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need greater protection today, greater surveillance by the carriers themselves.
Mr. Chairman, I, together with you, look forward to the hearing today, and I hope that some of those very important questions will be answered and some guidance be given to the committee so that perhaps we may legislatively move to some solutions.
Thank you very much.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank the gentleman for that very sensitive statement and responsiveness to the concerns of the families of the victims of Pan Am 103.
The Chair notes the presence of a quorum and would recognize the gentleman from New York for a motion.
Mr. MOLINARI. Mr. Chairman, pursuant to Rule 2(f) of the committee rules, I move that upon conclusion of the scheduled open hearing, the subcommittee proceed with a hearing closed to the public on the grounds that disclosure of the testimony and other evidence to be presented at that portion of the hearing might endanger the national security.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Any questions about the motion? [No response.)
The motion is carried. The committee will meet again in Executive Session on the conclusion of the public testimony.
Ordinarily the Chair would like to take opening statements from Members, but in view of the large number of witnesses and the large number of Members, we would, by unanimous consent, accept other statements for the record and at this point proceed to our first witnesses.
[The statements of Messrs. Mineta, Towns, Payne, and Lightfoot follow:]
OPENING STATEMENT OF NORMAN Y. MINETA, MEMBER OF CONGRESS Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I commend you for your foresight in scheduling this hearing.
The issue of security in the aviation industry naturally draws the greatest attention when it fails. Yet security must always be in the forefront of our concerns. The role of government is to be active, not reactive, in protecting the lives of travelers and of the dedicated employees in the industry.
I am eager to hear from our witnesses today about improvements which can be made in our aviation security network. And what lessons have been learned from the tragedy, means have been found to greatly decrease the change that such an act of terrorism could be successful in the future. The Pan Am-Lockerbie tragedy is painful enough to bear. It would be more painful if we could not at least hope to lessen the chance of a recurrence.
I do not mean to downplay the difficulty of dealing with terrorists who lack respect for law or human life. But several efforts showing promise to deal with this form of terrorism have been batted around for quite a while without any sign of implementation.
For example, much work has been done on improved explosion detection devices, and these devices have a proven track record. Yet their implementation has been delayed by turf battles. The FAA, the airlines and the airports have argued over who will shoulder the burden of paying for these devices. In the meantime, travelers go unportected.
I hope today's testimony includes a timetable and specific information from the FAA about how and when these decisions will be made.
I am also eager to hear more about Secretary Skinner's proposal to work toward more stringent security standards in foreign airports. We must respect the sovereignty of other nations, but we also have a responsibility to protect U.S. travelers as
well. Surely a balance between these two concerns can be struck which provides for adequate security for air travelers.
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership on this important issue.
STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN ED TOWNS Today, Mr. Chairman, we have the sad task of determining where we went wrong on December 21, 1988. In providing security for the passengers on Pan Am Flight 103, somewhere, somehow, the necessary precautions were overlooked. As a result, 270 people died.
While we are all anxious that this incident should never be repeated, we must not be to quick to rush to judgment about what the appropriate solutions are to addressing aviation security concerns. One issue that we should be clear on, however, is that improved security measures will not be cheap. We can not expect our airlines and/or airports to institute new security improvements with little or no support from the Federal government. This Committee has repeatedly urged that the Airport Trust Fund be used for its intended purpose: improving the nation's airports. There is certainly no better or more urgent need than improved security for our commercial aviation system.
I would that this hearing will generate the kind of evidence and support we need to release the Airport Trust Fund monies so that our aviation security needs can be met without further delay.
CONGRESSMAN LEWIS F. PAYNE, JR. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for calling this hearing. We are a society of air travellers, and air safety is a matter of great concern to us. Although safety measures have improved over the years, terrorists still find the weak link in our system. We must constantly strive to stay one step ahead in our security measures in an effort to protect the flying public. Although it is not realistic that we will ever be 100% terrorist-proof, I believe that we should explore all possible methods to get as close to that goal as possible.
I want to thank the family and friends of those who were on Pan Am Flight 103 for coming here today. You have my deepest sympathy, and please be assured that this Subcommittee wants to do all possible to ensure that a similar group need not ever come before us again.
