Copyright 2001 FDCHeMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Federal Document Clearing House Congressional
September 20, 2001, Thursday
SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING TESTIMONY
LENGTH: 2045 words
COMMITTEE:SENATE COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION
HEADLINE: FEDERAL AVIATION SECURITY STANDARDS
TESTIMONY-BY: NORMAN Y. MINETA, REPRESENTATIVE
BODY: September 20, 2001
STATEMENT BY THE REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN Y. MINETA SECRETARY OF
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION UNITED STATES
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, it is
with both sadness and resolve that I appear before you today. Obviously, our
lives, and the life of our nation, changed dramatically as a result of the
terrible attack of September 11.
Though we will never
overcome the sorrow we feel for the families and friends who lost loved ones, we
will be able to ensure public safety.
And, while it may
take time to recreate comfortable confidence in air travel, I assure this
committee that we can--and will--enjoy a transportation system that is safe,
secure, and stable. The effort being expended by the government, the carriers,
airport authorities, local police forces, and others on behalf of aviation will
continue, and the traveling public can count on this.
That is the President's commitment, and I will marshal all resources of
the Department of Transportation to accomplish that fundamental goal.
I should begin by taking this public opportunity to
express my profound gratitude and pride in the performance of the employees
throughout the Department of Transportation. I want to emphasize particularly my
appreciation for the professionalism displayed by the FAA from top-to-bottom
since the attack. From Administrator Garvey on down, the FAA has performed
magnificently, as have other crucial players in our Department, including the
Coast Guard and all those who worked with the well-prepared DOT Crisis
I hope here briefly to outline some
of the key activities of our Department on September 11 and then to move to
essential plans for our future.
On the morning of
September 11 th , on first word of the attack, I moved directly to the
Presidential Emergency Operations Center in the White House. As soon as I was
aware of the nature and scale of the attack, I called from the White House to
order the air traffic system to land all aircraft, immediately and without
exception. That was an unprecedented step. But with the risk of additional
flights that might be used as terrorist weapons, I believe that it was the right
and necessary step to take.
In the moments that
followed my call, countless brave, tough, and smart Federal air traffic
controllers worked with courageous and calm pilots and flight crews to land over
4,500 aircraft. Though all these emergency landings were entirely unplanned,
they were safetly and successfully accomplished. That was an historic feat in
crisis management, and it illustrated the magnificent skill of key players in
our transportation systems.
This Committee should also
be aware of the extraordinarily rapid response achieved with respect to all
modes of transportation throughout our country on September 11th. Thanks to
elaborate simulation and preparation, the Department of Transportation's Crisis
Management Center took only minutes to kick into action. The first crash
occurred at 8:46 am, and the Crisis Management Center was fully
operational--with secure lines of communication, initiation of security
procedures, and key contacts on line--by 9 am.
a pre-planned fashion, the Department rapidly secured thousands of
transportation hubs and corridors across the United States--including bridges
and rail lines, roads and harbors.
Of course, as we
move forward, we must dramatically alter our approach. As President Bush has
said: the world has changed. I add: so too has the very nature of our national
The events of the past several
days require us to take new steps to move people and commerce safely and
efficiently, despite the fact that the nature of the threat has clearly changed.
It is a mission we cannot afford to leave for a later time.
This Administration is already moving to restore and enhance our air
transportation system. On September 13th, I announced the gradual restoration of
flights within the national airspace system. We took immediate steps to develop
heightened security measures to ensure the safety of airline passengers as well
as people on the ground.
All of the country's major
airports have resumed scheduled domestic commercial and cargo service
operations, with the exception of Reagan National Airport, which remains
temporarily closed. Scheduled passenger airline service is operating at about 78
percent of normal levels. General aviation operations have also resumed except
for visual flight rules operations in the immediate vicinity of our nation's 30
largest airports. We are currently increasing access to international commercial
and general aviation flights.
Because safety is of
paramount importance, I required that heightened security measures be in place
before any air service resumed. A thorough search and security check of all
airplanes and airports took place before passengers are allowed to enter and
We discontinued curbside check-in at
every airport. We discontinued off-airport check-in. We no longer allow
passengers to check in for their flights at hotels or other locations. All
passengers are now required to go to the ticket counters to check baggage.
Only ticketed passengers and authorized personnel are
allowed to proceed past airport screeners--well-wishers must stay out of the
Let there be no doubt: we will soon be
taking additional steps to increase security beyond those already taken.
