It could take the Homeland Security Department another two years to ensure that all cargo is screened for weapons of mass destruction before being flown into the United States on passenger airplanes, much longer than originally estimated, a senior department official told lawmakers...
A 2007 law that Democrats wrote as soon as they took over Congress required the Transportation Security Administration to ensure that all cargo aboard passenger flights is screened for weapons of mass destruction by August 2010. The deadline applies to flights originating inside the United States and those from other countries.
But the deadline for incoming international flights will be missed, Gale Rossides, TSA's acting director, told the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.
She said the agency might be able to ensure that only 65 percent of cargo on international flights is screened. But TSA will meet the deadline for screening all cargo aboard passenger flights originating inside the United States, she added.
TSA officials have been saying since last year that meeting the August deadline for incoming international flights most likely would not be possible. But the need for another two years is the longest estimate to be disclosed so far.
Rossides said the biggest challenge is getting cooperation from the governments of 20 countries where nearly 85 percent of all cargo comes from.