Aviation Security Summit General Session III
Congressional Leadership Perspective
Joel Bacon, VP Airport Legislative Alliance, AAAE
Mike Rogers (R-AL)
(written in real-time during the session – please forgive grammatical and structure errors – comments are paraphrased, unless enclosed in quotes
“We are never going to be able to travel the way we used to, in our lifetime,” Rogers said, kicking off his post lunch comments.
Congress is coming next year with another credentialing bill. “We’re waiting for TSA to do right, but if they won’t do right, we’re going to make them do right.”
Rogers addressed the federal procurement process. A development of this assessment, has resulted in the Transportation Security Caucus. The caucus is for other members of Congress and their staff to educate them on the challenges and to build relationships between folks in the private sector and the department.
“The only way we’re ever going to meet our challenges is with the private sector,” Rogers said, pointed to the Department of Defense as an organization that has engaged the private sector effectively.
“The next focus is shifting towards, risk based security. It’s a waste of time an energy to treat everyone as a suspected terrorist. And we don’t have the money to keep doing that.”
Unfortunately, Rogers decided to take the time to actually explain the pre-check process, in detail, to an audience that could give a lecture on is, and more accurately. This isn’t preaching to the choir, it’s preaching to the preachers.
Another area of focus in the new approach to aviation security, is a focus on intelligence.
Rogers comments continued to address areas of well-known technologies, systems and future programs; he explained the layers of the aviation security system, then introduced the vapor-wake detection K-9 teams that are currently being developed. One key point though that many may not be aware of, is that the K-9 teams can detect an odor of up to 15 minutes after the individual possessing the odor, has passed through the area.
The long term vision for K-9 wake detection is to be able to use a dog to screen flights coming into the U.S. from international destinations – which, if it was in use two years ago, may have been able to detect the underwear bomber from Amsterdam.
Q: Status of the Screening Partnership Program (SPP)
A: We’re going to have to keep nudging the TSA to comply and if they don’t, we may have to take action. Rogers criticized the TSA’s desire to keep employees and the number of Union members up.
Q: There are over 100 committees and subcommittees that have some oversight over some element of Homeland Security – how is one more going to help (particularly when Congress wants TSA to be more efficient, yet here is another Congressional committee over homeland security).
A: The transportation security caucus has no jurisdiction over anybody. It has not authority or power, except to engage industry. Rogers said he would like to see fewer committees focused on Homeland Security – but the problem is it goes back to the general nature of Congress to be inefficient. We have called on Speaker Boehner to consolidate the committees, and establish consolidated jurisdiction.
Q: A participant wondered about creating the TSA Administrator position as something other than a revolving door – where every couple of years a new Administrator comes along, where they say the same things and have to be reeducated about airports, and asked us to rehash the same subjects we’ve been talking about for 20 years.
A: Rogers joked that Pistole is presently doing a good job, and as long as he continues to do so, he’ll keep his job.
(thus making the point)