I look forward to hearing the testimony today on the problems we face, and how we might speedily and effectively address them.
STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN JIM LIGHTFOOT Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased we are considering the issue of airpline safety today. All of us agree we have a problem on our hands. I'd also like to thank our witnesses for agreeing to speak publicly today on this sensitive subject.
I'd like to make the point, however, that any action Congress takes on this issue must be carefully weighed and the consequences considered. Too frequently, the federal government imposes mandates on the private sector without providing any financial resources with which to meet those mandates. I'm sure most of us can think of examples of such unfunded mandates. One area where such mandates commonly appear comes under the heading of environmtal law.
Once again, I welcome our witnesses and thank them for sharing their insight on this security problem.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The Chair will now recognize the gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. McCurdy for his statement and then the gentleman from New York, NY. McNulty. Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana was also to appear at this time, but has been detained because of other committee business. He will be here later.
We thank you for being here with us.
TESTIMONY OF HON. DAVE McCURDY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM OKLAHOMA, AND HON. MICHAEL R. McNUL-
I appreciate the opportunity to testify on the Airport Security Technology and Research Act of 1989 which I am introducing today along with my colleagues, Tom Lewis from Florida and Mr. Dan Glickman from Kansas.
We're witnessing an attack by international terrorists on innocent victims, commercial aviation, and the traveling public-terrorist attack with no warning and no rationale. Their weapon of choice of pliable, odorless substance which is twice as powerful as TNT and is virtually invisible to conventional security devices. It can be hidden in a briefcase or a small cassette recorder, as we have recently seen.
Mr. Chairman, I might just take a moment to say to some of my colleagues here, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, I once went to one of our intelligence agencies to review with them some of the security regarding
terrorist devices and explosives, and we had a meeting for a couple of hours. At the end of the meeting one of the gentlemen said, “Oh, by the way, let me show you how dangerous these devices are and how difficult they are to detect.
He took the briefcase that he had laid beside me and had been sitting there for two hours and he opened the briefcase. Inside the briefcase, he pulled out the liner and it was lined with plastic explosives, or simulated plastic explosives. He pulled out a liquor bottle and showed how it, too, was filled with explosives. He had taken that briefcase into this very secure building undetected.
We were reminded also of the deadly nature of plastic explosives like SEMTEX when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland last December. A total of 270 people died that day.
Unfortunately, we cannot change the tragedy of the Lockerbie incident. We can, however, fight back against the use of plastic explosives. Thermal Neutron Activation is a mature technology that has been proven to have 95 percent accuracy in detecting plastic explosives.
During the recent hearing held by the Committee on Science Space and Technology, chaired by my successor subcommittee chairman Tim Valentine, on which I serve, Allan McArtor stated, with respect to TNA, “We do not see any technical hurdles. However, we would like to see some improved performance capabilities with respect to through-put," through-put being the time it takes to go through the devices.
The Federal Aviation Administration has the consolidated lab and field tests on TNA and other sister technologies, but, to date, has not done enough to see that this equipment be expeditiously installed in major airports throughout the United States.
As you know, the FAA has planned to deploy six TNA devices at the high-risk airports within the next year, and I commend them on this effort. However, I believe that the effort needs to be accelerated and a clear agenda set for the installation of explosives detection equipment in all major airports.
Terrorists are not likely to curtail their insidious acts while we debate and formulate this agenda. Therefore, the FAA should take more of a leadership role to insure that mature plastic explosives detection equipment like TNA is installed in major airports without unnecessary delay.
The Airport Security Technology and Research Act will put into place, through the FAA's rulemaking process, deadlines for installation of detection equipment. The FAA will have 90 days after the bill is enacted to initiate a rulemaking proceeding and 180 days to issue a final rule. The final rule will require that the detection equipment be installed in major airports no later than one and a half years after enactment of the bill.
The bill requires that the FAA administrator outline who will purchase, who will install and operate explosives detection equipment to be used at major airports, how the equipment will be purchased and, who will pay to maintain and operate that equipment.
