CHICAGO — At an O’Hare International Airport rally Thursday, President Bush addressed the nation, illustrating his new vision for American sky safety.
Speaking over air-traffic noise, Bush announced $3 billion in funds to increase the federal government’s role in security checkpoints and to expand the federal air-marshal program, among other measures.
“When Americans fly, there need to be more highly-skilled and fully-equipped officers of law flying alongside them,” Bush said. “Now, these marshals, of course, will wear plainclothes. But Americans will know that there’s more of them. And our crews will know there’s more of them. And the terrorists will know there’s more of them.”
Bush also set aside $500 million of those funds to increase aircraft security. His security proposals include crafting stronger cockpit doors, installing video monitors allowing the cockpit crew to watch the passenger cabin and developing remote-control technology permitting controllers to land aircraft from the ground.
In his speech, Bush asked governors to install National Guardsmen at security checkpoints immediately to provide protection while he works with Congress to pass his new security proposals.
Bush said by working with Congress, he will achieve his long-term goal for security checkpoints, “[putting] the federal government in charge of passenger and bag screening, and all safety inspections.”
However, Bush said these responsibilities would not be given completely to federal agents.
“With all these measures we are returning America’s airlines back to the American people,” he said.
Bush spoke to the audience, consisting of airline employees and their families, praising them as “great patriots for this great country.
“Everybody here who showed up for work, at this important industry, is making a clear statement that terrorism will not stand, that the evildoers will not be able to terrorize America and our work force and our people.”
The audience responded with applause to many of Bush’s statements, even breaking into a ?USA’ chant after he emphasized, “. . . [T]his nation will not live in fear. We have awakened to a new danger, but our resolve is great and the spirit of America is incredibly strong.”
Inside O’Hare, travelers, pilots, flight attendants and other airport personnel stood still and watched Bush on television monitors as he outlined his plan, some unaware of his trip to the airport.
Bush again stressed a return to normalcy, urging Americans not to fear flying.
“Get on board,” he said. “Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots.”
Bush was surrounded by a number of guests, including Illinois Gov. George Ryan, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Federal Aviation Administrator Jane Garvey and Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who flew in on a commercial flight to demonstrate the administration’s confidence in air safety, which Bush described as “just perfect.”