of Transportation Norman Mineta
National Transportation Security Summit
October 30, 2001
12:30 P.M. EST
Thank you, Rod, for that kind introduction. And thank you everyone for that
warm welcome. I am pleased and honored to be your keynote speaker this afternoon,
and I appreciate you allowing me to be a last minute add-on to your schedule.
I want to commend your organizations for having the foresight to schedule an
event on the terrorism threat and transportation. Who would have thought that
when you scheduled this event we would have been confronted with the challenges
America is a fundamentally different place from the one that awoke on September
11th. We have entered into a new era in transportation, an era in which one
of our most cherished freedoms, the freedom of mobility, has been threatened.
Overcoming that threat will require all of us to take a fresh and honest look
at the business we are in. And I will tell you now, this is not business as
We must re-think the basic approach with which we provide for the safety and
security of everyone traveling on Americas transportation systems.
President Bush has said, we are in a war. Vice President Cheney has said that
this may be the first war in our nations history where the number of casualties
on the home front will exceed those on the battlefront.
That makes our communities the frontline of this war, and that means the transportation
systems you represent here today are at risk.
These systems are at risk of being targets of terrorists. They are also at risk
of being used as weapons against Americans -- weapon delivery systems used to
damage or destroy our communities.
Therefore it requires us who are in charge of managing these systems to work
around the clock to protect them from these attacks.
I want to talk to you today about one system that must show improvement right
away. Aviation is not on your agenda today, but I know many of you are involved
in your communities airports and are keenly interested in the security
of our aviation system. I want to outline some of the steps that I am taking
to make those improvements.
Today, America has an airline industry-based security system. Unfortunately,
it is a system where deficiencies exist. Someone may undergo strict screening
in Kansas City, while someone else can slip a pistol by screeners in New Orleans.
This is intolerable.
We have required air carriers and airports to implement new security measures
after September 11th, and to correct any failures in the application of those
measures. Nevertheless, an unacceptable number of deficiencies continue to occur.
The result is a growing lack of confidence and increasing criticism of the actions
taken by the FAA.
I want to reverse that trend. We must make sure the implementation of current
security measures is done in an effective and consistent manner. When we find
ineffective or inadequate implementation of security measures, we must crack
down on those failures.
This morning I met with special agents of the FAA from around the country. I
told them I want them to crack down on security screening failures occurring
around the country. I want them to take decisive action in making sure that
the security measures we announced September 11th are implemented regardless
of who is in charge of managing the system.
Let me be specific: If secure areas in airports have been compromised, we will
take corrective actions to recheck passengers -- including re-screening passengers.
If a secure area is breached, FAA agents will empty the concourse, re-screen
passengers, and if necessary, hold flights.
If improper screening of carry-on luggage is occurring we will hold flights
and re-screen passengers or luggage.
And if we see untrained screeners, FAA agents will stop the operation and bring
passengers back for re-screening when proper procedures are put into effect.
I want consistent accountability. I want confidence restored in the screening
system, and the way to accomplish that goal under the current system is to know
that when people fail to meet the current requirements, it is going to sting.
Every time the system is not followed it breaks down the confidence of the traveling
public -- and it reduces the confidence they have in the Federal Government.
I have also asked the Department of Transportations Inspector General
to provide special agents from his agency to supplement the over 500 agents
from the FAA to inspect the various airports around the country.
And, I have asked FAA Administrator Jane Garvey to investigate hiring additional
agents and reassigning agents from other departments to assist in this effort.
In addition, Congress now has an opportunity to empower the Federal Government
to take command of our aviation systems security system, and they can
do that this week by passing legislation, H.R. 3150, to provide direct government
control of security screening at the nations airports, and maximize the
safety and security of American aviation.
While aviation is critical, it is not the only key transportation asset of the
U.S. Your conference is focusing on surface transportation, and I want to discuss
how we must work to also protect the critical infrastructure elements of our
railways, roads, transit systems, pipelines, and waterways.
Last month, I created the National Infrastructure Security Committee (NISC)
at DOT to focus on intermodal transportation security issues in the "new"
threat environment. It has established various Direct Action Groups, or DAGs,
that bring in key industry reps, labor leaders, and other stakeholders to provide
input to DOT on maritime, pipeline and hazardous materials issues.
