WASHINGTON, D.C. - Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the primary author of the 100% air cargo screening mandate signed into law last August, today responded to reports that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may try to meet the mandate by requiring companies that pack cargo shipments to perform the screening.
"I worked for four years to pass the law closing the air cargo loophole and requiring 100 percent screening of cargo carried in the belly of passenger planes. Now TSA must meet this mandate. TSA appears to be working seriously to implement a screening program to meet the new higher security standard. Still, there are important issues that need to be resolved to ensure that TSA's current plans will comply with the new law," said Rep. Markey.
"If cargo is screened before it reaches the airport, which appears to be a central element of TSA's plans to comply with the law, how will it be sealed to prevent tampering? It remains unclear whether a secure chain of custody can be established to make certain that bombs or other dangerous items are not inserted into cargo after screening occurs. TSA is in the preliminary stages of testing its approach, but if TSA's plans ultimately fall short, Congress will need to take steps to ensure that the air cargo security mandates in the 9/11 Commission law are met.
"I continue to closely monitor TSA's progress, and I have been in touch with Administrator Hawley about TSA's plans. Earlier this year, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and I requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study TSA's plans to determine whether they will meet the standards in the new law. GAO will begin its work in the months to come, and I look forward to the results of its work," added Rep. Markey.
In August 2007, the legislation implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was signed into law as Public Law 110-53. A provision negotiated by Rep. Markey requires that within three years all cargo carried on passenger planes be screened at a level of security commensurate to the security applied to airline passengers' checked bags.
For more information on Rep. Markey's aviation security work, please visit the Aviation Security issue page HERE