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[Congressional Record: September 21, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S9623-S9631]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

      By Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. Brownback, Mr. Grassley, Mr. 
        Leahy, and Ms. Cantwell):
  S. 1452. A bill to provide for electronic access by the Department of 
State and Immigration and Naturalization Service to certain information 
in the criminal history records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation 
to determine whether or not a visa applicant or applicant for admission 
has a

[[Page S9631]]

criminal record; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, it is a privilege to join my colleagues 
Senators Brownback, Leahy, Grassley, and Cantwell in introducing 
immigration legislation that will enhance our intelligence capabilities 
and improve our border security.
  These critical functions are an important part of the massive 
challenges now facing the country in the wake of last week's terrorist 
attacks. These functions are the shared responsibility of the FBI, the 
INS, and the State Department. This legislation will provide U.S. 
consular officers and the INS, including inspectors at our ports of 
entry, with electronic access to information located within certain FBI 
databases, such as the National Crime Information Center's Interstate 
Identification Index, the Wanted Persons File, and other files 
maintained by the National Crime Information Center. Electronic access 
to this information will enable the State Department and the INS to act 
immediately to identify high-risk criminals seeking admission to the 
United States or seeking other immigration benefits.
  Clearly, we must improve the security and intelligence capabilities 
of the Nation. But we must do so without violating the basic rights and 
liberties of the American people. Our legislation includes provisions 
to protect individual privacy. It authorizes the Secretary of State to 
draft regulations which will appropriately limit the use of the FBI's 
information. These regulations will require the information to be 
safeguarded from unnecessary dissemination, so that it is used only for 
the purpose of making decisions on the issuance or denial of visas or 
immigration benefits, and so that its confidentiality will be 
maintained to protect the privacy rights of those who are the subject 
of the information.
  These steps are needed now. We must also examine other ideas to 
improve safety at the Nation's borders and strengthen our overall 
ability as much as possible to prevent future terrorist attacks.
  I urge all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.
      By Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mr. Stevens):
  S. 1455. A bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to regulate 
the training of aliens to operate jet-propelled aircraft, and for other 
purposes; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
  Ms. SNOWE. Madam President, I am sure I am not alone in finding that 
one of the more disturbing revelations of the investigation into the 
September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon is 
that over half of the hijackers received flight instruction at American 
facilities. Investigators have named ten separate flying schools across 
the United States, from California to Oklahoma to Florida, where the 
hijacking suspects may have engaged in flight training in one form or 
another. In addition, it is believed that one of these suspects was 
able to gain legal entry into the United States through the assistance 
of a flight school that provided immigration documentation.
  I know that this ironic turn of events, the schools dedicated to the 
safety of the airline industry were unwittingly utilized to facilitate 
the worst airline disaster in history, has school administrators and 
instructors asking themselves, ``What if . . .'' as they look in the 
mirror every morning.
  We need to take action now to remove the doubts of the instructors as 
well as restore confidence in student pilots engaged in valid training. 
That is why I am introducing legislation to require thorough background 
checks on foreign nationals seeking advanced flight or jet aircraft 
training in American flight schools.
  At present the Federal Aviation Administration FAA, regulates course 
content at these schools and does it well, the U.S. has the best 
training program in the world and pilot certification from the FAA is 
considered the industry ``gold standard.'' That is why a large number 
of foreign students are attracted to American schools. And we want to 
continue to encourage foreign participation at our schools, it assures 
aviation safety world wide.
  However, the FAA does not regulate who can participate in pilot 
training, be it glider plane basics or 757 advanced training. More 
specifically, the requirement for foreign students is limited to 
demonstrated English proficiency and proper immigration documentation.
  Given the events of September 11, it is imperative that the screening 
process for pilot trainees be improved. As such, the legislation I am 
introducing today mandates the completion of security checks before 
foreign nationals may commence advanced jet training. Specifically, by 
requiring that the Attorney General carry out background investigations 
on individuals seeking such training, the legislation ensures a 
comprehensive review against records held by such agencies as the FBI, 
INS, and DEA will be carried out prior to starting training on any 
simulator or jet powered aircraft. Also, given the recent tragedies in 
New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania, all foreign nationals 
currently in training would be required to stop until a satisfactory 
background check is completed.
  I want to urge my colleagues to join me in taking this small but 
critical step to prevent a repeat of unintentionally training those who 
would terrorize our cities and skies and ask for their support in 
increasing security requirements for flight training.


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