July 26, 2007 | WebMemo on Department of Homeland Security

Cargo Screening: The Heritage Foundation's Research

Inspecting every container that is shipped to the U.S. makes no sense. Doing so would cost billions of dollars and drown authorities in useless information. The "nuke-in-a-box" scenarios deployed to justify such drastic measures are highly implausible. Though scanning and sealing every container would not make Americans much safer, it would increase the cost of just about everything that American consumers buy. Already, the United States evaluates every container coming into the country and inspects the suspicious ones. It is not a perfect system--it can be improved--but it is a reasonable precaution and deterrent.

Congress Deserves Praise for Dropping Collective Bargaining with Security Screeners
James Sherk and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D
July 12, 2007
Though Congress merits praise for dropping a collective bargaining provision in national security legislation, more improvements are needed. A measure proposing mandatory inspection of all shipping containers sent to the United States must also be dropped.

Securing the Home Front
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
July 10, 2007
While our nation's homeland security initiatives are producing promising results, we should not implement nonsensical strategies. Though such "feel good" security measures as compulsory cargo screening sound compelling, upon closer scrutiny they make no sense.

Contain Yourself
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Robert Quartel
July 5, 2006
Though some politicians think that mandatory container inspections makes sense, in reality, 100 percent screening would be a waste of time and money.

Time to Rethink Airport Security
Robert W. Poole, Jr., and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
July 26, 2006
Although well intentioned, much of the effort to enhance aviation security since September 11, 2001, has done little to make the skies significantly safer. The DHS should turn its attention to developing a 21st century international passenger and cargo security system that does not waste resources by treating every per­son and package as an equal risk that requires close scru­tiny. A new model system would allocate security resources in proportion to the risk, relying on "focused security" that puts the most resources against the greatest risks.

One Hundred Percent Cargo Scanning and Cargo Seals: Wasteful and Unproductive Proposals
Alane Kochems and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
May 5, 2006
Inspecting every container that is shipped to the U.S. makes no sense. Doing so would cost billions of dollars and drown authorities in useless information. Instead, the United States needs to expand Coast Guard capabilities, improve the sharing and use of commercial information, and enhance international cooperation in order to safeguard the flow of global maritime commerce.

Trade Security at Sea: Setting National Priorities for Safeguarding America's Economic Lifeline
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Martin Edwin Anderson
April 27, 2006
The debates over U.S. maritime security policies and programs are inappropriately focused on ports and shipping containers. An effective approach to making the seas safer must provide comprehensive solutions. The most significant and effective contributions that can be made to enhancing maritime security involve modernizing the Coast Guard, improving public-private information sharing, and enhancing international cooperation.

Complete Cargo Inspection and Port Security Grants Do Not Promote Homeland Security
Alane Kochems and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
April 3, 2006
Closing the real gaps in U.S. maritime security means focusing the government on stopping terrorists and criminals and focusing the private sector on sensible, reasonable, transparent, and uniform action that will enhance the security of the global supply chain. Much can be done to improve maritime security without placing such undue burdens on maritime commerce as mandatory shipping container screening.

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