CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Aired November 18, 2002 - 11:07 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Reagan National Airport, Tom Ridge now talking about homeland security, also about an effort to make all screeners federal workers at U.S. airports.
Let's listen in.
TOM RIDGE, DIR. OF HOMELAND SECUERITY DIR.: ... continue to look for ways to improve service, as it seeks to improve security.
In time, I suspect we will employ 21st century technology, biometrics, smart cards and other forms of positive identification, as well as even more sophisticated explosive detection systems. And of course, we rely on the training and the efforts, the instincts and the experience of the 44,000 men and women who work at TSA to make sure that on a day-to-day basis we use good, old-fashioned common sense at every gate, at every airport around this country. Admiral Loy likes to talk about some of the rules that add to passenger stress levels without reducing the risk, and I suspect in time he'll eliminate or modify all of those, as well.
In this new era, we must all think anew. We must keep in mind passengers' daily routines as we provide them with this new measure of protection. I'm confident we can do this. In fact, early results suggests that up to 95 percent of passengers are being screened in 10 minutes or less. That's great news for the traveling public. So today is a milestone, it is not an ending.
New and important deadlines loom ahead. Meeting those deadlines will not guarantee that we are 100 percent secure from terrorism. But based on the progress to date, we can look forward to a far, far safer future.
Mr. Secretary, you have built a terrific model here. I remember that first meeting in the Oval Office. I remember the mission statement; a very complex piece of legislation. A lot of people inside and outside government just really didn't think you'd be able to build this structure, train 45,000 folks and get them all deployed within the year time frame. But because of your leadership, you surrounded yourself with some great people who we've identified earlier, and you got the commitment from those 44,000 men and women who volunteered to help you secure the airlines and our skies, you did it.
So just on a personal note, I think it's important to recognize what an extraordinary job Secretary Norm Mineta has done. He was passionate about meeting the deadlines, getting these individuals trained on time, deployed on time, made a commitment to the president that he could get it done, he could meet those deadlines. So we celebrate the success of this organization, an extraordinary accomplishment of a great public servant.
It is my great pleasure to introduce to you our Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta.
NORM MINETA, TRANSPORTATION SECY.: Tom, thank you. Thank you very, very much for that very kind introduction, Governor Ridge.
Last fall, President Bush turned to an extraordinary leader to head up the Office of Homeland Security, Governor Tom Ridge.
As many of you know, I've known Tom since 1982 when we served in the House of Representatives, and we did a lot of things together. And so, I know of his capabilities. And Tom has done an outstanding job since his start just over a year ago, and there will be much more that he will accomplish in the days and the years ahead.
Tom, I am grateful for your friendship and your counsel and advice, and the strong support that you have given to our important security mission at the Department of Transportation.
One year ago President Bush stood in this room and signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, and with the stroke of that pen the Transportation Security Administration, otherwise known as TSA, was created. And at the time of the signing, America was still suffering from a widespread fear of flying.
A half mile from here burnt walls at the Pentagon were a visible reminder of 9/11 and at airports throughout the country long lines of nervous Americans watched as screeners ill-prepared and ill-equipped for the new wartime reality struggled to check passengers. National Guard troops patrolled our airports, and the press and the public wondered if adequate security could ever be restored.
President Bush sent legislation to Congress proposing the creation of the Transportation Security Administration. Congress soon passed TSA legislation, and the president's signature set in motion the largest peace-time mobilization in our nation's history. And yet, on this morning, one year ago the TSA was nothing more than a piece of paper.
Our mandate: Stand up an operational agency conducting passenger screening with extensively trained new federal employees at airports and do it in one year, and much more. Well, we did it. And tomorrow morning TSA's new federal passenger screeners will be on duty at every airport in America, and that accomplishment is something of which everyone can be proud and we are here to celebrate.
I want to thank our Deputy Transportation Secretary, Michael Jackson, for his efforts in this work.
I also want to extend my thanks to our Chief of Staff, John Flaherty and to Admiral Loy, as well in the herculean efforts they undertook to make sure that we were going to be able to celebrate this day on a timely basis.
Now today I have two objectives: First, give the American people a one-year report on our successes. Secondly, outline the considerable work that TSA has ahead in the year to come.
So how did we do it?
First, we set a very clear goal to achieve world-class security and world-class customer service. Failure regarding either one would be failure, period. After the legislation was signed, we assumed command of the aviation security system. DOT had already begun to build a new federal air marshal program to protect commercial aircraft. We recruited and deployed a force with several thousand new TSA air marshals by July, on time and on budget.
KAGAN: We've been listening in to Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta announcing that they made a very tough deadline. A lot of people didn't think they would do it, but they did. Starting tomorrow, all screeners, except for five airports, when you go through a security checkpoint at an airport near you, they will be federal employees, instead of work for private companies. It is believed, it is hoped, that will improve security at our nation's airports.
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