What passes for security at most airports in this country is the result of a false sense of security in the United States, especially among airline financial officers. No terrorist would dare try something here, they believed. This attitude persisted in spite of Pan Am 103, the World Trade Center garage bombing, and Oklahoma City. The problem was never urgent. If the schedule slipped another year, and nothing happened, airline officials thought: “Look how much money we saved.”
      What passes for security at most airports in this country is also the result of some very effective lobbying by the airlines, both at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and in Congress. Measures that might have prevented terrorist attacks were watered down to reduce costs and avoid potential delays. For example, the Computer-Aided Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) selects passengers who merit further scrutiny. The original plan was to more carefully examine checked baggage, carry-on baggage, and the passenger. This was reduced to just examining checked baggage. The selected passenger and his carry-on baggage pass through the same checkpoint screening that we are all too familiar with.
      What passes for security at most of this country’s airports is a result of inept and contradictory interests at the FAA. The airlines justifiably distrusted and fought against many FAA proposals in the past because they were impractical, unworkable, and didn’t improve security. This approach also reflects the futility of trying to fight terrorism with federal regulation. In 1996 it was generally agreed that companies doing checkpoint screening should be certified. It makes sense—we certify our hairdressers! The hope was that by certifying screening companies, we could improve quality. It’s now five years later. The regulation may be issued soon. Of course, any company applying for certification will receive a one-year “bye.” Total elapsed time for this simple idea: six years and counting.
      What passes for security at most airports in this country is a result of what the U.S. House of Representatives has allowed to happen. Members of Congress have oversight responsibility. They read the reports of the General Accounting Office and the Department of Transportation Inspector General—or should have. Yet they failed to watch what was going on or try to stop it. And the aviation subcommittee went even further. It earmarked $5 million of last year’s aviation security budget to a Tennessee congressional district. That’s anti-terrorism money used as pork barrel.
      To design an integrated and prudent security plan for our aviation industry will require us to understand what security is, how airports and airlines actually operate, and how terrorists might operate. I believe it could be an intelligent and reasonable system that would provide prudent security without undue delay, without an incredibly high cost, and without compromising our civil liberties.

Bob Monetti of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, lost his son, Richard Paul Monetti, in the Pan Am 103 bombing. He is the president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103.

Student Support

The outpouring of energy and effort I saw from students after the September 11 terrorist attacks makes me feel more confident than ever about the younger generation and its volunteer spirit. There is no question that our nation and the world will need their energy in the long term as we make the transition from a peacetime economy to a wartime one. Nonprofit organizations, schools, and many other public sector service-providers will have greater needs, and I believe there will be support from our student generation to meet these needs. There is so much uncertainty right now that students are looking for opportunities to make human connections. Volunteering helps them make those connections.

—Pamela Kirwin Heintz ’91, director, Center for Public and Community Service

Steve Sartori
Students distribute candles in Hendricks Chapel.

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Main Home Page Contents Chancellor's Message Opening Remarks
Reflections In Memoriam Time of Terror Lessons of Hope
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