Chairman Rockefeller's Remarks on Transportation Security Challenges Post-9/11

December 2, 2009

JDR Head ShotWASHINGTON, D.C. — Welcome Secretary Napolitano. Thank you for joining us today.

Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security eight years ago, Congress has passed a number of important pieces of legislation to make our nation safer and more secure.

As the former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and now the Chairman of the Commerce Committee, I sit at the intersection between economic and national security and I have a deep appreciation of the many challenges we face and opportunities upon the horizon.

I am proud to say that the Commerce Committee and its members were deeply instrumental in developing all or part of every major piece of legislation that DHS is responsible for implementing.

During that time, our nation has made significant progress in improving our transportation security – but much work remains.

A complex global transportation network and supply chain creates enormous security challenges for our nation.

Our increasing global interconnectedness creates inherent security threats.

Our porous borders – both land and sea – create inherent risk.

Over the last year, I have had the opportunity to discuss the state of maritime and port security with Admiral Allen, the Commandant of the Coast Guard.

I have the highest regard for the Admiral and he has reinforced the urgency of improving port security with regard to small vessels.

I will be introducing legislation early next year on this issue and I look forward to working with you, Madame Secretary, on this bill.

I also want to highlight that I remain deeply concerned about the state of aviation security, especially general aviation security and air cargo security.

In particular, we remain far too vulnerable in general aviation. Your predecessors shared my concerns, and I look forward to hearing your views on the state of aviation security.

Both Congress and the Administration must balance important but competing needs – maintaining an efficient flow of commerce while ensuring no terrorists can enter our country by land, sea, or air.

I understand this balance and I am committed to do all we can in Congress to make sure it is achieved.

I understand that the General Accountability Office is releasing a report for the Committee today about the 100% scanning mandate for maritime cargo.

The GAO highlights the enormous difficulty of meeting this mandate due to the global nature of supply chain logistics and a lack of technology.

That does not mean that we should not continue to strengthen our security protocols to prevent high-risk cargo from entering this country whether by land, sea or air.

We need to work harder to find ways to balance our security needs with our need to move goods and people efficiently. They are not mutually exclusive goals.

I believe everyone here knows that I, along with the last two Directors of National Intelligence, see cybersecurity as an urgent security threat.

To date, Congress has not spent as much time on cybersecurity as transportation security, and that has to change.

I am committed to making cybersecurity a focus for this Committee and for Congress. The interconnectedness between government and private industry on this critical issue cannot be ignored in the 21st century.

Along with Senator Snowe, I have been working on legislation that aims to address the threats we face from cyberterrorists who intend to wreak havoc on our infrastructure.

Madame Secretary, as you and I have discussed, I have called on the White House to develop a national security strategy, coordinate new roles and responsibilities across old boundaries.

The Congress, the White House, and every government agency have to be part of the solution.

Madame Secretary, you have an enormous set of challenges before you and I respect you very much.

Over the last eight years, DHS has experienced a lot of growing pains. I know you are the right person to move the agency forward and I look forward to being your partner in solving our nation’s top security challenges.