2002. It was the smell of sulfur that alerted a flight attendant to Reid's attempt.

"The FBI said the belief is if he had a lighter instead of a match, it would have detonated," Dorgan said.

Dorgan and Wyden sent a letter on Monday to the acting head of the TSA, David Stone, asking for a careful review of the regulations. The TSA referred The Associated Press to Loy's letter for a response.