Protective Measures

According to a January 10th Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the U.S. Coast Guard lacks the resources to meet the agency’s own security standards to protect U.S. ports from terrorist attacks. The report concluded that greater protective measures are needed, in spite of the fact that the government could find no specific threats since “9-11”.

The report noted that in addition to the potential loss of life, attacks on seaports could have serious environmental consequences and disrupt the national economy by short-circuiting the global supply chain. The report also stated that the Coast Guard records documents that at some ports a lack of resources has hindered some Coast Guard units from meeting their self-imposed requirements for security activities and that the level of protection is not where the Coast Guard believes it should be.

The GAO recommended that the agency:

Develop a comprehensive national plan to allocate Coast Guard resources.
Develop post-attack economic recovery plans for the nation’s ports.
Integrate national material spill and terrorism response plans.
Focus local training on possible attacks against oil and energy commodity facilities.
What a waste of time and money! We launched this website in September of 2004, and our comments under the “Homeland Security” section, as you can see, began as follows:

“The complexities of maritime traffic present this country with insurmountable difficulties and no amount of naval interdiction will provide the security to which we’re entitled. But the security required can be provided cheaply, simply and effectively. Conventionally-structured and operated container yards are presently able to inspect less than 4% of all incoming containers even though sophisticated scanning technology is available. Conventionally-structured container terminals have neither the space nor the time to accomplish the procedure. On the other hand, by retrofitting each yard with our patented storage, retrieval and delivery systems, the required amounts of space and time will be made available so that every incoming container will be thoroughly scanned and the threat of terrorism will be completely eliminated. There would be no need to waste many years and billions (or trillions) of dollars on expanded Coast Guard and naval operations in a futile attempt at interdiction. We would be gambling on a hopeless roll of the dice.”

“9-11” happened almost six-and-a-half years ago. The GAO states that even though the “U.S. Coast Guard lacks the resources to meet the agency’s own security standards”, and that there have been “no known attacks against U.S. seaports”since “9-11”, “greater protective measures are needed”.

“Protective measures” against what? Is this GAO report just another attempt at “make work”? With our tax dollars? Lloyd’s Register, at any given time, is tracking more than 87,000 commercial seagoing vessels. With that many vessels at sea, interdiction, as we said, is futile.

[Maybe Senator Byrd was on to something when he called the whole thing a “hoax”.]