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Soapbox - US Transportation Security Administration

Soapbox - John Pistole, Administrator, US Transportation Security Administration “We must continue to improve information and intelligence sharing across the entire global supply chain and transportation network”

In late October, Al-Qaeda operatives attempted to conceal  and ship explosive devices on aircraft bound for the United States from Yemen.

The thwarted terrorist attack showed once again that we face a determined enemy that is intent on exploiting our international systems of travel and commerce. Yet it also demonstrated the progress we’ve made in the past year in securing the global supply chain, and reinforced the imperative for all of us to remain focused on strengthening our defenses against ever-evolving global threats.

 Because of the timely sharing of intelligence and information among our allies, we were able to identify and disrupt the threat before it did any harm. At the direction of President Barack Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) took immediate steps. It enhanced protocols for screening inbound cargo, including grounding packages originating from Yemen and Somalia, and deployed inspectors to these countries to assist governments in enhancing their cargo screening procedures.

We had already undertaken a number of efforts regarding air cargo security in the past year in order to meet a 9/11 Act requirement. This involved screening all air cargo on flights departing from US airports and all inbound international cargo that intelligence suggested could pose a threat, as well as joining 190 countries at the recent International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Triennial Assembly in Montreal to ratify the historic ICAO Joint Declaration on Aviation Security. This  forges an historic new foundation for aviation security that will better protect the entire global aviation system from evolving terrorist threats.

Nevertheless, we must do more to anticipate and adapt to evolving threats in order to protect against future attacks. This fall, I joined IATA for the AVSEC World 2010 Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. We discussed the importance of collaboration on global aviation security and ways to bolster the security of our vital air transportation systems while facilitating global commerce.

To achieve these objectives, TSA and our partner agencies must continue to improve information and intelligence sharing across the entire global supply chain and transportation network, including governments, airlines, airports, industry, and the public. Since every airport offers a potential entry point into the aviation system and every seaport or retail shipping counter provides access to the global supply chain, all nations face a threat when there are gaps in security. All members of the global economy have a stake in keeping our international transportation networks safe.

The United States remains fully committed to continued cooperation and engagement on global aviation security with IATA and our partners around the world. No government agency or nation can address the threats we face alone, nor will they be successful unless the private sector and the public play a key role in our collective security. By working together, we will prevail in creating a strong, resilient, and expanding international transportation system for years to come.

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