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[The prepared statements of Mr. McCurdy and Mr. McNulty follow:]
STATEMENT BY REPRESENTATIVE DAVE McCURDY Mr. Chairman, 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 and Dan Glickman.
We are witnessing an attack by international terrorists on innocent victims, commercial aviation, and the traveling public. Terrorists attack with no warning and no rationale. Their weapon of choice is a pliable, ordorless substance that is twice as powerful as TNT and is virtually invisible to conventional security devices. It can be hidden in a brief case or a small cassett recorder. We were reminded 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 can not 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% accuracy in detecting plastic explosives. During the recent hearing held by the Committee on Science Space and Technology on which I serve, Allan McArtor stated, with respect to TAN, “We do not see any technical hurdles, however, we would like to see some improved performance capabilities with respect to through-put.” 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 ensure that mature plastic explosives detection equipment like TNA be 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 the equipment.
The agenda must be set quickly to ensure safety for airline passenger 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 ensure safe air travel. Explosives detection equipment is an extremely valuable resource and, most importantly, it is available.
TESTIMONY OF CONGRESSMAN MICHAEL R. McNULTY Mr. Chairman; members of the committee; and family members of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103:
Thank 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.
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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, Lynne.
In addition, other area families suffered in this tragedy. Mrs. Barbara Primeau of Greenwich, lost her twin sons, Eric and Jason Coker, who were 22. Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Nucci of Hudson lost their 22 year 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. She died two days after her son, on December 23.
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 to insure that such a tragedy never occurs again.
I have written Secretary Skinner and acting FAA Administrator Whittington 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 security of airline passengers.
Specifically, 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. This should be a top priority. In the interim, manual searches should be conducted on international flights whenever a threat is 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 the victims' relatives. The United States government must take the responsibility to implore the Scottish authorities to comply with this request without further delay.
Details were released last week by the FAA that an “aviation security bulletin” was released on November 18, a full 4 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, the U.S. airlines operating out of Britain did not receive a copy of this until sometime between January 16 and the 19th. 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.
Thank you for permitting me to testify. I join you in the hope of preventing another such tragedy in the future.
GENERAL STATEMENT ISSUED BY FLIGHT 103 VICTIM FAMILY MEMBERS We are relatives of some of those innocent persons murdered in this wanton attack on Pan Am Flight 103, the most massive terrorist attack in history aimed at American civilians. During the past six difficult weeks, not only have we had to accept the senseless death of our loved ones, we were forced to confront the bureaucracy to have the remains of our loved ones returned, we have arranged for funerals, and attended along with over 160,000 others, numerous memorial services in Syracuse, New York City, and Lockerbie, Scotland, and scores of other cities and towns in the United States. We have had the support and sympathy from grieving relatives, friends, members of our communities, and indvidual airline employees. We have collectively received several hundred thousand cards and letters of condolence. The outpouring of sharing has been a great comfort to us.
However, there has been one quarter from which the response has been utter silence. We have received no condolences from the top officials of Pan Am nor the leaders of our national government. Unlike the British Government leaders, our
President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Transportation have not attended any of the memorial services that were held. Not even 2nd level U.S. officials have been present. But most disturbing to us has been the utter silence of our national leaders over the past 6 weeks. Our numerous letters are now answered, we see no sign of action, we are not being informed of any events which would lead to answers to the many questions that remain. The question must be asked: Can it be that the U.S. Government policy is to ignore the Flight 103 bombing by doing little or nothing?
In the immediate aftermath of the Flight 103 bombing we were shocked to learn that the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) had issued written alerts of a terrorist threat to bomb a Pan Am flight originating in Frankfurt during the pre-Christmas holiday period. These warnings had apparently been sent to U.S. embassies, the airline, British officials, and the U.S. military personnel in Frankfurt, however, the warning alert was not available to passengers or crew of Flight 103. President Reagan when asked about this policy of keeping warnings, even high level alerts secret from the public, asserted that so many threats are received that to make them available to the public could stop all air traffic. The FAA's own reports, however, show a relatively small number of threats to aircraft (400-500 per year out of 6 million flights) and a very small number of high level threats (variously reported at 22 to 24 in all of 1988). The threat to Pan Am Flight 103 after December 5th was apparently classified as such a high level threat. While the number of people who knew of the FAA terrorist alert is not known at present, the approximately 168 vacant seats on this usually crowded pre-Christmas flight indicates the distinct possibility that the alert was more widely known than has yet been reported.
Both the State Department, and the Transportation department promised in late December a “review of the policy on warnings, but the policy (or lack of policy) apparently remains intact and nothing further has been heard of this "review”.
We believe the present defacto policy of issuing warnings of terrorist threats to government agency employees while withholding such alerts from the flying public and the flight crews is both immoral and possibly criminal and it must be roundly condemned. We call on U.S. Transportation Secretary Skinner to disavow this FAX and airline policy forthwith, and to make available upon request to any perspective international air passenger a current summary of FAA alerts or reported threats to aircraft, and to require notification of flight crews.
The anger felt by many of us about suppressed warnings has been heightened by revelation that airline security measures cannot generally detect plastic bombs in the checked baggage. While the FAA and the airline have apparently known of this massive security gap since 1986 and the FAA has ordered new equipment to detect such bombs, no interim measures to detect such bombs were undertaken, apparently for reasons of commercial convenience.
Many questions need answers-How would warnings or alerts be suppressed when the FAA and airlines knew that their security measures were ineffective? By what right, and on whose authority, was the information on ineffective security measures and specific terrorist bomb threats kept from the public and flight crews? Why has the FAA and Pan Am still refused to institute effective security measures to detect plastic bombs in luggage compartments? (The FAA regulations issued on December 28, 1988 following the Flight 103 bombing call merely for X-rays of all luggage, which cannot with current equipment detect plastic bombs.)
