Most of the recommendations by the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (better known as the 9/11 Commission) lay dormant for more than three years. Finally, in the summer of 2007, Congress took action, with passage of H.R. 1 by the U.S. House of Representatives and S.4 by the Senate. In its bid to shore up security against terrorism, the legislation addresses multiple issues, but one aspect is proving to be especially controversial. That's the proposal by a House-Senate conference report to mandate 100-percent overseas scanning of marine containers bound for the U.S., within five years. All unscanned boxes would be denied entrance to U.S. ports. In a recent letter to the House, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued that the law would have "a crippling effect" on global trade, while doing little to improve security. The move would impose a unilateral mandate on U.S. trading partners, and possibly lead to retaliation in the form of new restrictions on American exporters, the chamber said. "Such a 'one-size-fits-all' approach would hinder, not advance, preparedness within the private sector," the group added.
Echoing those comments was the International Cargo Security Council, a non-profit organization of businesses, individuals and government agencies involved in the movement of cargo. The conference report's 100-percent scanning provisions "are bad business and bad policy for the U.S.," ICSC said. Moreover, "they will severely disrupt global supply chains and further complicate implementation and compliance with existing laws and standards, including those required in the recently enacted SAFE Port Act." Finally, the group said, the requirement "will severely siphon resources that would be better used elsewhere." Instead, ICSC supports expansion of the voluntary approach taken by the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), continued testing of new technologies that might eventually solve the inspection problem, and greater emphasis on intelligence and information sharing.
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