No-ride list proposed for Amtrak trains after Bin Laden 'aspiration' discovered
"Circumstances demand we make adjustments by increasing funding to enhance rail safety and monitoring on commuter rail transit and screening who gets on Amtrak passenger trains, so that we can provide a greater level of security to the public," the New York Democrat explained at a news conference.
During the raid this month at Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, members of the Navy SEALS found information that Al Qaeda was considering sabotaging a U.S. passenger train on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 as it travelled over a valley or a bridge.
"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make sure our partners were aware of the alleged plotting," Matt Chandler, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said last week when the intelligence was discovered amid the DVDs, flash drives, and hard drives discovered at Bin Laden's home.
Even though the 2004 bipartisan Sept. 11 commission recommended that the government check passengers' names against terror watch lists before they board passenger trains or cruise ships, that procedure has yet to be implemented. Schumer wants Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to increase the Secure Flight Program so as to include rail travel.
On Monday, John O'Connor, Amtrak's vice president and chief of police, addressed Schumer's proposal, noting that he would be open to it under certain terms.
"All countermeasures add value in creating an overall security posture in protecting a rail system that operates in an open environment. The creation of a 'do not ride' list is no exception," O'Connor said in a statement.
"It would, however, have to be developed in close coordination with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and implemented in a way that respects civil rights and allows for the rapid flow of persons and trains, necessary for effective mass transit," he wrote.
-- Tony Pierce
Photo: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), left, is joined by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), left, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, second left, and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), at an announcement in New York's Pennsylvania Station, Monday, May 9, 2011. Credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press