Following Friday’s thwarted terrorist attempt by cargo plane, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) is seeking to close “loopholes” in the United States’ air cargo system. Markey is vowing to introduce legislation that would require security screening of all cargo on cargo planes as soon as Congress goes back into session following tomorrow’s mid-term elections.
“In 2007, my amendment on air-cargo screening was enacted into law, closing a cargo security gap on passenger planes,” Markey said. “At the time, strong opposition from the shipping industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business interests prevented the inclusion of a screening mandate for all-cargo planes. Following this recent foiled cargo bombing plot from Yemen, now is the time to finish the job.
“While we now have 100% screening of air cargo being transported on domestic passenger planes, and we are screening over a reported 80% of the incoming air cargo on international passenger planes, we are not yet screening all the freight on all-cargo carriers,” Markey added.
The attempted attack was identified by a tip from a Saudi Arabia official. U.S. authorities believe the packages, which both originated in Yemen, were the work of Al Qaeda and were destined for a synagogue and a Jewish center in Chicago.
Both FedEx and UPS have suspended shipments from Yemen.
“Because security is of the utmost importance, UPS is immediately suspending service out of Yemen until further notice,” UPS said on Friday afternoon.
FedEx said authorities in Dubai found a suspicious package at a FedEx facility on Friday, and in cooperating with authorities, “FedEx Express is not accepting shipments to or from Yemen.”
As of this morning, both restrictions were still in effect.
Markey’s proposal is follows his long-term efforts to provide screening for cargo packages. As far back as 2003, Markey identified his interest in cargo screening. According to his office, the Congressman questions then Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge during a hearing on the lack of screening for cargo on passenger planes.
In 2007, Markey authored a bill that required the screening of all cargo loaded aboard a passenger plane. He also introduced a provision that would require the screening of all cargo on all planes, but that was stripped out before the final bill passed.
“It is time for the shipping industry and the business community to accept the reality that more needs to be done to secure cargo planes so that they cannot be turned into a delivery systems for bombs targeting our country,” Markey said.