[Page: E1625]



in the House of Representatives

MONDAY, MAY 21, 1990

Mr. Chairman, I join you in welcoming our witnesses here today and look forward to their comments. Let me commend the President for establishing the Commission that prepared his comprehensive report. All of us owe a debt of gratitude to Ann McLaughlin, Chairman of the Commission, and its members and staff for their frank assessment of the weaknesses in the U.S. civil aviation security system. Let me also say that I look upon this report as a beginning, not an end.

This report must not be put on the shelf and forgotten. We owe the innocent victims of Pan Am 103 more than mere words and promises. The thoughtful recommendations in this study must not be ignored. We owe the families of those who perished over the skies of Scotland a commitment to excellence in aviation security. I don't want the release of this report to be a public relations event and nothing more. We owe the American travelers results and not mere fanfare. Security is a life and death matter and we must take it seriously.

We should look upon today as the beginning of the rebuilding of the American aviation security system. From the offices of the FAA to the security check points of Pan Am, it is time to be thorough and sophisticated about aviation security. Our efforts will take time, patience and funds and we must be ready to commit ourselves to the goal of making the skies safe for travelers. We must be creative in our approach to enhancing security. Our approach should include the use of available state-of-the-art detection technology to supplement existing screening techniques. We must also look at other tools in the fight against terrorists.

We must be willing to take a long, hard look at states that support international terrorism. Our air strike on Libya a few years ago produced surprising results. Qaddafi reduced his involvement in terrorism. There are times when covert action is an appropriate tool to use against terrorist-supporting states. International cooperation and the exchange of intelligence information are also critical if we are to win the battle against terrorism in the skies.

Let me commend the good work of the Scottish police and other police services in the United Kingdom for their brilliant investigative work on this tragedy and for their cooperation with our government. U.S. Government agencies involved in this painstaking investigation also contributed much to the overall investigative effort.

The citizens of Lokerbie, Scotland deserve our thanks for their caring and sensitive handling of a terrible experience for them, the victims' families and the American people.

I join the Chairman in promising to do everything possible here in Congress to help to dramatically improve the aviation security system. Today is the beginning of a security rebuilding effort. It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.