Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta
Department of Transportation
Washington, D. C.
September 16, 2001
2:00 P.M. EDT

Today I am announcing the creation of two rapid-responses teams, headed by 6 national leaders in aviation and security protection, to report by October 1st their specific recommendations for improving security within the national aviation system.

One team will focus on increasing security at our nation’s airports, the other will focus on aircraft integrity and security, with a specific focus on cockpit access.

These teams will augment our existing experts at the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation. By the way, let me take this moment to thank the FAA, under the leadership of Jane Garvey, for the heroic work they have done in response to this national crisis.

When I ordered the national airspace cleared last Tuesday morning, FAA air traffic controllers brought down every flight, nationwide, safely and in a coordinated manner.

Everyone -- from the screeners at the airport, to the pilots and flight crews, the additional law enforcement personnel -- everyone is working at a high level of dedication and teamwork. So, thank you for that.

Now, our efforts must now turn towards the development of long-term, sustainable security improvements within our airports and on aircrafts themselves to ensure American passengers are provided with the highest possible levels of safety.

I understand the complexity of these issues, and I know there have been numerous studies undertaken. But what I expect now are the right answers.

The Department of Transportation is prepared to act immediately, and I’m confident that each of these distinguished task force members will help us do just that.

The task force members will be:

1. Robert W. Baker, vice chairman of American Airlines;

2. Charles M. (Chip) Barclay, president of the American Association of Airport Executives;

3. Robert A. Davis, former vice president of engineering and technology for The Boeing Company;

4. Herb Kelleher, chairman of the board of directors of Southwest Airlines;

5. Raymond Kelly, former commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service and veteran law enforcement officer; and

6. Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

Before I take a question or two, let me first give you a sense of what we’ve been doing here at the Department. On Sept. 13, I announced the gradual restoration of mobility within the national airspace system, having taken immediate steps to develop heightened security measures to ensure the safety of airline passengers.

All of the country’s major airports have resumed normal air service operations, with the exception of Reagan National Airport, which remains temporarily closed.

Immediately following the terrorist acts, DOT, under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, took all necessary actions 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.

I’ve directed the U.S. Coast Guard to activate its Port Security Units in New York, Los Angeles, Long Beach, California and Puget Sound, Washington. The Coast Guard has mobilized their reserve members, bringing 600 additional Coast Guard members to the Atlantic areas, and an additional 225 Coast Guard members to the Pacific.

In addition, the Coast Guard continues to assist disaster relief efforts in New York, having created a virtual highway on New York harbor to support rescue operations.

It is also transporting disaster rescuers using a fleet of nine Coast Guard Cutters, seven Coast Guard small boats, and four Coast Guard helicopters.

To ensure pipeline safety, DOT issued a Pipeline Security Information Circular on Sept. 11, recommending that all pipeline companies take steps to implement emergency security measures and develop a long-term plan to strengthen security operations.

In conclusion, let me quote President Bush: “The world has changed.” I would add, so has the nature of our national transportation system.

Our transportation system has become a target. Passenger vehicles have been transformed into lethal weapons in a profane and cowardly campaign of violence.

We are beginning a new era of transportation. Our nation’s economy; a cherished American principle --- our freedom of movement -- is being challenged.

This past week requires us to develop new systems that move people and commerce safely and efficiently. That is the mission before us. I promise the American people the President and I -- working with other federal officials as well as state and local governments --- will accomplish that mission.

Thank you very much.