Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said proposals to scan all import containers remind him of "old Soviet-style heavy regulation -- lots of visible people in uniforms, lots of visible mandates from government, all of which are designed to assure that the people who own and operate the infrastructure are protecting you."
Speaking Friday at the Brookings Institution, Chertoff reiterated his contention that scan-all proposals are a poor way to improve cargo security. Congress voted last year to require Homeland Security by 2012 to scan 100 percent of all cargo on ships going to United States seaports.
Chertoff criticized what he described a "20th-century command-and-control approach" that "takes a view that takes the position that the federal government really should pull the laboring oar in reducing vulnerabilities to all of our critical infrastructure and protecting the public.
He said Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection are committed to "a 21st-century partnership approach, which attempts to apply risk-based standards to evaluate where the true danger lies with respect to our container supply chain," and that enlists the cooperation of businesses that recognize security is in their self-interest.
"This approach to reducing vulnerability is focused on cooperation and stakeholder input," Chertoff said. "It's based on the recognition that most businesses are very keenly aware of their personal incentive to maintain security and to protect their own assets and employees.
"The fact is that the government...does not need to order people to protect assets when the people themselves place great value on the assets. What we have to do is...to help them do the job they have a natural incentive to carry out themselves."