End of the Joyride: Confronting the New Homeland Security Imperative in the Age of Globalization

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"End of the Joyride: Confronting the New Homeland Security Imperative

in the Age of Globalization"

A paper prepared for the

Colloquium Series on Border Control and Homeland Security
Center for Global Change and Governance

Rutgers University

123 Washington Street

Newark, NJ

Stephen E. Flynn, Ph.D.

Commander, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.)

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies and

Director, Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force

on Homeland Security Imperatives

5:00 – 7:00 pm

April 7, 2003
"End of the Joyride: Confronting the New Homeland Security Imperative

in the Age of Globalization"

by Stephen E. Flynn

We seem to be on the verge of witnessing a train wreck. Coming in one direction is the global imperative for openness. The passengers on this train embrace measures that enhance the free flow of people, goods and ideas across national boundaries. They draw sustenance from reforms that gathered steam throughout the 1990s which have diminished the role of government through privatization and liberalization. Moving in the other direction is a new imperative for security and control which has been fueled by worries over America’s exposure to catastrophic terrorist attacks. Many in Washington are looking to fortify the homeland and U.S. borders against would-be terrorists, contraband, criminals, and illegal migrants. Reconciling these seemingly contradictory imperatives should rank at the very top of global public policy agenda.
Now that September 11 attacks have let the catastrophic terrorist genie out of the bottle, the United States has legitimate cause to be nervous about its security at home. This new sobriety arises from three realities that flow from the catbird position the United States occupies as the world’s sole superpower. First, since no U.S. adversary can realistically aspire to victory on the field of battle by going toe-to-toe with conventional U.S. military forces, they must avail themselves to the asymmetric tactics of a David seeking to topple Goliath. Second, in addition to its military muscle, America’s economic and cultural dominance means that it will continue to generate hostility among those who find its supremacy objectionable. Last, the open nature of the U.S. society along with the sophisticated, concentrated, and interdependent critical infrastructures to support its way of life make it a “target-rich” environment for catastrophic terrorist attacks.
Yet, however compelling the homeland security imperative may be, it should not mean tossing sand in the works of the global engine of free trade and travel nor the constriction of international networks that underpin international commerce. U.S. prosperity—and much of its power—relies on its ready access to North American and global networks of transport, energy, information, finance, and labor. It is self-defeating for the United States to embrace security measures that end up isolating it from those networks. In addition, there is little value to focusing singularly on bolstering the defenses of only those parts of those networks that lie within U.S. jurisdiction. Such an approach is much like building a firewall only around the computer server physically nearest to a network security manager, while leaving the remaining more remote servers unprotected.
Still, we cannot escape the reality that terrorist organizations have found globalization to be something of a windfall for their efforts to both bankroll and carry out their attacks. In addition, as the explicit linkages between terrorism and crime have become more pronounced, terrorist organizations have the capacity to be more self-sufficient. That is, they can flourish even without state-sponsorship because increasingly international crime does “pay.”
In short, the arrival of the millennium has highlighted the fact that globalization is essentially value-neutral. An increasingly open system holds no guarantees that distinctions will be made between the good and the bad. It can facilitate either. The anecdote is neither the further retreat of the state nor the hardening of security within individual states. What is required is the enhancement of the means of governance to tackle public policy challenges that lie beyond the sovereignty of any one country. More specifically, the only way out of the control vs. openness conundrum is by creating a risk management system that looks beyond the U.S. homeland to manage the array of transnational threats that confront the global community.
