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Mr. MINETA. And then you just said, “We would recommend that flights be cancelled.” Yet earlier you had said, “We have never recommended that a flight be cancelled.” I’m a little confused here and I would like to get some clarification. Mr. BELGER. If I could, the point at which we or the airlines would consider the cancellation of a flight, I think we would be talking about a specific threat against a specific flight or flights that is credible, that we have assessed to the point that there seems to be the intent to do whatever the threat says. If we're talking about a threat against a specific flight at a specific time that meets that other criteria, and if we can’t have the assurance that effective countermeasures could be implemented, we would have no reservation in using our authority to cancel that operation. Mr. MINETA. But in the case of Pan Am Flight 103, it came in from another carrier, and that's not a specific threat against Pan Am Flight 103. Yet there was a threat floating around out there. Now, if I am the Captain of the flight, somebody had better damned well tell me that there is going to be a problem in the general area. If I'm flying out of Frankfurt, then it seems to me that I have to know that flights out of Frankfurt to the United States may be under some risk. Now, I don't understand why this vacillation occurs. We passed this act in 1985; that was a time when we had a breakfast meeting with Mr. Fascell and we went over this whole thing with the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, with people from the FAA at the time, and now you're saying, “Well, we haven’t worked out all the details yet.” That really blows my mind, because— Mr. BELGER. No, sir, I certainly don't want to leave any impression that we haven’t worked out the details. If I wasn’t clear I will try again. Our expectation is that if the information that would affect that specific flight—if that exists, it should be provided to the inflight security coordinator. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that for a specific flight. It is not our expectation at this point that information be provided to the inflight coordinator if it is not specific tothat flight. Mr. MINETA. And yet you say that you have never recommended cancellation of a flight? Mr. BELGER. No, sir, I think we've answered— Ambassador McMANAway. I think part of this may be my orientation, which is international. I am thinking about the process in which we participate, which is not domestic at all. We would not be ń. of many things that the FAA would be doing with domestic ights. I may have added to the confusion there, and I apologize if I did. Mr. MINETA. I thank the gentleman for yielding the time. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, the gentleman's time has expired. Mr. DE LUGO. I was afraid of that. [Laughter.] Mr. OBERSTAR. The Ambassador's response was to a question that the Chair posed earlier about his statement referring to “specific and credible threats to civil aviation security which cannot be countered.” It involved a different set of questions, but the answer raises the problem here of interagency coordination. The State Department might not be aware of domestic threats. The FAA might not be made sufficiently aware of threats at other airports over
mittee would pursue further.
submit my opening remarks for the record, please.
STATEMENT of Hon. Joe Kolter, A REPRESENTATIVE IN Congress FROM
Mr. Chairman, I commend you for calling this subcommittee together to investigate the issue of aviation safety.
I feel deep regret, however, for the recent tragedy that makes our meeting today all the more necessary. My heart goes out to the family, friends and coworkers of the Flight 103 disaster victims.
We live in a world today where one cannot guarantee the safety of one's self or others even though no offensive act has been committed which may encourage retribution. There are certain areas of our world where some men do not hold human life in the highest regard as do we. It is unfortunate that rigid measures must be taken to better ensure that savage acts of terrorism such as the December calamity over Scotland do not recur.
The United States Secretary of Transportation has the power, by act of Congress in the Foreign Airport Security Act of 1985, to take certain actions deemed necessary to alleviate the threat of terrorism to flights involving domestic or other air carriers which originate in foreign countries. The Transportation Secretary has within his power sanctions which include the authority to immediately suspend service with foreign airports which do not comply with the stated conditions of the act. Grounds for suspension are reached when “a condition exists that threatens the safety or security of passengers, aircraft or crew traveling to or from a foreign airport . . .”
It is my strong belief that we as members of Congress must do whatever we can to end this everpresent threat of terrorist attacks to airlines involving American passengers, crew or planes. I feel that current law should be vigorously enforced and preventive actions be taken by our government to repel future threats to life, safety and security.
I call on colleagues to join with me in urging the Secretary of Transportation to use his power to strictly enforce the provisions of the Airport Security Act and if need be, to support additional appropriations to expand and strengthen security programs.
Mr. Kolter. Mr. Belger, under interrogation from Mr. Molinari you stated that if in fact there was a question of international security overseas, at a certain point in time the FAA would move in. Do you recall that?
Mr. BELGER. I recall——
Mr. KolTER. If there was a question, then you would move in.
At what point would you move? Would that happen after an accident, or would you have intelligence reports to indicate that some action should be taken?
Mr. BELGER. We routinely conduct foreign airport assessments, and also routinely inspect the procedures of U.S. airlines throughout the world.
