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Publish Date: 
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Roll Call

Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Wednesday that he had directed the Transportation Security Administration to “implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.”

Johnson’s statement didn’t explain what specific threat may have prompted him to order the more stringent security measures nor did it identify the airports which would be the focus of the measures.

Johnson’s statement also said, “We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry.”

He said the Obama administration aimed to give U.S. allies “situational awareness about the current environment.”

In response, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said, “The threat of terrorism from al Qaeda, its affiliates and those inspired by them is constantly evolving and we know they continue to target our aviation sector.”

McCaul, R-Texas, said it was “essential that our allies, the airline industry, and airports that serve as last points of departure to the U.S. strengthen and then maintain enhanced security measures.”

Washington attorney Stewart Verdery, who served as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Policy from 2003 to 2005, said, “The evolving threat profile is especially important  considering the department’s effort to expand the successful preclearance program to make sure travelers are fully vetted pre-boarding.”

In an interview aired Sunday on ABC, President Barack Obama pointed to a growing threat from jihadists, some of them European residents and citizens, who are now operating in Syria and Iraq.

“We have seen Europeans who are sympathetic to their cause traveling into Syria and now may now travel into Iraq, getting battle-hardened,” he told ABC. “Then they come back. They’ve got European passports. They don’t need a visa to get into the United States.”

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 38 countries, including most European countries, to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less.