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Lobbying by the multibillion-dollar freight industry has helped kill past efforts to impose tough rules.



WASHINGTON – Despite knowing for decades that terrorists could sneak bombs onto planes, the U.S. government failed to close obvious security gaps amid pressure from shipping companies fearful tighter controls would cost too much and delay deliveries.

Intelligence officials around the world narrowly thwarted an al-Qaida mail bomb plot last month, intercepting two explosive packages shipped from Yemen with UPS and FedEx.

But it was a tip from Saudi intelligence, not cargo screening, that turned up the bombs before they could take down airplanes. Company employees in Yemen were not required to X-ray the printer cartridges the explosives were hidden inside. Instead, they looked at the printers and sent them off, U.S. officials said.

The scare is prompting officials in Washington and around the world to rethink air cargo security. On Monday the Obama administration announced new cargo rules banning freight out of Yemen and Somalia. It also restricted the shipment of printer and toner cartridges weighing more than a pound on all passenger flights and some cargo flights. Overall cargo security rules were unchanged.

Lobbying by the multibillion-dollar freight industry has helped kill past efforts to impose tough rules.

In 2004, when the Transportation Security Administration considered requiring screening for all packages on all flights, the Cargo Airline Association downplayed a terrorist threat. It argued slowing down shipping for inspections would jeopardize the shipping industry and the world's economy.

"As a practical matter, all-cargo aircraft operators today are permitted to accept freight from all persons and entities all over the world, including unknown shippers, precisely because of the lack of any credible threat to all-cargo aircraft," the association, whose members included FedEx, UPS and other shippers, told the agency.

The government agreed.

"TSA believes that a requirement to inspect every piece of cargo could result in an unworkable cost of more than $650 million" in the first year, the agency wrote in 2004. The government wanted security, TSA said, "without undue hardship on the affected stakeholders."

The U.S. requires all packages be screened before being loaded onto passenger flights originating in the U.S. But there's no such requirement enforced for all cargo loaded onto U.S.-bound international passenger flights or on cargo-only flights, such as UPS and FedEx planes.

Jetliner bombings in the 1970s and the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 led the U.S. to examine cargo security long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington made counterterrorism measures a top priority.

Those efforts came in fits and starts. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Postal Service once had such a poor relationship that neither agency carried out their part of a mail security agreement they reached in 1979 after a mail bomb blew up on an American Airlines flight, congressional investigators reported in 1994.

In 2007, a coalition of more than a dozen business groups lobbied against requiring close inspections of packages, arguing in a letter to then-Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, that applying the same rules to passenger baggage and air cargo would set "an unachievable standard."

Only in August, nine years after 9/11, did the U.S. require that all cargo be screened on U.S. passenger flights. That rule drew heavy lobbying from airlines, air cargo carriers and trade groups. They devoted at least $32 million last year and $28 million so far this year to lobbying in Washington on that and other matters.

The air transportation industry, meanwhile, donated at least $8.3 million to congressional candidates in the 2009-10 election cycle, split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans, an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics found.

The TSA, carrying out a 2007 law requiring the screening of all cargo on passenger planes within three years, decided that starting last August it would mandate the screening of cargo on passenger planes loaded in the United States. It said its rule wouldn't apply to cargo placed on U.S.-bound passenger flights overseas, or to cargo-only flights.

In leaving cargo loaded onto passenger flights outside the U.S. from the August requirement, the agency said it would work with other countries to try to standardize screening requirements and apply "risk assessment" to cargo headed for the U.S.

That decision drew praise from the International Air Cargo Association, whose members include FedEx, UPS and other major shippers.

The industry has long contended that requiring the careful inspection of every package would cost too much and take too long. Its companies want to be able to screen items quickly and they want the government to bear as much of the cost as possible.

Monday's announcement of new cargo rules came after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano held a conference call last Wednesday with cargo industry giants FedEx, UPS, German-based shipper Deutsche Post DHL AG and Netherlands-based TNT. On the call, Napolitano "underscored her commitment to partnering with the shipping industry to strengthen cargo security," her agency said.

The air cargo industry isn't short of political connections. FedEx spent $19 million lobbying from January through September alone; its chief executive, Frederick W. Smith, raised campaign money for Republican President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama's 2008 GOP rival, Sen. John McCain, and has made the White House guest lists of at least three presidents: Obama, Bush and Bill Clinton.

