I’ve been writing about inbound air cargo screening on this blog and elsewhere for some time. The recent detection of explosives in air cargo bound for the United States is now putting this issue in the spotlight. Here are some key points to note. Most importantly, the U.S. Government lacks a process to obtain data and analyze risks with respect to air cargo.
Supply Chain Security
October 29th, 2010 -
Suspicious packages, some containing improvised bomb-like devices, are being investigated in Newark, Philadelphia and other locations in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets. All of the packages either originated from or have some connection to Yemen, where violence between al Qaeda and the Yemeni government has been escalating over the last month.
September 22nd, 2010 - by Rich Cooper
Like any office space, there is plenty of banter back and forth between my colleagues and me at Catalyst Partners. While we make the arbitrary sports bets with one another, we also, from time to time, will make a bet on which member of Congress is going to ask the nastiest question at a Congressional Hearing; who will come unglued to rail at a witness; and so forth. This week, my friend and fellow Catalyst Partner David Olive and I bet lunch on what topic House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson will open the hearing with: TSA and unions or cargo screening? Cast your vote here before the hearing.
August 17th, 2010 - by Chris Battle
Back in 2006, before George W. Bush’s approval ratings dropped through the basement into somewhere around the fourth circle of hell, it made political sense for the congressional Democrats to attack the Republican administration on cargo security. They were fighting to regain control of Congress and had to show that they, too, were capable of protecting the American people from another terrorist attack. They found themselves an effective–if inaccurate–sound bite in accusing the administration of screening a mere 5 percent of cargo coming into the country. But are they seriously going to continue this bizarre effort? Even President Obama’s Administration thinks this is a terrible idea.
By Adam Salerno
When Congress passed the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the law mandated 100 Percent Screening of cargo onboard passenger aircraft “commensurate with checked baggage.” The deadline for that mandate is this weekend, August 1, 2010. The law seeks to ensure that all 20 million lbs. of cargo is screened in advance of flights for explosive detection prior to transport. While a changing world dictates new necessities to secure the supply chain, the need for expedited trade is an important priority that must be maintained. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizes this fact, which is why we support a multi-layered risk based approach to security which maximizes effectiveness and minimizes impact on businesses.
July 22nd, 2010 - by Kevin McCarthy
The piracy question and how to deal with it is huge and is about to become a much larger question in the global supply-chain management continuum. A Presidential Executive Order EO issued in April prevents U.S. citizens/entities from making payments to certain named individuals. It also has the potential to prevent any payments to individuals or groups involved in or supporting piracy in Somalia. Given the recent Shabaab attack in Kampala, Uganda, in which at least one U.S. citizen was killed, one can reasonably expect enforcement measures for the executive order to be forthcoming. The new adage, “bring lawyers, guns and money,” is certainly apt.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released its review of the Transportation Security Administration’s Air Cargo Screening program. The report, requested by several members of Congress, audits the TSA’s program for achieving the Congressional mandate to screen 100 percent of all cargo carried on passenger aircraft by August 2010. For anyone in the business or closely following the issue, the report offers no surprises. If anything, it illuminates the major hurdles TSA continues to face in achieving the 100 percent screening threshold.
As we continue to swelter in the ongoing summer heat wave, it is easy for me to reminisce about my recent visit to Aspen, Colo. Tucked amongst the Rockies with its clean air, fervent green and majestic views, a town known primarily for its skiing with the rich and famous was home to what was, simply put, the best conference program I have ever attended. The first annual Aspen Security Forum put forward a program that I can only describe as pleasant, informational waterboarding. By the time each of the presenters and panelists were done, my hand was dead from writing so much and my head hurt from being given the firehouse treatment of a candor and content overload. Here’s a rundown of some of the sessions.
This morning by voice vote, the US Senate confirmed the nomination of John Pistole to be the next Administrator of DHS’ Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In what has been a grueling odyssey for everyone involved, from former nominees and their families, the White House Office of Personnel, US Senate Members and staff, the people of TSA, and many more, permanent leadership is now in place at TSA.