Now we must deal more broadly with the aftermath of
September 11th. We have already turned toward development of long-term,
sustainable security improvements within our airports and on our aircraft to
ensure American passengers are provided with the highest possible levels of
Consistent with the strict security measures
imposed upon startup last week, I announced on Sunday the creation of two Rapid
Response teams to make specific recommendations for the further improvement of
security within the national aviation system. Their conclusions are due October
1, at the latest. One team is focusing on ways to increase security at our
nation's airports. The other is focusing on aircraft integrity and security.
Among those areas that will be addressed will be making
airport screening a more credible deterrent, expanding the Federal Air Marshal
program, and enhancing cockpit security. Both teams are now undertaking their
tasks with a sense of urgency.
As they work on these
teams, our own experts at the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of
Transportation will have input from a distinguished group of Americans with a
wide range of expertise in many different aspects of air transportation and law
I understand the complexity of these
issues, and I know there have been numerous studies on many of these issues. Yet
the larger context has changed dramatically. We now face a different security
threat not only in transportation, but in all aspects of American life. We have
to be willing to meet that changed threat with additional counter-measures, and
still find ways to keep our transportation systems the efficient and vital
circulation system of our economy. We must therefore judge our security options
in a different light than we might have judged them in the past.
What I expect now are good, unambiguous answers to the new questions
and heightened risks. The Department of Transportation has acted promptly in
response to the changed circumstances, and we will take further actions
promptly. Broader Security Concerns
We also need to
keep a broad perspective as we address both security and commerce. The events of
September 11th have focused media and public attention almost exclusively on
aviation , which is understandable. Yet, as Vice President Cheney has noted, the
odds are good that terrorists may use entirely new lines of attack. The
Department I am honored to direct is focusing on all modes of transportation,
including but not limited to airplanes and airports.
Thus, under authority from the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, we have
taken action to control the movement of all vessels in the navigable waters of
the United States. All ports and waterways have remained open and secure since
Sept. 12 with very limited exceptions. We put pipeline operators on alert. And
with the resources provided to the U.S. Coast Guard, it has performed with
In the New York City area, our
employees have worked selflessly for days to bring services back, provide
alternative means of access to the City, and, at the same time, guard against
possible further acts of terrorism.
I want to emphasize
the over-arching threat we now face. The new security measures we have already
implemented -- and those we will implement both publicly and discreetly -- are
not designed simply to deal with threats of further attacks like those of
For example, the President has asked
our Department to help protect the integrity of our nation's entire
transportation infrastructure. And that is what we are doing. But we also have
to recognize that we have to meet the challenge of new and different security
threats not only in transportation, but throughout our society.
We will have to take precautions in transportation that we have never
taken before, and we will have to do the same in virtually every aspect of
American life. We will find ways to preserve the best of our transportation
systems - the freedom of movement, the safe and efficient movement of goods and
people that is so necessary to our economy. We will find ways to accomplish both
heightened security and the benefits of efficient transportation system.
I turn now to
another critical topic--maintaining the air transportation system in the face of
severe financial problems. The current situation in the airline industry is that
access to credit markets is greatly restricted and revenues dramatically
I would emphasize that the task at hand is
not to prop up one or another of the carriers. It is not to "make whole" the
industry as if September 11th had never occurred. Rather it is to recognize that
this key part of the economy of this country requires new foundations in
security and confidence as solid as they were once before. I believe the Federal
Government has a responsibility for the safety of the public, airline passengers
and crews in particular, and to ensure the foundation of security, insurance,
and other necessities that will help this key part of the U.S. economy function.
This nation needs a vital, viable, and competitive airline industry.
Accordingly, we are proposing on an expedited basis an
initial package to provide strength, security, and confidence in air
Our proposal includes:
- $3 billion to airlines to help offset the substantial new costs they
are incurring because of tightened security requirements.
- $5 billion in direct and immediate payments to airlines, roughly in
proportion to their size.
- Authorization for the War Risk Insurance Program to be invoked, at the President's
discretion, in the domestic arena as well as the international.
- Limited modifications to certain aspects of collateral liability, in
order to avert a near-term threat to the continued availability of insurance
coverage. The main purpose is to give us a brief period of time in which to try
to resolve that threat.
We have additional steps under
consideration, some of would take additional time to fully sort out. We believe
that on the measures we are now proposing, time is of the essence.
We believe these proposals should move forward
immediately, and we would then have additional days to consider and to consult
with you on additional measures that may be needed.
would like to close by taking this occasion to thank this Congress for its
swift, bipartisan action last week in providing needed supplemental
appropriations to get action underway across the Government. I look forward to
of working closely with each of you as we face and meet the challenges ahead.
This completes my prepared statement. I would be pleased
to respond to the Committee's questions.