Too much luggage for the system

Lisa Napoli Sep 20, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: There was a different sort of news today about a different kind of security. A new Congressional report says there’s a crisis looming in the nation’s airports. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli has that story.

LISA NAPOLI: Not enough screeners. Slow and antiquated bomb detectors shoehorned into crowded airports. John Infanger of Airport Business magazine says these findings in the report to Congress aren’t surprising:

JOHN INFANGER: Well, it says what we already knew where we were at. And that is that we haven’t really effectively put in what we said we wanted to put in place after 9/11.

And these conclusions about the crisis in luggage screening were reached before the British averted a terrorist attack on transatlantic flights in August. Since then stricter carry-on rules have increased checked luggage by 20 percent. Infanger says these bottlenecks show the need to be on the offense, not the defense, with airport security:

INFANGER: We need some kind of national forum on where’s technology going to take us. And what should we be looking for in terms of threats. . . . The problem really lies with Congress.

After the USA Today story appeared this morning, Democrats were spinning, and urging the President to fully fund upgrades. Congressman Ed Markey serves on the Homeland Security Committee:

ED MARKEY: Ignoring a glaring loophole such as checkpoint screening is something that, unfortunately, Al Qaeda might try to exploit.

Paying not just for improved screening technology but also the infrastructure changes to accommodate them isn’t going to be cheap. The Potential pricetag? Close to $5 billion.

In New York, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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