TSA report says airline industry vulnerable to attack

A recently released report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general has raised questions about the safety of air cargo, leaving cargo vulnerable to a bioterror attack.

"Air cargo is vulnerable," the report, which cites repeated problems with the Transportation Security Administration's program aimed at stopping terrorists from sneaking weapons into cargo packages, says.

The report says that investigators managed to slip into warehouses where cargo is stored that were supposedly secure. The cargo was then loaded onto airplanes and the investigators walked away unchallenged.

Some workers at the facility who handled the cargo were also found to have not received required background checks or training.

The report raises concerns about the TSA's congressionally mandated effort to tighten security for the 12 million pounds of cargo carried each day in passenger planes. The report states that the TSA does not currently have enough personnel to handle new rules for screening cargo.

Airline cargo, unlike luggage, is not screened by the TSA, which oversees airlines, freight handlers and manufacturers who pack and transport cargo and ensure its security.

TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said that the agency has its inspectors focusing on airlines and companies that have been deemed higher risk because of past problems.

The news of unsecured cargo raises questions as to the potential for a bio attack through the air, with a commission on bioterrorism noting that a two kilogram release of anthrax spores into the air could cause more deaths of Americans that died in all of World War II.