TSA's Loy says truck-bomb hoax reminder of shipper vulnerability

| 6/19/2003

Adm. Jim Loy, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, recently said the incident where a trucker was told he had a bomb in his trailer “was another heart-stopping reminder of the vulnerability of shippers.”

Loy spoke in Nashville, TN, to a meeting of the National Cargo Security Council.

“We had an incident back in Washington a couple of weeks ago – something right out of a Hollywood script – where a trucker was driving along the Capital Beltway on his way to Atlanta,” Loy said. “Suddenly a car pulled alongside him and started honking and waving to get the trucker's attention. The driver of the car shouted to the trucker that there was a bomb on his truck that would explode if he stopped.”

Loy noted the similarity of this incident to the movie Speed a few years back. 

The trucker called 9-1-1 and was diverted to the George Washington Parkway, which was closed down and soon swarming with police, and agents from the ATF, FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“The scare was a hoax. The cost in this case was the response of the law enforcement, valuable travel time for the driver, and the inconvenience to thousands of Washington, DC, commuters,” Loy said. “And yet, it was another heart-stopping reminder of the vulnerability of shippers – the reality of the threats that can originate from domestic as well as international terrorists – the gaps and weaknesses of the transportation system.”

Loy said TSA was becoming the nation's transportation system security manager.

“We've got a national strategic plan near completion that addresses the gaps in transportation security,” he said. “The plan's intermodal perspective is a significant step forward in connecting the pieces of the security puzzle.”

The plan deals with cargo transfers from ship to train to truck. It deals with general aviation and cargo. It looks at passengers disembarking from cruise ships and flying back home. It examines the threats where they may come next – such as a radiological or biological dispersion device sailing into port or an attack ripping up the tracks of the railway network crossing America's heartland.

The TWIC initiative

Loy said that while there's a perception that TSA is all about metal detectors and screening suitcases, the agency has been working on other initiatives. One such program is the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC.

The purpose of TWIC is to create one common and universally accepted ID for all workers in the transportation field, whether they're truckers, dockworkers, airline mechanics, caterers, ship crews or railroad engineers.

“I heard one report of a trucker carrying 23 cards around his neck,” Loy said. “With TWIC, we're looking to standardize the requirements for background checks and to eliminate any need for multiple identification cards.”

Meanwhile, Loy said TSA was working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to provide grants for trucking security and safety initiatives, such as a joint industry-government Highway Watch program and a safety permit program. These are still under development.