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as called for in the International Security and Development Cooperation Act. Since the inception of this program in 1986, we have conducted roughly 800 assessments of 216 foreign airports in over 100 countries. We believe this program has aided in attaining security improvements at many foreign airports. The Act enables us to conduct assessments, provides general guidance concerning the nature of assessments to be conducted and prescribes a workable and appropriate approach toward public notification of uncorrected problems at foreign airports—all of this in a manner which highlights the need for a cooperative approach toward solving security problems. We have, as has been discussed, accelerated the delivery schedule of the thermal neutron analysis units we have ordered for explosive detection. This system is the result of three years of FAA-directed research on an explosive detection system that has the capability to detect commercial and military explosives which might be concealed in checked baggage and air cargo. The first TNA system will be installed at JFK Airport in June. Research is also continuing on an explosive vapor detection system for checking people for explosives. We hope to have an improved device available for testing late this year. We're also continuing to develop improved weapons detection capabilities and are evaluating state-of-the-art detection equipment. We will continue to encourage new ideas from the scientific and academic community to develop better technology. We are working in the international arena to develop an effective international approach to end terrorism in the skies. Last month I had the opportunity to accompany Secretary Skinner at a council session of the International Civil Aviation Organization called specifically to address the sabotage of Pan Am flight 103. As a result of that meeting, the 33-member ICAO council unanimously adopted a resolution setting out a plan of action that I am confijoin lead to strengthened security procedures throughout the WOriol. Last week Secretary Skinner also announced changes to FAA regulations which will require foreign airlines to submit their security plans to the FAA for review. I think the FAA will now be in a better position to insure that security precautions used by foreign airlines serving the United States are adequate. We have established the past several years a better framework for the assessment and dissemination of threat information. In the past several days we have become aware of matters that question the efficiency of this system. To determine what more can be done to improve this system, Secretary Skinner has dispatched a team of his personal representatives to Europe to assess the effectiveness of our information exchange and dissemination process. The evaluation will look at ways to improve the timely exchange of information related to threats against civil aviation, and I believe the team will report to Secretary Skinner as early as the end of this week. In closing this very brief statement, Mr. Chairman, I would like to emphasize my commitments and the commitment of my staff and all of FAA to stop the threat of criminal actions directed against civil aviation. We face an extremely difficult challenge, but one that we must meet. I thank the subcommittee for its support of the FAA's aviation security efforts and I look forward to working with each of you on these key issues which obviously are so important to all of us. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We’ll obviously be glad to try to answer any questions. Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Belger, do any of the other members of your FAA team have a statement to make at this point? Mr. BELGER. No, sir. We'll be glad to respond to questions that you may have Mr. OBERSTAR. Fine, fine. Ambassador McManaway, we would like to have your statement at this point. Ambassador McMANAway. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I, too, would like to summarize my statement and submit the full statement for the record. Mr. OBERSTAR. Please proceed. Thank you. Ambassador McMANAway. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before this committee. In keeping with the general focus of this hearing, I will limit my testimony to reviewing three broad issues: the U.S. Government threat assessment and public notification system regarding threats / to civil aviation; the Department of State's diplomatic research and training efforts to help prevent a repetition of the Pan Am 103 tragedy, and the ways that we incorporate aviation security concerns into our bilateral civil aviation agreements. The callous destruction of Pan Am flight 103 on December 21, 1988 was a terrible international tragedy. All of us deeply regret the loss suffered by families and friends of those on Pan Am 103 and the people of Lockerbie. r Let me assure all concerned that everything possible is being done to investigate this incident, bring to justice those responsible, and enhance aviation security to help prevent a repetition of this tragic event. Mr. Chairman, a central issue in countering the threat posed by terrorism involves assessing and disseminating information on possible terrorist threats. I would like to use this opportunity, if I may, to clarify what we knew about these threats, when we knew them, and what we did with the information and why. First, the so-called “Helsinki threat”, which was a threat made in an anonymous telephone call to our embassy in Helsinki on 5 December. It was reported to Washington and the FAA issued an aviation security bulletin on 7 December. The threat was to a Pan American flight from Frankfurt to the United States during the subsequent two-week period. A bomb was supposed to be carried onto the plane by an unsuspecting Finnish woman. Note that no specific flight number, date, or itinerary was provided. There was no threat, not even a false one, specific to Pan American 103. By 10 December the Finnish authorities determined that this threat was a hoax. However, we left in place the enhanced security for the period. We did not relieve the enhanced security measures that were taken.
In the wake of the Pan Am bombing, this so-called threat was thoroughly reinvestigated by the government of Finland, the United States Government, and other concerned governments. It is our unanimous conclusion that the Helsinki threat was baseless. In this case, however, the threat was a horrifying coincidence with what someone else did to Pan Am 103. Concerning the threat from the PFLP General Command, CPFLP-GC in late October 1988 West German authorities arrested 14 suspected members of this terrorist organization. In November we learned that among the evidence seized during those arrests was a bomb hidden in a Toshiba radio and which included a barometric pressure triggering device. The FAA issued on 18 November an aviation security bulletin to U.S. carriers to warn them about the presence of these terrorists in Europe, the existence of this bomb, its characteristics, and to advise that increased security measures should be introduced to counter the potential threat of such a bomb. This bulletin remains in effect today. Mr. Chairman, this was a general warning. It was not a threat to any specific airline or specific flight. In view of the publicity that these two aviation bulletins have received and their possible links to the destruction of Pan Am 103, I would like to emphasize several critical points about them. There is no connection between the Helsinki threat which turned out to be a hoax and the bomb made by the PLFPGC. There was never any threat specifically made to Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December or any other date. The Helsinki threat, as I have said, was a hoax. It had no relation whatsoever to the bombing of Pan Am 103. In explaining how we react to possible threats to civil aviation, may I take a moment to describe the broader context of how the United States analyzes terrorist threat information? Mr. Chairman, I might say that some of this I can go into in greater detail in the closed session. Mr. OBERSTAR. Please do. Before you go on, since members will have questions, may I ask you at this point to elaborate on how the Department knew that the Helsinki threat was a hoax? Ambassador McMANAway. This was the result of the investigation by the government of Finland and work with our intelligence services. The caller was known to the government of Finland. He had made similar calls to the Israeli embassy making similar threats. It was determined that he was able to concoct his story simply by using available unclassified information about flights. This has now been reinvestigated by our Government, the government of Finland, the German government, the Israeli government, and all four governments agree that it was baseless. Mr. OBERSTAR. The other governments, governments other than the United States and Finland, concurred in the designation of that threat as a hoax? Ambassador McMANAway. Yes, sir, correct. Mr. OBERSTAR. Please proceed. Ambassador McMANAway. I will try to be even briefer than I’ve been. It's taking a little bit too long here.
