“I am so!…You are not!…I am so!…You are not!…”

Article 6 in this Volume VII was about “Keystone Kops”. An April 3rd report from the nation’s capital related the childish confrontation between the F.B.I. and the Coast Guard during a mock terrorist attack off the coast of Connecticut last year. Here’s some of the April 3rd report that we quoted:

“‘The F.B.I. and the Coast Guard both want the ability to respond to terrorist threats in the maritime area,’ the report says. ‘Unless such differences over roles and authorities are resolved, the response to a maritime incident could be confused and potentially dangerous.’…

“The inspector general’s report says the rivalry between the F.B.I. and the Coast Guard teams is so great that during a training exercise last year in Connecticut, which featured a mock terrorist attack on a ferry, the F.B.I. repeatedly blocked the Coast Guard’s efforts, saying the F.B.I. was the lead federal agency.

“In response, the report says, the Coast Guard ‘changed the scenario to circumvent the F.B.I.’s lead federal agency role’.”

We saw some humor in that cat fight and that was the reason for the “Keystone Kops” title. The US Department of Justice didn’t see it that way, however. A 117-page report entitled “The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Protect the Nation’s Seaports” was released by the Department in March of this year and revealed, among other shortcomings, the Bureau’s failure to assess the threat of terrorists smuggling a weapon of mass destruction in a shipping container aboard ship. In this month’s issue of “MARINE DIGEST & Cargo Business News” an analysis of that lengthy report, aptly titled “Shipshape?”, is a thorough review of the Justice Department’s critique. So just pick up a copy of the MARINE DIGEST and save yourself a lot of reading time.

The report notes, the DIGEST tells us, that, “the risk of maritime terrorism is equal to or greater than the risk of terrorism involving civilian aviation.” The report also adds that, “Although the United States has placed much attention on better securing civilian aviation since 2001, seaports remain largely at risk.”

The report acknowledges that although the FBI faces a difficult challenge, “It has neither conducted nor reviewed a threat assessment that indicates where seaports and the maritime domain rank among the tactics and likely targets of terrorists.” The Department found instead that the FBI focused on just two potential terrorist tactics: attacks by scuba divers or combat swimmers and infiltration of the US by various maritime methods. “We are concerned that the FBI may not be devoting its intelligence resources to assessing high-risk maritime areas”, the Department said, and added that, “None of the FBI’s intelligence reports assessed the threat and risk of terrorists smuggling a WMD in a shipping container aboard a cargo ship.”

What risk, you ask? If you haven’t done so, read Robert Pfriender’s book, “No Place to Run”.