Sens. Carper, Brown Reintroduce Aviation Security Reform Bill

Bill Calls for Enhanced Training of Transportation Security Officers, Increased Partnerships and Information Sharing to Prevent Future Attacks

WASHINGTON – Today, Subcommittee on International Security Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Scott Brown (R-Mass.) reintroduced legislation to improve the safety of American airports at the start of the summer travel season and to get a better security return for the taxpayer investment by focusing on security personnel training instead of short-term, underutilized technology. The Aviation Security Innovation & Reform (AIR) Act would enhance air passenger screening programs and bolster state and local law enforcement partnerships to deter terrorism. The bill also seeks to standardize the training of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) screening workforce by ensuring that every Transportation Security officer receives increased baseline and anti-terrorism training nationwide with biannual re-certifications.  

“As Delawareans and other Americans prepare for the 2011 summer travel season, I am proud to introduce this important legislation, which would significantly enhance the Transportation Security Administration’s security efforts,” said Sen. Carper. “Although the architect of the September 11th attacks is dead, Americans and American aviation still remain a prime target of terrorist attacks. We cannot let our defenses down and must adapt as terrorists change their tactics. There is still more work we can do to make our aviation and other transportation sectors more secure.”  

“We must continue to strengthen transportation security and make sure the men and women at our nation’s airports and other transportation centers have the best training possible,” continued Sen. Carper. “To effectively detect the bad guys, screeners must have the latest tools and most advanced training. As many have said before, the battle we’re engaged in is not one we can win with guns or tanks alone. But it also won’t be won solely through the deployment of the latest screening technology. We’ll need to get smarter, adapt to the new techniques of those who wish to do us harm and make a better investment in the people on the front lines.”  

“As elected officials, our single-most important task is keeping our country and citizens safe, and that is why I’m pleased to introduce the Aviation Security Innovation and Reform bill,” said Sen. Brown. “Last year marked a record number of terrorist attempts and served as a another stark reminder that terrorists are still actively plotting to kill our citizens, and we need to provide our law enforcement officials the tools and resources they need to adapt to the constantly evolving tactics of today’s threat. I am proud to say that Logan Airport has been a nationwide model for aviation security these last ten years, and this legislation incorporates many of those passenger screening techniques that have been so successful. This is an important step toward bolstering our homeland security and preventing terrorists from turning our airports into battlefields.”  

The attempted Christmas Day 2009 airline bombing and other smaller events in recent years illustrate the challenges TSA and TSA personnel face on a daily basis. Collectively, these events have caused TSA to spend billions on various types of passenger screening technologies and other airport equipment. But while technology is an effective layer of security, it is only one layer, and technology and equipment can become dated over time. Investment in personnel training is necessary to bolster passenger screening and airport security.  

The AIR Act would address these issues by setting higher performance standards for screeners and by raising the minimum training requirements to improve screeners ability to spot potential terrorists. It would also create an office to coordinate all of the behavior detection programs within TSA and the Department of Homeland Security that help TSA personnel spot terrorist suspects and other criminals without using expensive technology. Currently, there are disparate programs throughout the Department that study and implement behavior detection. This bill would bring them all together under one roof. Lastly, the AIR Act would improve state and local law enforcement partnerships, which is crucial to thwarting terrorism plots.