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Port Security Conference

May 7, 2003

Byrd slams inadequacy of port security budget
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said yesterday at a hearing of the Senate's Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee that the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) needs to focus on critical vulnerabilities -- and not just those at the nation's airports.

 "One of the entities folded into the new Department of Homeland Security is entitled the Transportation Security Administration, not the Aviation Security Administration," said Byrd. "Yet, within the $4.8 billion TSA budget, only $86 million is requested for maritime and land security activities while more than $4.3 billion is requested for aviation security.  This means less than 2 percent of the transportation security budget request is for maritime and land security -- one dollar in fifty!"

"In fact," continued Byrd," the budget request for administrative costs associated with TSA headquarters and mission support centers -- $218 million -- is 2.5 times greater than the request for maritime and land security."

 "The terrorist track record is to exploit vulnerabilities.  The first attack on the World Trade Center used truck bombs.  The attempted 'Millennium Attack' in Washington State sought to exploit our porous borders.  The 9-11 attacks used airplanes.  Should we not learn from this track record and address all of our vulnerabilities -- and not just those that the terrorists have used most recently?  Are port and maritime security lower priorities simply because there hasn't been a terrorist attack there -- yet?" Byrd asked Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security's Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

The directorate is composed of the former Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as well as the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 "We don't treat every mode of transportation the same," responded Hutchinson. "We are moving forward with the other modes of transportation, based upon threats and vulnerability assessments.  You are absolutely correct that we need to address the broad range of vulnerabilities in our transportation systems.  We are conducting assessments to know how we are spending our money and how it should be invested," Hutchinson responded.

Byrd noted that some assessments already have been completed, but not addressed in the Administration's budget priorities.

"The Coast Guard has estimated the cost at $1.4 billion for security improvements at ports this year, but there are no dollars for port security in the President's budget," Byrd pointed out.

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