Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today (July 22) marked the sixth anniversary of the issuance of the 9/11 Commission Report by releasing a 2010 progress report outlining advancements in the Department’s capabilities to protect against and respond to acts of terrorism and other threats—including a series of unprecedented steps to bolster aviation security in the United States and around the world.
“The 9/11 Commission’s recommendations have in many ways set the course for the Department’s efforts to combat security threats,” said Secretary Napolitano. “By working with our partners across the globe, we have achieved historic advances in international aviation security – including bolstering explosives detection, strengthening the vetting of passengers against terrorist watchlists, refining passenger screening techniques and deploying tens of thousands of trained aviation security personnel—that make air travel safer for everyone.”
Highlights from the DHS Progress Report Include:
Major Aviation Security Milestones
DHS has fulfilled a key 9/11 Commission recommendation by implementing Secure Flight for 100 percent of passengers flying domestically and internationally on U.S. airlines, meaning that TSA, not the air carriers, vets passengers against government watchlists using passenger name, date of birth, and gender before a boarding pass is issued. This accounts for over 90 percent of all travel to, from, and within the United States. TSA expects to convert all international carriers to Secure Flight by December 2010.
DHS is also on track to meet the Congressionally-mandated 100 percent screening requirement for all air cargo on domestic passenger aircraft by August 2010. As of May 1, 2010, 75 percent of cargo on passenger aircraft departing from U.S. locations was already being screened under DHS security programs, largely through the Certified Cargo Screening Program, which permits entities who have undergone rigorous inspection and certification processes throughout the air cargo supply chain to screen cargo. Currently, there are over 1.5 million shippers in TSA’s Known Shipper Management System that that have been certified as meeting specific security standards.
Deterring Terrorism through New, More Flexible Screening Measures
In April 2010, DHS began implementing new enhanced security measures for all air carriers with international flights to the United States to strengthen the safety and security of all passengers. These new measures utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats.
DHS analysis of passenger data played a critical role in the recent counterterrorism cases against Najibullah Zazi, who pled guilty to plotting to bomb New York subways, David Headley, who pled guilty for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, and Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad.
Strengthening Domestic Aviation Security
TSA utilizes a layered security strategy, with measures both seen and unseen, at airports across the country, with more than 50,000 Transportation Security Officers, Transportation Security Inspectors, Behavior Detection Officers, and canine teams. The Department has also made unprecedented investments in passenger screening through Advanced Technology X-Ray machines, Advanced Imaging Technology machines, bottle liquid scanners, Explosive Trace Detection machines, and other enhanced threat-detection equipment that increase the Department’s ability to detect metallic and non-metallic explosives and other threats. TSA is also investing in new, state-of-the-art in-line explosives detection systems and other technology to streamline checked baggage screening at airports throughout the U.S.
In addition, DHS has strengthened partnerships across the federal government, working with the Department of Justice to enhance risk-based aviation security countermeasures and collaborating with the Department of Energy and its National Laboratories to leverage their expertise in building risk-based technology solutions to key aviation security challenges.
Further, in order to facilitate legitimate travel and effectively deploy screening and security resources, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has vetted and enrolled over 780,000 travelers from over 100 countries in four Trusted Traveler Programs (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST, and Global Entry). These programs expedite travel for members who voluntarily apply, provide biometric identification, pass extensive vetting, pay a fee, and provide comprehensive data to CBP for rigorous security threat assessment checks.
Historic International Aviation Security Summits
Since the attempted terrorist attack on December 25, 2009, Secretary Napolitano, in conjunction with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), has been leading a global initiative to strengthen the international aviation system against the evolving threats posed by terrorists. Secretary Napolitano has participated in regional aviation security summits around the world, forging an historic consensus and signing agreements with her international colleagues in Africa, the Asia/Pacific region, the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the Middle East to strengthen the civil aviation system through enhanced information analysis and sharing, cooperation on technological development and modernized aviation security standards.
To view the Department’s full 9/11 Commission progress report, visit http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/9-11-commission-update-report-7-22-10.pdf