Sounds simple enough -- let’s inspect every container that comes into an American port, then we’ll be certain terrorists aren’t trying to smuggle in weapons. It seemed like such a good idea that House lawmakers included it in the recently-passed “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007,” a bill that was a cornerstone of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s vaunted 100 hours of legislation.
However, as homeland security analyst James Carafano of The Heritage Foundation writes, “There is no business case for conducting 100 percent screening of cargo. The bill expects the private sector, foreign countries, and the U.S. government to spend billions of dollars on these inspections even though they would likely be no more effective than current programs.”
Such screening would be wasteful and also pointless. Carafano writes that we probably don’t yet have the technology to conduct complete inspections. Even if we did, it would take so long to examine all the information that many products would sit rotting on the docks while federal officials tried to review all the data about the containers they arrived in. Those are among the reasons the 9/11 Commission didn’t recommend 100-percent cargo screening.
Besides, terrorists have many other ways to get a weapon into our country. They could simply walk it across the unguarded Mexican or Canadian borders, for example. We need to be ready to handle all potential threats. As Carafano puts it, “Tax dollars should be spent on what offers the most security for the dollar spent, not on initiatives that make good election-year issues.”
There are no easy answers to these issues. But that’s why we elect representatives -- to lead us. The truth is out there, and they can find workable solutions -- if they’re willing to search for them.