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Statement on Signing the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990

November 16, 1990

I am pleased to sign H.R. 5732, the "Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990," and to reaffirm our Nation's determination to bolster international aviation security in the face of threats by terrorists.

This Act implements recommendations of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism, which I appointed last year in the aftermath of the tragic bombing of Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. My Administration already has put many of the recommendations into effect and taken other steps to improve aviation security. This Act is a continuation of the process. The relatives and friends of the Pan Am victims deserve great credit for their persistence in helping to improve aviation security. Credit also is due to members of the Commission and the Congress who worked together with us to improve the bill. H.R. 5732 is a living memorial to those whose lives were so cruelly cut short by the terrorists responsible for bombing Pan Am 103.

I do have reservations about certain provisions of this Act. I am particularly concerned with those provisions that purport to restrict the President's authority under the Constitution to conduct our foreign policy, including the authority to conduct negotiations on behalf of the United States. For example, the Act includes requirements that the Secretary of State conduct negotiations on aviation security issues, including the control of terrorism.

While, as a policy matter, I will always endeavor to consult with the Congress on such foreign policy issues, I am obligated to defend the constitutional authority of the Presidency. Accordingly, I direct executive branch officials affected by H.R. 5732 to interpret its provisions so as not to conflict with my constitutional authority in the field of foreign affairs.

In signing this legislation, I am doing more than signing a bill into law. This Act reflects the workings of the American democracy, an effort by private citizens, the Congress, and the executive branch to join in the common cause against international terrorism. H.R. 5732 is an expression of our national unity and determination to continue our fight against international terrorists and to help prevent another tragedy like Pan Am 103.

George Bush

The White House,

November 16, 1990.

Note: H.R. 5732, approved November 16, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 604.

George Bush, Statement on Signing the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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