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ports alone, there were 639 threats evaluated at one level or another.
Gentlemen, thank you very much.
I'll turn to my other colleagues. The gentleman from the Virgin Islands?
Mr. DE LUGO. I have no questions at this time. I want to just commend Mr. McCurdy and Mr. McNulty on their testimony. I think I have learned more about this just listening, quite frankly.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman from Texas?
Mr. LAUGHLIN. I have no questions, but I want to thank Mr. McCurdy and Mr. McNulty for their comments. It's been quite educational. I commend you for being here.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman from Minnesota?
Mr. Towns. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me commend both of you. I've enjoyed the testimony. I know, Mr. McCurdy, you indicated the fact that you would support the trust fund, getting the money for the trust fund.
I wonder if my colleague from New York would just comment on that. I did not hear him on that position.
Would you support getting money for the trust fund to put into security?
Mr. McNulty. Actually I'm not familiar with that issue, Mr. Towns, but it sounds like something I would like to support, yes.
Mr. Towns. Okay, thank you very much.
Mr. LIGHTFOOT. Just one quick question, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McCurdy, the TNA technology I know is an onward going thing. In fact, at Iowa State now they're putting together a nondestructive identification and investigation center to do research into this area.
Have you considered the potential of approaching it from another angle since one of those explosives looks like ordinary clothes line rope? We've seen a number of these things. They're very easily passed off as common, every
day items. Possibly there should be a requirement that the manufacturers of those explosives put something in them that would make them much more readily detectable?
Mr. McCURDY. That's a good point. I don't know if you recall the problems a few years ago with some former U.S. intelligence personnel, Mr. Wilson and others, that sold huge quantities, airplane loads—I'm not talking about Piper or Cessnas; we're talking C-130s and transport loads of SEMTEX type of plastic explosive to Libya.
Yes, you raise a good point. That's something we should consider. There are very tight controls on the export and the distribution of this type of explosive. It's a classified type of explosive.
But we have seen in the past that it has gotten into the wrong hands, and in such quantity-again, in such huge quantity-that I think existing amounts are going to pose a threat in the foreseeable future.
Mr. LIGHTFOOT. I would think it would be a logical assumption that anyone using those materials is not going to do it under, shall we say, legitimate circumstances?
Mr. McCURDY. That's exactly right.
Mr. CLEMENT. Mr. McCurdy, as we all know, not all airports are international airports. Since this TNA is approximately $750,000 per copy, is your main focus in your legislation the international airports in the United States or all airports since this equipment is so expensive?
Mr. McCURDY. That's a very good question. We focus on the hub airports, again those that will receive the greatest traffic.
It should start-and, again, this is a rulemaking procedure by the administrator, and he could start with a priority and work down-does it have international traffic, first-and move through the most heavily traveled airports within our country.
The international issue I tried to address earlier, and that is we don't have it in this particular bill primarily to avoid sequential referral and further delays in the legislation. We want to get this out and get the direction to the administrator.
Secondly, it is a more difficult issue of trying to-we, the United States, dictating to foreign governments and foreign operators how they shall-what equipment they should install.
I think there are ways that we can do that, and we want to give the administrator and the Secretary of Transportation some flexibility-and the State Department-in how they choose to handle that.
Mr. CLEMENT. Mr. McNulty, you mentioned in your testimony about manual searches on overseas flights in case of threats. What about domestic flights?
Mr. McNulty. Well, I would suggest that, Mr. Clement, in cases where a reasonable threat has occurred or a high level threat has occurred, that in the cases of overseas flights, until the plastic detection devices are deployed, I would have no problem in seeing that happen generally on international flights.
As I said to the chairman, when you take into consideration the amount of time that you're expending in the course of that travel to go overseas, to tack on an hour or so on either end I don't think is a unreasonable delay to assure security.
Mr. CLEMENT. You're not referring to domestic flights?
Mr. İNHOFE. I have done a little research on the incidents of the threats. Although these are not categorized as high level threats or low level threats, and in my own thinking I have a hard time distinguishing between the two anyway because a threat is a threat.
However, it does show that going up from 1983, it peaked out in 1986 with 367 threats against aircraft, and it also peaked out in threats against airports. Then it went down, and now it's starting
back up again. So this is a very appropriate time in the cycle to address it.
It appears to me, Mr. McNulty, that you're correct in addressing those areas where a threat may have been made, but after listening to both testimonies, it seems that Mr. McCurdy's approach is you're almost assuming that there would be a threat on all of them. I kind of like that.
The incidents of actual explosions and detonations that have taken place relative to threats is an interesting study in itself, because there have been several of them where there was no threat at all.
It would seem to me, and particularly if we could use this as leverage to pick up those last five or six votes to get the trust fund off budget, that your bill, Mr. McCurdy could perform another great service for the whole country in getting that money that is there for that designed purpose spent.
It appears to me that we ought to consider that maybe instead of just addressing where a threat has taken place, maybe an assumption that there is a threat out there somewhere on all flights. For that reason,
I-Mr. McNulty. I think that's what we're doing when we're moving toward deploying the detection devices for the plastic explosives generally; it's making that assumption.
Mr. INHOFE. Yes, I think that's right. I think's a proper assumption for us to take. I thank both of you for addressing this because it looks to me like, if the pattern from the past is going to continue, then next year could be even worse than this year is.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman from Virginia?