The Hardened Border Paradox 1
Great powers have been building great walls throughout history. The Great Wall of China, the Maginot Line, and the Berlin Wall went up at considerable expense in sweat and treasure and all ultimately failed to block or contain the forces that prompted their construction. The recent efforts by the United States to “protect” the southwest border including installing a 26-mile long fence between San Diego and Tijuana, has had a similar fate.
Take the case of illegal migration. As Peter Andreas and Rey Koslowski have documented, stepped-up patrolling and policing of the border may raise the costs of getting to the United States, but it also creates a demand for those who are in the business of arranging the illegal crossings. Migrants who once simply strolled across the border to seek work on the other side, now need “professional” help. That help is provided by guides known as “coyotes” who take migrants to remote border locations or put together increasingly sophisticated smuggling operations at the land border entries. As the coyote business becomes more lucrative, criminal gangs are better positioned to invest in pay-offs of front-line agents.2 The prevalence of corruption, in turn, undermines information sharing and operational coordination between U.S. authorities and their Mexican counterparts.
Enforcement driven-delays at the border also ironically contribute to creating opportunities for smuggling narcotics as well. In Laredo, Texas for instance, truck crossings were at 2.8 million in 1999, up from 1.3 million in 1993.3 Many of these trucks operating at the border are old and poorly maintained and owned by small mom-and-pop trucking companies. The turnover-rate among drivers is extremely high. These conditions are prevalent because waiting hours at a border crossing in order to make a 20-mile round trip, with an empty trailer on the return, is not a lucrative business. Moving intercontinental freight is, so the trucks and drivers who make long-haul journeys tend to be of a higher quality. Since it is uneconomical to run a state-of-the-art rig near the border, trailers are usually offloaded at depots near the border. In the case of south-bound traffic, a short-haul truck is then contracted to move the freight to a customs broker who will then order another short-haul truck to transport the freight to another depot across the border. A long-haul truck will then pick up the load and carry it into the interior. The drivers of these short-haul rigs tend to be younger, less skilled, and are paid only nominal wages—as little as $7 to $10 per trip. As a result, the potential payoff for carrying contraband through a congested border crossing is all the more tempting.4
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that more than half of the cocaine that arrives in the United States comes via the southwest border.5 Even with the rise in the number of inspectors and investigators assigned to the 28 border-entry points in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, given both the volume and the nature of the trucking sector that services the border, the U.S. government clearly is facing “needle-in-a-haystack” odds as it strives to detect and intercept illicit drugs. The pure cocaine to feed America’s annual coke habit could be transported in just fifteen 40-foot containers and that it takes on average five agents 3 hours to thoroughly inspect a single 40’ container. And in addition to looking for drugs, the U.S. Customs Service is charged with monitoring compliance with more than 400 laws and 34 international treaties, statutes, agreements, and conventions on behalf of 40 federal agencies.6
So while the prevalence of migrant and narcotics smuggling seems to provide a compelling rationale for tightening up controls along U.S. borders, aggressive border inspections in turn, confront improbable odds while fostering the kinds of conditions that generate ample time and opportunity within a Mexican and US border city for these illicit transfers to occur. Hardened borders also transform the cost-reward structure so amateur crooks are replaced by sophisticated criminal enterprises and corruption issues become more pronounced. In short, the experience of the southwest border suggests that aggressive border security measures end up contributing to problems that inspired them in the first place.
The Open Border Paradox

