TIMES UNION, Albany, N.Y.
FRIDAY, January 26, 1990
FAMILIES OF PAN AM 103/LOCKERBIE RESPOND TO COMMENTSMembers of Families of Pan AM 103/ Lockerbie, a group of 130 families representing 76 victims and the largest of three relative groups that have formed out of this tragedy, were surprised to see the derogatory comments of Mr. Joe Horgan (a leader of the group Victims of Pan Am 103) quoted in your Jan. 14 story with no quotes from our members who were present at the same meeting in the Hudson, N.Y., area. As you know, our chairman, Paul Hudson, lives in Albany, N.Y.
The goals of the Families of Pan Am 103/Lockerbie are simply put:
*To seek the full truth of what happened in this, the worst terrorist attack in history against American civilians;
*To improve airline security so that this type of aviation bombing can be prevented in the future;
*To change the FAA's policy of refusing to warn passengers of serious terrorist threats to a policy of mandatory notification;
*To obtain more effective and consistent counter-terrorism policies and actions from the U.S. government;
*To obtain a major reform of the way the State Department's Consular Affairs Bureau deals with Americans who have been victimized by terrorism abroad, and to prevent repetition of the incompetent and insensitive way that Pan Am 103 relatives were treated; and
*To meet the emotional, financial and practical needs of victim family members.
Contrary to Mr. Horgan's assertions, Families of Pan Am 103 has not filed lawsuits against the government, and has developed good working relationships with congressional leaders, administration officials and the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism.
We have also made it clear that while various agencies are working on the problems contained in our public goals, the results have thus far been disappointing: Airlines have so far refused to order available bomb detectors and upgrade their security to meet the known terrorist threat, the FAA clings to even its refusal- to-warn policy though some airlines and the State Department have begun to issue public wranings of serious terroroist threats, there is disarray and disagreement in the administration and Congress on adopting new, more effective counter- terrorism policiies, and the State Department and Scottish police are still working on returning and identifying personal property over a year later.
Most recently, most U.S. families were not even informed by the State Department that the Scottish police were sending a delegation to New York this past week to provide information on remaining unidentified personal property and the various investigations.
The famlies have had some successes, however, in the appointment of a Presidential Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism, in spurring change in warning and aviation security policies, in keeping the issue raised by Pan AM 103 before the public and in providing information and services to other victim families.
Family members, more than the government and the industry, in spite of thier own grief and pain, are contining to push for the security and the safety of future American travelers. Only time will tell whether we succeed before the next terrorist aviation attack kills hundreds more innocent Americans.
JOHANNA HESAMI Vice Chair, Families of Pan AM 103/Lockerbie Canton, Ohio