Travel Security Update March 2005.

Position:Covenant Aviation Security

Lockheed, Covenant team up to compete for screening contracts. Lockheed Martin has partnered with Covenant Aviation Security to compete for baggage screening contracts, Bloomberg News reports. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. This year, the Transportation Security Administration will allow airports to outsource baggage screening to private contractors. A Lockheed spokesperson said the company sees a "sizable opportunity" for screening work.

Mar 31, 2005

The U.S. State Department is warning Americans that the terrorist threat in Indonesia remains high and citizens should defer all non-essential travel there. In Pakistan, there is the possibility of terrorist activity against American interests and the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and other consulates are operating with reduced staff. Al-Qaida and Taliban elements continue to operate, especially along the Afghan border. In Kyrgystan, State Department says citizens should carefully consider the risks of traveling there because political demonstrations have led to clashes between pro-government and opposition forces. The U.S. Peace Corps is considering moving its volunteers out of Jalalabad and Osh Oblasts.

Mar 28, 2005

Only six EU countries expected to meet U.S. biometric passport deadline. The European Commission expects just six EU nations to be ready to issue their citizens biometric passports by the Oct. 26 deadline set by the U.S., raising the possibility that millions of visitors to the U.S. will need visas. If Congress does not extend the deadline, tourism and other industries in the U.S. could lose millions of dollars, experts say.

Mar 28, 2005

Government report says TSA mismanaged funds at operations center. A new unpublished government report charges that officials at the Transportation Security Administration's new operations center spent part of the agency's budget on silk plants, decorative artwork and Sub- Zero refrigerators, Time magazine reports. The officials involved no longer work for the TSA, the government report says. A former TSA official said the funds were used on legitimate upgrades and described the previous control center as inadequate.

Mar 28, 2005

TSA's Secure Flight runs four months behind schedule, report says. A government report said a new program to screen air travelers is running behind schedule, and it is unclear if it adequately protects privacy. Secure Flight is set to launch in August, but a report by the Government Accountability Office said the project is running four months behind. The Transportation Security Administration has accomplished just one of the 10 objectives required in developing the program, the report said. A TSA spokeswoman said the agency still hopes to launch Secure Flight in August, but also said the TSA agreed with the report's findings.

Mar 28, 2005

Industrial chemicals could pose grave security threat. There are many vulnerable civilian targets in the U.S. that terrorists could attack, Richard A. Falkenrath writes in a Washington Post editorial. Falkenrath, former deputy security adviser to President Bush, says toxic industrial chemicals pose a particularly grave threat and he believes the federal government is not taking proper steps to secure them.


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