The United States has enjoyed the remarkable good fortune of having the oft-heralded “longest undefended border in the world” with it Canadian neighbor to the north. For much of the two nation’s history, to the extent that there was a government presence along the 49th parallel, it was only to collect customs duties. As a result, the 5,525 mile border can be summed up as a national boundary with no fences and a few toll gates.

In recent years, those toll gates have come under increasing pressure as cross border trade has flourished. Take the automotive industry, for example. General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler manufacture many of the parts to build their cars and trucks from plants in the Canadian province of Ontario. Several times each day these parts are delivered to the assembly plants in the United States. Delivery trucks are loaded so that parts meant for specific vehicles can be unloaded and placed directly on the appropriate chassis as it moves down the assembly line. This “just-in-time” delivery system has given the Big Three a more cost-effective and efficient production process.
It has also generated a great deal of truck traffic. For example, nearly 9000 trucks a day transited the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario in 2001.7 At these rates, U.S. Customs officials must clear one truck every 18 seconds. If they fall behind, the parking lot can accommodate only 90 tractor-trailers at a time. Once the parking lot fills, trucks back up onto the bridge. The resulting pileup virtually closes the border, generating roadway chaos throughout metropolitan Windsor and Detroit, and costs the average automotive assembly plant an average of $1 million per hour in lost production.8
Over the past two decades, the episodic attention directed at the northern border was primarily centered around efforts to minimize any source of administrative friction that added to cost and delay of legitimate commerce. The notion of the 49th parallel as a security issue is a recent phenomenon that burst into the limelight just prior to the millennium. The catalyst was the December 1999 arrest of an Algerian terrorist with ties to Osama bin Laden in Port Angeles, Washington. Ahmed Ressam had arrived onboard a ferry from Victoria in a passenger car with a trunk full of bomb-making materials. Only a U.S. Customs Service official’s unease with the way Ressam answered her questions prevented him from driving onto American soil. The jitters surrounding the Ressam arrest turned into near panic immediately following the September 11 attacks. Worries about the possibility of additional attacks led to the effective sealing of the border as every truck, car, driver, and passenger came under close examination. Within a day there was a 16-hour queue at the major border crossings in Michigan and New York.9 By September 13, Damiler-Chrysler announced they would have to close an assembling plant on the following day because their supplies were stuck on the north side of the border.10 On September 14, Ford announced they would be closing 5 plants the following week.11 Washington quickly reconsidered its initial response and within a week, the border inspection wait times returned close to normal.
On its face, the open and very limited controls exercised at the U.S.-Canada border would suggest that it was ripe for exploitation by criminals and terrorists. The reality is that the imperative to manage cross-border threats without disrupting trade that amounts to more than $1 billion a day and the travel of 220 million people each year, has led to an extraordinary degree of cross-border cooperation. On the Vermont-Quebec border, for instance, Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officers at the federal, state, provincial, and local levels have been meeting for 18 years to discuss their criminal cases without any formal charter. The relationships are such that participants sit together and share information in much the same way they might at a roll call if they all belonged to the same police precinct.12 The resultant collegiality spills over into their daily police work. In fact, local agents in Vermont or New Hampshire who are frustrated on occasion by bureaucratic obstacles to getting information or assistance from U.S. federal agencies have found a successful end-run to be to seek out their Canadian counterparts and ask them to serve as intermediaries for their requests!
In Washington state and British Colombia, U.S. and Canadian police, immigration and customs officials, stood up a bi-national team in 1996 to work on cross-border crimes with local, state, and provincial enforcement agencies. The team was called the “Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET)” and initially focused on drug smuggling, but the portfolio later expanded to include terrorism. Following the September 11 attacks, Washington and Ottawa agreed to establish a total of 8 of these IBETs along the border.13
The movement towards emphasizing a broader framework of bi-national cooperation versus focusing on the physical borderline gained impetus in 1999 when Prime Minister Jean Chretien and President Bill Clinton formed a process of consultation labeled the “Canada-U.S. Partnership (CUSP).” The process had as its objective the reinvention of border management to support the seamless passage of legitimate flows of people and goods between the two countries.14 Progress towards this end was somewhat halting until after September 11. With 40 percent of its GDP tied to trade with the United States15, the post-9-11 closing of the border transformed the CUSP agenda into Ottawa’s top priority. The then Canadian foreign minister, John Manley, was dispatched to Washington to meet with the new White House Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge. Manley found a sympathetic audience in Ridge who had just stepped down as Governor of Pennsylvania (Canada was that state’s number 1 trade partner.) Together they hammered out a 30 point “Smart Border Action Plan” which they announced on December 10, 2001. The preamble of the declaration declared:
Public Security and economic security are mutually reinforcing. By working together to develop a zone of confidence against terrorist activity, we create a unique opportunity to build a smart border for the 21st century; a border that securely facilitates the free flow of people and commerce; a border that reflects the largest trading relationship in the world.16

