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There is Far More to be Done to Close Air Cargo Security Gap

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security issued the following statement regarding the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) recent announcement of air cargo regulations.

“I am glad to see that TSA has finally released these long-awaited air cargo regulations, but there is far more that needs to be done to close the air cargo security gap. We still have no way of determining elevated risk cargo and TSA has not eliminated some of the dangerous exemptions to its air cargo screening rules that the Government Accountability Office identified in its investigation.

“TSA’s decision to create a centralized database is a good first step. Having all of the pertinent information on shippers in one place where it can be made available to carriers and freight forwarders is a start. They are partners in securing our skies and should have the most accurate and up to date information available to them to help them do so. TSA needs to do more than create the database. It needs to tackle the ‘problems with the reliability of the information in the database’ that the GAO identified in its October report, entitled ‘Federal Action Needed to Strengthen Domestic Air Cargo Security.’ The database is the underpinning of TSA’s entire air cargo strategy. If they cannot get the database right, there will be no real air cargo security.

“In addition, while I am a staunch supporter of requiring background checks for all those who are packaging and handling cargo, I want to make sure that the manner in which they are conducted is appropriate. I cannot stress enough the importance of conducting well-focused checks so that workers do not lose their livelihoods over past mistakes that have no bearing or relevance to their current position.

“Once again, the TSA seems to be working off of the Homeland Security standard operating procedure of making commitments now and worrying about fulfilling them later. The most recent example of TSA asking its 300 dedicated air cargo inspectors to take on the entire nation’s air cargo supply screening is a misjudgment of the staffing level needed to enforce this new regulation.

I look forward to working with the TSA to see that these significant issues are addressed.”

For More Information:
Please contact Dena Graziano or Todd Levett at (202) 226-2616

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS)

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson

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