Critical Sector

Why do you suppose folks do so much pushing and shoving when it comes to moving containers along the supply chain, or protecting them while en route? Americans just like to be disagreeable. Time and time again Chuck Raymond and Kurt Nagle, among others, have asked for cooperation in these difficult times but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Contentious attitudes have prevailed, and consequent disagreement and outright hostility have replaced open minds and rational thought. Will we ever learn to support one another? Transportation authorities who have failed to deal with the growing volume of imported cargos have no qualms, however, when it comes to criticizing the honest efforts of those attempting to design security measures for this nation and its citizens.

The publisher of a popular logistic journal recently took author Dr. Stephen Flynn to task because of suggestions put forth in his new book, “America The Vulnerable”. Dr. Flynn is the Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he warns us of the inevitability of another attack on American soil. This is what convinces him:
• The Coast Guard does not have enough personnel to verify that all foreign vessels are in compliance with Security Codes.
• Foreign-based inspectors are not being adequately trained by Customs and Border Protection personnel.
• Customs and Border Protection is not adequately staffed to review the nearly 5,000 initial C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) applications it has received.
• Foreign-based inspectors are able to inspect “only the tiniest of percentages of containers”.
• The federal government is fighting terrorism in foreign lands while refusing to provide adequate protection to the vulnerable infrastructure at home.
• Instead of providing a general report of our vulnerabilities, the government has refused to be candid with its citizens.
• The intermodal transportation system and the more than 6 million containers that arrive in U.S. ports each year pose the greatest vulnerability, but not enough is being done to respond to the terrorist threat in this critical sector.
• Technology must be strengthened from the foreign manufacturer to the U.S. port of arrival and the number of scanning devices in foreign ports must be increased.

The critic mentioned above disagrees with Dr. Flynn’s conviction that the administration is not spending enough on security at home and is “delusional” in thinking that the real fight against terrorism is overseas, but the writer ran out of column space and provided no supporting documentation.

Tom Thompson, the president of Analytics Inc., a Seattle consulting firm, had already revealed last month, however, that the government spends more every three days on the Iraq war than it has spent over the past three years for port security. Looks like Dr. Flynn has all his facts straight after all.

Dr. Flynn, in fact, said nothing that wasn’t true. His critic, on the other hand, said nothing.