Friday, June 24, 2011

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Are U.S. and E.U on same page with cargo screening?

The head of U.S. Homeland Security is in Europe touting tighter cargo security as a means of curtailing terrorism while also admitting that the effort to screen 100 percent of international shipments might not be a viable option for now.

"We believe the so-called 100 percent requirement is probably not the best way to go," said Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano this week in Rotterdam, according to a Deutchse-Welle news report.

A U.S. provision passed by Congress in 2007 in one of the many wakes caused by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S called for all containerized cargo departing foreign ports bound for the United States to be screened by 2012.

The proposed screening requirement caused controversy worldwide, including in Europe, where there were concerns over impacts on economies there and potential unfair diversion of cargo through ports complying with the screening initiative.

"Obviously the U.S. feels much more threatened than the European Union," said Patryk Pawlak, an expert on homeland security issues in the U.S. and E.U. for the European Institute for Security Studies in the Deutsche-Welle story.

However, just last October, authorities in the United Kingdom intercepted a parcel bomb at one of its airports that was from Yemen and part of a printer ink cartridge what was bound for a Jewish synagogue in Chicago.

"The attempt with the ink cartridges for printers last year really shows that the European Union is a potential territory for the transit of such tools, so that's why the U.S. is trying to motivate the European side," said Pawlak.

Homeland Security is reportedly taking a more "layered" approach that is supposed to include better coordination and intelligence sharing between countries.

Pawlak doesn’t expect any softening of the security stance from the U.S.

"We will either have the same level or even stronger security requirements coming from the United States,” he said.

For the full Deutsche-Welle story:



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