Last week, Rep. Peter King – chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security – released a report on the progress of the SAFE Port Act, One Year Later.
The report analyzes DHS’s implementation of the bill, focusing both on both its successes (the Secure Freight Initiative) and its shortcomings (the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program to provide tamper-resistant biometric credentials for workers who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports, vessels, and outer continental shelf facilities).
It is clear from this report that the threat of terrorism still looms large – there is still a great deal to be done to secure our nation’s ports and transportation infrastructure.
As the report suggests, the country needs solutions that focus on risk-based assessments of potential threats and take a layered approach to security. The recently enacted 9/11 Bill requiring the 100 percent scanning of cargo within the next few years is not such a solution.
A 100% scanning requirement seems logical on the surface – after all, aren’t all passengers and their luggage scanned before boarding an airplane? However, the program will divert critical resources and bog down the flow of commerce – possibly resulting in decreased security in our ports and leaving the nation more vulnerable.
As more information on the success of SAFE Port becomes available, it is increasingly important to reconsider our approach to security by asking whether programs are real solutions that will actually make us safer, or if they are simply ideas that sound good when presented in a 10-second sound byte.