Chew on this …

This might come as a surprise … or even a shock. In a USNews.com report dated 3/27/06, with the title “Walking and Chewing Gum”, Harold Evans came up with this intriguing item:

“Do you feel more secure now that the Arab-owned company has pulled out of the deal to run some container terminals at six U.S. ports? You shouldn’t. The whole brouhaha, in which Democrats and Republicans competed in jingoistic hysteria, was a farce. The image of sinister men fresh in from a Yemeni jailbreak checking and loading cargo was false. Containers would still have been unloaded by American longshoremen and checked by the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs Service. Even now, let it be noted that the Dubai Ports World will still be responsible for loading cargo at embarkation, a notably more vulnerable part of the transaction when we consider that we check no more than 5 percent of the 9 million containers arriving here every year.

“So President Bush was right, though the affair was distinguished by the casual incompetence that has come to be a hallmark of this administration. In fact, there are more alarming manifestations of this characteristic in genuine issues of port security, ones on which the Republicans and Democrats can, with justice, raise a stink. The first, fairly ventilated, is how little electronic and radiation screening we do. The second, unduly neglected, is this: Just who are all those more than 900,000 men doing the unloading and checking in U.S. seaports? Didn’t I just say American longshoremen? Yes, and that’s a patriotic body of workmen, but what’s to stop a terrorist masquerading as one of them or getting into a chemical terminal as a truck driver?

“‘Top Priority.’ Well, there is the transportation worker identification credential (TWIC). It contains the holder’s fingerprint secured on the card’s integrated circuit chips so that the identity of the presenter of the card can be checked. In this way, the identity card can be used to authenticate that someone is who he says he is and not someone on a terrorist watch list or with a criminal record. It is a universally recognized biometric card for all kinds of transport workers – there are 6 million of them, including carriers of dangerous chemicals, gasoline tank drivers, aviation workers, train drivers – so it gets rid of multiple identity cards for different locations and costly background checks. Congress did well to vote the money for the TWIC after 9/11.

“There’s only one problem: There is no TWIC.

“We are coming to the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the fourth year since Congress authorized the money. Some $ 70 million has been spent developing the card if you include the $ 24 million testing a prototype. So where is it? It’s with the same folks who did such a heck of a job after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security. Charles Armstrong of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the trial of the technology last year was satisfactory, but it must now be decided who will manufacture and distribute the cards, who will pay for them, and what types of computer systems should track their entry and exit. It seems these Homeland Security people have never learned to walk and chew gum at the same time.

“The card system was supposed to be ready two years ago. Now Stewart Baker, the assistant secretary for policy and planning, has testified he “can’t say” when the cards will be distributed. It may be 2007 before the department can even issue notice of the proposed rules. The maritime industry and port authorities are frustrated because they want their own credentialing to match federal rules.”

Mr. Evans is of the opinion that we shouldn’t “feel more secure now that the Arab-owned company has pulled out of the deal to run some container terminals at six U.S. ports”.

We shouldn’t feel surprised, or shocked either, after reading his USNews.com story. What should alarm us is the fact that not one of the vocal Congressional lawmakers who’ve been criticizing the DP World/P&O Ports transaction has had a word to say about the TWIC fiasco.

Within a two-week period, these lawmakers … 29 of them … have filed 30 different bills aimed at investigating every conceivable aspect of terminal ownership, terminal control, terminal operations, container inspection, funding for this, funding for that … in fact, funding for anything that seems to have crossed their minds. The timing is right, too. It’s an election year, and they know all about vote-getting.

But not one of them knows a thing about the TWIC fiasco.

Billions of dollars have been spent on useless endeavors such as TWIC, but when you come right down to it, the money has been frittered away. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said as much when she stated, “We do need to extend our borders and push the threat from our shores. But the implementation has been flawed and thus cannot deliver on the promise of the programs.”

It’s not the implementation of the programs that has been flawed, Senator, it’s the very programs initiated by the Department of Homeland Security. “Port security today is still a house of cards,” said Stephen E. Flynn, a retired Coast Guard Commander. “For each of these programs, the bar is not very high and there is very little in the way of verification. The result is it is not much of an effective deterrent.” So for billions of frittered away dollars we get “not much of an effective deterrent”.

Sen. Collins is right about pushing the threat from our shores though. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, but knowing that an effective deterrent is still not in the works, and that the 30 Congressional bills just filed will do nothing to provide security from threats of terrorism, we take this opportunity to remind our readers that the effective deterrent sought … the absolute deterrent … can be found in our patented shipboard storage and retrieval systems. By examining U.S. Patent Number 5,860,783 and U.S. Patent Number 6,077,019, it can readily be seen that each and every container within a container ship retrofitted with our patented system can be scanned using technology such as Radiation Portal Monitors or even the new ICI System. Suspect containers, as we’ve pointed out, would be disposed of at sea without a moment’s hesitation, and the threat of such a disposal would prove to be an effective deterrent.

Our patents can be seen by accessing the U.S. Patent Office’s website, or by contacting us.