Last week in a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) made statements that shed light on the potentially problematic process of implementing a 100% screening requirement for cargo containers.
Thompson – one of the most vocal and steadfast supporters of the 100% scanning requirement that was included as part of the recently passed 9/11 Bill – stated that he would be open to the possibility of delaying implementation of the program. Though Thompson maintained that he believes the necessary technology is available, he admitted that he would be open to further study that examines the feasibility of implementing the requirement.
Thompson’s change in position illustrates that proponents of a 100% scanning cargo policy were perhaps overconfident in their statements that assured members of Congress that the complicated and expensive technology necessary to implement the system already exists.
In addition to raising valid questions about the technological feasibility of the mandate, Thompson’s statements should also prompt a re-examination of the much more important security implications of a 100% cargo scanning system.
We are similarly lacking evidence that shows replacing the current risk-based system of security with a “100%” approach will actually make our country’s ports safer. In fact, most of the evidence we do have suggests just the opposite.
With Thompson calling on industry for assistance in meeting the mandate’s deadline, now is the time to raise concerns about the misguided nature of a 100% regime and show that our efforts should be placed in forming smart, effective solutions for our nation’s security.