“Risk-based” insecurity …

Item: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prefers a “layered” approach to the inspection of cargo containers. There are four main layers to the approach, a “risk-based” concept which is considered by some officials to be superior to 100% scanning.

1. The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism ((C-TPAT) is a voluntary government-business initiative that aims to build cooperative relationships to strengthen and improve overall national supply chain and U.S. border security. But this hasn’t paid off, so …

2. The Container Security Initiative (CSI) proposes a security regime to ensure that all containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the U.S. ports. But this legislation, initially called H.R. 1, but now known as Public Law No. 110-53, currently operates in only 58 of the 647 overseas ports, so …

3. The Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) provides that all containers arriving at participating overseas seaports are scanned with non-intrusive radiographic imaging and passive radiation detection equipment placed at terminal arrival gates. But this SFI is operational in only six (6) overseas ports, so …

4. The 10 + 2 Program. As mandated by the SAFE Port Act of 2006, all importers are required to submit ten (10) specified data elements a minimum of 24 hours before loading at the port of exit. Ocean carriers are required to submit two (2) specified data elements. But this program isn’t selling ( and it appears that it never will), so …

Item: “For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Release Date: February 4, 2008

“The administration’s fiscal year 2009 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) represents $ 50.5 billion in funding, which is an increase of 6.8 percent over the 2008 fiscal year level – excluding funds provided in emergency supplemental funding.”

Item: Jayson Ahern, the Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, stated to a congressional homeland security commission that, “… while we continue to increase resources for initiatives like Secure Freight Initiative, we could be neglecting other areas of concern that potentially pose a greater risk and vulnerability in this country”. [After six-and-a-half years?]

Item: Thousands of cruise ships, bulk carriers and tankers visit U.S. ports every year. These vessels, cargo, crew and passengers pose an even greater threat to the nation’s security than container ships … yet none are inspected.

Item: “The DHS began with over 135,000 people, now it is well over 215,000,” said U.S. Representative James Oberstar. “They have enough people to do the job; they’re just not getting direction and enforcement,” he added.

[So much for the “risk-based” and “layered” approach. Although the DHS has spent hundreds of billions in attempts to combat the threat of terrorism, observers tell us that nothing is working.]

Someone, other than those representing the new and ineffective 33,890 security firms we’ve been reading about, should tell the DHS that the way to deal with potential terrorists is to utilize our own Navy and Coast Guard personnel. Relying upon foreigners who “hate our freedoms” is nothing short of stupid.

The one and only infallible method will be to station our military personnel aboard vessels retrofitted with our patented storage and retrieval systems. These installed systems will permit access to every container when underway, and using state-of-the-art scanning and inspection technology, every container would be inspected/scanned. Every single one of them.

Retrofitting existing container ships in refurbished U.S. shipyards, along with the construction of new vessels based on our patented design, will require much less time and funding than is now being consumed. Along with the half-dozen major U.S. shipyards still in operation, another dozen or so smaller yards could be set up to assist in this shipbuilding program. Each of these facilities could begin by turning out three ships per month, and by gradually expanding operations and adding more shipyards to the program, thousands of vessels would be put into service and manned in much the same way that merchant vessels were manned by Navy personnel in World War II convoys.

At an estimated average cost of $ 15 million per ship conversion, every thousand conversions would cost about $ 15 billion, a figure far below the $ 50.5 billion the DHS is requesting for its 2009 agenda.

In much less time than the six-and-a-half years since its inception, the DHS could be overseeing the successful scanning/inspection of 100 percent of all containers (and quite possibly every type of cargo), destined for U.S. ports.

Of course there will be side effects, but they’d be all good ones. By requiring the services of two, or three, or even four dozen shipyards:
• Hundreds of thousands of citizens would find employment in the industry;
• Millions would find employment in offsite supporting facilities;
• Our buying power would be restored as a result of the rebirth of the shipbuilding industry;
• Employment opportunities would abound throughout the transportation supply chain;
• … and thanks to the DHS, we would see the end of this nation’s plunging economy.

Up to now, the DHS … and especially its Customs and the TSA divisions … has incurred the wrath of U.S. citizens and travelers because of the lack of “direction and enforcement” noted by Rep. Oberstar. But with this shipbuilding Modus Operandi, the DHS will come up smelling like a rose.