A Better Way to Inspect Terrorist Threats
By James Jay Carafano Posted in Foreign Affairs — Comments (0) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
LONDON -- The more I look at how some things are done “over here” (talking with British officials about their counterterrorism measures), the more I wonder about some of the things Congress is doing “over there.”
A law passed by Congress last year requiring inspecting 100% of everything that gets put on any airplane is a case in point. A first glance, the U.S. law might make sense. In practice, it is little more that a sledgehammer approach to homeland security that will spend a lot of money to make us just not that much safer.
If there is one thing the British worry about it is the danger of somebody sneaking a bomb on a plane. After all, it happened to them. On Dec. 21, 1988, Flight 103 disintegrated over Lockerbie, Scotland. A bomb was shipped in the cargo hold. Yet, today the British do not require 100% inspection.
The British standard is that all cargo “must be screened to a standard sufficient reasonably to ensure that it does not carry a prohibited article such as an incendiary or explosive device.” The British system relies on a sophisticated system of “known shippers” and government inspection and oversight to provide a sensible approach to airfreight security. In truth, it probably offers better security than the U.S. congressional mandate because it adopts a layered approach to safeguarding cargo. Under the congressional mandate all a terrorist would have to do is figure out to bypass a single inspection.
The U.S. law was based on “bumper sticker” security, coming up with simplistic solutions that “campaigned” well. That might make for good politics, but it makes for bad safeguards against terrorism.
[The Heritage Foundation’s James Jay Carafano will be blogging on RedState about his trip to London to study counterterrorism measures.]