Screen Test

The SUN OTTAWA BUREAU carried an article by Alan Findlay yesterday with the title, “Seaport Alert”. Naturally, it caught our attention.

“The thousands of international shipping containers landing on North American shores each day are ‘Trojan horses’ for terrorists and smugglers,” a major port operator warned.

“It is a question of time, in my opinion, that a container will be delivering either a dirty bomb or the goods to help terrorists,” said Greg Gilbert, senior American vice-president for Hutchinson Port Holdings, the world’s largest operator of container ports. “Many people say the best delivery system for a dirty bomb might be a truck or a small boat, but to get it across the ocean it has to be in a container,” he said.

Asserting that the vast majority of containers are tracked and screened, but not inspected, Gilbert went on to say that, “We feel of all the 53 million containers running through our facility in 2006, each one was a Trojan horse. We do not know what was in that container. We can only trust what somebody said.”

Gilbert called on governments to regulate tougher inspections that would include X-rays, radiation screening and checks for container tampering in order to ensure that weapons aren’t being driven up to a Canadian or American port. Gilbert estimated the cost of higher security measures to be no more than $ 20 on a container with contents worth $ 65,000 to $ 70,000 on average.

Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said Gilbert’s comments were remarkable in their candor compared with other port operators.

Without tighter security regulations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, such as security screening of port workers, ships will simply steer toward the cheapest and quickest port available, he said … whatever that’s supposed to mean.

[Hutchison Port Holdings operates 43 ports around the globe, and if anyone is in a position to vouch for, or criticize, the efforts of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over the last five years, the senior Vice-president of Hutchison certainly is. His comments tell us that our security professionals are sitting on their hands.

Mr. Paul Harris reminds us that we taxpayers have spent more than $ 139 billion for such ineptness.
We could have built thousands of our own patented container ships with and created hundreds of thousands of jobs with a lot less money. Our “homeland”would now be absolutely secure if all containers were inspected while these patented ships were underway. Instead we’re hearing, from real authorities, that we’re being snookered.

“We have met the enemy, and they is ‘us’”, said Pogo.]