Gephardt 'Deeply Disappointed' With Airport Security Changes

By Matt Pyeatt | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

( - Despite the added security checks scheduled to take effect Friday at the nation's airports, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) says he is "deeply disappointed" that the Bush administration will fail to meet the "statutory deadline for screening all checked baggage for bombs."

Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said new baggage screening requirements would be in place for the Friday deadline. "The department has taken the necessary action to meet this requirement, using the full menu of options provided for in the law," Mineta said in a speech delivered in Washington.

However, Gephardt said the security changes would still come up short because, instead of subjecting all bags to bomb-sniffing dogs and hand searches, airlines would have the option of using a passenger-bag match strategy. Under those conditions, no bag would be loaded on an originating flight unless the passenger also was on board.

"The law requires that every bag on every flight be screened, but the Bush administration said [Wednesday] it will match bags with passengers. While that is an important part of airline security, it will not take care of the issue of screening bags for bombs," Gephardt said.

The world has changed drastically since Sept. 11, he said, and the federal government must rise to the challenge of protecting airlines. "I urge the administration to immediately take further steps to ensure that all checked bags are bomb-free and that the flying public is as safe as humanly possible." See Earlier Story