It is also time for accountability as well as answers. We call on Secretary of Transportation Skinner, to demand the resignation of FAA Administrator McArtor, whose poor judgement is principally responsible for the present dangerous condition of airline security. His policies have placed the security of our loved ones and all international air travellers, in the hands of the terrorist groups, who attack the United States by striking at innocent civilians on American overseas air carriers.
We would like not to turn to some sensitive matters of direct concern to most relatives. The handling of the remains of unidentified victims and the indefinite delay on return of the personnel efforts of property. (Personal effects refer to very personal things removed from a body or found in the immediate vicinity of a body.)
A funeral service was held last week in Scotland for a number of victims whose bodies had not been fully recovered or identified. Unfortunately, only short notice or no notice was given to a number of American next of kin.
While family members were originally told in the week after the crash that personal effects would be returned to the next of kin with the bodily remains, and other property would be identified and returned by Pan Am, Scottish authorities subsequently ruled that they would handle these matters. Scottish authorities have stated that personal effects and property of Americans will be turned over to the U.S. State Department rather than released directly to the next of kin. Despite our
request, no personal effects or property has been returned to the next of kin on the grounds that these items may be needed in the criminal investigation of future criminal cases. While we appreciate that there may be good cause to hold some luggage found near the bomb blast, we believe the personal effects removed from the identified bodies should be returned to the victim families within the next week. Other victim property which is stored in a large factory warehouse in Lockerbie, should also be identified and returned. To date, despite several requests, no lost luggage forms have been sent to victim family members to accomplish this task. We call on the Scottish authorities, especially Scottish Home Secretary Malcolm Rifkind and the Scottish Lord Advocate, Lord Cameron of Lochbroom, to promptly authorize the release of victim personal effects and expedite the identification and return of other property.
In conclusion, we call on President Bush to act on the ideals he has championed. Please, Mr. President, break your silence and exercise your leadership to redouble the efforts of the Federal Government to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this, the worst terrorist attack in history on American civilians. Use your power to restore genuine security for Americans travelling on American international air carriers. End the Government's present immoral policy of providing selective warnings and alerts to certain favored persons while keeping the public and airline employees whose lives are at risk in ignorance.
To the Congress which will decide the degree to which it will investigate the Flight 103 bombing over the next several weeks, we urge you to conduct a full and complete investigation. Unlike most accidental air crashes, where the role of the FAA itself is not at issue, this case demands a full independent investigation of FAA's actions on the security and warning issues. We particularly call on Senators Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Alfonse D'Amato (N.Y.), Daniel Patrick Moynihan (N.Y.), and Members of Congress Glenn Anderson, Norman Mineta, William Lehman, and Cardiss Collins who by virtue of their committee and sub-committee chairmanships have a special leadership role in the issues involved in the Flight 103 disaster.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Our next witnesses are a panel of experts in security issues in aviation. Those have been very close to this most recent incident and very serious problem of the destruction of Pan Am flight 103.
Again, the point of our hearing is not to inquire into a specific incident, but to look into the basic issues involving security.
The Chair will now call Mr. Monte Belger, Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards of the FAA; Mr. Raymond Salazar, Director, Civil Aviation Security for the FAA; Ambassador Clayton McManaway, Associate Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism at the State Department; and Ms. Irene Howie, Assistant Chief Counsel for International Affairs and Legal Policies for the FAA.
Mr. OBERSTAR. We thank you very much for being with us this morning. I see there are two additional panelists. Mr. McManaway, are they on your team?
Ambassador McMANAWAY. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would like to introduce—–
Mr. OBERSTAR. Would you introduce them? Thank you very much.
Ambassador McMANAWAY [continuing]. Two colleagues from the Department of State. To my immediate left is Ambassador Bob Ryan, who is the Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs; and on his left Gene Griffith who is the Director of the Office of Aviation Policy, the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs in the Department of State.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very, very much.
Mr. Ambassador and Dr. McManaway, since we have two, I would like to express a personal welcome and appreciation for your participation. For my colleagues on the committee, I might say I came to know Ambassador McManaway some years ago when he
was serving as U.S. ambassador to Haiti in one of the most difficult and yet one of the most rejoiceful periods of time when Haiti was free from the despotism of the Duvalier family.
Ambassador McManaway was our man on the spot, handling the transition, moving the Duvalier family out of the country, working with the transition to a new and at that time very hopefully a democratic regime who steered U.S. efforts in Haiti to bring about a peaceful transition without bloodshed and one that yet I hope will lead to democracy in Haiti.
He served this country with great distinction in one of its most difficult periods and one that could have been explosive, but instead was a very peaceful transition.
Ambassador McMANAWAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Belger, we would like to take your statement first and then we'll proceed to Ambassador McManaway. TESTIMONY OF MONTE BELGER, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR
FOR AVIATION STANDARDS, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRA-
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am Monte Belger, the FAA's Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards. With me is Mr. Raymond Salazar who is our Director of Civil Aviation Security and Ms. Trene Howie who is our Assistant Chief Counsel for International Affairs and Legal Policy.
With your permission, I would like to make a very brief statement at this point and my formal statement submitted for the record.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Without objection, the complete statement will be included in the record. You may summarize as you wish.
Mr. BELGER. Despite efforts to strengthen security procedures, civil aviation continues to be a target for and vulnerable to criminal and terrorist acts. The criminal destruction of Pan Am flight 103 tragically reminds us that there is much to be done to thwart cowardly and despicable acts of terrorism. There is no higher priority in the FAA.
The challenge we face is complex. We must continue to find ways to bring our best technology and our best people to attack this problem.
As I described in my prepared statement, we have in place an intensive program to combat criminal acts against civil aviation. We conduct an aggressive program of foreign airport assessments