In the aftermath of the nearly successful bombing of the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, the Obama administration has focused on beefing up the screening of airline passengers and stopping suspected terrorists from getting on board.
But Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts reminded President Obama today that there's a deadline in August to screen all air cargo on passenger aircraft as well.
Markey, who authored a mandate to carry through the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission on cargo, sent a letter to Obama, urging him to intensify efforts to screen all inbound 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,” Markey said in a statement. “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.”
The Transportation Security Administration has indicated that it expects to meet the August deadline for screening all domestic air cargo carried on passenger planes, but agency officials have told Congress that they will not meet the deadline for inbound air cargo coming from overseas, and only plans to 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.”
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.