June 15th, 2010 - by Jeffrey Sural
A couple weeks ago, air cargo industry representatives came together in Washington, DC, to hold an informational roundtable on the upcoming Congressional deadline mandating that 100 percent of all cargo carried on passenger aircraft be screened for explosives. Talking with the aviation security leaders who participated in the roundtable, we delivered the message that time is of the essence, and over 10,000 people logged on to view the webcast. TSA has seen applications for CCSP quadruple over the last month, and industry participation will determine the viability of the voluntary CCSP. But if industry fails or refuses to participate, it can expect a boot on its throat in the not too distant future.
Beginning this August, 100 percent of cargo bound for passenger planes must be screened before it is loaded. While this looming security deadline is reasonably well known to domestic air cargo companies (and somewhat less well known by thousands of shippers who may be affected), it is hardly known at all outside the United States. That is a problem, because the air cargo screening mandate applies not only to passenger flights within and from the United States, but also to foreign-originating flights to the United States.
It is a curious thing that the mainstream media seems largely unaware of – or perhaps uninterested in – a major new benchmark in the air cargo security realm that is two weeks away. As of May 1, passenger airlines must screen 75 percent of all air cargo before it can be boarded. This benchmark is meant to wake the industry up to the approaching congressionally mandated requirement that 100 percent of all air cargo transported on passenger planes be screened. To ratchet up to 75 percent, airlines will have to start breaking down the large pallets of cargo and screen each piece individually. This is not an easy task, and it certainly is not a quick one.
April 1st, 2010 -
Think you’ve heard it all? We beg to differ. For this special April Fools edition, we’ve collected recent news reports that the rest of the media somehow missed.
We often talk about cyber threats in different ways. Some speak of them based on who the bad guys are: hackers, terrorists, cyber criminals or nation states. Others use the bad guys’ technical approach as a means to define them: SQL injection, Memory Scrappers, DDoS Attacks, etc. A third way, one based on distance from targets, was used by Steven Chabinsky of the FBI recently in several venues. I think it adds to the depth of our analysis, and bring to the fore some key areas that are often overlooked.
Someone needs to buy Janet Napolitano a beer. Or at least give her a double of whatever she wants. After two consecutive days on Capitol Hill testifying in front of four different Congressional Committees, she’s earned it. In defending the Administration’s proposed 2011 budget, she took on a whole set of bipartisan punches and barbs from an array of political players who weren’t exactly happy with what she was trying to sell them.
By Justin Hienz
Perhaps America’s most critical infrastructure is its national electrical grid. It has served us well to this point, supporting all our grandiose and astounding technological innovations. But the grid is getting old, and it doesn’t keep up with our innovations (and electronic appetites) as well as it should. So, we’re upgrading – to a Smart Grid. It is clear the Smart Grid touches on every aspect of homeland security, and the time to improve Smart Grid security is now, while we are developing it.
October 21st, 2009 - by Ellen Howe
Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff spoke at the National Press Club this morning, citing insightful new research: while Americans are highly concerned about the security of their personal data online, 87 percent of Americans do not realize their exposure to online identity threats. He echoed the cyber security theme that current Secretary Janet Napolitano focused on with her remarks yesterday. Because citizens don’t fully appreciate the vulnerabilities, people are failing to take the appropriate precautions to manage or reduce their risk.
October 20th, 2009 - by L. Vance Taylor
The House Energy & Commerce Committee is set to markup the Drinking Water System Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 3258) tomorrow. The bill, which would regulate drinking water utilities through a “CFATS-like” regime under the Environemental Protection Agency (EPA), will require utilities to update their vulnerability assessments, develop site security plans, and evaluate their disinfection processes.
Using the medium she is out to the protect, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano took to the Internet today to deliver what can best be described as a “State of Cyber Space” address. Without the fanfare and annoying distractions that often accompany presidential remarks, the Secretary spoke frankly about the challenges and threats our nation, its infrastructure, and its citizens face by criminals, hackers, and others.
Why did it take so long for the Obama Administration to name a chief for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, one of the nation’s premiere federal law enforcement agencies? One reason might be that the initial appointment of a “Border Czar” in the DHS Policy shop diminished the power of the CBP Commissioner to do his or her job. Another might be worries about the Administration’s commitment to immigration enforcement. No one wants to volunteer for failure.