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Hice: Let's make the sky safer
Bill gives new tools to federal air marshals
Jody HIce
Jody Hice

WASHINGTON – Following the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil, President George W. Bushaddressed the nation and declared, “These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” Without question, none of us will forget the heinous attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

These acts of hate forever changed America and transformed our perceptions and protocols when it comes to the safety and security of our airlines. Since then, there have been several attempts to infiltrate the aviation sector, and these threats have not diminished.

Just a few months after 9/11, passengers aboard a flight traveling from Paris to Miami deterred an al-Qaida operative, Richard Reid, who had explosives concealed in his shoes. In 2006, an al-Qaida terrorist plot, which involved liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks, was also foiled. Yet another failed al-Qaida plot to bring down an airliner – in 2009 – was based on the use of plastic explosives hidden in the underwear of a terrorist.

While each of these plots was stopped before any casualties occurred, it’s clear terrorists still find planes to be the crown jewel to instill fear and undermine our way of life.

Earlier this year, I was shocked to learn risk-based means of assessing threats to our airlines were not being utilized by the Federal Air Marshal Service. With the holiday season already upon us, millions of Americans are traveling across the country – many of whom will pass through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Our airport is the world’s busiest, and during Thanksgiving week alone, about 1.38 million passengers traveled through it.

Simply put, it’s imperative that we ensure the safety of our airports and our skies.

This week, I introduced a new bill, House Resolution 4467, the Strengthening Aviation Security Act, to reinforce airport safety across our nation. This bill will require FAMS to take practical steps by incorporating risk-based methodologies when it comes to conducting aviation threat assessments.

Under the current system, FAMS and Transportation Security Administration consider a number of different factors in determining which flights marshals will be on, including travel budget, number of personnel and other qualitative risk factors. However, it lacks substantive quantitative data. The Strengthening Aviation Security Act will ensure federal air marshals are collecting better data and devoting its resources to the highest-risk flights in order to deter, detect and disrupt plots devised by our adversaries.

We live in a dangerous world, and public safety should always be a priority. Threats are coming from many different directions, and we must counteract our enemies by every means open to us. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this commonsense measure that will help improve the safety and security of our skies.

Jody Hice, a Republican from Greensboro, represents Georgia’s 10th District in Congress. Online: