In light of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, concern has increased that terrorists could smuggle weapons of mass destruction in the approximately 9 million ocean going containers that arrive in the United States every year. As part of its overall response to the threat of terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (Customs) implemented the Container Security Initiative (CSI) to screen high-risk containers at sea ports overseas, thus employing screening tools before potentially dangerous cargoes reach our shores. Customs also implemented the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) to improve the security of the global supply chain in partnership with the private sector. Both CSI and C-TPAT face a number of compelling challenges that impact their ability to safeguard our nation from terrorism. The Subcommittee’s May 26th hearing examined how Customs utilizes CSI and C-TPAT in connection with its other enforcement programs and reviewed the requirements for and challenges involved in transitioning CSI and C-TPAT from promising risk management concepts to effective and sustained enforcement operations. These important Customs initiatives require sustained Congressional oversight. As such, this was the first of several hearings the Subcommittee held on the response of the federal government to terrorist threats.
Commissioner, U.S. Customs & Border Protection
Department of Homeland Security
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
Council on Foreign Relations
Principal, Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, Inc.
Former Assistant Secretary of Border & Transportation Security Policy, Department of Homeland Security