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Houston unveils national pilot program
to put undercover TSA on public transit

Program length – 1:34

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Press Release



Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Senior Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, released the following statement regarding today’s BusSafe event in Houston, Texas:

“We are here today to discuss a critical component of TSA’s mission, surface and mass transit security. TSA has been tasked with a complex and evolving mission: to secure our transportation systems while maintaining the healthy movement of goods, services, and people. Since it was created nearly a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, TSA has focused the vast majority of its resources and assets on aviation security.

“Clearly, the threat to aviation is still present, but TSA cannot ignore the obvious trend of terrorist attacks on surface transportation assets worldwide. Our domestic transit, bus, and rail systems have thus far been spared, but terrorist attacks in Spain, Great Britain, India, Japan and Russia over the last few years have emphasized how critical these systems are to protecting large urban areas.

“The attacks we have witnessed abroad have been well executed with devastating consequences. They demonstrate that securing a surface environment presents unique obstacles and vulnerabilities that do not exist in other modes. According to the National Counter Terrorism Center’s Worldwide Incidents Tracking System, since January 2004, over 1000 terrorist attacks were waged worldwide against mass transit and passenger rail targets, resulting in over 2,000 deaths and over 9,000 injuries.

“Many such attacks have targeted major cities in industrial democracies, including Madrid, London, Mumbai (twice), and Moscow. Ever since a plot to attack the New York City subway system was revealed in 2009, there can be no doubt that U.S. systems are bona fide terrorist targets as well. Our Nation’s mass transit and passenger rail systems provide 34 million passenger trips each weekday, compared to the 1.7 million passengers flying daily on commercial domestic and international flights. This Congress, I introduced the “Surface Transportation and Mass Transit Security Act of 2011” which seeks to authorize adequate resources and program attention to surface and mass transit security programs at the Transportation Security Administration.

“To this end, the bill establishes the Surface Transportation Security Inspection Office and authorizes additional surface inspectors. The bill also creates mechanisms to strengthen stakeholder outreach, makes key revisions to the public transportation security assistance grants program and increases canine teams and resources for surface and mass transit modes.

“Furthermore, under its National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program, TSA procures trains, deploys, and certifies explosives detection canine teams—each of which is paired with a handler—to provide mobile and flexible deterrence and explosives detection capabilities in furtherance of its mission to secure all modes of transportation.

“TSA currently has 920 canine explosive detection teams deployed across the country. I have supported the President’s budget request to sustain the canine explosive detection program administered by TSA. Furthermore I am pleased to see that today’s announcement on BUS SAFE program supports certain priorities stressed by my surface and mass transit bill.

“I have met with the new TSA Administrator, Mr. Pistole, who shares my concern about improving our surface security efforts, and I look forward to working with him to make this happen. We are in a new era for TSA, and with hard work and determination, a new era also for surface transportation security.”

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