In short, in dramatic contrast to the approach the United States had pursued on its southern border throughout the 1990s, with respect to its northern border Washington has concluded that its security is optimized by striving to keep the border as open as possible, while working to improve cooperative bi-national arrangements. Indeed, efforts to harden the border along the 49th parallel have been assessed to be self-defeating not just in economic terms, but in security terms. Closing the border in the wake of a terrorist attack only reinforces the military value of engaging in such attacks. This is because it means the U.S. government ends up doing something to itself that no other world power could aspire to accomplish—it imposes a blockade on its own economy. The result is to convert a small investment in terror into massive disruption of daily life that has a clear and adverse effect on the U.S. and overall global economy. America’s adversaries would undoubtedly take solace in this and recognize that the potential benefits of this kind of warfare warrants consideration.

Beyond Homeland Security
The 21st century imperatives that fuel both the incentives for advancing global economic integration and satisfying the new homeland security mandate do not inevitably involve trade-offs. On the contrary, the shared risks of loss of life and massive economic disruption presented by the catastrophic terrorist threat should provide the basis for multilateral and private-public cooperation that can remove many longstanding barriers to commerce precisely because those barriers themselves can elevate security risks. For example, the longstanding neglect of the border in terms of limited infrastructure investment and tepid efforts at customs and immigration modernization and harmonization made no sense in purely economic terms. But the resultant inefficiencies that carry substantial commercial costs also create opportunities that thugs and terrorists can exploit. Thus, there is a national security rationale to redress those inefficiencies. The agendas for both promoting security and greater continental commerce can be and must be mutual reinforcing.
Terrorists and the tools of terrorism do not spring up at the border. Instead, they generally arrive via hemispheric and international trade and travel networks. Advancing a continental and international approach to deterring, detecting, and intercepting illicit actors seeking to exploit those networks would accomplish two things. First, it would provide some strategic depth for responding to a threat before it arrived at a critical and congested border crossing. Second, it would allow the ability to segment risk so that the cross-border movements of people and cargo deemed to present a low-risk could be facilitated. Then limited enforcement resources could be targeted more effectively at those that present a high risk.
In short, the end game must not and cannot be about defending a line on a map, but instead involves advancing greater multilateral and global market integration while managing important safety, security, and other public policy interests. This balancing act can be accomplished by aggressively promoting greater transparency and accountability in the critical infrastructures that underpin our way of life and quality of life.
To illustrate where we and where we must be, consider the system that is responsible for moving the overwhelming majority of the world’s freight.17 Both the scale and pace at which goods move between markets has exploded in recent years thanks in no small part to the invention and proliferation of the intermodal container. These ubiquitous boxes—most come in the 40’x8’x8’ size—have transformed the transfer of cargo from a truck, train, and ship into the transportation equivalent of connecting Lego blocks. The result has been to increasingly diminish the role of distance for a supplier or a consumer as a constraint in the world marketplace. Ninety percent of the world’s freight now moves in a container. Companies like Wal-Mart and General Motors move up to 30 tons of merchandise or parts across the vast Pacific Ocean from Asia to the West Coast for about $1600. The transatlantic trip runs just over a $1000—which makes the postage stamp seem a bit overpriced.
But the system that underpins the incredibly efficient, reliable, and affordable movement of global freight has one glaring shortcoming in the post-September 11 world—it was built without credible safeguards to prevent it from being exploited or targeted by terrorists and criminals. Prior to September 11, 2001, virtually anyone in the world could arrange with an international shipper or carrier to have an empty intermodal container delivered to their home or workplace. They then could load it with tons of material, declare in only the most general terms what the contents were, “seal” it with a 50-cent lead tag, and send it on its way to any city and town in the United States. The job of transportation providers was to move the box as expeditiously as possible. Exercising any care to ensure that the integrity of a container’s contents was not compromised may have been a commercial practice, but it was not a requirement.
The responsibility for making sure that goods loaded in a box were legitimate and authorized was shouldered almost exclusively by the importing jurisdiction. But as the volume of containerized cargo grew exponentially, the number of agents assigned to police that cargo stayed flat or even declined among most trading nations. The rule of thumb in the inspection business is that it takes five agents three hours to conduct a thorough physical examination of a single full intermodal container. In 2001, nearly 20 million containers washed across America’s borders via a ship, train, and truck. Frontline agencies had only enough inspectors and equipment to examine between 1-2 percent of that cargo.
