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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There is surprising new information about the commercial flights now running from the U.S. to Cuba.
Despite a promise from the Obama administration to not let those flights take off without federal air marshals onboard, it turns out that’s exactly what’s happening.
“As of today, are there any federal air marshals allowed on any non-chartered flights between the United States and Cuba?” Rep. John Katko, R-New York asked a Transportation Security Administration official.
“No sir,” a Transportation Security Administration official responded.
It’s a startling admission at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing Wednesday, as Transportation Security Administration officials acknowledge that U.S. federal marshals are not present on commercial flights to and from Cuba.
Congressman Katko, who heads the subcommittee, grilled TSA officials who previously said scheduled flights to the communist island would not begin unless air marshals could be on board.
“Federal air marshals serve as a last line of defense against terrorism,” Katko said. “You mislead the American public when you issued that press release saying that it was going to be on select commercial flights and you did it at a time when flights were about to start.”
It was less than two weeks ago, to much fanfare, when JetBlue made the first scheduled flight to Cuba since 1961from Fort Lauderdale as part of President Obama’s initiative to restore relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
“These flights should be suspended.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor Wednesday to blast the Obama administration.
“Here you have the situation where, theoretically, some terrorist could travel from any country in the world into Cuba and then try to come into the United States, commandeer an aircraft and I don’t need to tell you what can happen next,” Rubio said. “This is an incredibly dangerous situation.”