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Mr. OBERSTAR. No, you're not taking too long. It's very imp tant—— Ambassador McMANAway. All right, sir, I’ll continue then. Mr. OBERSTAR [continuing]. That you get to elaborate on th points. Ambassador McMANAway. Our system for analyzing terro
threats is based on a comprehensive national level process wh responds to threat information received by any concerned U
agency and assures that this information is acted upon in a tim Imanner. The objective of the system is to review and forward terrol threat alert or advisory information quickly to those responsi for countering terrorist actions. Again, I can go into more detail that in the closed session. The national level system also includes a provision for alert the general public of specific and credible terrorist threats via . partment of State public travel advisories. We also use travel ac sories in conjunction with the FAA to advise the American pub in those situations in which aviation security in a given airpor deemed inadequate to ensure the security of passengers. Aviation security bulletins are issued by the FAA and adv aviation security officials at U.S. carriers and elsewhere of ind mation they need to help insure the safety of U.S. air carriers op ating throughout the world. The Department of State repeats these cables to posts affected the bulletin so that specified officials at our diplomatic posts ( assist the U.S. carriers in obtaining the cooperation of the host g ernment in increasing security measures as appropriate. Such b letins are not advisories to U.S. Government personnel. Mr. Chairman, I want to assure you, this committee, the C gress, and the American people that there is not and cannot b double standard between the travel security information availa to official personnel overseas and to the American public. Let reemphasize. If we have a specific and credible threat to civil av tion security which cannot be countered, we will strongly reco mend to the air carrier that it cancel the threatened flight. If r essary, beyond that, we will issue a public travel advisory to al the American traveling public to this threat. Turning now if I may, to the second broad range of issues bef the committee, the Department of State has been active on international front to help prevent another Pan Am 103. A spec meeting of the Terrorism Experts Group of the Summit 7 v called in response to the Pan Am 103 bombing. At that meeting, the United States delegation argued forcefu that the bombing of Pan Am 103 demonstrated the urgent need upgrading air security measures worldwide. There was gene agreement among the Summit 7 representatives that the threat air travel is not limited to American carriers and that the Inter tional Civil Aviation Organization is the appropriate forum strengthening worldwide civil aviation security standards. Further, the experts agree that discussions should begin on possibility of an international convention that would call for t ging 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 agreement on text has been reached with another 27 countries. We are working now on incorporating these changes into these agreements with more than 30 other States. Mr. Chairman, in closing let me say that preventing another tragedy such as the Pan Am 103 bombing is now and will remain a permanent preoccupation of the concerned agencies of the U.S. Government. With regard to those responsible for Pan Am 103, I am confident that we will eventually identify them and that we will then do everything in our power to bring them to justice. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. I assume your associates do not have prepared statements but are here as resource for questioning. Thank you very, very much for that enlightening presentation and for the specific response to the question about the so-called “Helsinki threat.” That's a matter that continues to gnaw away at the conscious and at the troubled souls of the families who survive the tragedy of Pan Am 103, and I think that's certainly a matter that will continue to be explored in time ahead. The question that we all have in mind is that raised by your testimony on page 6 and throughout this incident, and that is, quoting your statement, Mr. Ambassador, “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.” Has that ever been done? Ambassador MCMANAWAY. No, sir. One of the reasons—— Mr. OBERSTAR. There have never been situations where there has been that kind of credible threat? Ambassador McMANAway. That's one of the problems, frankly, that I think some of us would have with some of the ideas that have been put forward which are totally aimed at the right objective, and that is making sure our people are protected. If you look at the 20-odd FAA bulletins that were issued last year many were not specific as to flight number or itinerary. It would be difficult to—for example, again coming back to the socalled threat and the call to the Helsinki embassy, Pan Am offers over 50 flights a week from Frankfurt to the United States. We don't get them—the reason we haven't done them is that we don't get them that specific. Mr. OBERSTAR. What constitutes a credible threat? I read your testimony at length last night. I've read the statement of the FAA analyzing the situation in Helsinki, the number of flights, the fact that there wasn’t a specific reference. How do you evaluate, how does our intelligence system evaluate threats and determine from all available evidence whether one or another of them, whether one or another of those 639 issued against domestic U.S. airports and carriers is a credible threat? Ambassador MCMANAway. I think you start with the organization that's claiming to make the threat. We have people now in all of our agencies who have developed a considerable depth of knowledge of the various terrorist organizations operating in the world. That would be one criterion.
Another criterion would be the specificity of the threat, the language used. Does it meet the MO of that organization? Is it aimed at a specific flight, flight number? Is there an itinerary involved? If we had all of those things and could see no way to counter the threat—that is, round up the terrorists, for example—then we take steps to get the flight cancelled. Mr. OBERSTAR. Is preventive detention a step taken or recommended to be taken when a threat is made and a person or persons of one of the questionable organizations such as one of the Palestinian groups—and we know that they have terrorist activities, we know that they are equipped to plant these kinds of exotic or esoteric destructive devices—when one of them shows up at an airline counter and a warning is given, “Don’t board this person,” is preventive detention a recommended step or procedure? Ambassador MCMANAway. Yes, sir, it would be from me. I have to look carefully at how much and how far I can go in an open session, but coming back to the threat in Germany and the arrests that were made, the 14 suspected members, that arrest was made because it was believed that they were about to do damage to a flight, not of a U.S. carrier but of another foreign carrier. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. Mr. Belger, a few years ago the Secretary of Transportation, following the procedures outlined in legislation Congress enacted, issued a warning for Americans not to use the Athens airport, literally shutting Athens down to Americans, to phrase it rather loosely. What were the criteria used, what was the extent of the security threat that prompted the Secretary to take that action? Mr. BELGER. I think, Mr. Chairman, that warning was a State Department advisory. Mr. OBERSTAR. It was a State Department—— Mr. BELGER. I believe so. Mr. OBERSTAR. I'm mistaken. Mr. BELGER. I think that it was the result of an FAA assessment. Mr. OBERSTAR. It was certainly the result of an assessment that the airport was not secure. Mr. BELGER. That's Right. The FAA has, in the course of our foreign assessment programs, recommended that certain countries beef up their security programs. In one instance an advisory was made public as a result of our foreign airport assessments. Mr. OBERSTAR. Ambassador McManaway, could you comment further on the Athens situation? I think it's instructive for us. There were criteria used in that situation to determine that the airport was not secure and the Secretary issued the directive for Americans not to use that airport until the Secretary determined it was secure. The government of Greece responded. Athens airport security was beefed up, and after some period of time it was reopened to American use. Ambassador McMANAway. The notice to the American public not to use the airport at Athens followed on the heels of the hijacking of TWA 847 and the actions that were not taken by the government of Greece to help us with that. It originated there. It evidenced a lack of security at the airport, and there were other acT-T
tions taken during the resolution of that incident which we didn’t