FOX News "America's Newsroom"
MR. HEMMER: We mentioned a bit earlier about this new Homeland Security Threat Assessment obtained by Fox News. Among the key findings in that: that mass transit and passenger rail systems are vulnerable to terrorist attacks; that the Northeast corridor of the U.S. is likely to be a target; and that there has been a number of suspicious incidents in the past year.
So then, how concerned should you be riding to work in the Northeast? New York Congressman Peter King, ranking member of the Homeland Security committee back with us. Sir, this is your part of the country. Good morning to you. How concerned should we be?
REP. KING: Bill, we should be concerned. No need to panic. There is no specific threat, but the fact is that the Northeast -- especially New York and the New York region, and the Washington, D.C. areas -- are the number one terrorists targets in the country to begin with -
MR. HEMMER: But, we've known that for years, though. I mean, go back to 9/11. It's 2008. Why is this only happening now, do you believe, sir?
REP. KING: Well, we've been working on it all along. The Department of Homeland Security put together this report and they are concerned about the possible attack on mass transit, because what we saw in Madrid.in 2004, what we saw in London in 2005, what we saw in India in 2006. Now as a result of that, the department, for instances put $150 million into the New York/New Jersey mass transit system just in the last month because of the concern that there is.
There's about -- I don't know -- 1,500 passengers an hour going back and forth in the trains. We're talking about hundreds of subway stops in New York, Long Island Railroad, Metro-North, so there's going to be more training for the police, more radiation detectors, more viper teams, more canine teams and more cameras. It's part of a overall layered defense. But, it's a real effort. It's a real concern and I give the department credit for now coming up with the money, which is needed. I think we should have had it several years ago, but it's gone up -- just in the New York area alone, it's tripled in the last two years.
MR. HEMMER: You know, you lay out a pretty good argument as to why this should happen, but you also point out how difficult this might be, too. This is a huge area. How difficult is it?
REP. KING: Well, it's much more difficult than planes because airplanes are in a secured area. You have to go through, you know, certain entrances. They can stop you. They can frisk you. They can put you through the metal detectors. You can't be stopping, you know, millions of people every day on subways and commuter lines and checking them.
So, we have to have layers of defense. We have to have detectors. We have to random searches. We have to have the dogs. We have to ask people to stay alert, which is why I supported legislation last year that says that person on mass transit or an airplane, if they report what they think is a terrorist incident, they can't be sued for it because that was a concern we had last year.
MR. HEMMER: Just reading from part of this document here; 11 pages that Fox News obtained here. "Accessible to large numbers of the public," that's a fact, and "difficult to secure," you point that out as well.
Is there a credible threat at the moment on this corridor of tracks?
REP. KING: No, Bill, there is no specific threat, but we have to constantly be on guard and we do know that the terrorists -- Islamic terrorists -- do have mass transit in their sites because it is a much softer, much easier target.
Also to me, it drives home the need to have more electronic surveillance to stop these plots before they get started; to stop the terrorists before they're on the scene, but if they do make it to the scene, it's important that the police be trained.
MR. HEMMER: Indeed.
REP. KING: It's important that we have the radiation detectors there, the metal detectors and the random searches to do what we can to stop it.
But, no, it's a dangerous world we live in and people can't forget that.
MR. HEMMER: Now, I know you'll stay on it. Peter King, thank you for your time, from the Capitol.
REP. KING: Thank you, Bill.