We live in a world where the threat of global terrorism is a reality. In the wake of terrorists’ attacks against the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was created in March of 2003. CBP, a unified border agency, serves as our nation’s sentry, denying entry to any person, product, or conveyance that poses a threat to the United States. “There is absolutely no reason that we cannot secure international trade against terrorism while at the same time, facilitating it. As contradictory as that may appear, the proper balance of technology, intelligence, and international and corporate cooperation, will keep the terrorists at bay and commerce flourishing,” said CBP Commissioner W. Ralph Basham.
For those in international trade, security has always been a concern, and the movement of cargo a long-standing area of vulnerability. In the past, manufacturers, shippers, and other trade professionals focused their security concerns on protecting shipments from loss, theft, or damage. Government’s focus was on preventing the smuggling of drugs and other contraband or the misdescription of merchandise to avoid quotas or duties. Today the threat and what constitutes security have been redefined.
Ninety five percent of the cargo tonnage that comes to the United States comes by sea. More than eleven million loaded marine containers entered U.S. seaports in FY 2005. On ships, trains, and barreling down our highways on 18-wheelers, the 40 foot standard shipping container is indispensable and is so familiar that it seems innocuous. But national security experts agree that the sheer volume and the nature of the shipping continuum make marine shipping containers a target for exploitation by terrorists. Nuclear or radioactive materials, explosives, weapons, or even terrorist operatives could be smuggled in a container. It is because of these vulnerabilities that cargo containers have been described as the “modern day Trojan horse” or the “poor man’s missile.”
CBP’s cargo security strategy seeks to maximize maritime security without choking off the flow of legitimate trade and without disrupting the U.S. and global economy. These “twin goals,” security and facilitation, were developed in recognition of today’s supply chain management and its reliance on just-in-time inventories to meet supply demands. In this business environment, a delayed container can have immediate and substantial economic impact.
No Single Solution
There is a consistent and erroneous statistic that CBP only inspects five percent of all cargo containers entering the country. That fallacy is built on the dangerous assumption that there is a single “silver bullet” solution to securing trade. Like many military strategists, CBP has concluded that security demands a multi-layered approach or defense in depth. CBP’s strategy to secure and facilitate U.S.-bound cargo is built on five interrelated and mutually reinforcing initiatives.
The first concept on which our security strategy rests is advance information. The Trade Act of 2002, and the 24 Hour Rule, facilitates gathering of advance information. It requires advance electronic information on all oceangoing shipments, with the exception of bulk carriers and approved break-bulk cargo, 24 hours before containers are loaded on ships bound for the U.S. Information is required not only in advance, but must provide details about the contents of a container. No longer can a shipper label the contents of a container as “freight of all kinds” or “miscellaneous” as in the past.
This advance information becomes a component of and dovetails with another CBP initiative automated advance targeting. The National Targeting Center (NTC) was established in October 2001 and is CBP’s centralized around-the-clock data analysis center. It is the coordination point for all of CBP’s anti-terrorism knowledge. It links together law enforcement personnel and databases from several U.S. Government agencies to help identify shipments and passengers that could pose a potential terrorist threat to the United States.
Information on cargo feeds into CBP’s Automated Targeting System (ATS) and is run against the system’s protocols to evaluate all cargo shipments, regardless of transportation mode, headed to the U.S. ATS uses algorithms and anomaly analysis to identify high-risk targets. The system screens 100 percent of all cargo shipments. Using risk management principles and strategic intelligence, analysts use the system to identify shipments that pose a potential terrorist threat. One hundred percent of all high-risk containers are inspected on arrival in United States seaports or in Container Security Initiative affiliated ports overseas.
We Can’t Do It Alone
Two other initiatives in the maritime cargo security strategy push security beyond our borders and engage the cooperation of other countries and members of the trade community.
The Container Security Initiative (CSI) was introduced in 2002 in the ports that ship the greatest volume of containers to the U.S. CSI establishes a partnership with other customs administrations to screen high-risk containers. Using targets developed by the National Targeting Center and other intelligence sources, teams of highly trained CBP officers work with host nation counterparts to target and examine high-risk containers before they are loaded on vessels bound for the U.S.
Currently, we have bilateral agreements with 28 customs administrations, and CSI is currently operational in 50 foreign ports of the world covering approximately 82 percent of containerized cargo headed for the U.S.
CSI has four core elements:
•Identify high-risk containers.
•Prescreen and evaluate containers before they are shipped.
•Use technology to prescreen high-risk containers to ensure that screening can be done rapidly without slowing down the movement of trade.
