Screening and Securing Air Cargo: Background and Issues for Congress [December 2, 2010] [open pdf - 217KB]
"The October 2010 discovery of two explosive devices being prepared for loading on U.S.-bound all-cargo aircraft overseas has heightened concerns over the potential use of air cargo shipments to bomb passenger and all-cargo aircraft. The incidents have renewed policy debate over air cargo security measures and have prompted some policymakers to call for comprehensive screening of all air cargo, including shipments that travel on all-cargo aircraft. U.S. policies and strategies for protecting air cargo have focused on two main perceived threats: the bombing of a passenger airliner carrying cargo and the hijacking of a large all-cargo aircraft for use as a weapon to attack a ground target such as a major population center, critical infrastructure, or a critical national security asset. […] While 100% of domestic air cargo now undergoes physical screening in compliance with this mandate, not all inbound international cargo shipments carried on passenger airplanes are scrutinized in this manner. TSA is working with international air cargo operators to increase the share of cargo placed on passenger flights that is screened, but 100% screening may not be achieved until August 2013. In the interim, TSA, along with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and international partners, is relying on risk-based targeting to increase screening of air cargo, particularly shipments deemed to be high risk."
CRS Report for Congress, R41515