CBP denied role in air cargo security, Bonner says
Robert Bonner, outgoing commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, gave further insight last week into the turf battles that exist within the Department of Homeland Security when he said his agency had been rebuffed in its efforts to help develop cargo security programs for air transport.
Speaking at the Customs Trade Symposium, Bonner said his agency offered the department and the Transportation Security Administration its expertise to model an air cargo security regime on CBP’s program for securing cargo against terrorist infiltration in the ocean environment.
Air cargo security encompasses all-freight or express delivery airlines and commercial passenger airlines that carry freight below the main deck.
In response to a question from the audience about plans to adopt an air cargo version of the Container Security Initiative and conduct outbound inspections of cargo headed to the United States, Bonner said, “I asked for a clarification two or three years ago. Whose responsibility is this? We said we thought we could develop some things along the lines of CSI or C-TPAT. I was told the Transportation Security Administration has responsibility for commercial passenger planes and the air cargo in them.
“We’ve submitted innumerable papers to TSA and DHS with different ideas.”
Bonner added, “I can’t do anything about air cargo.”
CBP relies on advance data collection and risk management principles to target high-risk shipments for selective inspection. It also stations inspectors at many overseas ports to point out the suspicious containers to foreign customs authorities and ask them to scan the containers before they are placed on a vessel. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary known shipper program that also requires importers to implement a series of internal security measures to make sure their supply chains are secure.
TSA has been criticized for failing to issue a comprehensive plan for air cargo security. TSA has jurisdiction over domestic transportation security and has fought to retain responsibility for policy on international flights as well.