Rockefeller Statement on Aviation Security and the Recent Terrorist Attempt on Flight 253 to Detroit

December 30, 2009

SCom: AviationWASHINGTON, D.C.– Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement today on aviation security and the recent terrorist attempt on flight #253 to Detroit. The Senate Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over aviation security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

"Any terrorist attempt on our citizens is extremely serious and must be examined very closely. As former Chairman and longstanding member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I know that our enemies are sophisticated, they are motivated, and they are extremely active. We can never let our guard down in our fight to eliminate the threat they pose to our security.

"On Christmas day a man was able to board a plane and threaten the lives of hundreds of passengers - it is obvious that our aviation security system did not work and as the President has said, that is completely unacceptable. The American people and the Congress have very tough questions about how this happened and we expect clear answers.

"The Obama Administration has significantly increased the focus of our counter-terror attention and resources toward the terrorist hotspots where Al Qaeda plots to attack our homeland, namely Afghanistan-Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. I commend this crucial priority. But more must be done.

"In our battle against Al Qaeda, we are fortunate to have talented and hard-working intelligence and national security professionals fighting for America, and I believe we can correct any systemic problems that allowed this serious breach to occur. But to do that, we must dissect the details and unearth the sequence of events that led to near catastrophe.

“I also urge my colleagues to refrain from partisanship in approaching our nation's security. This is no time for political games with nominations, for example, and we must act to confirm a leader for the Transportation Security Administration as quickly as possible.

"Our enemies are deadly and sophisticated, and we must face them as one. The safety of our citizens is our most solemn responsibility.”