The agenda must be set quickly to insure safety for airline passengers and crews from the invisible and deadly threat of plastic explosives.
The act also calls for accelerated research and development of other technologies which may be used for explosives detection. There are about 30 contracts with the FAA for other technologies including fast neutron activation, enhanced x-ray, ion mobility spectrometry, and biotechnology. The FAA should accelerate funding for research on fast, accurate, low-cost technologies so that we can keep a step ahead of the threat that terrorists pose to commercial aviation.
Mr. Chairman, it is obvious that airport security is just a part of stopping terrorism. We must work with United States intelligence agencies and encourage cooperation with foreign governments to put an end to terrorism. But, until the threat of terrorism no longer exists, Congress, the FAA, and all those responsible for safety must use available resources to insure safe air travel. Explosives detection equipment is an extremely valuable resource and, most importantly, it is available.
I thank the gentleman and yield back my time.
We will now take the testimony of the gentleman from New York, Mr. McNulty.
Mr. McNulty. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, and family members of the victims of Pan Am flight 103.
Mr. Chairman, I am grateful to you for allowing me to express my deep concerns about the circumstances surrounding the tragedy which occurred on December 21st of last year.
I represent the 23rd District of the State of New York, the capital district of the State. Mr. and Mrs. Paul Hudson reside in Albany, which is in my district. Their 16-year-old daughter, Melina, was on board that flight. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Hartunian of Niskayuna lost their 22-year-old daughter, Lynn.
In addition, other area families suffered in this tragedy. Ms. Barbara Primeau of Greenwhich lost her twin sons, Eric and Jason, who were 22. Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Nucci of Hudson lost their 22year-old son Chris. Mr. and Mrs. Rafferty of Ticonderoga lost their 21-year-old daughter, Bonnie Rafferty Williams, as well as their
son-in-law, Eric, 24, and their two granddaughters, Brittany, 2 months, and Stephanie, 19 months. Mr. Edgar Eggleston's son, Edgar III, of Glens Falls was returning to visit
his mother who was terminally ill with cancer. He, of course, died on December 21st; she died two days later, on December 23rd.
We have a responsibility to those 259 people, the 11 in Lockerbie, as well as their families and friends, to do all that we can do to insure that such a tragedy never again occurs.
I have written Secretary Skinner and Acting FAA Administrator Whittington and Secretary Baker concerning the manner in which certain aspects of the tragedy are being addressed as well as the steps that should be taken to assure the future safety of airline passengers.
Specifically, Mr. Chairman, I have requested that in the future, when high level warnings are issued, the information should be given to the public. Also, the technology which is available to detect plastic explosives should be deployed with all deliberate speed. As Mr. McCurdy stated, this should be a top priority. In the interim, manual searches should be conducted on international flights whenever there is a threat suspected.
Additionally, family members are anxiously awaiting the return of the personal effects of their loved ones. All identifiable personal effects should be released immediately to victims' relatives. The United States Government must take the responsibility to implore the Scottish authorities to comply with this request without any further delay.
Details were released last week by the FAA that an “aviation security bulletin" was released on November 18, a full four weeks before the tragedy. The Toshiba cassette recorder equipped with a barometric detonating device was described and a photo issued, referring to the anti-terrorist sweep by West German police on October 23rd, in which a similar recorder was confiscated. British authorities issued a "British air carrier only warning" on November 22nd. A phone call warning of an impending bomb attack was placed to the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. It was dismissed as a crank.
A second warning was released on December 19, two days before the attack, referring to the “previous telex.” Incredibly, U.S. airlines operating out of Britain did not receive a copy of this until sometime between January 16 and January 19. This is deplorable and must never happen again.
I share your concern, Mr. Chairman, that airline security must be improved and that future communiques' concerning possible attacks not be dealt with in the same manner.
I would like to submit for the record a copy of the statement issued by the families of the victims on February 6th. I also intend to introduce a resolution expressing the sense of the Congress about this matter and aspects of my previous testimony.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for permitting me to testify. I join you and the other members of the committee in the hope that we can prevent another such tragedy from occurring again in the future.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my formal remarks. I just wanted to add for emphasis I would hope that during the course of this in