Former Customs and Border Protection Chief Slams Congress

By Magnuson, Stew | National Defense, November 2010 | Go to article overview

Former Customs and Border Protection Chief Slams Congress


Magnuson, Stew, National Defense


As deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection in the Bush administration, Jayson Ahern was the primary target of Congress' ire when it came to a yet to be fulfilled mandate to screen 100 percent of all shipping containers bound for the United States for nuclear materials.

The Department of Homeland Security under then Secretary Michael Chertoff made no secret that it did not agree with the SAFE Port Act of 2006 requirement that all containers must be screened at foreign ports by 2012. The law came in reaction to the 9/11 attacks and the belief that a terrorist group may try to smuggle a nuclear weapon in one of the approximately 11 million shipping containers that come through U.S. ports every year.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

After millions of dollars spent on technical solutions that have not panned out, and studies showing that placing scanners in foreign ports would be phenomenally expensive, that deadline appears to be unfeasible, and the goal seems as elusive as ever.

Ahern in testimony to Congress always maintained that a risk-based approach, where data mining would reveal which containers should be singled out for inspections, would be less costly.

After spending a year serving as the acting CBP commissioner in the Obama administration, Ahem retired in January, and has recently sharpened his criticism of Congress and the act. …

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