Outfoxed? (A repeat of Vol. VIII, Art. 25)

Two days after Inspector General Richard Skinner disclosed the deficiencies in a Department of Homeland Security information system for shipping containers, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, along with ranking member Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), in a prepared statement, said: “Today we cannot inspect every container without bringing trade to a standstill. For that reason, an effective targeting system is important to focus the use of our inspection resources … We urge DHS to address the deficiencies in the IG report as quickly as possible … The possibility that weapons of mass destruction could be imported into our country constitutes a worst case scenario.”

In his report, Inspector General Skinner wrote that the overseas segment of the supply chain – the handling, movement and loading of those U.S. bound containers at foreign ports – remains “most problematic” because it is outside the U.S. government’s jurisdiction. Senator Carl Levin had already cautioned us about putting our faith in such faulty and limited offshore systems, and Dr. Stephen Flynn was blunt in his criticism of our misplaced trust. “It’s as simple as a good payment to a truck driver to take an extra long lunch break. Access to that load, and you’re on your way”, he said, paraphrasing an old smuggler’s rhyme. “There’s an extra week’s pay, if you look the other way,” are the words in this enticing ditty.

Sixty years and one month ago today, Japan officially surrendered, 1,346 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In an earlier commentary, we reminded our readers that, “In the intervening days, the relatively unprepared U.S., knowing who staged the event, was able to organize its resources, decide upon a strategy, fight our powerful enemies, and achieve victory in mankind’s greatest of all conflicts. The next “surprise attack” took place on September 11th, 2001, and 1,346 days later – May 29th, 2005, to be exact – we still weren’t sure who staged the event, we still lacked organization, and we still weren’t sure who, or where, the real enemy was.” The ungarnished truth of the matter is that there is no defined enemy. The next attack – if there is one – will come when and where we least expect it. The perpetrators will be foreign personages in whom we’ve placed our trust, because our security officials have gone out on a limb and exposed that flank. Dr. Flynn has given fair warning, but the DHS continues to insist that overseas inspectors are to be relied upon. Read the following report in the 9-11-2005 issue of an overseas journal.

“Textiles Importer Caught Removing Two Containers – An importer and customs agent were on Friday night at about 8pm caught by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service removing two containers of textile goods out of the Apapa port … A security officer who may have given the smugglers a cover also ran away on sighting officers of the Customs”. The Controller said that he suspects collaboration of other agencies personnel, and added, “if this is going on, there is no way any customs officer will be able to know, unless there is a patrol team … unfortunately, customs is not maintaining any patrol in the seaport because security of the ports is not with customs.”

An importer, a customs agent, a security officer, and other agencies personnel? And these are the guys we trust? The foxes are guarding the hen house.