Together, we have identified high-value, high-consequence transportation assets
and current protection strategies. We are developing a set of national standards
that address a prudent level of protection for our most critical transportation
assets. And we are addressing strategic gaps between the current and desired
level of protection for the most critical of these assets.
This is an unprecedented effort on the part of DOT, industry, and labor, and
others to work together to identify best practices across all modes that should
be incorporated into contingency response plans similar to what we see in the
aviation community via the Aviation Security (AVSEC) Contingency Plan.
In the wake of the September 11th attacks, we have found ourselves revisiting
very important issues that certainly had our attention prior to that date, but
to which we are now a captive audience.
These include the need for improved information sharing and dissemination of
threat information between government and industry.
They include the need for protections and incentives that encourage private
sector entities to voluntarily work with government, and to cooperate among
themselves knowing their proprietary information is protected.
And they include the obvious need for security-related legislative changes.
The Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council will coordinate
federal, state and local efforts to strengthen protections against terrorist
attacks here in the United States and DOT has a very important role to play
in all efforts at increasing homeland security.
To that end, legislation has been introduced as the Secure Transportation for
America Act by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the
House Subcommittee on Aviation, which would establish a new Transportation Security
Administration within DOT.
This entity would be responsible for security for all modes of transportation.
We are awaiting to see how this will play out and are working on all the issues
involved with the potential for a new DOT operating administration.
There is other pending legislation on the Hill of which DOT may play a central
The Rail Security Act of 2001, introduced in the Senate two weeks ago by Senators
McCain and Hollings, provides for improvement of rail safety and security, to
include expanding railroad police authority to any rail carrier, and for assessing
security risks associated with rail transportation.
It also provides for a review of existing DOT rail regulations for the purpose
of identifying areas in which those regulations need to be revised to improve
rail safety and security.
The legislation raises a heightened awareness for the need for collective action
and facilitates the development of coordinated interagency and public-private
approaches to port security.
It provides for vulnerability assessments for the 50 most strategically and
economically important U.S. ports that also happen to be where 90 percent of
the cargo is shipped.
The legislation provides additional authority to prescribe regulations to protect
the public from crime and terrorism; provides an accreditation of foreign seaports;
provides loan guarantees for port security infrastructure improvements; and
provides port related crime data collection and improved Customs reporting procedures.
Of course, DOT is working with the Congress to ensure this legislation captures
what is needed to ensure the United States can guard itself against terrorism
in the maritime arena.
We also need to make sure that security for other transportation modes matches
up with port security -- it would make no sense to impose a security system
for ports if other modes represented a security gap.
Other transportation security measures include improving transit security, passenger
rail security as well as that of our ports and other maritime facilities.
For example, in the hazmat area, on October 12, I sent legislation to Congress
calling for tough actions to address the serious problem of undeclared or hidden
shipments of hazardous materials. The safety and security challenge is huge,
but know that we are up to the challenge and we will meet it.
We are committed to ensuring the safety and security of all our nations
transportation systems to protect the outstanding working men and women who
operate and service them, and the passengers who rely on them.
As we move forward from September 11th, we must increase our vigilance, and
we must take new steps to move people and goods safely and efficiently, recognizing
that the nature of the threats has changed.
Travelers will see increased security measures at our airports, train stations,
and other key sites. There will be higher levels of surveillance and more stringent
The traveling public may experience some inconveniences, but we must do what
is prudent in order to protect our citizens and transport workers with
safety and security as our highest priorities.
The public, however, must also understand the need for patience, and that patience
is the new form of patriotism.
The organizations you represent are the engines that drive this economy, and
we must ensure that our transportation systems will never again be used as engines
of destruction. And I am confident that we will bounce back from the September
We are in this for the long haul and we are in it together. I know that is your
goal, and the Department of Transportation and this Administration share that
goal. Working together I know we will prevail.
In closing, let me say that the efforts of each and every one of you will be
critical in the days ahead as we work to restore full faith and confidence in
our transportation system.
And let not our enemies doubt our resolve.
Forty years ago, President Kennedy said that America will pay any price, bear
any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe, to assure
the survival and the success of liberty.
A few weeks ago, President George Bush drew a line in the sand. You are
he said either with us, or you are against us. He said we will
not waver or tire or falter or fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.
With your dedication, commitment, and professionalism, we have the skills and
the vision that America needs to restore confidence in our nations transportation
We will not falter. We will not fail.
Thank you again for your time and your attention. It has been a pleasure for
me to join you here today