AMERICAS: Underwear bomber ups pressure on cargo

In the fall-out from the nearly successful bombing of the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day by a Nigerian passenger who hid explosives in his underwear, has again focused attention on beefing up security of passenger aircraft leading to a renewed focus on the coming 100 per cent screening of all cargo carried in the bellies […]


In the fall-out from the nearly successful bombing of the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day by a Nigerian passenger who hid explosives in his underwear, has again focused attention on beefing up security of passenger aircraft leading to a renewed focus on the coming 100 per cent screening of all cargo carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft.

US legislator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts – who authored a mandate to carry through the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission on cargo – sent a letter to US President Obama, urging him to intensify efforts to screen all inbound air cargo and reminded him of the August deadline for belly 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 socalled “high-risk” cargo from overseas.