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Gunther, John, executive director, U.S. Conference of Mayors, letter
Gurney, Hon. Edward J., U.S. Senator from Florida, statement__
Pritchard, Allen E., Jr., executive vice president, National League of
Volpe, John A., Secretary, Department of Transportation, letter of Decem-
THE ADMINISTRATION'S EMERGENCY
TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 1973
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 11 a.m., in room 5110, New Senate Office Building, Hon. Howard W. Cannon (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT BY SENATOR CANNON
Senator CANNON. Today's hearings are being held to review the administration's recently announced aircraft antihijacking program and to take testimony on a legislative proposal developed by this committee last year dealing with the problem, S. 39.
On September 21 of last year, the Senate, by a vote of 75 to 1, passed antihijacking legislation developed by Senator Magnuson and myself and others on this committee, following thorough hearings held throughout the year. The bill was generally hailed in the press as the toughest and prospectively the most important plan to deal with aircraft piracy yet devised.
Unfortunately, shortly after its passage in the Senate, lobbyists for the White House and the Department of Transportation began a concerted effort to block our legislation in the House. I regret to say they were successful. So successful, in fact, that the bill was never permitted to be considered on the House floor, where I am sure if it had been, it would have been overwhelmingly approved. The result of the successful effort to kill our bill was that no congressional action was taken on aircraft piracy during 1972.
After Congress had adjourned, and to my knowledge without consulting any member of this committee, the Secretary of Transportation on December 5 announced "emergency regulations" which were to go into effect early in 1973 to deal with the worsening situation. Parenthetically, these so-called emergency regulations were not developed or announced until two desperate hijacking efforts in October and November resulted in death and serious injury to innocent victims. Despite the efforts of myself and this committee and other members of Congress, the administration systematically ignored the hijacking problem throughout 1972 with the naive view that the Federal Government really didn't have a major role and that if nothing were done the problem would gradually diminish and go away.
Staff member assigned to these hearings: Robert E. Ginther.
That rosy view was shattered on November 10 when three desperate and dangerous men hijacked a Southern Airways DC-9 at Birmingham which began the most dangerous and bizarre odyssey in hijacking annals. This morning an official of Southern Airways will testify on that particular incident.
On December 5, the administration finally took action. In a move that I applauded at the time, the Department ordered that, beginning January 6, all passengers and their carry-on possessions be subject to screening or search prior to boarding aircraft in order to ascertain whether dangerous weapons were being unlawfully carried. This procedure is now in effect. Of course, the screening requirement was the most important feature of our Senate bill.
The other part of the emergency order, however, is, in my opinion, inappropriate, will be ineffective, and should be abandoned. The Secretary ordered that, beginning February 6, each of the Nation's more than 530 airline airports shall furnish armed law enforcement officers to supervise boarding at each gate at all airports. These officers are to replace the Federal security officers-more than 1,700-now on duty at the Nation's airports.
In other words, the administration has turned over to local authorities, the enforcement of Federal laws dealing with the security of the national air transportation system. In my view, this is a dangerous cop-out and is just another in a series of indications that the present administration is unwilling to fund transportation programs, no matter how important.
The bill before us today, S. 39, would establish a Federal air transportation security force adequate in size to enforce U.S. law at the Nation's airline airports. The bill clearly recognizes the Federal Government's responsibility in this area and establishes a coordinated. one-agency approach to deal with the problem.
On the other hand, the administration's program establishes a hodgepodge enforcement effort and a continuation of divided responsibility and will result in episodes similar to the "Southern" hijacking incident in which no clearly established, coordinated effort existed.
For these reasons, I will strongly resist the administration's proposed program and will seek to quickly enact S. 39 or a bill similar to it which will firmly establish Federal responsibility-not local-for the security of the national air transportation system.
(The bill follows:)
93D CONGRESS 1ST SESSION
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
JANUARY 4, 1973
Mr. CANNON (for himself, Mr. ROBERT C. BYRD, and Mr. MAGNUSON) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce
To amend the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 to provide a more effective program to prevent aircraft piracy and for other
1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, TITLE I-ANTIHIJACKING ACT OF 1973
SECTION 1. This title may be cited as the "Anti
5 Hijacking Act of 1973".
SEC. 2. Section 101 (32) of the Federal Aviation Act of
7 1958, as amended (49 U.S.C. 1301 (32)), is amended to
8 read as follows:
1 "(32) The term 'special aircraft jurisdiction of the
2 United States' includes
"(a) civil aircraft of the United States;
"(b) aircraft of the national defense forces of the United States;
"(c) any other aircraft within the United States;
"(d) any other aircraft outside the United States
"(i) that has its next scheduled destination or last point of departure in the United States, if that aircraft next actually lands in the United States; or
"(ii) having an offense', as defined in the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, committed aboard, if that aircraft lands
in the United States with the alleged offender still aboard; and
"(e) other aircraft leased without crew to a lessee who has his principal place of business in the United
States, or if none, who has his permanent residence in
the United States;
20 while that aircraft is in flight, which is from the moment
when all the external doors are closed following embarkation
22 until the moment when one such door is opened for disem23 barkation, or in the case of a forced landing, until the com24 petent authorities take over the responsibility for the aircraft 25 and for the persons and property aboard."