Chairman Rockefeller and Senate Commerce Committee Join with DHS to Strengthen American National Security

November 2, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, is working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) to update current port security procedures to better protect against biological and chemical threats. The Homeland Security IG issued a report today regarding the DHS U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) ability to detect biological and chemical threats in maritime cargo containers. The report is in response to a requirement in the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2004 that calls for an annual evaluation of the current cargo targeting and inspection systems for containerized cargo.
“Tireless assessment of inspection procedures at our ports, and the adaptation of those procedures to face 21st century threats head on, is critically important to strengthening America’s national security,” said Chairman Rockefeller.  “I intend to work in unison with the Department of Homeland Security on the issue of port security and offer my leadership, as Commerce Committee Chairman, to maintain up-to-date and efficient security initiatives.” 
“To ensure our ports are secure, it is crucial we determine which pathways into America pose the highest risk of biological and chemical weapons release and use the most cutting-edge, proven technologies for interdiction.  I applaud the initiatives DHS has taken thus far to assess and develop the necessary intelligence needed to prevent bio-terrorist material from threatening American lives.  A plan to deploy these improved detection resources in our ports will be essential moving forward.”
Key Findings of the DHS IG Report:
CBP has taken preliminary steps to collaborate with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to develop biological and chemical testing technology.
Formal risk assessment of pathways prone to biological and chemical weapons entering American soil is necessary for effective deterrence.
A plan to determine how detection technology resources should be allocated to pathways that pose the greatest risk will require highly collaborative and updated procedural methods.