Homeland Security Committee Democrats Demand DHS Stick to Air Cargo Screening Timeline

WASHINGTON -- The Democrats of the House Committee on Homeland Security, led by Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) have all urged the Department of Homeland Security to develop final rules to help improve air cargo security.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (or the 9/11 Act) ordered the Department to complete the rule by August 15. The law was crafted in response to the 9/11 Commission's findings that air cargo screening is crucial to making our skies more secure from the threat of terrorism.

Passenger and cargo planes carry more than 23 billion pounds of freight, packages and mail each year. Americans first became aware of the terrorist threat to air cargo in 1974 when a bomb was planted in the cargo hold of TWA Flight 841. This awareness increased after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Commission's findings that while passengers' luggage was screened, oftentimes cargo traveling on the same planes was not.

"The American people expect the Department of Homeland Security to develop a system that recognizes the threat unscreened cargo presents to the flying public," said Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson. "It is essential that we secure our air cargo as quickly as possible to continue efforts to make America safer."

The Democratic members have asked the Department to explain the delay in issuing the rule and provide a firm date when the final rule will be issued.

(c)2005 PR Newswire