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that are serious and pose a serious threat to the security of lives and passengers?
Senator D'amato. That is exactly the point, Senator, and I am glad that you raised that issue. We are suggesting that the analysis process continue. We are not going to attempt to tell the services, the intelligence services, how to make that assessment.
But once they have made the assessment that this is a very real * threat, as they have in the past, at that point and at that time the public and the crews in the areas affected when they make this assessment should be given the right to know, so they can make the judgment.
And what will take place? Passengers are going to know that there is some threat in this area. The air industry itself is going to respond as they have never before. There is going to be the kind of extensive hand searches of carry-on luggage and checked baggage.
On certain high threat routes, I think we do ourselves a disservice not to have the kind of extensive security in operation that El Al so successfully employs.
The kinds of measures discussed here will lead to increased security, and increased public awareness, and will help prevent terrorist activity from becoming a reality.
Public disclosure will have the impact of reducing, I believe, the kinds of threats that we are now open to. I am not suggesting that we are going to eliminate all risk. However increased vigilance, security, and public notification and awareness will certainly reduce the likelihood that airlines are targeted.
Senator Mccain. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator D'amato. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Senator Ford. I believe Senator Exon may have a question for us.
Senator, do you have an opening statement?
OPENING STATEMENT BY SENATOR EXON
Senator Exon. I have one. I will try to be brief. I want to thank Senator Lautenberg from New Jersey and Senator D'Amato from New York for coming here, as well as you for calling these most appropriate hearings, Mr. Chairman, at a most appropriate time.
The Aviation Subcommittee which you chair and which I have been a member of ever since I have been in the United States Senate is doing everything that it can. And the hearing that we had earlier this week on airline maintenance and aging aircraft was tremendously informative. It helps us make the right decisions.
I want to take just a moment, though, to thank our friends from New Jersey and New York, who serve very ably over on the Appropriations Committee.
There are some differences of opinion from time to time between the authorizers and the appropriators throughout the history of the United States Senate. I think there has never been a time when the authorizers and the appropriators have worked more closely together, as evidenced by the two witnesses that we started off with here this morning and in this particular case.
I thank you for coming over, Senator, and sharing your thoughts with us.
Just a brief amplification of that—and I am going to be extremely brief because I see the Secretary has arrived. Mr. Chairman, I know that we want to go right to him. I will have no opening statement as far as he is concerned, except to welcome him here once again.
This is a very, very important time when it is up to the Congress and all of those who have any supervision whatsoever over the airlines to bring back a greater measure of security for the traveling air public than they have right now. I would hope that during today's session, or some time today, or at the latest some time within the next few days, the authorities will be able to come out and name publicly who the individual was, or individuals, for the _ Flight 103 disaster.
I think there is nothing that could beef up the confidence of the traveling public than if they could be assured that in a prompt manner, using proper procedures, we can identify who the individual or individuals were. That would do as much as anything else to immediately restore more confidence than exists today.
Thank you for your help and part in that, Senator. And I have no further questions.
Senator D'amato. Thank you very much, Senator.
Senator Ford. Thank you, Senator. We appreciate you coming today, and we look forward to working with you on your legislation.
Senator D'amato. Thank you.
Senator Ford. We are now very pleased to have the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Samuel K. Skinner. Mr. Secretary, if you will identify your colleagues for the record, we will proceed.
I appreciate your coming. You should have been here earlier. We will send you a transcript of the beginning of this testimony about the accolades that you received from the members of this committee. Take it when you can get it.
- STATEMENT OF HON. SAMUEL K. SKINNER, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; ACCOMPANIED BY MONTE BELGER, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR AVIATION STANDARDS, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; AND RAYMOND A. SALAZAR, DIRECTOR, CIVIL AVIATION SECURITY
Secretary Skinner. Yes, I will totally agree with that, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate them, too.
I am accompanied today by two senior members of the FAA security program, Monte Belger and Raymond Salazar. Both of these gentlemen have been and are intimately involved in the efforts at the FAA and the Department of Transportation to deal with the problems of aviation security.
May I go ahead with my remarks, Senator?
Senator Ford. Yes, please.
Secretary Skinner. Thank you. I have a complete statement that I would like to submit for the record, but I do welcome this opportunity.
Senator Ford. Mr. Secretary, your total statement will be included in the record as if given, and we look forward to your summary.
Secretary Skinner. Let me give some over view remarks. I do appreciate the opportunity to be here. There is no issue that is more important to the FAA and the Department of Transportation than this issue. It has enjoyed a top priority effort of the Secretary's office, as well as the FAA.
And we have been, I would point out, Mr. Chairman, working together on this very, very important issue, each with our own areas of responsibility, but on a coordinated basis, because this area of security, airline security, requires not only expertise that the FAA provides with their specialists working with their foreign and domestic intelligence sources, but it also requires a high level working relationship between other organizations within governments at the national and international level, and the Secretary's office has been able to provide that kind of support to them.
Let me also say that I am convinced that the/system today that we operate in is the safest in the world. Terrorism is a horrible problem. It is a problem that is not just isolated to American flag carriers. In fact, the majority of the destructive efforts that have gone on by terrorists have been directed at foreign flag carriers, as well as American flag carriers.
We are totally pledged to improving the system of airline security, and I believe as a result of some of our initiatives that we took last week, basically within several weeks of the investigation I began after meeting with the Pan Am 103 victims, we have taken significant steps toward dealing with this problem.
