Security Focus Remains on Aviation

The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said his agency’s focus continues to be on battling terrorist threats to aviation even though some lawmakers are calling for an increase in security for passenger railroads.

homeland-securityJeh Johnson testified before the Senate Commerce Committee that although Homeland Security is considering assigning more resources to railroad stations, local police forces are backing up the TSA presence there.

He said aviation continues to be Homeland Security’s primary focus because of the high number of threat streams seen there.

“I continue to be concerned about aviation and airport security. And I believe that needs to be TSA’s principal focus,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s testimony came in the wake of an effort by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to push the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act, which would mandate that the Transportation Security Administration, a sub-department of Homeland Security, develop risk-based strategies in all modes of transportation.

The bill directs TSA to conduct risk analyses on all modes and for the Government Accountability Office to study best security practices for security on Amtrak, and on passenger rail and mass transit operations in foreign countries.

Under the proposed legislation, Amtrak would be authorized to use TSA’s Secure Flight Program to screen rail passengers.

Amtrak and the freight railroads would have representation on a new surface transportation advisory committee.

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