The hearing will focus on the SFI ICS (Secure Freight Initiative International Container Security) pilot program required under the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act (SAFE Port, P.L. 109-347) and the implementation of the 100 percent scanning requirement in the 9/11 Commission Implementation Act (P.L. 110-53).
Frank R. LautenbergSenatorLet me welcome everyone to today’s hearing, as we continue America’s work to protect our families, our communities and our economy by securing our ports—and the containers arriving at them.My home State of New Jersey knows about the importance of ports.The Port of New York and New Jersey and is the largest port on the East Coast—and the second-busiest container port in the country.It supports some 230,000 jobs and is responsible for generating $20 billion in economic activity.The 40-foot metal shipping containers, which have become standard for industry, were first used in the United States at Port Newark in New Jersey.Today, these containers have transformed global commerce.They save manufacturers and shippers time and money by moving goods more efficiently and with less expense.But after 9/11, we were forced to see these containers in a different light: as a way for terrorists to smuggle weapons—or themselves—into our country.An attack on a U.S. port, or even a foreign port, would affect our entire economy, not to mention the safety of surrounding communities.To prevent that from happening—and to keep our country safe—we need to know what’s in these containers.The Bush Administration has long believed that a ‘layered’ approach is adequate for securing our ports.But in practice, this ‘layered’ approach has been more like a ‘piece-meal’ one, leaving our country and our economy more vulnerable.After the 9/11 attacks, the federal government installed equipment to scan 100 percent of passengers and baggage boarding a plane.It should not take another attack on our country for the federal government to secure our ports.To that end, Congress passed a law last year requiring by the year 2012 all shipping containers coming into our ports to be scanned for nuclear weapons and radiation before they reach our shores.But it is my understanding that today’s Administration witnesses are about to tell us that the July 2012 deadline will not be met.The GAO has already told Congress twice this year that the Bush Administration’s cargo security programs are riddled with loopholes.For example, we still do not even have minimum standards for container security.The Department of Homeland Security has still not established a standard lock for metal shipping containers.And I am deeply concerned that—more than six years after 9/11—the Bush Administration is back once again to report on more problems.The Administration’s approach to securing our ports is unacceptable.While the Administration gets the technology in place for one hundred percent scanning, we also need to find additional ways to increase security at our ports.To that end, I will soon introduce legislation which will make real improvements to our port security programs—and keep our economy and families safe.I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on these critical issues.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Stephen L. CaldwellDirector, Homeland Security and Justice IssuesU.S. Government Accountability Office
Mr. David HuizengaAssistant Deputy Administrator, Office of International Material Protection and Cooperation, Defense Nuclear NonproliferationNational Nuclear Security Administration
Mr. Jayson AhernDeputy CommissionerU.S. Customs and Border Protection