Monday, September 25, 2006

Boxer Proposes Blast-Proof Air Cargo Containers

In yet another attempt by Senate Democrats to get the Republican leadership to devote time and money to real national security measures, Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced legislation last week to require commercial airliners to store cargo in blast-resistant containers.

Boxer's S. 3927 was read on the Senate floor on Thursday and referred to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee, on which the California Senator is also a member.

"Transportation Security Administration, TSA, has implemented new security procedures since we learned of the London terror plot to detonate liquid explosives on flights from Great Britain to the United States," said Boxer in introducing her bill. "While I support these new procedures, TSA is asking passengers to give up their lip gloss, yet we are not examining cargo loaded on board our passenger planes."

"We should be doing this at every airport to ensure the security of the flying public and the solvency of the airline industry. But until that time, at the very least, we need to use at least one blast resistant cargo container on passenger planes that carry cargo. This was one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission."

Boxer pointed out that the Senate's GOP leadership would not allow the recently-passed port security bill to be amended to include air cargo and proposed this legislation in response.

"Addressing port security is critical. However, security for other transportation modes is important, but the Republican leadership wanted us to do port security and nothing else," said Boxer. "The final bill the Senate approved does not contain any major provisions for aviation security. Yes, aviation security has improved greatly in the last five years. But, as we recently found out with the aviation terrorist plot uncovered by the British authorities, there are still holes in the system."

The 9/11 Commission recommended that every passenger aircraft carrying cargo deploy at least one hardened container to carry any suspect cargo -- one of the many things about the Commission's report totally ignored by Congressional Republicans and the White House.

Boxer made it clear that, in addition to being a measure the majority of Americans would solidly support, the cost is minimal -- especially when compared to what is being spent on the pointless Iraq war.

"To place one blast-resistant container on each plane, would cost about $75 million -- this is equal to the cost of a little more than 5 hours in Iraq. Imagine the impact on the security of the country and the financial outlook for the airline industry if a plane were to explode during a flight."

"We owe this to the American people."