Rail Security Day planned for June 21
As this issue of the Newsletter went to press, the BLET and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters were gearing up to participate in a Rail and Transit Security Day to highlight dangerous gaps that continue to be overlooked in American rail and transit security more than two years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
House Democrats were planning to hold a series of meetings with transportation workers nationwide on June 21, followed by press conferences to draw attention to these security oversights.
Worldwide, one-third of terrorist attacks target transportation systems, and public transit is the most frequent target. Between 1997 and 2000, more than 195 terrorist attacks occurred on surface transportation systems worldwide. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have warned railroads and other transit systems of possible terrorist strikes. In April 2003, such warnings were validated when it was revealed that Khalid Sheik Muhammed, one of Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenants, told his interrogators that al Qaeda had plans to attack the metro system in Washington, D.C.
The recent attacks in Madrid, Spain, the frequent bus bombings in Israel, and warnings of potential attacks, require the Department of Homeland Security to make the protection of these systems a top priority. Unfortunately, there is not a single agency in charge of rail and/or transit security. Currently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is formally responsible for the security of all modes of transportation and the Federal Transit Administration is in charge of federal operational oversight of transit. However, these agencies still do not even have a memo of understanding between them about how to develop a set of risk assessment standards. It is unclear how responsibility for transit security will be divided between them.
According to the March 22, 2004, issue of Time magazine, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is spending $4.5 billion for aviation security in the current fiscal year, while only $65 million for passenger rail or public transit security.
The IBT and BLET hope to achieve the following goals as a result of the national Rail and Transit Security Day:
© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen