tv Hearing on Washington D.C. Airspace Security CSPAN May 3, 2015 1:20pm-1:54pm EDT
>> [indistinct chatter] chairman chaffetz: the hearing will come to order. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. i need to first express my thoughts and prayers to my colleague elijah cummings and what the people of baltimore are going through. our hearts, prayers and thoughts are with you and your neighbors and your friends, community, the
police officers, and we're proud of you in the way you're conducting this and getting through it. and you're a true leader, as i would hope the people of baltimore maryland would listen to your message but know our thoughts and prayers are with you. >> mr. chairman, i want to take this moment to not only thank you but thank the members of our committee and who have expressed their concern about baltimore. and you, as determined, -- mr. chairman, have a kind of unique perspective because you had a chance to visit baltimore with me before you even became chairman. so you had a chance to see what the issues are in our city. so i'm looking forward to working with you and others to try to heal some of that pain. and i do appreciate you. and i will never forget your visit and people in my city will not forget your visit.
thank you for your comments. chairman: well, thank you. we will be conducting this hearing a little differently today. i am going to ask unanimous consent that we're going to change the order here that we will recognize our panel, allow them to give their opening statements, and then we will go into recess. we will reconvene. we will give our opening statements, and then we will get into questions. but given that we have the very historic presence of the japanese prime minister here to address a joint session of congress, we are particularly sensitive that, for instance one of our witnesses, the house sergeant at arms, mr. paul irving has to leave us early in order to fulfill his duties. to accommodate his schedule scuke to foregow opening statements for us and to swear in the witnesses and begin their testimony. without objection so ordered. we will get as far as we can. we will reconvene 30 minutes
after the conclusion of the joint session to continue our hearing. without objection so ordered. we will now recognize our panel of witnesses. first we have the honorable paul irvings sergeant at arms of the , house of representatives. accompanied by the deputy sergeant at arms whose expertise may be needed during question. we also have mr. -- admiral commander of norad, mr. robert -- help me. seles deputy secretary of defense, home integration and defense support of civil authorities at the united states department of defense. the honorable michael huerta administrator of the f.a.a. the honorable joseph clancey mr. robert mcclain chief of the united states park police, and mr. kim dine chief of the united states capitol police. we welcome you all. pursuant to committee rules all
witnesses are to be sworn before they testify. mr. blodgeet you are included as well. we would ask that all the panel please rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? thank you. you may be seated. let the record reflect that all the witnesses answered in the affirmative. all of your written statements will be entered into the record. we would ask that you limit your verbal comments to 5 minutes. we will recognize mr. irving first. we will then excuse him to attend the duties of the prime minister into the house of representatives. >> thank you. good morning, mr. chairman, mr. cummings, and members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to
appear before you today. as sergeant at arms and chief law enforcement officer of the house of representatives i am fully dedicated to ensuring the safety of the capitol complex, a mission performed in close cooperation with the u.s. capitol police and men and women of the u.s. capitol police force. before i begin i would like to extend my thanks to all the men and women of the u.s. capitol police for their capable and professional response to the incident on april 15. police officers and officials promptly responded to the west front and arrested the individual and ensured the craft was harmless. we are currently working closely with our partners in federal law enforcement, the department of defense, transportation, and homeland security to maintain robust air space security within the challenging confines of the urban environment of the national capital region. in particular working with our partner to make sure early detection tracking and warning systems ensuring there is consistent and constant interagency communication and early warning communicated in real time. improving and ensuring immediate and ongoing communications to
members and staff during a security incident. and honing the counter measures and policies consistent with those counter measures. since the event, i have ordered the chief of the capitol police to utilize the housing notification system to alert members, staff, and to the extent possible visitors in as timely manner as possible to alert regarding all life safety and potentially threatening events that impact the capital community. the incident on april 15 reminds us all the greatest access to -- asset to the capital can at times be one of our greatest challenges. however, it allows us to enhance our training and be better prepared. i in happy to answer your questions. thank you, mr. chairman. chairman: i thank you. please be excused and tend to your duties. we thank you and look forward to seeing you back at the conclusion of that event. admiral, you are now recognized for five minutes.
>> chairman, ranking member cummings, and distinguished members of the committee i am honored to be here today from a national security perspective i want to emphasize the sbs tit of -- tidbits of these discussions in an unclassified environment. an open discussion of even unclassified information could be pieced together to pose a risk to our national security, therefore i cannot go into many details that are deemed sensitive. however, in a closed session i am ready and able to talk to you in as much detail as you need. norad's role is to dedepevpbd the united states and canada including the national capital region. known as the washington, d.c. special flight rules area is monitored by a sophisticated integrated air defense system which is a vast network of radars cameras and other detection warning devices. each system is designed to detect track and monitor specific parameters. the integrated air defense system was in direct response to the attacks of 9/11.
and has continued to of all with the threat over time. we are extremely capable of identifying and tracking potential threats to the national capital region from commercial aviation down to small single propeler aircraft. however, a small man gyrocopter despites it's assessed low threat presents a technical challenge. this is an interagency effort that collectively understands the technical challenges associated with these types of threats and vehicles and with our partner here at the table we will continue to implement technical and procedural solutions. i know the committee has questions and i look forward to talking with you today. chairman: thank you. i appreciate it. >> thank you chairman ranking member and distinguished members of the committee. i would like to thank you for the opportunity to address the department of defense costs -- defense's role in securing the
air space of washington, d.c. i would like to acknowledge that aspects of this issue are very sensitive for the department of defense from a national security stand point. i look forward to continuing this discussion in a classified setting. because i know there is much to discuss i will be brief. to this end there are four points i would like to emphasize today. number one, defending the united states is the department of defense's highest priority. number two, we are well poss -- posturec -- postured to defend the united states, number three the department works very closely with its federal partners and law enforcement to protect the national capitol air space. last, the department continually pursues opportunities to enhance our homeland defense capabilities. the national security strategy makes it clear the united states government has no greater responsibility than protecting the american people. our national defense strategy makes protecting and defending the homeland the department's first priority. to the men and women of the department of defense military and civilian, these specific words are the reason they serve and the very core of their
professional lives. every day these fine men and women whether serving here at home or some far off location across the globe dedicate themselves to protecting the american people and defending the united states. due to the leadership of the president, the secretary of defense, and the congress' steadfast support d.o.d. is well poss turd with the capabilities. under director's lead, we are -- postured with the capabilities. under director's lead, we are positioned to monitor to dissuade, deter, and if necessary defeat airborne threats. in this effort to secure the skies over our nation's capitol, the men and women of the department of defense do not serve alone. they are joined by their counterparts at the department of homeland security, department of transportation, department of justice, and our law enforcement
partners and the whole government approach to protecting the national air space. working together, we have built a network of barriers to protect the national air space system against any and all threats. we have improved our threat detection capabilities integrated our threat response and refined our procedures to optimize response effectiveness. we continually look for opportunities to improve our defenses. we understand that no matter how good we are the adversary remains committed and we can always be better. to this end, we are dedicated to continual improvement over our policies, procedures, and operational capabilities. working with our federal partners we test, plan, exercise to improve our effectiveness. this is what the nation expects. we are committed to meeting this expectation, and this is our obligation. thank you for the opportunity to
appear before you today. we appreciate your leadership. and your support of the men and women of the department of defense. i look forward to your questions. chairman: thank you. >> thank you chairman chafe ets, ranking member cummings, members of the committee for the opportunity to appear before you today. i would like to address your questions about the recent incident by explaining the fa's role in security and how we coordinate with other agencies. first and foremost the mission is aircraft and air space safety. we operate the nation's air traffic control system in order to separate aircraft. our primary focus is on getting aircraft safely to their destinations and managing the flow of thousands of aircraft and their passengers around the country every day. in addition to the f.a.a.'s safety mission we also work very closely with the department's --
departments of defense and homeland security on a daily basis to support their aviation security missions particularly here in the capitol region. as part of that support, we provide them a raw air traffic radar feed so they have situational awareness of what is happening in our national air space system. to enable our controllers to safely control air traffic, the first thing we have to do is distinguish the aircraft that are communicating with controllers from all other objects in the air that are not aircraft. these other objects that the radar detects could be things like vehicles on nearby roadways, flocks of birds, weather events or occasional kites and balloons. aircraft controllers could not do their job if they had to work with an unfiltered radar feed. they were not able to distinguish aircraft they are handling with other things on the radar. we require aircraft that fly in the air space around washington, d.c. and other large cities across the country to use transponders that broadcast basic information such as the type of aircraft, its speed, direction, and altitude. when radar detects those aircraft it picks up the
information and displays it on a radar screen. controllers can see all the flights in a specific area along with the identifying information from each aircraft. anything that doesn't have a transponder show up as an image -- shows up as an image representing a simple small dot on the radar screen and there are typically many of them across the controller's radar screen. to assist controllers in focusing on safely managing air traffic we apply filters to the controllers' radar to eliminate the vast majority of those small dots. safely managing air traffic is a controller's mission and they must be able to do that without distraction. now, to support national and homeland security the f.a.a. shares a realtime unfiltered radar feed with our partners at the department of defense and several other agencies. we do that so they have the same information that we have. and so they can apply the appropriate filters for their own mission to protect the air space. we also embed technical air traffic staff at a number of north american air space defend
-- defense command facilities around the country to provide additional operating expertise and support. on april 15, mr. hughes gyro copter appeared on our raid or -- on our radar as a small unidentified element indistinguishable from all other nonaircraft radar tracks. the national capital region coordination center called the f.a.a. at 1:24 p.m. that afternoon to alert us to the flight based on information they received from the u.s. capital police. after the incident we conduct add forensic radar analysis and looked for an image that might match mr. hughes gyro copter. we understood he had taken off and we had none -- an approximate time. an analyst identified a small move slow moving aircraft. we now believe that unidentified
radar element was mr. hugh's gyrocopter, but the dot appeared only intermittently throughout that flight. when we got the call we immediately notified our interagency partners on the domestic events network, a 24 hour, seven days a week communication line we operate to support a shared situational awareness. we initiated the den more than a decade ago to share information about activity in the airspace with multiple agencies. it now includes more than 130 federal and local agencies as well as major f.a.a. air traffic facilities around the country. it has played a critical role in disseminating important information to other agencies as quickly as possible. each agency has a responsibility to announce an incident as soon as they know about it. we are committed to our safety mission at the f.a.a. and we're dedicated to working closely with all of our air space security partners to support protection of our air space. we are assisting the department
of homeland security in its job going interagency review and this is in addition to our own internal review to ensure that employees followed all the proper procedures and protocols. if we need to make changes as a result of these events we will and i will keep the committee informed. i will be happy to take your questions. chairman: thank you. director clancy. director clancy: good morning chairman, ranking member, and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to be here to discuss the secret service's role within the broader effort to secure the air space of the national capital region. the longstanding relationships between interagency partners , many of which are represented here today, are critical to ensuringing the security of people in places given protection by the secret service and others. the secret service must be prepared to confront and defeat evolving threats including those from manned and unmanned
aircraft systems. as these become more advanced and widely available the secret service will continue to work aggressively with our partners to address existing threats and anticipate those to come. existing f.a.a. flight restrictions were enhanced following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. the f.a.a. implemented the special flight rules area which includes within its boundries the flight restricteded zone and prohibited area of p 56 or area 56. the white house, the vice president's residence, and the u.s. capitol are located within the p 56. airspace security is coordinated . the center was created after the september 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to provide realtime information sharing and tactical coordination to address potential airborne threats in
and around the washington, d.c. -- area. it is staffed at all times with specially trained personnel assigned to the secret service air space security branch in addition to representatives from the military, f.a.a., and selected federal civilian law enforcement agencies. the mission of the air space security branch is to give early notification to the protective details and uniformed division. and provide realtime information to allow appropriate time to make informed decisions about actions to take to ensure the security of our protectees and protected sites. given the pace at which events can unfold in an air incursion maximizing the time to react is critical. presently the air space security branch combines radar feeds from a number of sources to create an image of the air space. this is monitored by the detection system specialists who have military or civilian radar backgrounds. with respect to the history between secret service and hughes, the pilot from the april
