Total air cargo screening is coming nearer and nearer

Carrying out major recommendations of the independent 9/11 Commission both the US Senate and House of Representatives last month overwhelmingly passedlegislation, which increases spending on aviation, port and border security. The legislation, which has meanwhile been presented to US President George W. Bush for signing, includes a compromise bill, which within three years, enforces passenger-airline […]


Carrying out major recommendations of the independent 9/11 Commission both the US Senate and House of Representatives last month overwhelmingly passedlegislation, which increases spending on aviation, port and border security.

The legislation, which has meanwhile been presented to US President George W. Bush for signing, includes a compromise bill, which within three years, enforces passenger-airline cargo to go through security screening before an aircraft can take off. Similarly, it has set a fi ve-year goal of scanning all container ships for nuclear devices before they leave foreign ports. The irony is that neither the House nor theSenate bill specifi es a technology or method to accomplish that goal.

The three-year phase in period is clearly a compromise as the 9/11 Commission and many representatives and senators had insisted the screening should be introduced immediately. The 9/11 Commission in 2004 issued 41 sweeping recommendationscovering domestic security, intelligence gathering and foreign policy.

As was expected, outspoken critic in the absence of passenger-airline cargo screening, US Rep. Edward Markey (D) claimed victory in his four-year battle tohave all cargo go through security screening.

“Passenger shoes have to be taken off (before fl ights) but the cargo in planes isn’t screened,” said Markey of the current system. With the expected signing of the legislation, federal inspectors will now have to treat commercial cargo as they do passengers and their luggage – using a combination of x-ray machines, chemical- sniffi ng dogs and other measures to make sure terrorists aren’t trying to sneak aboard explosives via cargo holds.