America's potential vulnerability to terrorist attack through exploitation of the global trade and transportation system is now widely recognized. Maritime commerce, and container shipping in particular, provides a highly attractive means not only of delivering weapons but also of smuggling terrorists themselves into the American homeland. This situation stems in part from a lack of information specifying cargo contents, complicating U.S. Customs Service efforts to identify high-risk containers for inspection upon arrival, and from the commercially driven need to move trade goods rapidly through the transportation system. The first and most important line of defense against container terrorism, therefore, is at the foreign point of origin. A virtual border must be designed to provide a multilayered defense, addressing container security from the initial loading of the container to its movement through the entire international transportation network.
Defense Horizons No. 16