Thus, for would-be terrorists, the global intermodal container system that is responsible for moving the overwhelming majority of the world’s freight satisfies the age-old criteria of opportunity and motive. “Opportunity” flows from (1) the almost complete absence of any security oversight in the loading and transporting of a box from its point of origin to its final destination, and (2) the fact that growing volume and velocity at which containers move around the planet create a daunting “needle-in-the-haystack” problem for inspectors. “Motive” is derived from the role that the container now plays in underpinning global supply chains and the likely response by the U.S. government to an attack involving a container. Based on statements by the key officials at U.S. Customs, the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Transportation, should a container be used as a “poor man’s missile,” the shipment of all containerized cargo into our ports and across our borders would be halted. As a consequence, a modest investment by a terrorist could yield billions of dollars in losses to the U.S. economy by shutting down—even temporarily—the system that moves “just-in-time” shipments of parts and goods.
Given the current state of container security, it is hard to imagine how a post-event lock-down on container shipments could be either prevented or short-lived. One thing the world should have learned from the September 11 attacks involving passenger airliners, the follow-on anthrax attacks, and even the Washington sniper spree in the fall of 2002 is that terrorist incidents pose a special challenge for public officials. In the case of most disasters, the reaction by the general public is almost always to assume the event is an isolated one. Even if the post-mortem provides evidence of a systemic vulnerability, it often takes a good deal of effort to mobilize a public policy response to redress it. But just the opposite happens in the event of a terrorist attack—especially one involving catastrophic consequences. When these attacks take place, the assumption by the general public is almost always to presume a general vulnerability unless there is proof to the contrary. Government officials have to confront head-on this loss of public confidence by marshalling evidence that they have a credible means to manage the risk highlighted by the terrorist incident. In the interim as recent events have shown, people will refuse to fly, open their mail, or even leave their homes.
If a terrorist were to use a container as a weapon-delivery devise, the easiest choice would be high-explosives such as those used in the attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Some form of chemical weapon, perhaps even involving hazardous materials, is another likely scenario. A bio-weapon is a less attractive choice for a terrorist because of the challenge of dispersing the agent in a sufficiently concentrated form beyond the area where the explosive devise goes off. A “dirty bomb” is the more likely threat vs. a nuclear weapon, but all these scenarios are conceivable since the choice of a weapon would not be constrained by any security measures currently in place in our seaports or within the intermodal transportation industry.
This is why a terrorist attack involving a cargo container could cause such profound economic disruption. An incident triggered by even a conventional weapon going off in a box could result in a substantial loss of life. In the immediate aftermath, the general public will want reassurance that one of the many other thousands of containers arriving on any given day will not pose a similar risk. The President of the United States, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and other keys officials responsible for the security of the nation would have to stand before a traumatized and likely skeptical American people and outline the measures they have in place to prevent another such attack. In the absence of a convincing security framework to manage the risk of another incident, the public would likely insist that all containerized cargo be stopped until adequate safeguards are in place. Even with the most focused effort, constructing that framework from scratch could take months—even years. Yet, within three weeks, the entire worldwide intermodal transportation industry would effectively be brought to its knees—as would much of the freight movements that make up international trade.
What is required to deal with the daunting threat are initiatives that seek to improve the overall transparency and accountability of the global movements of containers. New U.S. Government programs such as “Operation Safe Commerce” (OSC), the “Container Security Initiative” (CSI), and the “Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism” (C-TPAT) serve as stepping-off points for building an effective risk management approach to container security. But more remains to be done.
At its heart, risk management presumes that there is a credible means to (1) target and safely examine and isolate containers that pose a potential threat, and (2) identify legitimate cargo that can be facilitated without subjecting it to an examination. The alternative to risk management is to conduct random inspections or to subject every cargo container to the same inspection regime. Risk management is the better of these two approaches for both economic and security reasons. The economic rationale is straight forward. Enforcement resources will always be finite and delays to legitimate commerce generate real costs.
Less obvious is the security rationale for risk management. There is some deterrent value to conducting periodic random inspections. However, since over ninety percent of shipments are perfectly legitimate and belong to several hundred large importers, relying on random inspections translates into spending the bulk of the time and energy on examining those containers by the most frequent users of containerized cargo who are most likely to be perfectly clean.