FedEx and UPS have served on various federal agency advisory panels over the years, and the head of the Cargo Airline Association has been part of an aviation security advisory committee. Association lobbyist Gina Ronzello used to work for the U.S. Transportation Department's inspector general, with a focus on aviation issues, and was a congressional aide. A Bush administration Customs and Border Protection official, Michael Mullen, lobbied last year for the Express Association of America, whose members included FedEx, UPS, DHL and TNT



:rolleyes:

great.

They might as well ship us some nukes via ups.:rolleyes:
 

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:smack

How ironic...they do it every time. So, predictable.

These people that are now freaked out about this stuff are 'exposing 'old news' as 'new news'.

Beck's been talking about this type of government waste, fraud, lobbying for years...yet he's vilified as an idiot, until it affects them directly.

Too funny. :laughing:
 

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Let the shipping companies continue to whine about the costs of inspecting all cargo, just hold them financially responsible for any and all damages done by whatever explosive device slips through their "security."
 

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I'm no expert on the parcel industry, but I'm guessing the technology does not exist to screen all packages in any really predictable way. Billions of packages are shipped every year all over the world. How can they possibly all be screened? For now, I say quit allowing shipping from countries known to harbor terrorists. I heard this morning they were going to limit or ban (not sure) packages being shipped from Somalia and Yemen. Somalia? Really?? Why on earth are we picking up or shipping anything to that hell hole?
 

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Of course we can screen every piece of cargo that ever gets put on a plane, loaded into a boat or truck! It just means that you'll have to pay more money for everything that must be shipped across the world or anything that relies of something that must be shipped.

When everything gets more expensive we will have less of everything but we will have more armies of people to inspect cargo and all the bureaucrats to manage those armies and modern socety will go backwards so that we can have security ageist something that so far has killed no one!!

Think about how many people have been killed by exploding cargo planes? Is it worth retarding the growth of society to keep cargo planes from exploding while at the same time no one wants to slow growth and lower speed limits on highways to cut down on the 45,000 auto deaths PER YEAR (that's 45,000 more deaths deaths than caused by bombs in cargo planes)
 

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Of course we can screen every piece of cargo that ever gets put on a plane, loaded into a boat or truck! It just means that you'll have to pay more money for everything that must be shipped across the world or anything that relies of something that must be shipped.

When everything gets more expensive we will have less of everything but we will have more armies of people to inspect cargo and all the bureaucrats to manage those armies and modern socety will go backwards so that we can have security ageist something that so far has killed no one!!

Think about how many people have been killed by exploding cargo planes? Is it worth retarding the growth of society to keep cargo planes from exploding while at the same time no one wants to slow growth and lower speed limits on highways to cut down on the 45,000 auto deaths PER YEAR (that's 45,000 more deaths deaths than caused by bombs in cargo planes)
Good point. Every time the terrorists get us to spend billions to prevent their madness, they have won another battle.
 

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Good point. Every time the terrorists get us to spend billions to prevent their madness, they have won another battle.
How come all the best "terrorist" come from countries we are friendly with? ;)

The "terrorist" have already won.. we have made the decision to trade liberty for security and we have neither.
 

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If I'm a terrorist and I know you don't properly screen your cargo, and that you won't pick up packages from Yemen or Somalia, I ship my bomb from somewhere other than Yemen or Somalia. Then what? Do you ban that country as well? Pretty soon every country on the planet will be banned.

The technology exists to build hardened cargo containers, but they are fragile and expensive and also deemed "too costly" by the air freight industry: This concept of deploying hardened cargo containers has been a topic of ongoing research for some time. Following the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the British Air Accident Investigation Branch recommended that regulatory authorities and airplane manufacturers study methods to mitigate the effects of in-flight explosions. The FAA has had a active research program in blast-resistant containers for more than 10 years examining the airworthiness, ground handling, and blast resistance of hardened containers, which is now overseen by the TSA’s Transportation Security Laboratory. These containers, or hardened unit-loading devices (HULDs), are seen as a potential means for mitigating the threat of explosives placed aboard passenger aircraft in either checked baggage or cargo. These containers must withhold an explosive blast of a specified magnitude without any rupturing or fragment penetration of the container wall or the aircraft structure, and must contain and “self-extinguish” any post-blast fire in order to meet the FAA-established test criteria.

I saw a video about it in an episode of Air Crash Investigations, the results were pretty amazing. As for the "it's only air cargo" argument, that's pretty callous toward the air crew of a cargo jet. Would you fly cargo knowing that attitude of your government and employer is "who cares if they blow you up?" Not to mention the deaths caused by tons of falling aircraft debris-you don't think these terrorists are going to plan these incidents so that they go off over the middle of the ocean, do you? Do you live close to an airport? Do you live under the route to an airport? Watch the Air Crash Investigation episodes about Lockerbie or the El Al cargo crash in Amsterdam.

