President Bill Clinton issued orders Monday to tighten airport
security and challenged Congress to support $1.1 billion in new
spending to fight global terrorism.
The request cobbles together a number of long-standing
anti-terror initiatives and a list of recommendations from a new
commission to find ways to make air travel safer.
Among the items in the package are advanced new screening
devices for airline passengers and cargo and the hiring or transfer
of as many as 500 FBI agents to deter and investigate domestic
"We know we can't make the world risk-free, but we can reduce
the risk we face, and we have to take the fight to the terrorists,"
Clinton said at an Oval Office ceremony at which he accepted the
recommendations of the aviation safety panel. "If we have the will,
we can find the means."
The $1.1 billion package has two primary components - $429
million in spending for aviation security urged by the commission,
headed by Vice President Al Gore, and $667 million in
anti-terrorism spending at a variety of federal agencies.
Clinton issued an election-year challenge to Congress to pass
the package before lawmakers leave town to campaign for re-
"Terrorists don't wait," he said. "And neither should we.
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 long delays.
Promised to sign an executive order making the National
Transportation Safety Board the point agency to help families of
plane crash victims.
Sought to increase the FAA's security work force by 600
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.
Officials at Lambert Field and its two main carriers - Trans
World Airlines and Southwest Airlines - said Monday they had not
been told yet whether Lambert would be among the airports initially
affected by the changes. …