August 24th 2016

The Jones Act plays a critical role in protecting the United States from terrorist attack. Any attempt to weaken or repeal it should be rejected in the interests of national security.

So says Daniel Goure, an expert on national security and defense, in a just-published paper entitled, “The Jones Act and Homeland Security in the 21st Century.”

The Jones Act requires that ships traveling between U.S. ports be built in the United States and crewed by American citizens.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Goure writes, the attention of American legislators and policymakers has focused primarily on our 1,989-mile border with Mexico and, to a lesser extent, our 5,525-mile border with Canada.

“But all this country’s land borders taken together are dwarfed by the 95,000 miles of national shoreline,” writes Goure, a vice president with the Lexington Institute, a nonprofit public-policy research organization headquartered in Arlington, Va.

A ship entering the homeland through a coastal port has access to the deep interior of the United States and its over 25,000 miles of navigable waterways, he notes.

The prospect of terrorists on the inland waterways is a particularly daunting challenge to homeland security because via the inland waterways, a terrorist could reach many of our largest urban centers, as well as critical oil, gas and communications channels.

“Guarding every potential target along the inland waterways against terrorist attack is an impossible task,” he writes.

For this reason it is particularly important that vessels and crews that travel between U.S. ports and especially on the inland waterways through America’s heartland pose no threat.

And this is precisely why “the higher standards with respect to ownership and manning requirements of the Jones Act are so significant,” he says.

Should the law be modified or repealed, he writes, enormous investments of personnel and resources would be required to track and surveil vessels of all types on the coasts and inland waterways.

And since the budget of the Department of Homeland Security has been flat for several years, the resources would have to come from those currently expended to keep foreign threats from entering the country.

Goure has held senior positions in the private sector and the government. He was a member of the 2001 Department of Defense Transition Team and director of the Office of Strategic Competitiveness in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Prior to joining the Lexington Institute, he was deputy director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is frequently interviewed by the major networks on topics of national security.

To read the study in its entirety, go to: