Yesterday, I joined White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan to announce recommendations that DHS has made to the President for improving the technology and procedures used to protect air travel from acts of terrorism.
The attempted attack on Northwest Flight 253 is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since Sept. 11, 2001. The steps I outlined yesterday will strengthen aviation security—at home and abroad—through new partnerships, technology and law enforcement efforts.
These steps include
- Re-evaluating and modifying the criteria and process used to create terrorist watch lists—including adjusting the process by which names are added to the “No-Fly” and “Selectee” lists.
- Establishing a partnership on aviation security between DHS and the Department of Energy and its National Laboratories in order to develop new and more effective technologies to deter and disrupt known threats and protect against new ways by which terrorists could seek to board an aircraft.
- Accelerating deployment of advanced imaging technology to provide greater explosives detection capabilities—and encourage foreign aviation security authorities to do the same—in order to identify materials such as those used in the attempted Dec. 25 attack. The Transportation Security Administration currently has 40 machines deployed throughout the United States, and plans to deploy 300 additional units in 2010.
- Strengthening the presence and capacity of aviation law enforcement—by deploying law enforcement officers from across DHS to serve as Federal Air Marshals to increase security aboard U.S.-bound flights.
- Working with international partners to strengthen international security measures and standards for aviation security.
Additionally, last week I dispatched Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman and other senior Department officials to meet with leaders from major international airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South America to review security procedures and technology being used to screen passengers on U.S.-bound flights and work on ways to collectively bolster our tactics for defeating terrorists
Later this month, I will travel to Spain for the first of a series of global meetings with my international counterparts intended to bring about broad consensus on new international aviation security standards and procedures.
These steps come in addition to the Department’s immediate actions following the attempted attack on Dec. 25, 2009—including enhanced security measures at domestic airports and new international security directives that mandate enhanced screening of every individual flying into the United States from or through nations that are State Sponsors of Terrorism or other countries of interest and threat-based, random enhanced screening for all other passengers traveling on U.S.-bound flights.
I want to thank the Department of Homeland Security personnel who have been working day-in and day-out to implement these security measures since Christmas—as well as the traveling public for their continued patience. The public remains one of our most valuable layers of defense against acts of terrorism.