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Monday, January 15, 2007

Bush Signs Anti-Terror Bill To Fight Missile Threat

Legislation authored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to prevent terrorists from obtaining surface-to-air missiles, support key U.S. allies including Israel, and assist U.S. diplomats while conducting missions overseas and was signed into law by President Bush today.

"We rely considerably on the State Department's diplomatic work to helpus win the Global War on Terror. Therefore, American diplomats must have every means available at their disposal to successfully carry out U.S. foreign policy. The new authorities contained in this law enhance U.S.foreign policy and provides the State Department with more tools to effectively accomplish their diplomatic objectives," says Smith.

Among the new authorities granted to the State Department through the"Department of State Authorities Act of 2006" (P.L. 109-xxx) is the ability to withdraw any economic and military assistance to a country that knowingly transfers man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to terrorist organizations or a foreign government that sponsors terrorism.

"MANPADS are cheap, lethal and shockingly easy to obtain on the black market. We now have the means to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on these destructive weapons and using them to kill hundreds of Americans with a single shot," says Smith.

Defense contractors are developing systems to defend airliners and airports from potential MANPADS attack. Among various competitors, Raytheon has a product called Vigilant Eagle that uses electromagnetic energy tailored to divert a missile. When located at a commercial airport, Vigilant Eagle creates a dome of protection around the airport, protecting all aircraft during the most critical phases of flight—takeoff and landing, the contractor says.

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