In a recent article in Air Cargo World, Adfero Group Partner Chris Battle shares insight on cargo screening and security from his blog post on Security Debrief, a blog on Homeland Security issues, which he founded and edits.
Is 100 Percent Cargo Screening Feasible?
The Freight Transport Association’s Chris Welsh has his doubts about whether total screening can ever be achieved. “Congress has demanded it, but when you talk privately [with regulators], they hope it will go into the long grass,” he says. “Ambition and reality are far apart.”
Chris Battle, former chief of staff for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who now writes extensively about the politics of homeland security, is even more skeptical.
In a recent blog, Battle said Congress was arrogant in thinking it could dictate policy to the nearly 100 countries from which it imports air cargo. “There really isn’t a whole lot TSA can do to enforce this law outside the U.S. border,” he said. The agency should not be blamed for this and “has been heroic in its effort to comply with insanity.”
“From day one, the DHS emphasized that relying on the concept of 100 percent screening was bad security. Few people actually believed that Congress would, with one vote, undermine years of work building an intelligence-driven, risk-based supply chain security infrastructure, including extensive partnerships with foreign governments,” he said. “Congress followed through with the 9/11 Act, and now the poor folks in DHS have to pretend that this was actually a good idea all along.”
According to Battle, Sammon noted a problem with inspections in his recent testimony to the subcommittee. “TSA does not have the same inspection and compliance authorities overseas that it has in the United States,” Sammon had said. “While TSA can inspect and aggressively pursue enforcement action in the U.S. under the Interim Final Rule, any inspection of air cargo screening overseas requires the full voluntary cooperation of our foreign partners.
“Since we cannot establish a CCSP program overseas, the [National Country Security Programs] approach is a key element in helping industry to accomplish the 100 percent screening goal while also enabling TSA to ensure that inspections and compliance actions are well established by the host government programs and commensurate with U.S. security standards.”
Battle’s interpretation of this? “The U.S. will take a look at what foreign governments are doing with regard to cargo security and then pretend that they’re screening 100 percent of their cargo even though we know they’re not,” he says. “Then we can say, we’re meeting the mandate.”
Read the full article here.