January 7, 2010: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today joined White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan to announce several recommendations DHS has made to the President for improving the technology and procedures used to protect air travel from acts of terrorism. Secretary Napolitano outlined five recommendations DHS will pursue to enhance the safety of the traveling public—developed as a result of the security reviews ordered by President Obama following the attempted terrorist attack on Dec. 25, 2009.
“The attempted attack on Christmas Day 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,” said Secretary Napolitano. “These recommendations will strengthen aviation security—at home and abroad—through new partnerships, technology and law enforcement efforts.”
Secretary Napolitano outlined the following five recommendations:
• Re-evaluate and modify 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.
• Establish 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 proactively anticipate and protect against new ways by which terrorists could seek to board an aircraft.
• Accelerate 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 at least 300 additional units in 2010.
• Strengthen 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.
• Work with international partners to strengthen international security measures and standards for aviation security.
Secretary Napolitano will travel to Spain later this month to meet with her international counterparts in the first of a series of global meetings intended to bring about broad consensus on new international aviation security standards and procedures.
Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman and other senior Department officials already have embarked on a broad international outreach effort to meet with leaders from major international airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East 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 tactics for defeating terrorists.
Secretary Napolitano’s recommendations 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 the majority of all passengers traveling on U.S.-bound flights.