Between A Dock And A Hard Place
Jeff Bliss begins his story in the “Bloomberg.com” October 12th issue like this:
“New Port-Security Law Sidesteps ‘Dirty-Bomb’ Screening Overseas”… and then he continues:
“President George W. Bush signs into law tomorrow a port security law that doesn’t address what security experts and U.S. lawmakers fear the most: terrorists placing a nuclear or ‘dirty’ bomb in a shipping container and detonating it upon arrival in the U.S.
“The law, passed by Congress on Sept. 29 with bipartisan support, requires incoming cargo at the 22 largest U.S. ports to be scanned upon arrival by the end of next year. What isn’t in it is more significant than what is, said Stephen Flynn, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York and a former National Security Council official under President Bill Clinton.
“Bush and Congress are ‘creating the illusion of an important new layer of security, when in fact they do not address the worst-case scenario,’ Flynn said.
“He and others say the only protection against an in-port attack before scanning is to check containers while they’re still overseas – a massive undertaking, given that 12 million containers are shipped to the U.S. every year from 704 ports in 147 foreign countries.
“Vayl Oxford, director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office in the Homeland Security Department, said it will take five to 10 years to install radiation detectors and image scanners in the 100 biggest overseas ports. That would allow the U.S. to scan 90 percent of the incoming cargo …”
“‘You could cause a total constipation of the system,’ Flynn said. That would inadvertently hand terrorists a victory … the slowdown of the $ 1.1 trillion in trade that moves through U.S. ports annually … without ever exploding a bomb …”
“While the measure Congress passed requires U.S. officials to establish pilot projects within a year to scan all U.S.-bound cargo in three foreign ports, the Homeland Security Department hasn’t announced the design of the programs, or what companies will help implement them.”
Did we read that correctly?
– “… a massive undertaking …
– “… it will take five to 10 years to install radiation detectors and image scanners in the 100 biggest overseas ports …
– “… pilot programs within a year … in three foreign ports …
– “… the Homeland Security Department hasn’t announced the design of the programs, or what companies will help implement them.”
[This is the “security” we’re getting for the billions of taxpayer dollars we’ve laid out?]