Washington (September 11, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), former senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee and leading advocate for aviation, maritime and grid security, released the following statement marking the 13th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
“As we commemorate the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we remember that the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center towers took off from Boston and the terrorists who flew them lived and trained in Massachusetts. Those planes carried beloved families and friends, and the calamity experienced in Manhattan was also devastating for communities across Massachusetts.
“The strength and resilience of the people of Massachusetts and across the country that sustained our nation in the aftermath of those deadly attacks is one of America’s greatest assets. But we know that we must bolster that strength with vigilance at home and abroad as terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda continue to put the United States at the top of their target lists. We must do more than simply prepare defenses for the kind of attacks we experienced thirteen years ago. We must imagine the scenarios and loopholes that the terrorists of tomorrow will seek to exploit and work aggressively to prepare in order to prevent another tragedy.
“In 2007, legislation I authored included the requirement that 100 percent of maritime cargo containers must be scanned for nuclear materials before they are loaded onto boats headed for our country. Unfortunately, even though the technology and processes can be put in place to meet this common-sense mandate, my law has not been implemented. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has committed to me that the Department will take steps to close this loophole, and I will continue to work with him and my colleagues in order to meet the 100 percent scanning mandate.
“Despite expert warnings of vulnerabilities to our nation’s electrical grid that could result in widespread blackouts and cause severe threats to our security, economy and health, the grid remains at risk of attack. This year, Congressman Henry Waxman and I introduced legislation, the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act, to help secure our nation’s electrical grid against devastating damage from physical or cyber terrorist attacks or from natural disasters. Previous passage of the GRID Act in the House on a bipartisan basis is testament to our ability to reach consensus on this critical national security issue.
“On today’s anniversary we remember, we reflect but we also must recommit. There are urgently-needed security upgrades yet to be completed to keep our nation safe from those who aim to do us harm.”
Senator Markey also is the author of the mandate in the law implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that requires the screening of all of the billions of pounds of cargo on passenger planes before they are loaded onboard.