TSA Continues Work on 9-11 Commission Mandates
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
(The following is based on a report released to the National Association of Chiefs of Police regarding aviation security.)
The 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 mandates the Department of Homeland Security to establish a system to physically screen 50 percent of cargo transported on passenger aircraft by February 2009 and 100 percent of such cargo by August 2010.
This month, the Government Accountability Office released their preliminary observations on the Transportation Security Administration’s progress in meeting the mandate to screen cargo on passenger aircraft and the challenges TSA and the airline industry may face in screening such cargo.
GAO’s report, obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police’s Terrorism Committee is based on reports issued from October 2005 through August 2008, and its ongoing review of air cargo security. GAO reviewed TSA’s air cargo security programs, interviewed program officials and industry representatives, and visited two large U.S. airports.
TSA has made progress in meeting the air cargo screening mandate as it applies to domestic cargo. TSA has taken steps that will allow screening responsibilities to be shared across the air cargo supply chain–including TSA, air carriers, freight forwarders (which consolidate cargo from shippers and take it to air carriers for transport), and shippers — although air carriers have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that they transport cargo screened at the requisite security levels.
TSA has taken several key steps to meet the mandate, including establishing a new requirement for 100 percent screening of cargo transported on narrow-body aircraft; revising or eliminating most screening exemptions for domestic cargo; creating the Certified Cargo Screening Program, or CCSP, to allow screening to take place at various points in the air cargo supply chain; and establishing a screening technology pilot.
Although TSA estimates that it achieved the mandated 50 percent screening level by February 2009 as it applies to domestic cargo, the agency cannot yet verify that the requisite levels of cargo are being screened. It is working to establish a system to do so by April 2009, according to GAO analysts.
Also, TSA’s screening approach could result in variable percentages of screened cargo on passenger flights. TSA and the airline industry may face a number of challenges in meeting the screening mandate, including attracting participants to the CCSP, and technology, oversight, and inbound cargo challenges.
TSA’s approach relies on the voluntary participation of shippers and freight forwarders, but it is unclear whether the facilities needed to meet TSA’s screening estimates will join the CCSP.
In addition, TSA has taken some steps to develop and test technologies for screening air cargo, but the agency has not yet completed assessments of these technologies and cannot be assured that they are effective in the cargo environment. TSA’s limited inspection resources may also hamper its ability to oversee the thousands of additional entities that it expects to participate in the CCSP.
Finally, TSA does not expect to meet the mandated 100 percent screening deadline as it applies to inbound air cargo, in part due to existing inbound screening exemptions and challenges it faces in harmonizing security standards with other nations, according to the GAO report.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the former blog editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Recently, the editors at Examiner.com appointed him as their Law Enforcement Examiner. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for NewswithViews.com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 300 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. If you wish to receive Kouri’s emailed law enforcement and intelligence reports, write to him at COPmagazine@aol.com. Simply write “Free Subscription” on the subject line.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.