Mr. OBERSTAR. No, you're not taking too long. It's very important— Ambassador McMANAway. All right, sir, I'll continue then. Mr. OBERSTAR [continuing]. That you get to elaborate on these points. Ambassador MCMANAway. Our system for analyzing terrorist threats is based on a comprehensive national level process which responds to threat information received by any concerned U.S. agency and assures that this information is acted upon in a timely manner. The objective of the system is to review and forward terrorist threat alert or advisory information quickly to those responsible for countering terrorist actions. Again, I can go into more detail on that in the closed session. The national level system also includes a provision for alerting the general public of specific and credible terrorist threats via Department of State public travel advisories. We also use travel advisories in conjunction with the FAA to advise the American public in those situations in which aviation security in a given airport is deemed inadequate to ensure the security of passengers. Aviation security bulletins are issued by the FAA and advise aviation security officials at U.S. carriers and elsewhere of information they need to help insure the safety of U.S. air carriers operating throughout the world. The Department of State repeats these cables to posts affected by the bulletin so that specified officials at our diplomatic posts can assist the U.S. carriers in obtaining the cooperation of the host government in increasing security measures as appropriate. Such bulletins are not advisories to U.S. Government personnel. Mr. Chairman, I want to assure you, this committee, the Congress, and the American people that there is not and cannot be a double standard between the travel security information available to official personnel overseas and to the American public. Let me reemphasize. If we have a specific and credible threat to civil aviation security which cannot be countered, we will strongly recommend to the air carrier that it cancel the threatened flight. If necessary, beyond that, we will issue a public travel advisory to alert the American traveling public to this threat. Turning now if I may, to the second broad range of issues before the committee, the Department of State has been active on the international front to help prevent another Pan Am 103. A special meeting of the Terrorism Experts Group of the Summit 7 was called in response to the Pan Am 103 bombing. At that meeting, the United States delegation argued forcefully that the bombing of Pan Am 103 demonstrated the urgent need for upgrading air security measures worldwide. There was general agreement among the Summit 7 representatives that the threat to air travel is not limited to American carriers and that the International Civil Aviation Organization is the appropriate forum for strengthening worldwide civil aviation security standards. Further, the experts agree that discussions should begin on the possibility of an international convention that would call for tagging plastic explosives.
Following this meeting, the United States and Britain called for special ministerial level meeting of the ICAO council to discuss Pan Am 103. This meeting was held February 15 to 16. Secretary Skinner of the Department of Transportation led the U.S. delegation. Emerging from that meeting was a comprehensive work plan which will result in ICAO developing new security procedures to help prevent a repetition of the Pan Am tragedy. To advance the exchange of information on the complex topic of tagging explosives, the United States hosted in Washington on 2 and 3 March a meeting of explosive experts from a number of allied states. The United States also participated in similar meetings held earlier this month under ICAO auspices in Montreal. Whether it will be possible to negotiate an international agreement regarding taggants remains to be seen, but the common recognition by governments throughout the world that something more needs to be done to increase security from terrorist bombs represents a major step forward. In terms of our own direct activities, the Department of State funds counterterrorism research and development which includes projects to help prevent aircraft sabotage. This national, interagency counterterrorism R&D program is coordinated with nearly 30 Federal agencies. The FAA is one of our most important partners in this endeavor. In fiscal year 1990 the Department of State is seeking $6 million to support this interagency program which provides seed money for a range of research and development programs which otherwise would not be funded by any particular Federal agency. Included in this R&D program are projects to develop less expensive and more widely applicable detectors to identify plastic explosives. I would hope that the members of this subcommittee could support this funding request during House consideration of the Commerce/Justice/State appropriations bill. If I might just digress for a moment to say that I was greatly encouraged by the comments by the Members of Congress who testified here before us on the importance of R&D in this area of counterterrorism. It's a continuing problem. Questions were asked about, are we going to get a step ahead? The TNA will get us current, but we have to keep looking ahead, keeping working ahead, because the plastics themselves are going to change. The Department of State also offers a training program for foreign civil aviation security officials through its anti-terrorism assistance program. Since its inception in 1983, the ATA program has trained over 650 students from 28 nations in advanced civil aviation security or airport police management. A final set of issues relevant to consideration today is our bilateral civil aviation agreements. The Department has sought improved security for international air travel by including security articles in each of the aviation bilateral agreements the United States negotiates with our foreign aviation partners. My testimony indicates the various elements of those agreements. Since 1985 when the United States began this effort to incorporate these provisions into our bilateral civil aviation agreements, these modifications have come into effect with 22 nations and