Every time there's a one-in-a-billion accident, the airline industry makes recommendations and implements procedures to keep it from happening again, but when there a proven risk from people with bad intentions, the attitude seems to be "oh well, the odds are pretty small." :crazy:
 

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If I'm a terrorist and I know you don't properly screen your cargo, and that you won't pick up packages from Yemen or Somalia, I ship my bomb from somewhere other than Yemen or Somalia. Then what? Do you ban that country as well? Pretty soon every country on the planet will be banned.

The technology exists to build hardened cargo containers, but they are fragile and expensive and also deemed "too costly" by the air freight industry: This concept of deploying hardened cargo containers has been a topic of ongoing research for some time. Following the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the British Air Accident Investigation Branch recommended that regulatory authorities and airplane manufacturers study methods to mitigate the effects of in-flight explosions. The FAA has had a active research program in blast-resistant containers for more than 10 years examining the airworthiness, ground handling, and blast resistance of hardened containers, which is now overseen by the TSA’s Transportation Security Laboratory. These containers, or hardened unit-loading devices (HULDs), are seen as a potential means for mitigating the threat of explosives placed aboard passenger aircraft in either checked baggage or cargo. These containers must withhold an explosive blast of a specified magnitude without any rupturing or fragment penetration of the container wall or the aircraft structure, and must contain and “self-extinguish” any post-blast fire in order to meet the FAA-established test criteria.

I saw a video about it in an episode of Air Crash Investigations, the results were pretty amazing. As for the "it's only air cargo" argument, that's pretty callous toward the air crew of a cargo jet. Would you fly cargo knowing that attitude of your government and employer is "who cares if they blow you up?" Not to mention the deaths caused by tons of falling aircraft debris-you don't think these terrorists are going to plan these incidents so that they go off over the middle of the ocean, do you? Do you live close to an airport? Do you live under the route to an airport? Watch the Air Crash Investigation episodes about Lockerbie or the El Al cargo crash in Amsterdam.

Every time there's a one-in-a-billion accident, the airline industry makes recommendations and implements procedures to keep it from happening again, but when there a proven risk from people with bad intentions, the attitude seems to be "oh well, the odds are pretty small." :crazy:

Ma'am, you could get scared enough to build yourself into an iron box, but if the "terrorists" want to get to you, they will just light a fire under it. Our borders are so wide open they bring drugs in 20 tons at a time, and your worried about an envelope bomb? :laughing: Any terrorist with half a brain knows he can bring an atomic bomb into this country, piece at a time, over our southern border and have the protection of the left and the government.

There is no security, except mutual security. If our government would quit arming them and their enemies and quit bombing their women and children, maybe we could experience some security. As long as we are overseas ****ing with them, they are going to try and **** with us, simple logic.
 

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Does that mean you don't even try to stop them? We all know that someone determined to assassinate the President will succeed, does that mean we do away with the Secret Service? We all know people get killed in car accidents, does that mean we quit making safety improvements? We all know thieves steal things, does that mean we stop locking our doors and turn off our alarms?

And your "simple logic" overlooks the fact that they hate us just for being us-we wouldn't have to be anywhere doing anything to anybody, and they would still hate us.
 

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Does that mean you don't even try to stop them? We all know that someone determined to assassinate the President will succeed, does that mean we do away with the Secret Service? We all know people get killed in car accidents, does that mean we quit making safety improvements? We all know thieves steal things, does that mean we stop locking our doors and turn off our alarms?
Well, why take it to the extreme? Close the borders, control who is coming and going. And sure, there will be events just like there are events now.. we haven't stopped anything really. A couple of toner-bombs.. is it worth the massive redistribution of wealth, to stop a toner bomb? :huh: Are you so scared that you feel a toner bomb is going to get you? Well, let me tell you something, it's nothing new and it was stopped by the current system.

And your "simple logic" overlooks the fact that they hate us just for being us-we wouldn't have to be anywhere doing anything to anybody, and they would still hate us.
No, my simple logic is based on history and the fact that we started it. Meddling, our governments tinkering in everyone elses society. Don't buy all the crap your government and your religion tells you. If you want security, you need to move against our overseas endeavors. We are currently meddling in the business of about 35 different countries, waging war with 2 of the poorest countries on the planet (and losing), trying to spark a trade/currency war with the up and coming super power known as China and your worried about cargo plane bombs?

