Unguarded Comments

Those who have so much to lose don’t seem to be concerned about the repeated warnings given by the experts who deal with the vulnerability of cargo containers. The members of RILA and the Supply Chain Security Coalition, as the Financial News reported last week, seem to be almost nonchalant about providing absolute security for their incoming containers. Maybe they know something we don’t know.

Detonation of a powerful bomb hidden in a cargo container, according to a recent RAND Corporation study, would have a catastrophic effect. Some of the most “dramatic possible outcomes” of a blast include the instant deaths of 60,000 people, with 150,000 exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, meaning years of lingering chronic effects. The port would be completely destroyed, and millions of people would try to evacuate the region, resulting in mass panic and violent altercations. Fallout from the bomb would cover more than 190,000 square miles and the attack would cause world-wide recession. A national emergency would be declared and port facilities would be closed indefinitely. Port operations would be limited to handling basic goods and petroleum products. RILA members, however, seem unconcerned.

Kurt Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), is more wary and has said that the federal government needs to do more to help local ports. “There’s been six rounds of grants (for port security). There’s been $ 4.5 billion that’s been identified and applied for,” he said, “and over $ 876 million has been provided. That’s essentially one-fifth of the applications.”

Aaron Ellis, communications director of the AAPA revealed that 99% of all goods going in and coming out of the U.S. do so through seaports, and the remaining 1% travels by plane. As opposed to the $ 876 million the government has provided for seaport security, airports have received $ 24.2 billion. “America’s seaports are the poor stepchild to America’s airports when it come to security funding,” he said. [Those numbers don’t make a heckuva lot of sense – but how else could the DHS justify its multi-billion dollar budget ? Out of sight, out of mind – y’know.]

A fairly large number of our elected officials also feel that the government needs to do more to fund port security. Congressman Bobby Scott, for one, has stated that port security is easily in the range of affordability, especially in light of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War. The monies spent on the Iraq War, he said, represent an expenditure that has made the country less safe. “I don’t think port security has received the priority it ought to receive. This has been identified as a problem in every study done. We just have not had the commitment to secure ports”, he said. Could Congressman Scott know something we don’t know?

Stephen Flynn certainly knows a lot we don’t know, and he’s also convinced we should spend more money on ports security. Rep. Peter King knows a lot we don’t know, but he says we shouldn’t. Sen. Collins knows a lot we don’t know, and she also says we should.

Confused? Join the club.