U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin joined Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole today in testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
The hearing focused on issues related to the security of cargo entering the U.S., in particular air cargo. Much of the testimony centered on how CBP and TSA have responded to the potential attack involving packages bound for the U.S. that originated in the nation of Yemen, and how to further enhance the security of air cargo entering the U.S. In his testimony, Bersin focused on CBP's role in air cargo security, its partnership with TSA and the most effective strategies to protect the country moving forward.
"As you can see, there is no single 'silver bullet' item to protect the U.S. from all threats," said Bersin. "A layered approach involving personnel, technology, and intelligence is the key."
"Every time one of these things happens, it compels us to figure out how to anticipate terrorists' next moves and not just how to respond to the most recent one," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), the committee's chairman.
"This is the nature of the threat we face. It is dynamic, it is ever-changing. We cannot suffer again from a failure of imagination as we strengthen our systems that aim at different threats using different means," said Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), the committee's ranking member. "We must move quickly to shore up our defenses without interfering with the legitimate flow of commerce, which is always the challenge we face."
Bersin noted the need to further enhance scrutiny of air cargo before it enters transit.
"While CBP has built a robust and comprehensive cargo security strategy to address the potential threats via maritime shipping containers, more focus needs to be placed on addressing risk prior to departure in the air cargo environment," said Bersin.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.