BONNER SAYS CUSTOMSÆ 2% INSPECTION FIGURE IS SUFFICIENT
U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner on Monday defended the agency’s method of inspecting 2 percent of the 5 million seagoing containers that annually enter the United States.
Bonner, speaking at a press conference at U.S. Customs’ Washington headquarters, said the agency has employed several other measures providing layers of security before containers arrive at U.S. borders. Measures such as pre-screening at point of origin and advance transmission of cargo manifests prior to arrival help narrow down the field of “high risk” containers needing a Customs inspection upon arrival.
Bonner has repeatedly warned since taking the commissioner position in September that terrorists might insert a weapon of mass destruction into the supply chain.
The inspection of all the containers to secure the supply chain would choke off the flow of legitimate commerce, causing a global backup of containers at seaports and land border ports, he said.
“We don’t want to waste our time with 100 percent,” Bonner said of inspecting all containers arriving in America.
Bonner added that Customs has targeted authorities from countries in Europe and Asia, hoping to enlist them in its Container Security Initiative. CSI calls for pre-screening of cargo and the development of security criteria for identifying high-risk containers.
He said CSI should appeal to other countries since the U.S. is the marketplace for a large part of world trade. “We want to get as many ports in the world involved,” Bonner said.