This is the first time Congress has fully funded the ports’ annual security request of $400 million — an important step forward for the nation’s critical security of its port infrastructure.
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.
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 says just the opposite.
Last week’s arrest of 23 workers at O’Hare International Airport for allegedly using fraudulent airport security badges exposed continuing weaknesses in securing the border. This should not have happened in the post-9/11 environment where access to secure areas at our air and seaports was tightened through enhanced background checks and investigations of current and prospective employees.
Narcotics, in and of itself, is a significant threat to the United States, not only because of the damage it causes within our society but also because it is a source of funds to finance other criminal and terrorist activity. But the thought that these organizations could utilize this access and knowledge to enter a weapon — be it biological, chemical or radiological — is and continues to be a major concern of federal law enforcement.