10/06/2011

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ranking Member of Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, today introduced bipartisan legislation to enhance the security of mass transit systems by promoting mass transit-related information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local law enforcement agencies. Her bill, the Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act, would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to prioritize the deployment of intelligence officers and analysts, including those from the Transportation Security Administration, to state and urban area fusion centers with mass transit systems. Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.

"Although used by millions of Americans on their way to work every day, mass transit systems such as subways have relatively few security measures in place compared to air transportation,” Speier said. “We need to improve our security at these vulnerable transportation systems, and that starts with getting timely, actionable intelligence to our state and local law enforcement partners so they can more effectively deploy their resources to deter or detect potential terrorist plots.”
Speier’s legislation would direct DHS to deploy intelligence specialists focusing on mass transit threats to state and urban area fusion centers, which bring together federal, state, and local law enforcement and emergency management agencies to share information to protect communities from terrorism and other threats.  These DHS officers would be tasked with creating intelligence products specific to threats to mass transit systems and promoting information sharing and situational awareness between state and local law enforcement and the federal government. 

Correspondence between Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, recovered after the successful Navy SEALs raid on his compound, indicated that Al Qaeda maintained an active interest in attacking commuter rail and trains.

“Mass transit systems have been tempting targets for terrorist groups in the past,” Speier said. “Since 9/11, there have been devastating attacks on commuter trains in Madrid, London, and Mumbai, and just six months ago, a US citizen was sentenced to twenty-three years in prison for plotting to blow up the Washington DC metro. I believe the federal government needs to take a more proactive approach to giving state and local law enforcement the information they need to protect our commuters.”