IMPROVING SECURITY, |
With the 10th anniversary, it is time to pause and take stock of developments. They have occurred in two significant areas: airline and airport security, and movement toward a criminal trial."
Pam Am 103 was the galvanizing event for the United States' approach to civil aviation security," says Cathal Flynn, associate administrator for Civil Aviation Security of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). "Since that tragic day, we've been working steadily with industry to improve all aspects of security, and have dramatically increased our ability to protect the flying public. As a result, all of the FAA's mandates from the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990 have been addressed."
Initiatives in three areaspersonnel, procedures, and research and developmenthave led to a security regime that reduces vulnerabilities and meets today's evolving threat, Flynn says. Among the improvements are the deployment of security personnel overseas and at the nation's major airports; the hiring of hundreds of aviation security specialists; and the creation of a robust research and development program to bring new security equipment online along with better-trained equipment operators, as well as an automated passenger-screening program, an expansion of domestic passenger bag-matching, and an aircraft hardening program to reduce aircraft vulnerability to explosive devices.
"Perhaps most importantly, the FAA is working with airlines on the world's largest deployment of aviation security equipment, including nearly 500 trace-detection devices and 62 CTX-5000s, the FAA's only certified explosives detection system," Flynn says. "The agency's most significant challenge is follow-through on plans to purchase and deploy $100 million worth of this equipment annually over the next four years and to make sure that all who operate the new systems are properly trained."
Joan Dater, left, and Tom Dater are joined by New Jersey Congresswoman Marge Roukema at an art exhibition of Gretchen's work in their hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey.
The other area of significant development is progress toward a criminal trial. In August, the American and British governments shifted their positions and agreed to put the Libyan suspects on trial in the Netherlands before a panel of Scottish judges. At press time, plans were still unfolding.|
Prior to that, on July 21, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had a telephone conference with board members of the advocacy group Victims of Pan American Flight 103. Nine of our 15 board members participated. All nine voted to formally support our government in its efforts to bring the two suspects to trial under a Scottish or American system of justice, with a few reservations.
We have, in addition, insisted on the following:
- Gadhafi must fully comply with the United Nations' resolutions.
- All sanctions are to remain in force.
- Libya must renounce terrorism and cease all support to terrorist organizations.
- Under no circumstance will the United States government permit the trial to be conducted under the auspices of the World Court or an international tribunal; it must be conducted under Scottish or American systems of justice, with Scottish or American judges.
REMEMBERING THOSE LOST
In the meantime, as December 21 approached, several events commemorating the 10th anniversary were already under way. Observances began with the University College Summer Lecture Series at the Maxwell School on campus. Residents of Ramsey, New Jersey, where Gretchen grew up, gathered for an ecumenical, community-wide memorial service at the local Roman Catholic church on November 8. It was accompanied by community-wide church bell ringing and a Silent Walk for Justice on the way to the Ramsey Public Library, where Gretchen's artwork was again on display.
A Service of Commemoration was held simultaneously on December 21 in Hendricks Chapel, at Dryfesdale Cemetery in Lockerbie, at Westminster Abbey in London, and at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, site of the Memorial Cairn. The cairn was financed and erected by family members of the victims and their friends. Its stones, quarried and cut near Lockerbie, were a gift from the people of Scotland to the people of the United States in memory of our lost loved ones.
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Jason M. Coker
Gary L. Colasanti
Scot Marsh Cory
Gretchen Joyce Dater
Turhan Michael Ergin
John P. Flynn