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DHS Announces New Security Measures for Inbound Air Cargo



Updated 3:42 pm

In the wake of last week's thwarted mail bomb plot, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced increased security measures for air cargo coming into the United States.

Taking effect today, the new measures include continuing the ban on air cargo from Yemen, and extending that ban to air cargo from Somalia.

The most specific new guideline? Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces, like the printer cartridges that concealed bombs shipped from Yemen to the United States last week, will now be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on flights on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States.

The ban on printer cartridges will also apply to "some" international inbound cargo, according to DHS.

In addition, DHS announced that "high risk" cargo will no longer be allowed on passenger aircraft, and "high risk" cargo on cargo planes will be subject to "additional and enhanced screening".

According to a senior administration official, the process for designating packages "high risk" will be intelligence-based. A combination of factors including location, shipper information, and tip-offs will be used to try to identify "high risk" packages and intercept them.

"The threats of terrorism we face are serious and evolving," Secretary Napolitano said of the new measures in a press release, "These security measures reflect our commitment to using current intelligence to stay ahead of adversaries--working closely with our international, federal, state, local and private sector partners every step of the way."

In a statement this afternoon, representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the mandate requiring screening of all air cargo on passenger planes, called the new security regulations a "constructive step" but added that "our job [closing loopholes in air cargo security] is not yet done."