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observe the host country's security tests. Beyond this issue, the GAO stated that security professionals believe that the FAA assessments ". have made a difference and have brought about a needed increase in security awareness."
LEGISLATION REFERRED TO THE COMMITTEE PERTAINING TO SECURITY.
H.R. 617 introduced by Congressman Dan Burton on January 24, 1989.
This bill would amend the Federal Aviation Act to require that each air carrier airport's law enforcement presence and capability include dogs to be used to detect plastic explosives and other devices or materials which may be used in aircraft piracy and which cannot be detected by metal detectors.
H.Con. Res. 52, introduced by Congressman Joe Kennedy on February 9, 1989.
This resolution would express the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Transportation should do everything in his power to ensure that: (1) the highest level of security standards currently in use in international aviation are applied by the International civil Aviation Organization to all international airlines and airports; (2) these standards be adopted by the February 16 meeting of the directors of ICAO; (3) ICAO require all international airport authorities to adopt a number of specified security enhancements; (4) the ICAO Annex 17 standards are implemented by all u.s. airlines and airports; (5) the Department of Transportation and Departaent of State enhance and expand the "Anti-Terrorist Assistance Program"; (6) threat assessment capabilities are enhanced and when the threat is deemed substantial, passengers informed; and (7) ICAO establish a task force to develop regulations to be applied under Annex 17 to effectively combat unlawful interference with any international flight.
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 1989
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION,
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:07 a.m., in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. James L. Oberstar (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The Subcommittee on Aviation will please come to order.
Today the Subcommittee on Aviation resumes hearings on aviation security initiated four years ago by the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight which I chaired at the time along with the then ranking Republican, Mr. Gingrich, and today's ranking member, Mr. Molinari, as an active participant in those hearings.
The vulnerability of our aviation system to violent attacks by terrorists was brutally punctuated last December 21st when a powerful bomb destroyed 270 lives aboard Pan Am flight 103 when that 747 crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Despite the tightening of security measures after the bombing, the air traveling public continues to feel vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Our hearing today will attempt to shed some light on whether that feeling is justified and whether the response of both Government and industry to the most recent attack and to the broader question of widespread terrorism is adequate and effective.
Aviation terrorism has evolved over time. As I have observed it, I would say that phase I was the sky-jacking era, from 1969 through the early 1970s, a period when we were experiencing an average of one sky-jacking every two weeks. But just as metal detectors and other steps taken to assure security were beginning to have their effect, terrorism was moving to what I call phase II, the random destruction of aircraft by concealed bombs carried either under a seat or hidden in the hold.
It seems that we are in a pattern of always being just one step behind the terrorists. Putting us a step ahead of the terrorists is the purpose of this hearing and any legislative or administrative action that may result from it.
If terrorists find a gap or even a little tear in our security net, they exploit it and hundreds of human lives are shattered in one explosive blinding instant. Government and industry then move to plug that hole, so that type of attack doesn't happen again.
Time passes. A different gap is exploited, another tragedy, more lives lost. Again, Government and industry try to sort out the problem, find where the hole was, and move to plug it.
Despite recent actions to enhance security, the traveling public continues to have the sense that there continue to be holes in the safety net and that terrorists are merely waiting to exploit them.
The purpose of our hearing is not to identify the holes and suggest fixes, but rather its purpose is to inquire into the broad systemic questions of security on the ground and in the air. Do Government and industry need to change any of our assumptions about how we balance convenience and security? Are Government and industry devoting enough resources of people and money to assure security?
Our security system has been built incrementally and through adjustments. Do we need to make a fundamental systematic examination of security so that we are not simply once again fighting the last war?
Since the summer of 1985, there have been four aircraft bombings, an average of more than one a year. Are all agencies of all governments and all airline companies doing everything necessary and prudent and responsible to assure that the record improves in the next three to four years?
Today we have a relatively long list of expert witnesses who we hope will be able to provide some answers to these and other questions. We also have a long list of Members participating in the hearing. So I will insist on adhering to the 5-minute rule so that we can move quickly through the witnesses and assure that all Members' questions will be adequately answered.
The Secretary of Transportation, Sam Skinner, has moved decisively on the issue of terrorism during his brief tenure in office, and I commend him for those efforts. I am impressed the way he has acted and his sincerity of purpose and willingness to command all the resources of Government and industry toward this purpose.
The Secretary has advised us that he has appointed a task force to analyze the issue of security notifications to airlines and how such process is handled. There may be some questions Members want to ask today about that issue. I would ask them to withhold such questions. We will have an Executive Session following today's open testimony at which some of those matters may be responded to, but later, within a month I expect, we will receive the full report of that task force. Out of respect for sensitive issues, Government witnesses may wish to ask that full response be given in Executive Session, and we will take such testimony at that time.
This is a vitally important hearing. It will be not just one hearing; it will be followed up by a series of continuing inquiries and actions by the committee in cooperation with the responsible Government agencies, foreign governments, and our airline companies.
I want to welcome all the witnesses today, and I particularly want to welcome our Members and commend them on a very large turnout here for this hearing.
It now gives me great pleasure to recognize the ranking Republican, a gentleman who has devoted so much of his career in Congress to issues involving aviation and with such effectiveness, Mr. Molinari.
Mr. MOLINARI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As we open the hearing today, I want first and foremost to express my heartfelt sympathy to the families and friends of the victims of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, many of whom we have with us or watching today.
As grieved and angry as the Nation is over this tragedy, we know no one can possibly feel the pain as personally as you have, nor could anyone possibly imagine the anger you feel at this vile act of terrorism that has taken your innocent loved ones from you.
I might add that three of the individuals killed in that flight come from my district and I have talked to their families, and the horror and anguish they're going through is something that is very painful.
All of us may wish for a method of swift and sure retribution for this act and for guarantees for the future, but the nature of terrorism today leaves us with no guarantees. What we must do instead and out of deference to you is to review what measures have been taken by our Government to protect American travelers and determine what now remains to be done.
We recognize that when a terrorist placed a bomb in a Pan Am airliner, it was not an attack on Pan Am Airlines; it was an attack on the U.S. airline industry. It was an attack on innocent U.S. citizens, to send a message to the U.S. Government—this is not just an aviation issue; it is a global and very complex issue which we must address as a Government more effectively.
I am particularly looking forward to hearing today about the important new technology being developed for airport security. It is abundantly clear that we must have state-of-the-art technology out in the field as soon as possible and quickly deal with the controversy over who will pay.
It is also likely that there are additional procedures that can be implemented to enhance aircraft and airport security. The administration is to be commended for swift action to tighten security in the aftermath of Pan Am 103. I'm sure that our witnesses will have other measures to suggest today to further improve the system.
I might add a personal observation. With deregulation and the problems that some of the carriers have had over the past few years in terms of the balance sheets, what we've witnessed is in some cases a disassembling of the carriers' security division; in other cases they have reduced the numbers of those employed within the security division of those carriers to the point where they have but one or two left.
I think what happened is that they perceived the threat to be lessened. We had some very good people, and our Investigation Oversight Committee was very impressed by what was in place several years ago. We find that's no longer in place today.
The security at most of our airports rests with the carriers themselves. I hope that the witnesses that are coming before us today will address that issue and enlighten us as to why these steps were taken, why they cut back on their security divisions, why we don't have the same degree of protection today that we had by the carriers several years ago when, in fact, it would appear to us that we