Examining 100 percent of all containers is not only wasteful, but it violates an age-old axiom in the security field that if “you have to look at everything, you will see nothing.” Skilled inspectors look for anomalies and invest their finite time and attention on that which arouses their concern. This is because they know that capable criminals and terrorists often try to blend into the normal flow of commerce, but they invariably get some things wrong because they are not real market actors. But, an aggressive inspection regime that introduces substantial delays and causes serious disruption to the commercial environment can actually undermine an enforcement officer’s means to conduct anomaly detection. Accordingly, allowing low risk cargo to move as efficiently as possible through the intermodal transportation system has the salutary security effect of creating a more coherent backdrop against which aberrant behavior can be more readily identified.
Deciding which cargo container rates facilitated treatment, in turn, requires satisfying two criteria. First, an inspector must have a basis for believing that when the originator loaded the container, it was filled only with goods that are legitimate and authorized. Second, once the container is on the move through the global intermodal transportation system, an inspector must have the means to be confident that somewhere along the way it has not been intercepted and compromised. If he cannot point to a reliable basis for assuming these two criteria are satisfied, in the face of a heightened terrorist threat alert, she must assume that the container poses a risk and target it for examination.
Prior to the most recent post-September 11 initiatives to enhance container security, the means for concluding that a shipment was legitimate at its point of origin was based strictly on an evaluation of the requisite documentation. If there were no discrepancies in the paperwork and a shipper had a good compliance track record, their shipments were automatically cleared for entry. But, the requirements surrounding the documentation for these “trusted shippers,” charitably put, were nominal. For instance, shippers involved in consolidating freight were not required to itemize the contents or identify the originator or the final consignee for their individual shipments. The cargo manifest would simply declare the container had “Freight All Kind” (F.A.K.) or “General Merchandise.” The logic behind taking this approach was straightforward when the primary inspection mandate was to collect customs duties. The Internal Revenue Service does pretty much the same thing for individual taxpayers. The presumption is as long as a company maintains appropriate in-house records, the data presented up front can be kept to the bare minimum. Compliance can be enforced by conducting audits.
Inspectors intent on confirming that the integrity of a container has not been violated on its way to its final destination, rely primarily on a numbered-seal that is passed through the pad-eyes on the container’s two doors. As long as the number on the seal matches the cargo manifest and there are no obvious signs of tampering, the container’s contents are assumed to be undisturbed. This remains the case today even though front-line enforcement agents have known for some time that there are a number of relatively straightforward ways to break into a container, including removing the door hinges, without disturbing the seal.
The inherent limits of relying on these enforcement tools to confront the terrorist threat were starkly demonstrated in the June 2002 prototyping of what has become the “Operation Safe Commerce” initiative. This prototype involved tracking a container of automotive light bulbs from a manufacturing facility in Slovakia to a distribution center in Hillsborough, N.H. A global positioning system (GPS) antenna was placed on the door of the container and was connected to a car-battery inside the container which served as its power source via a wire that passed through the door’s gasket. For anyone who was not forewarned that this was a sanctioned experiment, this equipment should have looked a bit scary. Yet, the container ultimately crossed through five international jurisdictions without any customs official ever raising a question. When the container made the trip on its final leg from Montreal to Hillsborough, N.H., the driver took 12 hours to make what should have been a 3 ½ trip, having made several unauthorized stops along the way.
The OSC prototype highlighted a core reality of modern global logistics—even the most trusted shippers currently possess little to no capacity to monitor what happened to their freight when it is in the hands of their transportation providers. As long as it arrives within the contracted time frame, they have had no incentive to do so. Accordingly, any effort to advance container security must have as its ultimate objective the development of the means to assure the integrity of a shipment from its starting point through its final destination.
The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a commendable first step toward improving container security by encouraging greater awareness and self-policing among the private sector participants most directly involved with shipping, receiving, and handling containerized cargo. Its current weakness is the nearly complete absence of Customs Service personnel to monitor the level of compliance among the C-TPAT participants. This lack of auditing ability creates the risk that if a terrorist incident involves a C-TPAT participant, the entire program would be discredited since Customs would have no grounds to suggest why other participants did not also pose a similar vulnerability. What is required is the kind of commitment in resources to allow Customs to put in place a “trust, but verify” system of C-TPAT oversight as well as a regular recertification protocol.
