October 2009

New TSA Penalties and Procedures

Effective August 20, 2009, the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations increased the maximum amount of its monetary penalties against aircraft operators and freight forwarders/indirect air carriers (IACs) for violations of the Transportation Security Regulations.  TSA also made significant change to its Investigative and Enforcement Procedures in 49 CFR Part 1503.

Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, when the United States was attacked by terrorists, the U.S. Congress and President George Bush quickly passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 which created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The primary responsibilities of the TSA was to ensure the security of passengers and cargo in air transportation.  Many responsibilities formerly handled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were transferred to the TSA.  After moving from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the TSA had its first Administrator to lead the agency, and moved into its current physical headquarters office in Arlington, Virginia.

In a critical U.S. General Accountability Office report entitled “Aviation Security: Vulnerabilities and Potential Improvements for the Air Cargo System,” dated December 2002, the GAO stated:

U.S. air carriers transport billions of tons of cargo each year in both passenger planes and all-cargo planes. Typically, about one-half of the hull of each passenger aircraft is filled with cargo. As a result, any vulnerabilities in the air cargo security system potentially threaten the entire air transport system.  Numerous government and industry studies have identified vulnerabilities […]

By |2015-11-30T19:41:42-05:00October 26, 2009|TSA|0 Comments

Can You Afford to Lie to BIS?

Lesson of the day – Don’t Lie to the government!

This case is about making an intentionally false or misleading statement to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Carol Wilkins, an export manager apparently did, and will now pay $15,000 to the BIS. Important to note is that this export manager was fined individually. RF Micro Devices, Inc., the company Carol worked for, was fined $190,000 separate and apart from Carol. I don’t know about you, but shelling out 15k would definitely put a huge dent in my shopping fund.
The BIS Charging Letter discussed Ms. Wilkins’ false or misleading statement to the BIS. During the course of a BIS investigation, she allegedly told a BIS Special Agent that all product classifications were confirmed by an outside consultant to be EAR99 (no export license required). Apparently the consultant disagreed, and even kept the documentation in which the consultant had specifically advised Carol that the items were not EAR99, but in fact required a license. Carol might not have realized that the BIS Agents would be resourceful enough to confirm her statements to them by double checking with the consultant. Even I was always taught “trust but verify”. Not surprisingly, BIS is no different.
Second lesson of the day, before making a statement you’ll regret to government officials, call an attorney first.

By |2009-10-26T13:00:00-04:00October 26, 2009|Export|0 Comments

Made in China, Sold in America

This weekend, I visited both Lowe’s and Home Depot looking for some new plants for my backyard. As I walked by all the newly arrived Christmas merchandise, I casually picked up a few to see where they were made.  You guessed it, from Santa to Rudolph, one by one they all clearly stated “Made in China”. I finally did find one item that stated “Assembled in USA from foreign and domestic components.” I was getting frustrated. After all, as a customs and international trade attorney for the past 20 years, including the first 5 as an attorney for U.S. Customs, I have made a living doing international trade. I wondered, what happened to our balance in international trade? What happened to “Made in America”?

Everyone knows that mountains of Chinese goods are daily shipped to and sold in the United States, but what about the reverse.  Fortunately, I also have that perspective, as I visit the People’s Republic of China (PRC) at least once a year for U.S. based clients importing from China or Chinese companies selling to the United States. I travel to China on an airplane, am transported to the hotel by car, and sometimes go down to the bar to have a drink.  The plane is made by Boeing, the car is a Ford, the hotel is a Sheraton, and the drink is a rum and Coke (Bacardi and Coca-Cola).  All of those iconic names are pure Americana. 

With 1.4 billion people in China, no wonder American companies,and the rest of […]

How to Get Off the FDA ‘Black List’

What is the FDA ‘Black List’?
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority to put an importer, manufacturer, shipper, grower, geographic area of a country, or an entire country on a “detention without physical examination” (DWPE) list (a/k/a the FDA’s ‘Black List’). To check if a company you are doing business with is on such a list, check FDA’s Import Alert page. You can search by country, company, etc. If your company is on this list, any merchandise you attempt to import into the United States may be detained by the FDA as soon as it is offered for entry into the United States. An importer will have to prove to the FDA that the merchandise should be allowed to enter the U.S., otherwise, it will be refused entry and must be exported or destroyed within 90 days. The company/country, etc. will remain on this ‘Black List’ until sufficient information is presented to the FDA that proves the merchandise complies with the FDA requirement.

How to Get Off the Black List
FDA’s Regulatory Procedures Manual provides guidance to those who wish to get off the ‘Black List’. The specific method to use to get off the ‘Black List’ is directly related to why you were placed on the ‘Black List’ in the first place. For example, if a food product was placed on […]

Did George Bush Cost Us the Olympics?

When the International Olympic Committee selected Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, over Chicago, to host the Summer Olympics in 2016, I was surprised and disappointed.  When the media started to report that one of the factors that led the Committee members not to vote in favor of the United States was our security policy toward international visitors, I was intrigued. When I read that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had previously promised the Committee that the White House would set up a special office to oversee a host of federal agencies to make sure the customs and immigration process would be streamlined so athletes and other visitors would have no trouble getting to the games, then I realized something was seriously wrong.

A New York Times October 2, 2009 article entitled “Chicago’s Loss: Is Passport Control to Blame?” stated the case well.  The CEO of the lobbying group U.S. Travel Association also stated on October 2, 2009 that we “need to change impressions of what the experience of travel to the U.S. is like for international visitors.”  And he said that the very day after personally meeting with United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.  

I wondered about the impressions that foreign visitors have of clearing the international arrival areas of our nation’s airports, including being processed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Customs).  The results were disturbing.

I randomly spoke to people I knew overseas who were […]


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