I want to thank also my colleagues, Mr. McNulty and Mr. McCurdy, for that very informative and helpful testimony.
I have one question for Mr. McCurdy having to do with the technology. I believe, Mr. Chairman, as you started this hearing you mentioned that the purpose of this was to put us a step ahead of the terrorists.
In terms of the legislation that you're proposing, would this in your mind put us a step ahead and, if so, does it address how we stay a step ahead of the terrorists?
Mr. MCCURDY. I believe it does put us a step ahead. I think itand I've had to learn a great deal, I think as this country has, in the past eight or ten years with respect to terrorism.
It was the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon which probably awakened this country more than any other event. We were no longer dealing with countries that had ballistic missiles; that an actual threat and a very significant threat were as easily those who were driving pickup trucks or those who were claiming explosive devices in restaurants or in airplanes, for that matter.
We have improved our intelligence capability vis-a-vis the terrorists. We have a better understandings of who they are, and that's why we're able to classify the threats in a much more systematic way and to know whether or not this person is connected with some type of terrorist organization or activity.
We have improved our deterrent posture, and that is by increasing security. We for years were disturbed that, even though we im
proved our security, other airports in other countries were not following: Rome, for instance, where we saw they had very lax security; Athens, Greece; others that did not follow U.S. standards.
But we have now even moved another step further, and that is by investing considerable sums of money in the last decade into developing and enhancing the capability through technology and improved technology. This is not 100 percent effective, but it's about 95 percent. The odds are that a person would be detected if they brought these kinds of explosives through one of these machines.
Will we ever be 100 percent? I would never venture to guess that we would or to state categorically that we would, but I think we have improved dramatically. I think the awareness will continue to put pressure on authorities to improve our capability, whether it's technology, security itself, and the deterrents to those terrorists.
Mr. PAYNE. Does the bill actually address the next step, research and development beyond-
Mr. McCURDY. That's correct. We direct the administrator to continue research in other types of technology, whether it's IM mobility spectrometry or biotechnology and x-ray. It may take a combination of technologies in order to provide the type of security that we think is essential.
We've had problems. As the chairman knows, when I chaired the subcommittee that had the R&D budget on this, we were always being squeezed by other committees and other priorities within the aviation sector, and security has to remain, in my opinion, at the top of the list.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. McCurdy, one question to clarify a point for me, please: the TNA technology, are we using that at any of our hubs now?
Mr. McCURDY. Well, we're using it in Los Angeles. There was a test site and they've been used in tests. They've been successful. Again, the success rate is right at 95 percent.
They are slower than we would like. I think over time that technology will improve so that will be much more rapid, but it's at that stage that Administrator MacArtor last year told us in our subcommittee that he felt that it was close enough we could start using it.
Mr. COSTELLO. How many hubs do we have in this country?
Mr. McCURDY. My calculation is 71. That's determined—there's no clear definition because the number of flights per year-I think it's-is it 2 million, or whatever the number of flights—the experts can tell us, but it's the number of flights per year in that airport that determines whether or not it's a hub. It's right at 71.
Mr. COSTELLO. The best case scenario, if we had the funds from the trust fund to implement TNA at all 71 hubs, what are we talking about as far as the time frame?
Mr. McCURDY. Well, our bill requires that it be done within a year and a half, if the administrator-again, that's a schedule of actual development.
The contractors-and, again, a contractor in my district has nothing to do with local interests—the contractors has informed our subcommittee that they could be producing at a rate that within two or three years they would have sufficient numbers of
Mr. COSTELLO. And the cost, my understanding is, about $750,000.
Mr. McCURDY. That's $750,000 per machine. Again, I think if you get the per unit rate of production up sufficiently, experience would show that that cost would decrease over time.
Mr. COSTELLO. Thank you.
Mr. JONES. Mr. Chairman, my questions have been answered. I would like to thank my colleagues for their valuable and incisive testimony today.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank the gentleman.
I don't have a question, but I would like to commend and thank my colleagues for their statements.
Mr. Chairman, this is my first meeting of this Aviation Subcommittee. I think I'm the newest member. I'm here to learn and listen.
Mr. OBERSTAR. We thank the gentleman. We welcome him to the subcommittee. I'm glad to have his-he may be new, but he's an experienced in-fighter and we're glad to have him.
We thank you very much for your very valuable testimony and appreciate your insights into the issues pending before the committee.
The bill that Mr. McCurdy has introduced, we will take a very careful look at that. That is something we think is very interesting. We would like to work with you on that legislation.
Mr. McCURDY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly welcome that effort and that support.
I would also indicate to Chair and the committee that I now chair the Oversight and Evaluations Subcommittee of the Intelligence Committee. I would extend an opportunity to work with you and a hand to work with you in the future in making sure that all the relevant agencies of the Federal Government are involved as much as possible in fighting this,
Mr. OBERSTAR. I appreciate that. I think it underscores the point that will recur throughout the hearing-that no one agency of Government, no one entity of the public sector, and certainly no one entity in the private sector can solve this problem alone. It's going to take all of us working together, and the more talent we apply, the better the results are going to be.
Mr. McNulty, thank you very much for your testimony and for your very deep and genuine concern for your constituents, the families of the victims of PanAm 103.
Mr. McNulty. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.