Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 28, 2006

Adm. Loy and Steve Flynn on the port security challenge

Filed under: Port and Maritime Security — by Christian Beckner on February 28, 2006

The two smartest people (in my opinion) on the topic of port security – CFR’s Steve Flynn and former DHS Deputy Secretary Adm. James Loy – have a co-signed op-ed in the New York Times today on the DPW case and the broader issue of port security. From the piece:

Ports are the on- and offramps to global markets, and they belong to a worldwide system operated by many different private and public entities. Since the United States cannot own and control all of that system, we must work with our trade partners and foreign companies to ensure its security. A major step in that direction would be to construct a comprehensive global container inspection system that scans the contents of every single container destined for America’s waterfront before it leaves a port — rather than scanning just the tiny percentage we do now….

Hutchison Port Holdings along with PSA Singapore Terminals, Dubai Ports World and Denmark’s APM Terminals handle nearly eight out of every 10 containers destined for the United States. If they agreed to impose a common security fee of roughly $20 per container, similar to what passengers are now used to paying when they purchase airline tickets, they could recover the cost of installing and operating this system worldwide. This, in turn, would furnish a powerful deterrent for terrorists who might be tempted to convert the ubiquitous cargo container into a poor man’s missile.

There is already a bipartisan bill that the White House and Congress could embrace to advance this effort. The GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security bill, co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, provides incentives for American importers to accept the modest fees associated with a global container inspection system. The bill would also establish minimum security standards and encourages the tracking and monitoring of containers throughout the supply chain.

Moreover, it would create joint operations centers within American ports to ensure that, should there be a terrorist incident or a heightened level of threat, the ports will respond in a coordinated, measured way that will allow the flow of commerce to resume when appropriate.

A global regime for container security will require oversight. Congress should require that the security plans developed by importers be independently audited. It should also provide the Department of Homeland Security with adequate Customs and Coast Guard inspectors to audit these auditors. Today Customs has only 80 inspectors to monitor the compliance of the 5,800 importers who have vowed to secure their goods as they travel from factories to ship terminals. To assess worldwide compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, the Coast Guard has just 20 inspectors — roughly the size of the average passenger screening team at an airport security checkpoint.

These are smart, sensible ideas by Flynn and Loy; hopefully there will be a vigorous debate on strengthening the port and cargo security system in the weeks and months ahead that moves them toward adoption.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

February 28, 2006 @ 4:04 am

Once again it is interesting to note that the chronic understaffing of key homeland security positions is pointed out by at least one of the persons who must have signed off on that de minimus deployment. The USCG should be doubled in size given its current missions, and probably customs increased by 1/3 but instead DHS wasted at least $10B on destroying and then trying to replace legacy IT systems throughout the Department. A scandal must be disclosed before it is recognized.


Comment by Gerry

February 28, 2006 @ 9:31 am

Why just a container fee? After 911 Congress Mandated Airport Security. MANDATED…. Meaning by act of LAW. They have never mandated security for the ports.Yes terminal operators and shippers should pay a fee but security for the ports is a US Government responsibility and if airports are good enough to have 13 billion thrown at them so are the ports!

Briefing re DPW acquisition of P&O

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs received a Briefing from Administration personnel on the Dubai Ports World (DPW) acquisition of the Peninsular & Oriental (P&O) company. Committee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) issued a Press Release stating that she introduced a resolution calling for a thorough review and Congressional consultation before the transaction could proceed. (2/27/06).


Comment by Gerry

February 28, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

Office of Public Affairs
> U.S. Coast Guard
> Press Release
> February 27, 2006
> Contact: Coast Guard Press Office,
> 202-267-1993
> Statement by Coast Guard Spokesman Commander Jeff Carter on Coast
> Guard Port Transaction Analysis
> “What is being quoted is an excerpt of a broader Coast Guard
> intelligence analysis that was performed early on as part of its due
> diligence process. The excerpts made public earlier today, when
> taken out of context, do not reflect the full, classified analysis
> performed by the Coast Guard. That analysis concludes “that DP
> World’s acquisition of P&O, in and of itself, does not pose a
> significant threat to U.S. assets in [continental United States]
> ports.” Upon subsequent and further review, the Coast Guard and the
> entire CFIUS panel believed that this transaction, when taking into
> account strong security assurances by DP World, does not compromise
> U.S. security.”

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