A bill requiring 100 percent of the freight transported on all cargo aircraft be screened was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.
Markey—who sponsored the 2007 law requiring that all air cargo transported on domestic and international passenger planes entering the United States be screened—introduced the proposed Air Cargo Security Act (HR 6410) on Nov. 16.
The bill is in response to the recent thwarted attempt by Al Qaeda terrorists based in Yemen to ship explosives on freight carrying aricraft, and seeks “to ensure that cargo planes do not become a delivery device for bombs meant to harm our nation,” Markey said.
“Al Qaeda continues to put aviation at the top of its terrorist target list, and our nation must close the cargo loophole that continues to put lives and our economy at risk,” Markey said in a written statement. “While we now require screening of 100 percent of air cargo transported on passenger planes, the thwarted Yemen bombing plot demonstrates that Al Qaeda is turning its attention to less protected all-cargo aircraft. Accordingly, we must respond through strengthened security measures,” he said.
The bill directs the Department of Homeland Security to develop a system to screen 100 percent of freight transported on all-cargo aircraft within three years, with half of the cargo screened within 18 months.
It also would establish a system for the regular inspection of shipping facilities for shipments of air freight transported on all-cargo planes for purposes of ensuring that appropriate security controls, systems, and protocols are observed.
It would also require the appropriate U.S. agencies to enter into arrangements with foreign government authorities to ensure that inspections are conducted on a regular basis at shipping facilities for cargo transported in air transportation to the United States.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is expected to introduce a companion air-cargo screening bill in the Senate.