Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Clinton Orders Boost in Airport Security President Lobbies for Anti-Terror Spending
President Bill Clinton issued orders Monday to tighten airport security and challenged Congress to support a $1.1 billion anti-terrorism crackdown.
"Terrorists don't wait," he said. "And neither should we."
Clinton unveiled the proposals in an Oval Office ceremony. "As a result of these steps, not only will the American people feel safer, they will be safer," he contended. The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, which unveiled its recommendations last week, formally presented them to the president Monday. In embracing the report, Clinton: Ordered immediate criminal background checks of airline workers with access to secure areas. Directed the Federal Aviation Administration to set up a system in certain airports to match each piece of luggage with a passenger. An Air Transport Association spokesman said such a system could cause enormous delays. Promised to sign an executive order making the National Transportation Safety Board the point agency to help families of plane crash victims. Announced that the U.S. armed services would provide several dozen specially trained dogs for security at key airports. The goal of matching luggage to passengers is to prevent anyone from checking a bag and then not boarding a plane. With 500 million domestic passengers a year, each carrying an average of 1.7 bags, "you're talking about one of the biggest logistical problems you could imagine," said David A. Fuscus, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the trade association for U.S. airlines. "We're going to cooperate, but it's a huge job." Under the president's directive, the FAA would require the baggage matches at certain airports - including at least one big hub - within 60 days to determine the best procedure. The president's commission also: Recommended the purchase of 54 explosive detection systems to screen baggage, 410 trace detectors to screen carry-on items and 114 new canine teams at U.S. airports. Proposed spending $10 million for a computer system to track passengers with suspicious travel patterns and $31 million to bolster inspection of outbound international air cargo. Called for more FBI agents to expand investigations of domestic terrorist groups at a cost of $92 million. `No Magic Answer' "There is no silver bullet or single magic answer," said Vice President Al Gore, who headed the commission. …