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CONTENTS

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VII

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proposed Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990 ..

(V)

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

and

SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION

hearing on

H.R. 5200, AVIATION SECURITY IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 1990

9:30 A.M. Thursday, July 26, 1990

SUMMARY OF SUBJECT MATTER

The Subcommittee on Aviation, jointly with the Committee on Foreign Affairs, will hold a hearing on H.R. 5200, the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990, which would implement the recommendations of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism. The Commission's Report, containing the recommendations, was made public on May 15.

BACKGROUND

In the aftermath of the bombing of Pan American World Airways Flight 103, on December 21, 1988, over Lockerbie, Scotland, the families of the victims pressed for further action, to learn the truth about the events leading up to the tragedy, and to assure changes in the nation's aviation security system to prevent further such disasters.

Responding to the families, the President on September 4, 1989, created the Commission by Executive Order. The 7-member Commission was charged to "review and evaluate policy options in connection with aviation security, with particular reference to the destruction, on December 21, 1988, of Pan American World Airways Flight 103.". Specifically, the Commission was charged to:

conduct a comprehensive study and appraisal of practices and policy options with respect to preventing terrorist acts involving aviation;

to evaluate the adequacy of existing procedures for aviation security, compliance therewith, and enforcement thereof;

to review options for handling terrorist threats, including prior notification to the public;

to investigate practices, policies, and laws with respect to the treatment of families of victims of terrorist acts.

The Commission was specifically prohibited from becoming involved in the on-going criminal investigation of the bombing.

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The Commission Members included Representatives Oberstar and Hammerschmidt; Senators Lautenberg and D'Amato; and three private citizens: Ann McLaughlin, Chairman; Edward Hidalgo, former Secretary of the Navy; and General Thomas C. Richards, USAF (Ret.).

The Commission completed its Report by May 15, 1990, and closed its doors a month later.

The May 15 Report contained 64 specific recommendations for improving the state of aviation security. The full list of recommendations is attached. The vast majority of these fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Works and Transportation and Foreign Affairs Committees. H.R. 5200 as introduced puts the Commission recommendations in legislative form. The Committee may wish to refine, elaborate upon, or substantially modify them.

H.R. 5200 has been referred to the Committees on Public Works and Transportation, and Foreign Affairs. Sequential referrals to other Committees should be anticipated.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO DOT AND FAA: TITLE L H.R. 5200

RESTRUCTURING OF SECURITY FUNCTIONS

The Commission found that "the aviation security system administered by the FAA has not provided the level of protection the traveling public demands and deserves. The system is seriously flawed and must be changed." The Commission found a "pattern of reaction" resulting from "a lack of visibility of the security function within the agency; a lack of an effective information base; insufficient staff resources for the security-related responsibilities; and a division of security responsibilities that leaves no one entity accountable."

To remedy these flaws, the Commission recommended, and H.R 5200 would implement, a complete restructuring of FAA's security functions, elevating them within FAA, and transferring some to a new Assistant Secretary of Transportation.. Currently, aviation security is four rungs down in the agency's hierarchy. The major recommendation requiring legislation is the creation of an Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Security and Intelligence, reporting directly to the Secretary, to which certain aspects of aviation security now under FAA would be transferred. The new Assistant Secretary would be responsible for development of a transportation security policy, and a long term strategy for dealing with a potential increase in the threat. The function of FAA'S Intelligence Division would be elevated to this office.

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The Commission also proposed that the security functions remaining in FAA be elevated to a new Assistant Administrator for Security, responsible directly to the Administrator.

Serving under the Assistant Administrator would be holders of the recommended position of Federal Security Manager. FSMS, stationed at each high risk airport in the US and overseas where US planes fly, would have overall responsibility for security at that airport. (FSMS in foreign airports would have substantially less authority but, as Foreign Security Liaison Officers, would perform a similar function to the extent permitted by foreign governments.)

CARGO AND MAIL

Cargo and mail pose particularly thorny problems because there is little control over contents, and no adequate technology to screen either one. In addition, with mail, screening raises serious concerns (which may rise to the Constitutional level) for privacy and delay.

The Commission recommended increased R&D for cargo screening technology, and that the airlines, rather than the US Postal Service, screen mail for possible bombs, and be responsible for cargo screening as well.

EXPLOSIVE DETECTION

The Commission recommended considerable acceleration of R&D in the field of aviation security, including creation of a Science Advisory Board.

The Commission strongly recommended against any further deployment of Thermal Neutron Analysis (TNA) machines, which the Commission found to be ineffective in detecting small amounts of plastic explosives without unacceptable levels of "false positives."

THREAT NOTIFICATION

Threat notification was a major item on the families' agenda. They claimed that their relatives should have been notified of the threat against PanAm, and further that a threat notice, posted at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, gave privileged treatment to the Embassy personnel (the latter charge was not borne out by the evidence).

While recommending that the access to information on civil aviation threats be reduced to a minimum number of people, the Commission found that the public should be notified of threats to civil aviation under certain circumstances; and that such notification should avoid any appearance of favored treatment of certain individuals or groups.

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