•Use smarter, more secure containers.
CBP’s goal is to have 58 operational ports by the end of fiscal year 2007, covering 85 percent of maritime cargo shipped to the United States. Commissioner W. Ralph Basham has praised the program saying, “CSI is a brilliant idea that serves both the interests of business and security.”
Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism
Business also has a stake in the fight against terrorism. CBP has capitalized on this interest by forming partnerships with the trade community, establishing security standards and best practices that protect the entire supply chain against exploitation by terrorists. The C-TPAT program sets security standards for all links of the supply chain, including facilities, conveyances, personnel and containers. Launched in November 2001 with seven major importers, C-TPAT now has more than 5,800 certified partners who have demonstrated that they meet the program’s minimum security criteria, have passed vetting through CBP’s law enforcement and trade databases, and have an established import history. Of these almost 4,000 have been validated.
In order to join C-TPAT a company has to meet all of the defined security criteria for its industry, whether it is an importer, manufacturer, carrier or freight forwarder. The criteria cover all components of the program physical security like gating, lighting, and facility access controls; personnel security practices and information technology systems. In return for meeting these exacting standards, CBP provides partner companies reduced inspections at the port of arrival and expedited processing at the border.
Trust but Verify
CBP has established a program to validate certified members. Cadres of supply-chain specialists travel worldwide to company locations to validate members’ security procedures. The teams use industry-specific validation checklists as a basis for the inspections that typically last one to two weeks. At present, 48 percent of all certified members have undergone the on-site validation process. Companies found to lack sufficient security measures are suspended or removed from the program.
Supply chain security is much like chain of custody for evidence. As a shipment changes hands or is transported from one place to another, controls to ensure the integrity of the shipment must be in place. The level of detail is impressive. Specialists looking at personnel security determine the scope of background investigations performed on key personnel. Another inspection area may focus on whether audit trails are maintained in electronic systems or whether the system has intrusion detection capability. Are shippers examining containers before loading or “stuffing” to make sure they are empty and free of false compartments? Are there procedures to keep the container and its contents safe in transit?
Comprehensive supply chain security is a new concept for some companies and obvious security lapses may go unnoticed. Todd Owen, CBP’s Executive Director for Cargo and Security Conveyance gives an example, “one company allowed drivers to take their load home for the night or weekend and then take it to the dock. Obviously, this is not a good practice as control and oversight over the load is lost for a block of time.”
In the past increased security was viewed as a hindrance to trade. But C-TPAT has proven that increased security can enhance the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the flow of trade.
Technology: Fueling the Future of Security
Technology is the foundation for CBP’s cargo security initiatives, and will be the fuel for future security enhancements. Detection technology, specifically non-intrusive inspection technology, is crucial to our security inspection process. Large-scale gamma-ray or x-ray imaging equipment operates like a cargo container MRI. Reflected images of the contents of a cargo container are transmitted to a CBP officer. If any anomalies between the contents of the container and the cargo listed on the manifest are found then a physical inspection of the container is required. All CSI ports use Non-Intrusive Inspection imaging equipment to inspect high-risk containers.
CBP uses radiation detection devices both here and abroad to screen cargo for the presence of radioactive material. The principal technology used to screen containers and other conveyances for radiation is the non-intrusive radiation portal monitor. CBP officers also carry a personal radiation detector (PRDs). These small devices sound an alarm if radiation is detected during an inspection. Radiation isotope identifiers supplement the PRDs by determining the exact identity of a radioactive source.
At the end of fiscal year 2006 Customs and Border Protection is screening 77 percent of all arriving maritime cargo containers through radiation portal monitors to check for the presence of radiation. In addition, CBP plans to deploy 139 additional radiation portal monitors to our top seaports for a total of 884 in operation nationwide. This will allow CBP to screen approximately 98 percent of in bound sea-borne containers by December 2007. CBP’s goal is to ultimately screen 100 percent of all high-risk cargo for radiation.
Security and Facilitation Goes Global
A major step towards achieving the goals of security and facilitation on an international level was the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) adoption of the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade. CBP took a leadership role within the WCO, promoting the security concepts that make up our post 9/11 maritime border security strategy. One revolutionary concept the Framework implements are a common set of security standards and principles, in effect, a security template. The Framework also employs strategies that seek to identify, detect, and deter a threat at the earliest point in the international supply chain and promotes partnerships to secure the international supply chain.
CBP’s twin goals of securing our borders while facilitating legitimate trade serve not only the interests of the United States but have an impact around the world. Securing maritime cargo combats global terrorism, protects trade, and secures the global economy.