Cargo Protection Is No. 1 Homeland Security Concern

June 1, 2004
The United States is most vulnerable to a terrorist attack between now and the November 2 presidential election, and the most likely means of attack is

The United States is most vulnerable to a terrorist attack between now and the November 2 presidential election, and the most likely means of attack is by detonation of a high-powered bomb concealed in a cargo container in a public place, Lt. Col. Oliver North (USMC, Ret.), told attendees of the annual National Cargo Security Council (NCSC) conference.

“Cargo is the biggest vulnerability most likely to be leveraged to create a big bang,” said Col. North, who served in the Reagan Administration as the first U.S. counterterrorism coordinator, and who also is a best-selling author and television commentator. Col. North thanked the approximately 600 cargo security professionals in attendance for dedicating their expertise to what he called the No. 1 national security concern today — ensuring that weapons of mass destruction are not placed into cargo containers or other transportation conveyances that carry products into the United States from locations around the world.

He emphasized that last March’s deadly terrorist bombing of a train station in Madrid that delayed and influenced the outcome of elections there provided added incentive for future attacks to occur near elections in targeted countries.

On the opening day of NCSC’s annual conference, a number of high-level government officials and industry authorities addressed how public-private partnerships, technology and best practices can combine to help thwart potential terrorist activities in the supply chain, and also reduce cargo theft as well as the movement of illegal substances and counterfeit products across borders into the United States.

“The need for educational resources and insights that stimulate programs to protect commerce without impeding it has never been greater,” said David Jones, who is NCSC’s chairman, and vice president of security for Tommy Hilfiger. “This year’s program helps to clarify the key issues in the national dialogue between government and industry to protect lives and livelihoods dependent on the supply chain,” added Jones.

Speakers emphasized that more than 9 million cargo containers enter the U.S. every year through several hundred “official” points of entry, whether by land, air or ocean.

Speakers from government represented the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, the FBI, and programs such as Operation Safe Commerce and port authorities, while industry participants represented companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Target, Lockheed Martin, Savi Technology, Yellow-Roadway, CSX, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Pinkerton and NYK Logistics.

More than 60 world-renown experts and 65 exhibits on cargo theft, anti-terrorism and border security highlighted NCSC’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas. NCSC is the largest professional organization of cargo transportation security experts, representing all participants in the global supply chain.

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