Clinton Orders Boost in Airport Security President Lobbies for Anti-Terror Spending
Compiled From News Services Mark Schlinkmann Of The Post-Dispatch Provided Some Information ., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
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 terrorism. "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- election. "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 positions. 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. …