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9/11 and TSA

Message from Administrator John S. Pistole

September 11th, 2013

John S. PistoleEvery year on this date, we at TSA remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and recommit ourselves to prevent another devastating attack.

Twelve years ago, we watched in horror and disbelief as two towers collapsed, the Pentagon smoldered, and a Pennsylvania field was left scarred as a result of the worst act of terrorism ever committed on American soil. Nearly 3,000 people tragically died, and while today is a day for all to remember, our commitment and mission dictate that we never forget.

TSA was created in response to those terrifying events and each of us at TSA has taken on the responsibility to keep America’s transportation systems secure and all travelers safe.

The events of 9/11 are a constant and serious reminder of the extreme measures our adversaries will take to attack the people of our great nation.

We are proud to serve the American people and to make sure that such an attack never happens again.

September 11, 2001

Nearly three-thousand people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia on the morning of September 11, 2001. The attacks left a profound effect upon our country and set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the creation of a new federal agency, specifically designed to prevent similar attacks in the future. Driven by a desire to help our nation, tens of thousands of people joined this new agency and commit themselves to strengthening our transportation systems while ensuring the freedom of movement for people and commerce.

Download full transcript (.doc, 32kb)

9/11 Stories – Inspiring stories written by TSA employees

Oath of Office, Lisa Wilkins, San Diego International Airport (SAN)
September 11, 2001, I lost my aunt, uncle, and cousin. So I immediately joined TSA and graduated with the second class at San Diego International Airport (SAN). I took my Oath of Office with the belief that an event like this will never happen again on my watch to my family, friends, neighbors, or fellow human beings....

Read this and more TSA 9/11 experiences here.

The Creation of TSA

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act, (.pdf, 104kb) passed by the 107th Congress and signed on November 19, 2001, established TSA and required the completion of more than 30 mandates by the end of 2002. In the largest civilian undertaking in the history of the United States, TSA met each one of these initial requirements including:

Assuming responsibility for all civil aviation security functions from the FAA
Hiring, training and deploying security officers for over 400 commercial airports from Guam to Alaska in 12 months
Providing 100 percent screening of all checked baggage for explosives by December 31, 2002

In March 2003, TSA transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security – created on November 25, 2002 by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (.pdf, 528kb) – unifying the nation's response to threats to the homeland.

Today, more than a decade since its creation, TSA has grown and evolved yet remains committed to its mission. The agency employs a risk-based, intelligence-driven, multi-layered strategy to secure U.S. transportation systems, working closely with stakeholders in aviation, rail, transit, highway, and pipeline sectors, as well as the partners in the law enforcement and intelligence community.

TSA and the Future

Since 9/11, DHS has taken significant steps to keep Americans safe. As a result, the homeland is stronger today than ever before. As we look to the future, TSA will work to constantly enhance its layered approach to aviation security through the use of continuously updated and improved technology, expanded data analysis capabilities and enhanced understanding of current intelligence.

Since his confirmation in June 2010, Administrator Pistole has brought even more focus to TSA’s counterterrorism efforts, directing the agency to try new ways of doing business to drive more effective and efficient security.

TSA has looked at what is working well and what can be done better to strengthen security and evolve security, while improving the screening experience whenever possible.

Learn more about TSA's risk-based security efforts.

Latest revision: 10 February 2014