October 2nd, 2006 04:02 EST
Statement by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Passenger Name Record Agreement with European Union
I am pleased to announce that following our negotiations with representatives of the European Union (EU), I have initialed a draft formal U.S. /EU agreement regarding the sharing of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. Most importantly, as we await the final ratification of the draft agreement, we expect that planes will continue to fly uninterrupted and our national security will not be impeded. Importantly, the proposal ensures the appropriate security information will be exchanged and counter-terrorism information collected by the department will be shared, as necessary with other federal counter-terrorism agencies.
The United States has a legal and moral obligation to protect its borders, as we have a right to verify who it is admitting into the country. This department will use every legal authority at our disposal, including valuable PNR data, to secure the borders of our homeland and fulfill the trust that the American people have placed in us.
The recently uncovered terror plot concerning flights from the United Kingdom to the United States is evidence that terrorists continue to target our aviation industry, specifically U.S. bound flights from Europe. Free and open information sharing between the United States and Europe has proven to be a valuable weapon to combat terrorists before they can do harm. The transfer of PNR data by air carriers to our department is an absolute necessity to safeguarding air travel and public security.
I want to thank the European Union negotiators for their cooperation and look forward to finalizing an agreement on this issue with our European allies, with whom we have a great relationship on a number of other security-related matters, and indeed to an international approach on PNR analysis.
Office of the Press Secretary