We are victims of our own apathy, allowing the federal government to run amok all over the planet stirring up ****. And now, we will have to reap some of what we sow in order to correct the course. You can't stop these people no matter how much liberty your willing to trade, so it's time to make some hard choices.
 

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Lol, I'm not worried about anything-I know where I'm going when I die. And until you can prove that terrorists are trying to smuggle bombs over the border from Mexico, you're comparing apples to oranges. It's like giving up border security in Texas because they could take a boat across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida-sure, they could, but they haven't. Terrorists have, however, smuggled bombs onto airplanes numerous times.
 

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Lol, I'm not worried about anything-I know where I'm going when I die. And until you can prove that terrorists are trying to smuggle bombs over the border from Mexico, you're comparing apples to oranges. It's like giving up border security in Texas because they could take a boat across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida-sure, they could, but they haven't. Terrorists have, however, smuggled bombs onto airplanes numerous times.
:laughing: If that's your stance... you should be scared.
 

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Does that mean you don't even try to stop them? We all know that someone determined to assassinate the President will succeed, does that mean we do away with the Secret Service? We all know people get killed in car accidents, does that mean we quit making safety improvements? We all know thieves steal things, does that mean we stop locking our doors and turn off our alarms?

And your "simple logic" overlooks the fact that they hate us just for being us-we wouldn't have to be anywhere doing anything to anybody, and they would still hate us.

I assume that there have been enough attempts on the life of the president to justify having the secret service.

Why don't you install a roll cage in your car? The odds of you dieing in a car crash are vastly greater than dieing in a terrorist act. Why? because I bet it's because safety is not worth that much to you, you have put a price on your life just like everyone else.

Yeah!! we all put a price on our lives, there are certain things we will not do to protect ourselves agents real dangers because it is not worth the time or money or some other cost. It is neither practical or possible to protect agents everything so we have balance safety and cost. there is not really enough successful terrorist acts to justify much and at least for the foreseeable future it's a small risk we should just live with.
 

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I don't install a roll cage in my car because the auto industry already has rollover safety standards that automobiles must meet. The safety standards of the air cargo industry is "cross our fingers and hope for the best." Apples to oranges.
 

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You guys are all so misinformed and making such a mountain out of a mole hill!

There are no terrorist threats anymore! Period! Obama has apologized to the world and spoken at the UN and solved the problem. Now, according to Janet Incompitano we only have 'man-made disasters' and we deal with them through 'overseas contingency operations'. We have no more wars because of that. There is no immigration problem because the democrats need thier votes! Got it?

The Fort Hood shooter was not terrorism, it was, a tragedy.
The Christmas Day Bomber, or Scrotum Bomber, was a crime.
The Times Square failed bombing attempt was a failure, not because we got lucky, but because Janet Incompitano has been doing such a great job.

There's nothing to worry about any more. Go back to your homes and watch MSNBC, they will give you the correct information to make you feel safer and more secure.

:cheers:
 

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You guys are all so misinformed and making such a mountain out of a mole hill!

There are no terrorist threats anymore! Period! Obama has apologized to the world and spoken at the UN and solved the problem. Now, according to Janet Incompitano we only have 'man-made disasters' and we deal with them through 'overseas contingency operations'. We have no more wars because of that. There is no immigration problem because the democrats need thier votes! Got it?

The Fort Hood shooter was not terrorism, it was, a tragedy.
The Christmas Day Bomber, or Scrotum Bomber, was a crime.
The Times Square failed bombing attempt was a failure, not because we got lucky, but because Janet Incompitano has been doing such a great job.

There's nothing to worry about any more. Go back to your homes and watch MSNBC, they will give you the correct information to make you feel safer and more secure.

:cheers:

I think I just peed myself a little bit. :laughing:
 

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Does that mean you don't even try to stop them?
That is a very good question and is the core of this conversation. The answer is no, you do try to stop them. But there are a range of efforts available, and at some point, the cost and drag on the timliness of shipping becomes unreasonable relative to the small risk. How much should we spend? Is $5 too much? How about $5 million? $5 billion? $5 trillion? Every safety measure has a ceiling on the cost relative to the risk. I don't know the answer to what that ceiling is in this case. But I think the cost to make the risk approach zero will be very high while, at this time anyway, the risk is relatively low. I am definitely for continuing to find the best way to prevent these acts while using all of the tools already in place to reduce the risk as much as possible. Also, remember that if we completely solve this problem and reduce the risk to zero, they will find another route to threaten us. We can chase our tails into bankruptcy trying to make the risk of every conceivable attack be zero. :cheers:
 
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