Lowey, Crowley, Israel Urge Air Security Improvements Members of Congress Urge Earlier Flight Manifest Disclosure

May 11, 2010 Issues:

WASHINGTON – Congressman Joseph Crowley (NY-07), Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-18), and Congressman Steve Israel (NY-02) today called for airlines to submit passenger manifests to federal authorities at least 24 hours in advance of a flight’s departure in order to give law enforcement officials more time to catch terror suspects before they can board a plane.

“It is senseless to arbitrarily hamstring the ability of federal authorities to catch terrorism suspects by allowing flight manifests to be disclosed a mere 30 minutes before a flight departs anywhere in the world,” said Lowey.  “We now have two incidents since Christmas proving law enforcement personnel need more time to review flight information.  Time is often the enemy when it comes to catching suspected terrorists, and it is time we help authorities beat the clock.”

“Americans have the right to know that when they step onto an airplane, they are not going to sit down next to someone who the government has already banned from flying,” said Crowley.  “This common-sense proposal will give Americans more peace of mind while ensuring that terrorists can’t board airplanes.”

“There is no excuse for the no-fly flaw that nearly let the Times Square terrorist escape. This was an incredible effort by law enforcement. But we need to make sure we are giving our security officials the opportunity to do their job and do it right. Congresswoman Lowey’s legislation is commonsense and will put us on the right track to fix the problems in our no-fly system,” said Rep. Israel.

Airlines are currently required to disclose their passenger manifests a mere 30 minutes before a flight departs, giving federal law enforcement officials little time to check for suspected terrorists like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Faisal Shahzad. 

Lowey introduced legislation to mandate airlines submit passenger manifests at least 24 hours in advance of a flight’s departure and immediate disclosure of individuals who purchase tickets within the 24-hour window.  The legislation would also require airlines to re-check their passenger manifests against the federal no-fly list one hour before a flight departs.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the attempted Christmas Day bomber, boarded a flight to the United States despite being on the no-fly list, and Customs and Border Protection discovered he was on the flight while the plane was in the air.  Faisal Shahzad boarded an international flight to Dubai despite being on the no-fly list, and Customs and Border Protection discovered he was on the flight before the plane departed New York. 

In both cases, earlier disclosure of the flight manifest could have prevented a suspected terrorist from boarding the plane.