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TERRORISM IMPACT Traficant blames lack of federal police force



Published: Thu, September 20, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The congressman wants to require federal officials at airports to assist with security.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. isn't just blaming what he calls the country's one-sided Mideast policy, its failed intelligence network and open borders as contributing factors to the recent terrorist attacks.

In a letter to President Bush, Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, writes: "One year ago, [Osama] bin Laden threatened to attack targets in New York. The response from the Public Building Service was to cut the federal police force in half in New York City. This action could have contributed to the assessment that bin Laden and his people would have made in planning the recent airliner attacks. Ignoring these threats may have turned out to be a colossal mistake that cost American lives."

Legislation: Also, Traficant has introduced a bill in the U.S. House to require federal officers to help handle security at airports in light of last week's terrorist attacks. The bill has been referred to the House committees on transportation and infrastructure, and government reform. Traficant served on the transportation and infrastructure committee until he was kicked off of it by House Democratic leaders after he voted for a Republican as speaker in January.

In letters to key congressional leaders as well as Bush and the vice president, Traficant wrote that the bill would "restore the confidence of the American people in the aviation industry. Aviation security and the security of the future of the entire aviation industry are of extreme importance to the nation's economy."

There is little to no federal law enforcement presence in airports even though the federal government has jurisdiction over those facilities, said Charles Straub, Traficant's spokesman.

"This bill would improve the standards of security at airports and make them uniform with federal buildings," Straub said. "In light of recent events, airports need to be treated like federal buildings when it comes to security."

If the bill is signed into law, the number of officers from the U.S. General Service Administration's Federal Protective Service in each airport would be determined by the GSA based on air traffic, Straub said. The Federal Protective Service is the GSA's law enforcement arm in charge of providing protection to federal agencies in GSA-controlled facilities.

Traficant is an avid supporter of airport and airplane safety, Straub said.

skolnick@vindy.com




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