|November 20, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—AMERICAN SAMOA TO BENEFIT FROM THE AVIATION AND TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ACT|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that President Bush has signed into law the Aviation and
Transportation Security Act. The law requires that the persons who
screen baggage at U.S. airports be federal employees, that airlines strengthen
cockpit doors, and that there be an increase in the number of U.S. air
marshals on domestic and international flights to and from the United States.
“This legislation is far-reaching and will have a direct impact on American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “We are a part of the federal aviation system, and the public flying to and from American Samoa – just like those from the states and the other territories – will benefit from this increased security. We can expect continued, careful scrutiny of carry-on luggage, and within the next 60 days, individual inspection or personal identification of all checked baggage.”
“I am pleased to report that should an emergency need ever arise, the legislation also includes an authorization for the Secretary of Transportation to grant full or partial waivers to any restrictions which are placed on the transportation of freight, mail, emergency medical supplies or patients. Given the fact that we are so dependent on air transportation for mail, medical supplies and other important cargo, this is a critical provision included to ensure that our Territory’s needs are met,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“Airline passengers can also expect new equipment for baggage inspection, increased security around airport perimeters, and additional training for personnel who screen baggage,” the Congressman continued. “All security screening personnel will be federal employees for at least two years and possibly longer, and every security station will have federal supervision. To pay for the increased cost of inspections, Congress authorized a new fee of $2.50 per plane boarding, up to $5.00 per one-way trip.”
“At present, all security screening personnel must be U.S. citizens,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Although there was some debate surrounding the issue of whether or not permanent aliens could screen baggage, Congress was adamant about the U.S. citizenship requirement. In the case of American Samoa, however, I am hopeful that the law will be amended to allow U.S. Nationals to be treated as U.S. citizens for purposes of screening baggage.”
“Finally, this new law will require the creation of a database to allow the cross-checking of passenger lists with lists of suspected national security risks. The law will also strengthen airplane cockpit doors, provide for the installation of video cameras so that airline crews can be aware of security problems in the passenger section, and increase anti-hijack training programs for flight crews and attendants,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.
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