The Container Security Initiative (CSI) is another very important program towards bolstering container security and U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner should be commended for his leadership in successfully enlisting as CSI partners 18 of the 20 busiest ports in the world in the space of just one year. CSI represents a true paradigm shift by changing the focus of inspection from the arrival port to the loading port. The result is to potentially provide greater strategic depth in identifying and intercepting dangerous cargo and to improve cooperation among our key trade partners in advancing this vital agenda. But, as in C-TPAT, there are very serious resource implications associated with making this a truly credible system. To date the U.S. Customs Service has only a handful of inspectors assigned overseas to support this initiative.
Ultimately, “pushing borders out” requires a virtual transformation of national customs and immigration agencies into the equivalent of diplomatic services since the goal is to identify and intercept high-risk people and goods in a loading jurisdiction, versus in a receiving one. Assigning inspectors overseas—and playing host to foreign inspectors at home—provides its greatest value-added by improving both the timing and quality of targeting which travelers or freight should be viewed as high risk and therefore be subject to inspection. Detailed data to support efforts at pattern recognition and anomaly detection must be presented early enough to allow an inspector to analyze it and to follow up on any questions he or she might have. Failing that, the targeting of shipments whether conducted at loading or arrival port will not likely pass the public credibility test following an attack involving a pre-cleared shipment.
Operation Safe Commerce holds out the most promise towards advancing a comprehensive and credible approach to container security. It builds on C-TPAT and CSI but goes the next step by (1) building a greater understanding of the current vulnerabilities within a variety of global supply chains, and (2) ensuring that new technologies and business practices designed to enhance container security are both commercially viable and successful. But OSC will be of little value if the end-game is not ultimately about arriving at common performance based standards that can be quickly developed and adequately enforced within the global transportation and logistics community. At the end of the day, there must be a level playing field for all the stakeholders who undertake enhanced security measures; i.e., they must not be at a competitive disadvantage for taking steps to serve broader public interests.
Developing enhanced container security standards will require actively enlisting the support of U.S. trade partners. The inclusion of transportation security as an agenda item in the 2002 G-8 Summit and the most recent APEC meeting in Thailand are commendable in this regard. I am particularly enthusiastic about an effort underway in northern New England to partner with the Canadian government and the Ports of Halifax and Montreal to undertake a follow-on Operation Safe Commerce initiative. Canada is our largest trade partner and is vested in ensuring the cross-border shipment of goods is not interrupted by serious security breeches that originate outside North America as well as within the continent.
Ultimately, this agenda will require ongoing support by senior officials and policy makers in the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Trade Representative as well as others involved in promoting U.S. interest overseas. It will also require a substantially larger investment in federal resources than have been made available to date. At the end of the day, container security is about constructing the means to sustain global trade in the context of the new post-September 11 security environment. We cannot afford to be penny-wise and pound foolish in advancing this vital agenda.
The most important reason to get homeland security right is to satisfy what is arguably the most critical global public policy imperative of our time: to reduce the risk that the global trade lanes are exploited to advance an array of transnational threats ranging from global disease to terrorist acts involving weapons of mass destruction. The impetus for challenging conventional notions of homeland security has its roots in the pre-September 11 world. The accelerative evolution during the past decade of cross-border commercial and social patterns of interaction have made relationships at the sub-state level more dynamic, organic, and integrated. As such, the case against relying primarily on stepped-up, territory-based protective measures—such as those adopted by the Untied States along its southwest border during the 1990s—had been already made by anyone willing to look at objectively at the yawning gap between enforcement rhetoric and reality. Enforcement activities that lead to the hardening of borders are a flawed, even counterproductive, approach to advancing important security and public policy interests.
By contrast, the kind of “smart border” initiatives being embraced on the northern border and the innovative approaches that are being advanced to deal with cargo container security hold out real promise. The outline for transformed homeland security is clear. It requires a risk management approach to policing global networks which includes the close collaboration of the major beneficiaries of an increasingly open international system—the United States, the international community, and the private sector. The stakes of getting this right are also clear. Ensuring that homeland security does not derail the train of openness is an essential step towards assuring the long-term sustainability of economic integration within the context of the transformed security environment of the post-September 11 world.

