Markey, Author of Provision Mandating 100% Screening of Air Cargo, Calls for Tighter Measures to Protect Passengers

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the mandate in the law implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission requiring screening of all air cargo on passenger planes by August 2010, today sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging the Administration to intensify efforts to screen all inbound air cargo, including raising the standards for what constitutes “high-risk” air cargo.

As we have seen all too clearly with the attempted Christmas Day attack, dangerous holes remain in our security system that a terrorist can exploit,” said Markey. “While President Obama is working quickly to close these gaps, we must focus not only on the safety of passengers in airline seats, but of the cargo just beneath their feet. We must fully implement the 100 percent air cargo screening mandate and we must do it quickly.”

In the letter, Markey stressed that he remains focused on the closure of the security loophole that results in billions of pounds of cargo being transported aboard passenger planes without first being screened for explosives. Since enactment of this mandate in August 2007, Rep. Markey has initiated multiple oversight efforts in this area to ensure that the 100 percent screening mandate is implemented in a manner consistent with congressional intent. While TSA has indicated that it expects to meet the law's August 2010 deadline for screening all domestic air cargo carried on passenger planes, agency officials have stated in congressional testimony and in correspondence with Rep. Markey, that TSA will not meet the statutory deadline for inbound air cargo entering our country from overseas.

 The potential for missing the deadline is particularly troubling in light of the international origins of the most recent attempted terrorist attack in Detroit. Moreover, inbound air cargo accounts for more than 44 percent of the total volume of air cargo carried on passenger plans, representing billions of pounds per year.

 In light of recent events, Markey urged the TSA to revise its current plan to only screen so-called "high-risk" cargo from overseas.

 “The Christmas Day attempt is the must recent example of the shortcomings of this approach,” said Markey. “Just as international passengers entering the U.S. from abroad will be screened more thoroughly under the new guidelines, so too should the air cargo from overseas.”

Markey also stressed the need for greater international cooperation in screening air cargo.

I urge your administration to intensify efforts with other nations to ensure the screening of all inbound air cargo originating abroad and carried on passenger planes to our country by the law's August 2010 deadline,” Markey wrote in the letter. “The provision I authored in the 9/11 Commission Act mandates such a policy, and the most recent terrorist attempt underscores the urgency of its implementation.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here: