nation's seaports remain "critically vulnerable" to terrorists
seeking to smuggle weapons of mass destruction — or themselves —
into the United States, several port security experts told a Senate
panel last week, the National Journal’s Technology Daily reports.
are vulnerabilities in our sea cargo-container system that have
the potential for exploitation by terrorists," Asa Hutchinson,
the Homeland Security Department's undersecretary for border and
transportation security, said during a Governmental Affairs Committee
hearing. "In fact, most experts believe a terrorist attack
using a container is likely."
cited a need for greater international port security standards.
are ports out there that do not have the sophistication of the detection
equipment, they do not have the investment that's made, they do
not have the background checks for the port workers," Hutchinson
said. "These are the ports that are at much higher risk. What
we have to do is make sure that ... if they want to bring goods
into the United States, then they're going to have to upgrade their
Stephen Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander who is now director
of the Council on Foreign Relations' task force on homeland security,
said the government’s Container Security Initiative and Customs-Trade
Partnership Against Terrorism programs are steps in the right direction,
"but they have limits."
said CSI's system for targeting at-risk containers is "built
primarily around [cargo] manifest information, which is historically
the most unreliable data in the whole commercial trade industry."
January 2002, U.S. Customs launched CSI to prevent global containerized
cargo from being exploited by terrorists. Some 200 million sea cargo
containers move annually among the world's top seaports, and nearly
50 percent of the value of all U.S. imports arrive via sea containers,
the Customs Service says.
added that the C-TPAT pilot program has no system to monitor compliance
among the 2,000 participating companies who can take a "fast
lane" into the United States after taking steps to ensure security
throughout the cargo supply chain.
who's signed up [for C-TPAT] knows that U.S. Customs does not have
the manpower to come check the books," Flynn said. "You've
got to give that thing some teeth if it's going to be credible."
problem is a lack of international standards on container security,
according to Flynn.
is a high-stakes issue for which we are dedicating very few resources,"