As Senator Exon pointed out, we are not going to stop terrorism by tight security at the FAA and at airports all over the world. We are going to deter it. While we are deterring it at the airports and the air facilities throughout the world, we must also make sure that those organizations charged with criminal, investigative, and prosecution responsibility are making an all-out effort to deal with the terrorists in their countries where they reside or where they have migrated to.
Working together on a national basis and on an international basis, we can put together a very, very effective program in that regard.
It is also a problem that requires international cooperation. A week from tomorrow I will be leaving for Europe, where I will visit six countries in six days to meet with the heads and sub-heads of various transport agencies, to meet with the international carriers as well as domestic carriers.
And the purpose of that trip will be to discuss with them the security initiatives we have taken recently, to encourage them to take initiatives of their own, and to find ways in which we can work together to deal with some of the problems that exist.
As you may have known, we have taken some effective steps already in the area of security. We have passenger and baggage screening techniques. We have imposed in special circumstances extraordinary security measures. We have worldwide use of X-ray and metal detection equipment. We have a very significant Federal air marshal program. We have in-depth assessments of U.S. and foreign airport security programs, and we have tightened control of access to aircraft and security sensitive areas.
We have put a considerable amount of money into research. We have improved our ability to analyze intelligence on terrorist activities, and we have assisted those countries that do not have the kind of resources that we have in the area of technical assistance and training.
This fiscal year we are increasing the FAA's civil aviation security work force by an additional 56 personnel and have requested 120 more security positions in our fiscal 1990 budget, which brings our total security force to almost 700 people.
I do not think there is a more important program within the FAA budget than our program dealing with security and terrorists, and I am hopeful that the Congress, working on a bipartisan basis, as Senator Exon pointed out, will support this program and give us the necessary resources.
We are also accelerating the delivery of the thermal neutron analysis units we have developed in research for the last several years. Those program deliveries will be accelerated. The first one will go into New York some time within the next two or three months.
We have also made sure that the carriers serving the United States are doing what they can to secure the operations against criminal and terrorist acts. And we amended FAA Regulation Part 129.25 to require foreign airlines to submit their security plans to the FAA for acceptance. These are in the process of being reviewed and they will be commented upon.
On April 3rd, after meeting with the Pan Am 103 victims and after I sent a special team to Europe to study the situation firsthand, and after an intense internal review of our security system, and after later meeting with the President and the Pan Am 103 victims, we announced an extraordinary set of measures that we are imposing on air carriers.
These initiatives include requiring the deployment of TNA units at the busiest airports in the United States and overseas. On April 24th I will be going personally to Europe, as I have indicated, to discuss the initiatives.
We are assigning additional FAA security specialists to provide greater surveillance and assistance to U.S. carriers. That, those discussions and placement, has already begun.
In addition, we have improved the FAA's security bulletin process. We have made compliance by U.S. carriers with such security directives mandatory. We require acknowledgment by the carrier within 24 hours. And we require carriers to submit to the FAA a plan within 72 hours to show us what they have done about it.
In addition, we have elevated standards for X-ray and metal detection. We have formed the National Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which will be chaired by Mr. Salazar, which will be a forum for additional interchange and improvement of the programs.
We have conducted a top to bottom review and evaluation by FAA on how well U.S. carriers are doing in complying with security requirements, and we are discussing with foreign governments new procedures for effective coordination of security and countersecurity efforts.
All of this is in the process of being implemented, and I believe these proposals and these programs will ensure that the safe skies are even safer.
In addition, we have re-evaluated the way we evaluate intelligence. We are working to improve our working relationships with' members of foreign government intelligence units, whose cooperation we rely on. And we are also working out arrangements with the domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering organizations within our own government, to make sure that we are fully coordinated with them as well.
Let me say that, before we get into questions, I think that a lot ° has been done, but there is a lot to be done. It is an unusual problem because it requires cooperation both domestically and internationally. We cannot mandate, but we must convince the governments abroad in Europe that what makes sense to us also makes sense for them.
We are receiving cooperation from most of those countries and I anticipate we will receive a great deal of cooperation in the future.
Let me talk about the Administration's personal commitment to this problem. I had the opportunity to meet with the President and Pan Am 103 victims in his office several days ago. That meeting was scheduled for 20 minutes and went over an hour.
I believe the families of the 103 victims believe, because they have indicated that to me, that the President understands their concerns. And I can assure you from conversations I have had with the White House and with the President personally and with Chief of Staff Sununu that the programs and efforts that we have undertaken, as well as other programs and efforts we are considering, is at the very top of their agenda.
The President is personally committed to making sure that the system is improved to the best of our ability. He is committed to make sure that the Federal government responds quickly and correctly on this situation, and he has made that commitment to the families who were, I believe, the proper ones to have that made to, as well as to the American people.
I have no question that we will have additional improvements and suggestions as this process goes on. I believe as a result of my trip to Europe we will have additional significant announcements that will be made on a coordinated basis with those major countries in Europe.
I think we are doing everything we can to stay on top of this and, as I indicated before, there is nothing that is a higher priority on my agenda than making sure that we follow through on the commitments that the President and I have made, not only to the Pan Am 103 victims, but to the American people.
Mr. Salazar, Mr. Belger and I await your questions.
[The statement and questions and answers follow:]