15 incident, hughes first came to the attention of the secret service on october 4, 2013. they received information that he intended to fly to the capitol or white house with no specific timeframe provided. that same day, the secret service relayed that information to our law enforcement partners. the following day special agents interviewed hughes who denied owning an aircraft or having plans to fly one to washington d.c. however, subsequent interviews revealed differently. further the investigation revealed no evidence of persons or places protected by the secret service. and information regarding hughes was made known to other agencies in the region. regarding event leading up to the april 15 incident, i want to be clear, at no time did the secret service receive actionable advanced notice or information that this event was
taking place. while the secret service received telephone calls on the date of the incident at no time was information provided in the calls that would have alerted personnel to the fact that hughes was piloting his aircraft to the capitol. as it flew to the capitol it was observed in the area of white house complex. these individuals subsequently relayed that information. while in the process of making appropriate notifications the aircraft landed and the incident was acknowledged on the network effectively notifying all relevant parties. that day and the days to follow , the secret service field office gathered information regarding hughes and his activities leading up to that event. while the capital police are the lead agency the secret service stands ready to contribute any resources necessary and to work collectively with our partners. protection of the president, family, and the white house is paramount to this agency.
the partnerships are critical to the success of our mission as relates to effectively addressing airborne threats. continued interagency quite a nation is vital to ensuring safety and security. chairman, ranking member, and members of the committee, this concludes my testimony. i welcome any questions you may have. chairman: i thank the director. chief, you are now recognized. >> mr. chairman, ranking member cummings, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the united states park police involvement in the april 15, 2015 gyro copter incident in washington, d.c. my name is robert mcclain. i am the chief of the united states park police. established in 1791 is the oldest uniformed federal law enforcement agency in the united states. the park police which is primarily responsible for safety and crime prevention in parklands administered by the national park service has enjoyed a long history of partnership and coordination
with the numerous public safety protection, aviation, and defense agencies within the national capitol region. in the district of columbia the park police has primary jurisdiction over federal park -- which comprises prarbgly 22% -- approximately 22% of the district of columbia including the national mall, east and west potomac marks, rock creek park anacostia park, mcpherson square and many of the parks in the district. the park police officers proudly and diligently patrol parkland every day are trained to identify, report, and investigate violations of law and suspicious or unusual activity. although the park police has an aviation unit that flies law enforcement, med vak and rescue missions the park police does not have primary responsibility over the federal parklands. as such the park police does not have radar detection capability
to monitor that air space nor does it have the appropriate tools to engage or defend against an aircraft in the air space above these parks. those primary responsibilities and capabilities rest with other federal agencies. on wednesday, april 15, 2015, at approximately 1:20 p.m., a park police officer observed and reported an aircraft later identified as a gyro copter operated by mr. dyke hughes, who was operating near the lincoln memorial and estimated it to be approximately 100 feet off the ground and traveling eastbound. the officer made a request to contact the united states capitol police. a patrol supervisor confirmed the observation and requested the park police dispatch center notify the park police aviation unit which contacted the quite a nation center to report an aircraft in restricted air -- quite a nation center --
coordination center to report an aircraft in restricted air space. another park police officer observed and followed the aircraft eastbound until it landed on the west grounds of the capitol. the police officer arrived and observed the police arresting mr. hughes. at that time the park police became an assist ping agency to the park police on the scene and at their command post. this concludes my statement. i will be pleased to respond to any questions you and any other members may now have. german: -- chairman: thank you. >> mr. chairman, ranking member cummings, members of the committee, good morning. and thank you for the opportunity to discuss the event that occurred on wednesday april 15 and the action taken by the united states capitol police. i will begin by providing the time line and will gladly answer any questions. it is important to note that this is an ongoing criminal investigation. on wednesday, an individual from the tampa bay times sent an e-mail to the u.s. capitol
police public information officer stating that a local man was planning on flying a gyro copter as part of a protest and was attempting to land on the west front. this individual requested -- no time or date information was provided regarding this flight. at 1:00 p.m. the same individual called the command center and stated to an officer that he had information about a man who was planning to fly a drone on to the mall. he stated that he had called the secret service and was advised to call the police. also stated that this man identified as douglas hughes, had received permission and he was calling to confirm the permission was granted. no time or date or actional information was provided regarding the flight during this telephone call either. the officer advised this individual that she was not aware of any permission to land a drone.
