Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pentagon to retain D.C. shootdown authority

Homeland agency will not give order to take out errant aircraft over capital
The Homeland Security Department will not gain authority to order shootdowns of threatening aircraft over the nation's capital, officials said Tuesday, eliminating possible confusion between its role and the Pentagon’s during emergencies....Currently, the Defense Department is the only agency authorized to shoot down aircraft around Washington.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have not yet signed off on an agreement clarifying the Pentagon's authority to order shootdowns, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul McHale said Tuesday.... helicopters from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (another branch of the Homeland Security Department) respond to airborne threats above Washington.
Whether Customs or the Coast Guard will ultimately be in charge of protecting the region's airspace has not yet been decided, said Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke..........


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