ACSA: CCSP æonly a componentÆ of successful screening
Eric Kulisch's commentary in the July issue ('Group's unstated goal: Kill CCSP,' page 36) about opponents of the Certified Cargo Screening Program. He incorrectly states that the Air Cargo Security Alliance (ACSA) and its members want to kill CCSP. Although I appreciate his interest in the future of air cargo screening, it is clear that he has failed to take the time to understand ACSA's position on this critical issue.
ACSA's goal is to improve air cargo screening access, and we believe that CCSP needs to play an important role in helping meet that goal. However, CCSP will only succeed as a complement to a federal screening option, not as a substitute for one.
Aviation security is so vital to the shipping industry as well as the nation's economy that if we don't get it right on the security front, we won't be shipping cargo on our airlines in the future.
I have a special respect for the good people at the Transportation Security Administration, whose job is difficult and in some cases nearly impossible. I know their challenges because I was actively engaged with these professionals for several years in the development of air cargo security systems during the Gore Commission and following the September 2001 attacks.
Make no mistake, ACSA is not on a mission to kill CCSP. ACSA's fundamental policy position, which is posted on secureaircargo.org, clearly states that ACSA supports TSA's commitment to a multilayered approach to air cargo security and the creation of the CCSP program. However, ACSA believes that CCSP can only be a component of a successful screening program rather than the perfect solution.
ACSA was formed by several small and medium-sized forwarders. It now has more than 300 members who not only understand the rationale for CCSP ' they understand that if we rely only on the CCSP, we will fail to achieve the law's screening mandate. Further, if CCSP is the single option, then a commercially disastrous screening system will be imposed on an industry already struggling in a down economy. The forwarders most in peril make up about 80 percent of the Indirect Air Carrier community, and I believe their livelihood is in jeopardy if we rely entirely on CCSP.
Finally, it is important to understand that Congress instructed TSA to establish an air cargo screening program 'commensurate with' the checked baggage screening program already run by TSA. At ACSA we propose that such a program must provide the option for screening at the airports that will allow the screened cargo to go onto any airline that is shipping air cargo.
Such a program would ensure that the entire air cargo industry would retain the ability to service their customers and maximize the flow of cargo at our airports. Despite what others might say, ACSA is dedicated to ensuring a level playing field and to protecting all segments of the air cargo industry.
David E. Wirsing
principal, Air Cargo Security Alliance,