Carper Committee Responsible for Overseeing Dept. of Homeland Security

***Will Question Governor Ridge TOMORROW*** Department of Homeland Security Must Be Vital Component in Rail Security

Washington, DC- Senator Tom Carper and his colleagues on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will question former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge tomorrow, President Bush’s nominee to be the first Secretary of Homeland Security. The Committee will have broad oversight over the Department of Homeland Security. At the confirmation hearing, Carper will stress the importance of a good relationship with first responders and state and local governments, as well as the importance of securing our nation’s railroads. “Our failure to act to improve security of our rail travel is an Achilles heel in our nation’s efforts to secure our transportation system,” Carper said. “We have focused a significant amount of attention on preventing future airline hijackings but have failed to act to protect our nation’s passenger rail service. We must ensure that the passengers aboard our trains are as safe as the ones in the skies over America.” The FBI warned in late October that they had evidence that al-Qaeda “has considered directly targeting U.S. passenger trains” and that “operatives may try a variety of attack strategies, such as destroying key rail bridges and sections of track to cause derailments or targeting hazardous material containers.” Carper supports Senator Holling’s recent proposal requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to determine security risks and develop adequate steps to safeguard America’s railroads. This essentially follows the model used in aviation. Carper successfully offered language to include rail security in the Department of Homeland Security bill when it passed out of committee. It was subsequently dropped from the bill, but Carper continues to push for its inclusion. WHO: Senator Tom Carper and members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
WHAT: Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Homeland Security: Tom Ridge
WHEN: TOMORROW, January 17, 2003 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: 342 Dirsken Senate Office Bldg Washington, DC