Aug. 5, 2008 – Updated 7:31 p.m.
Homeland Security Chairman Demands Compliance on Port Screening
By Matthew M. Johnson, CQ Staff
The House Homeland Security Committee chairman on Tuesday accused the Homeland Security Department of deliberately trying to undermine a law requiring 100 percent screening of cargo entering the United States by sea.
In a strongly-worded letter, Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., noted that the department in a recent report said it “will focus future scanning deployments on high-risk trade corridors, which represent the greatest threats to the United States.” Thompson called this an attempt to undermine the law.
“Your actions to hinder progress on this vital homeland security initiative are very troubling and may have put at risk our nation’s security,” Thompson wrote Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “The unilateral decision to ignore the 100-percent scanning runs afoul of the act and puts our ports at risk. By what authority did you determine that you could ignore the congressionally mandated 100-percent cargo screening requirement in favor of a ‘high risk trade corridor?’”