Tags: Bush | Congress | Mull | Airline | Safety

Bush, Congress Mull Airline Safety

Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM

"We're looking at all options as to how to enhance airline security," Bush said during a Rose Garden appearance with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Without elaborating, Bush said he wanted to work with Congress "to put some concrete steps in place that will assure the American public that the government and the airlines are doing as much as we can to enhance security and safety."

Bush also met with congressional leaders to discuss the matter. And on Capitol Hill, lawmakers heard testimony from airline industry officials, some of whom called for armed pilots to thwart hijackings.

House Minority leader Richard Gephardt said a "better answer" was to put impenetrable doors on the cockpit to seal off the pilots during flight and use armed guards such as federal marshals or military police to watch over the passenger cabin.

"People need to have full confidence that they will be safe in airplanes and that terrorists cannot strike again," Gephardt said during a session with reporters on Capitol Hill. "Our airplanes were used as weapons of mass destruction, and this cannot happen again."

On Sept. 11, hijackers commandeered four jetliners, crashing two into New York's World Trade Center Twin Towers while a third struck the Pentagon. A fourth, believed to be headed for a target in Washington, crashed outside Pittsburgh.

Already, airport officials have stepped up security procedures as airports resume operations after being closed initially because of the attacks. Air carriers are advising passengers to arrive up to four hours before their scheduled take off and to expect long lines as bags and tickets undergo increased scrutiny. Further, permanent steps seem imminent.

Mineta's recommendations reportedly include face-scanning technology that would use cameras to watch airport crowds for faces in a database of terrorist suspects. Mineta is also exploring the possibility of creating an airport security force under the auspices of the Department of Transportation to take over operations at air hubs from local police and private firms contracted by airlines.

The Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Report magazine, backed that proposal in a list of 14 industry safety recommendations it aired in the wake of the attacks.

The group's recommendations support reconfigured cockpits, an end to curbside check-ins and the posting of federal authorities at overseas airports that serve as entry points to the United States. The Consumer Union guidelines also call for "updating and enhancing training for cockpit and cabin crew to effectively react to hijackings, air piracy, and other acts of terrorism, and developing new defensive weapons and strategies for inflight use."

Rep. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said new safety regulations should apply to "other forms of security in terms of our travel in this country - train and public transit safety."

Mineta is scheduled to present his proposals to Congress Wednesday.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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We're looking at all options as to how to enhance airline security, Bush said during a Rose Garden appearance with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Without elaborating, Bush said he wanted to work with Congress to put some concrete steps in place that...
Bush,,Congress,Mull,Airline,Safety
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2001-00-25
Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM
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