U.S. Transportation secretary Norman Y. Mineta said today that one of the “most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of movement and the ability to move freely and safely,” will be restored as soon as possible.

Mineta’s speech came hours after three planes commandeered by unknown hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and New York's landmark World Trade Center, marking the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

In addition to all Manhattan crossings being closed to inbound traffic, paralyzing the trucking industry in the Big Apple, the FAA has closed all airports to commercial traffic until at least noon tomorrow. Traffic in the Washington area is also snarled because of the Pentagon attack, and mass transit, including commuter trains and subways, have also been crippled.

“We will restore that freedom throughout the national transportation system as soon as possible,” Mineta said. “And we will restore the highest possible degree of safety.

Mineta added that the U.S. owes its Canadian neighbors a debt of gratitude for helping it redirect over 120 flights and their passengers to airports in Canada.

Mineta said DOT is currently looking at a wide variety of additional security measures to increase traveler security. Travelers will see increased security measures at our airports, train stations and other key sites, and there will be higher levels of surveillance, more stringent searches, he said.