Families of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103 were pleased with a report by a presidential commission critical of the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline but questioned whether the government would take serious action to prevent future terrorist attacks.
"The report was done in earnest with a great deal of energy and thoroughness," said Maddy Shapiro, whose 20-year-old daughter, Amy, was one of several Syracuse University students returning to the United States on the flight from Frankfurt, West Germany, to New York on Dec. 21, 1988.A suspected terrorist bomb blast destroyed the Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew, most of them Americans, and 11 people on the ground.
"The major question is, what gets done next? I have serious concerns as to just how far the president will go with it," Shapiro said Tuesday after the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism released its findings.
The commission recommended major changes in aviation security and, among other things, called for military strikes against terrorists to either prevent or punish violence in the skies.
The panel said safety programs for U.S. air travelers are "seriously flawed" and pointed to both the FAA and Pan Am for the failures that allowed a bomb to get aboard the holiday-season flight.
Shapiro's sentiments were echoed by other victims' survivors, who through their grief had the strength to lobby for the creation of the presidential commission and press for action to prevent a similar disaster.
Wendy Giebler, who lost her 29-year-old husband, William, said she believes the report said all the right things but she still does not feel whole.
"I need to see the president take action before it's going to alleviate any of the frustration I am feeling," Giebler said. "Today I'm ashamed to be an American. I want my country to come to my aid and to the aid of any other victim . . . and to do whatever needs to be done."
At a meeting earlier with some victims' families, Bush gave his assurance that action will be taken on the recommendations. According to a spokesman, Bush said, "We'll take it and get right to work on the problems."
Commission chairwoman Ann Mc-Laughlin, former labor secretary, said the panel determined the bombing could have been prevented.
"Terrorists were able to place a bomb on Pan Am 103, not because some one thing failed, but because the aviation security system failed. The system was flawed and did not provide an effective defense against sabotage," she said.
Pan Am Chairman Thomas Plaskett took issue with the harsh treatment of security. "What we believe is that the system was secure prior to 103. It was secure on the day of 103 and it was secure after and through 1989 and 1990," Plaskett said.
Pan Am called on the United States and foreign governments to establish uniform anti-terrorist security measures for all air carriers.
In a full-page advertisement carried in The New York Times and the Washington Post, Pan Am said security measures ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration were required for American airlines, but not for foreign carriers.
"To be effective, security systems must come about through a cooperative team effort among governments, their agencies and airlines," it said. "To do otherwise would be to perpetuate the present patchwork of rules and regulations."