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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 9, 2001
- President Bush took action today to make holiday travel safer for all Americans and to lay the groundwork for a new federally controlled aviation security system.
- The President announced a 25% increase in National Guard personnel available to Governors to support security at our nation's commercial airports. The troops will provide additional security at airports throughout the busy holiday travel season.
- The President also took action to prepare for a swift transition to a new federally controlled aviation security system. While Congress is finishing the aviation security bill, the President has instructed Secretary Mineta to begin a series of high level transition planning sessions with airport operators, law enforcement authorities, security device manufacturers, airline CEOs, and other parties that will play a direct role in the transition to the new system. The President urged Congress to act quickly and send to his desk a bill that will provide the best possible aviation security.
- The President also instructed the Department of Transportation to conduct undercover audits of security performance at airports nationwide to ensure strict compliance with FAA security standards. These audits, conducted by DoT's Inspector General, will help to quickly identify and fix potential problems with airport security.
Background on the Increase in National Guard at Airports
- The President's action significantly boosts the National Guard presence at our nation's airports. Almost 7000 National Guard troops are already assisting with security at airports. With today's Presidential action, almost 11,000 Guard troops will be deployed at airports through the holiday travel season. The federal government will reimburse states for this deployment.
- The National Guard troops are available at Governors' discretion for the following purposes:
- Monitoring passenger and baggage screening
- Monitoring gate activity
- Securing perimeter control
- Maintaining access points to terminal ramps
- Searching vehicles and garages
- Monitoring curbside activity
- Guarding air traffic control facilities
- Maintaining control of general aviation facilities that share common property with commercial airports
Previous Bush Administration Actions to Increase Airport Security
- While Congress continues to debate airport security legislation, the Bush Administration has already taken decisive steps to protect the traveling public. The FAA is deploying a core team of 225 security professionals to improve oversight of screening and security functions at airports. This team of professionals will be in place to strengthen existing FAA security presence at airports and, once Congress completes work on the aviation security bill, to assist with the transition to a new airport security system with stronger federal controls.
- On October 30, the Secretary of Transportation asked FAA special agents to crack down on airport security and urged them to take decisive security measures, such as emptying the concourse, re-screening passenger and holding flights if security is breached. Secretary Mineta has also warned the airlines and existing screening security companies that security breaches will not be tolerated and that they will be to extremely strict adherence to security standards.
- The FAA has also taken the following steps:
- Increased significantly the Federal Air
Marshal presence on flights
- Restricted access to key points at airports and increased airport patrols
- Increased terminal security by tightening screening procedures and restricting carry-on items
- Provided grants for fortification of cockpit doors to prevent unauthorized entry into the cockpit. As of November 8, 100% of the passenger aircraft owned by the major airlines have been retrofitted with fortified cockpit doors. The airlines estimate that all civilian commercial aircraft will be retrofitted within 30-45 days.