1 The “Hardened Border Paradox” and “Open Border Paradox” sections are drawn from “The False Conundrum: Continental Integration vs. Homeland Security” in The Re-bordering North America? Integration and Exclusion in a New Security Environment, ed. Peter Andreas and Thomas J. Bierstecker (New York: Routledge, 2003).

2 Peter Andreas, Border Games: Policing the U.S.- Mexico Divide (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000); Rey Koslowski, "Information Technology, Migration and Border Control," paper presented at the Institute for Government Studies, University of California, Berkeley, April 25, 2002; and Rey Koslowski,, "Economic Globalization, Human Smuggling and Global Governance," in David Kyle and Rey Koslowski, eds., Global Human Smuggling: Comparative Perspectives (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).

3 Keith Philips and Carlos Manzanares, “Transportation Infrastructure and the Border Economy,” in The Border Economy (Dallas: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, June 2001), 11.

4 Field visit by the author to Laredo, Texas Aug 20-21, 2001.

5 Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control Strategy: 2001 Annual Report, Shielding U.S. Borders from the Drug Threat (Washington: USGPO, 2001).

6 U.S. Customs Service, “About U.S. Customs,” accessed on September 6, 2002 at http://www.customs.gov/about/about.htm.

7 “Transport in Canada: 2001 Annual Report,” Transport Canada, July 4, 2002, 73.

8 Stephen E. Flynn, “Beyond Border Control,” Foreign Affairs LXXIX: 6 (Nov-Dec, 2000), 59-60.

9 U.S. Customs Service, Border Wait Times at major northern and southern border crossings. Current border wait-times information is available at http://www.customs.gov/travel/travel.htm.

10 Steve Erwin, Automakers forced to shut down: Parts shortage suspends production,” Edmonton Journal, September 14, 2001, F4.

11 “Parts Shortages Cause Ford Shutdown,” Associated Press, September 14, 2001.

12 The Committee is informally known as the “Leene Committee,” named for its founder, James Leene, a former policeman who serve’s in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Burlington, VT.

13 6th Annual Canada-U.S Cross-Border Crime Forum Press Release, July 6, 2002, accessed on September 6, 2002 at http://www.sgc.gc.ca/Releases/e20020722.htm

14 George Haynal, “Interdependence, Globalization, and North American Borders,” in Governance and Public Security (Syracuse: Maxwell School, 2002), 55.

15 Authors calculations based on statistics available at Statistics Canada, www.statcan.ca

16 The Whitehouse Office of Homeland Security, “Action Plan for Creating a Secure and Smart Border,” Dec 12, 2001, accessed on September 5, 2002 at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/12/20011212-6.html

17 This container security illustration is drawn from my testimony “The Fragile State of Container Security,” Hearing on “Cargo Containers: The Next Terrorist Target?” before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, U.S. Senate on March 20, 2003

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