then he was transferred to a sergeant. and this man repeated except now he referred to the aircraft as a gyro copter. no approval existed. the caller advised the sergeant that could be seen on the website which he provided. at this point the conversation concluded and during the conversation no mention was made that the landing was imminent. at 1:07 p.m. the police officer responded by immediately forwarding it to investigations division. concurrently the personnel went into the provided website but did not find a live feed noted by the individual. the command center notified the investigations division and a public information officer. as the command center was attempting to evaluate any air flight information with the staff that the national capital region coordination center the gyro copter landed.
at 1:21 p.m. just prior to the landing an officer posted on the west front was approached by a reporter who asked if he had seen a helicopter yet. the officer stated he had not and consulted with another officer. during this discussion the officers observed the inbound gyro copter. the officers immediately notified the communications center and reported the landing. this information was immediately broadcast over the road for -- radio for situational awareness and response. the officers immediately assessed the threat as they quickly facilitated the movement of the public away from the gyro copter. once the rotor stopped they approached the individual and took him into custody. the subject did not resist and was compliant with police direction. a k-9 unit immediately
approached and showed interest in the area of the engine and fuel compartment which was expected. the west front was closed and vehicular traffic restricted on first street between constitution and independence avenues as well as maryland and pennsylvania avenues. as this was occurring, the investigation provided the commanders and the command center with information about the internet video publicizing his intention to deliver a box of letters to congress in reference to campaign finance reform and his investigative history. the command center notified the ncrcc of this situation. while a k-9 sweep was occurring a commander directed a brief lockdown. when the lockdown was announced the uniformed services bureau commander consulted with the incident commander. the commander then decided to lift the lockdown of the capitol based on the following facts. the k-9 had not alerted to the
body of the gyro copter but only in the area of the engine and fuel compartment. the suspect was in custody. the size of the compartment was limited to two back pack boxes. the intent of the pilot was clearly expressed in his video and the police had established a strong perimeter. the perimeter stayed in effect due to the the extremely short time period. no messages were sent to the congressional community advising of the lockdown. the uscp responded and utilized a robot. since the robot could not access the two boxes at 2:21 p.m. personnel doned protective gear took x-rays of the boxes. it was declared to be clear of any hazards. traffic cops were subsequently released and the west front remained closed.
it is important to note that while they do not control prohibited air space, we do monitor this air space and we are directly linked to other federal agencies related in this controlled airspace. on april 15, this did not register on radar as a threat and therefore was not raised as a concern. we take the monitoring of prohibited air space very seriously which is why we have a designated air space coordinator and have assigned liaisons to provide immediate linkage regarding threats. information about air space threats allow us to make informed decisions regarding the safety of our stakeholders, the congressional committee, and the complex. thank you again for this opportunity to discuss the event that is occurred. i am very proud of the professional and immediate actions in addressing this incident. i will be happy to answer any questions you may have at this time. chairman: thank you.
as priestly announced the the committee is going to recess so that we can -- members will be allowed to hear the prime minister of japan as he addresses a joint session of congress. we will reconvene approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of that. we appreciate your patience. the committee is in recess. >> [indistinct chatter]
chairman: the committee will come to order. thank you for your patience. i know you are all very busy. the chair would like to notify members remind members that no subcommittee will start until the full committee is finished. we do have to -- two subcommittees that plan to meet at 2:00 we also have votes in about 45 minutes. we'll try to do this as swiftly as possible, but i wanted to note that for members and those who might be showing up for the 2:00 hearing that is going to occur. but let's address why we're here today. the gyro copter incident that happened two weeks ago. the 9/11 commission after that terrible horrific terrorist attack wrote "the most important failure was one of imagination. we do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat." we are