Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON - Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, participated in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing, "Ten Years After 9/11: The Next Wave in Aviation Security."

His statement follows:

"Since the attacks of 9/11, we have witnessed a number of terrorist plots directed at aviation, including the attempted Christmas Day 2009 airline bombing and the printer bomb cargo plot last year. While the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the industry have taken many steps to bolster aviation security, these incidents demonstrate that aviation remains a prime target for terrorist attacks.

"Today, at airports across the nation, passengers, baggage, and cargo undergo a variety of security checks to ensure the safe travel of the American people. I am pleased that Administrator Pistole is here with us today to discuss the layers of security at our airports and how we can better target true threats with our limited federal resources.

"In light of the difficult fiscal environment, my colleagues and I on the Committee have continually challenged government officials to work smarter with federal dollars and to find ways to get better results for less money or, at the very least, better results for the same amount of money. To this end, I will be looking to ensure that TSA is making smarter acquisition decisions – decisions that are based on risk, cost-effective, and validated by sound-science – and not just throwing money at questionable solutions to every new threat that emerges.

"In response to several of the recent terrorist plots, for example, TSA took many steps to address identified security gaps, and in some cases purchased new screening technologies. While some of these investments have proven valuable, others have not. Technology is undoubtedly an important layer of security at our airports, but it is only one layer, and it can become easily dated as the terrorist threat evolves. That is why Senator Scott Brown (R-Maine) and I introduced the Aviation Security Innovation & Reform (AIR) Act of 2011 earlier this year. The legislation would improve the training of the TSA workforce and strengthen the agency's behavior detection programs so that we could better facilitate low-risk travelers and identify truly dangerous persons who require additional scrutiny.

"It is my understanding that TSA is now piloting a new pre-screening or 'trusted traveler' program to help expedite the travel experience, as well as a new behavior detection program that involves TSA officers asking passengers a few questions about their travel plans. Today's hearing will provide a valuable opportunity to learn more about these programs and also about how TSA is working with industry to enhance the flow of legitimate travel without compromising security.

"I look forward to hearing from all our witnesses and I thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for calling this important hearing as Delawareans and all Americans begin the holiday travel season."