If in the course of our foreign airport assessment program we see conditions which do not meet the international standards against which we inspect, we have a very well-defined process that is laid
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Mr. BELGER. Oh, very definitely. On the 29th of December the FAA Administrator announced that we were imposing some rather strict procedures that focused on checked baggage and small parcels. Mr. PACKARD. Let me also ask you a question that perhaps would not violate security. What kind of monitoring or inspection do you have of the procedures that are now in place and that were in place before? Mr. BELGER. Well, as I said in response to a previous question, we frequently inspect the operations of U.S. air carriers. Since December 29th we have conducted assessments at the great majority of those airports to specifically monitor the implementation of those new requirements that were imposed on the 29th of December. Mr. PACKARD. What does FAA do in terms of researching new technologies in companies that are working on detection devices? Do you aggressively pursue those? Do you visit companies? What do you do in terms of looking for and pursuing new technology? Mr. BELGER. We have a variety of ways to do that, sir, in trying to bring out the best technology possible through solicitations, through academia, to get some of the finest minds in the country and in the world to look at some of these very, very complex problems. We have unsolicited proposals that come to us that we look at and evaluate. We have a very active R&D center in our FAA Technical Center in New Jersey. And we have bilateral and multilateral discussions with the international community to see where they are advancing in civil aviation security, to see if there are 3. ideas that we can also explore, as well as to invest the best ollars. Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Ambassador, let me ask you in relation to some of your testimony. You indicate in your testimony that there was no connection between the Helsinki threats and Pan Am 103? Ambassador McMANAway. That's correct, sir. o PACKARD. Were there threats that were specific to Pan Am 103? Ambassador McMANAway. No, sir, there were not. Mr. PACKARD. None at all? Ambassador McMANAway. The anonymous call, which we determined to be baseless, was a hoax. Mr. PACKARD. Were there any threats of a general nature that could apply to 103, separate and apart from the Helsinki threats? Ambassador McMANAway. There was the existence of the bomb, found by the West German authorities, which, because it had a barometric triggering device, would be a bomb that would be applicable for use against an aircraft. In that sense, there was a general threat. But there was no association of that bomb to any airline or flight. In fact, when the arrest originally took place, the West German authorities were working on the assumption that the threat was a different type of threat entirely against a different airline. In fact, they thought they were after a group of terrorists who were going to follow the technique or method used by the North Koreans in blowing up KLA-58; that is, leaving the bomb on board the aircraft and getting off.
Mr. PACKARD. This may be a question which you may prefer not to answer, or to answer under a different situation. There are, in the last 24 hours, claims that PanAm and, I presume, Government agencies, were negligent in terms of heeding threats. Do you have any response to that? Ambassador McMANAway. I don’t believe it's true, sir. One of the most helpful things in this hearing today was the testimony of the two Members of Congress who reminded us all that in spite of the warnings, the threats, the hoax, what have you, this device was very difficult to detect. Pan American had increased security measures against both the hoax, which we left standing as an alert, and the bomb. Mr. PACKARD. My last question, Mr. Chairman. Then to your satisfaction did Pan Am follow all of the rules, regulations, and procedures that were expected of them under the existing threat? Ambassador McMANAway. I don’t believe I’m the right person to answer that question, and I suspect my colleague would prefer to answer it in executive session. Mr. PACKARD. Thank you. You would prefer to answer that otherwise? Mr. BELGER. I would prefer to deal with that question in executive session. Mr. PACKARD. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Packard. The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Laughlin? Mr. LAUGHLIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ambassador, earlier today we heard testimony that El Al Airlines, which has been subjected to terroristic threats for many years, has a two-hour requirement for passengers and people delivering packages to arrive at the airlines before that departure. I would like to know if we have any procedures when we have a general threat, as existed in the Frankfurt area, where we require U.S. carriers or other carriers landing in the United States to have a two-hour requirement for passengers so that their luggage or packages could be searched while that passenger or the person delivering the package was present? And if we don’t, do you think it would be a good procedure under those types of circumstances where we would require the person delivering a passenger or goods to be carried on an airlines to be present while it was searched? Ambassador McMANAway. I'm not the expert on this, Congressman, but I would certainly have no objection myself. I would say that I just happened to be talking to a member of my office who just came in a few days ago from London on PanAm, and he said that the new procedures are quite onerous, it took him quite a while longer to get through the airport, but he didn't hear anybody complaining about it. Mr. LAUGHLIN. Maybe someone else on the panel is in a better position to answer whether we have those procedures in place. Ambassador McMANAway. I would make just one point, if I could. I think that in fairness to the U.S. carriers, El Al does have a very excellent record and they have very rigorous standards, but they have only about 20 aircraft that they are managing. So they have a much more manageable problem than our air carriers have.