NOVEMBER 6, 2009: MARKEY, NADLER RAISE CONCERNS OVER IMPLEMENTATION OF AIR CARGO SCREENING MANDATE
Markey, Author of 100% Air Cargo Screening Requirement, and Nadler Seek Answers from DHS Secretary Napolitano
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the 100 percent air cargo screening mandate included as part of the August 2007 law implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) today sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressing concerns over whether the Department will meet the August 2010 deadline in the statute for screening all cargo carried on passenger planes.
“Billions of pounds of air cargo are transported every year in the belly of airplanes, beneath the feet of unsuspecting passengers,” said Rep. Markey. “I am pleased that the law enacted in 2007 included the mandate I authored to screen all this cargo before it’s loaded onboard, just as all the passengers and their bags are screened. However, I am concerned that the system developed by the Bush Administration to implement this mandate may not be capable of meeting the August 2010 deadline in the law,” Rep. Markey said.
“Eight years after the attacks of 9/11 and five years after the release of the 9/11 Commission’s public report, there is no excuse for failing to meet next year’s deadline for 100% cargo screening on passenger airplanes,” said Rep. Nadler. “Knowing what we do about the risks of unscreened cargo, and committed as we are to preventing another terrorist attack against our nation, we must work harder to meet this critical deadline.”
In their letter, Reps. Markey and Nadler raised concerns about whether the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) is sufficient to screen 100 percent of cargo on passenger planes by the statutorily prescribed deadline. The letter cites recent comments by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official published last week in the Orlando Sentinel, in which the official raised doubts about the capacity of the CCSP to meet next year’s deadline.
Following the enactment of the air cargo provision in the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act, Rep. Markey, along with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) track the implementation of the air cargo screening program and produce a comprehensive report on it. The report is expected to be completed early in 2010.
In addition to raising concerns about CCSP, the letter also included a series of questions, including:
-What percentage of daily air cargo carried on passenger planes currently is being screened by CCSP participants? What percentage of daily air cargo is being screened by airlines or their contractors?
-What actions is the Department taking to increase the number of companies certified under the CCSP program to a number sufficient to meet the August 2010 mandate?
-Has your Department considered other approaches in addition to CCSP to implement the air cargo screening mandate? If so, please detail the other approaches which were considered and the reasons that they were not pursued. If the Department currently is pursuing other approaches, what are they?
-How does TSA envision CCSP affecting small businesses, which may need to transport their cargo from smaller airports not served by CCSP participants? What policies is TSA currently pursuing or planning to pursue to mitigate potential difficulties for such businesses without compromising security?
“Earlier this year, the TSA indicated it would not meet the portion of the law’s requirement that all international air cargo carried on planes heading into our country be screened by August 2010. Now it appears that TSA also may not meet the deadline for screening all domestic air cargo carried on planes traveling within our country. I am concerned about delays in the implementation of this vital aviation security measure, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to discuss these concerns with Secretary Napolitano,” Rep. Markey concluded.
The full text of the letter can be found here: http://markey.house.gov/docs/markey.nadler.aircargo.pdf
# # #