Are U.S. Ports Secure?

May 28, 2008 08:58 AM
by Josh Katz
The Department of Homeland Security has failed to keep U.S. port security up to par, suggests a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.

30-Second Summary

The G.A.O. released its report on the status of the port security on Tuesday, May 27. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), a federal program created after the Sept. 11 attacks to safeguard over 300 of the country’s airports, seaports and land borders, contains a number of flaws, according to the G.A.O.

C-TPAT developed a program whereby about 8,000 “importers, port authorities and air, sea and land carriers” received benefits like “reduced scrutiny of their cargo.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection would be able to monitor specified safety measures in exchange, the Associated Press writes.

In 2005, the G.A.O. found that many companies received the benefits of the agreement but not the necessary government scrutiny. The recent findings show that port security is still filled with holes.

The G.A.O. suggests that policing the large number of ports might be too difficult for the government to handle, and private contractors could ease the burden, The Lede Blog from The New York Times reports.

The issue of port security came to public attention in early 2006, when Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spearheaded opposition to the buyout of U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, based in the United Arab Emirates. Even though President Bush supported the company and claimed the foreign ownership would not threaten homeland security, Dubai Ports World eventually sold the operations to American insurer AIG.

As the 2006 ports controversy seemed to be fizzling out, the International Herald Tribune said Americans had a lot more to be worried about: “America's ports remain dangerously vulnerable to terrorist intrusions.”

Headline Links: ‘Investigators find gaps in port security program’

Background: ‘Dubai Ports sells U.S. operations to AIG’

Opinion & Analysis: Questionable port security

Reference: The G.A.O. report


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