Virtual Security

Here’s what has just been reported by “eyefortransport”, a leading transportation news service. In bold headlines, the article states: “Almost all US-bound containers to be scanned, says DHS”.

“Virtually all cargo containers entering US ports will be scanned by radiation detecting equipment by the end of the year, according to Dept. of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff. (7/23/2007)”, is the italicized first paragraph, and here’s the full report, verbatim:

“Chertoff says that 100% of containers are screened before they enter the US. This ‘screening’ is actually the examination of information about all inbound shipments, including content, manifests, shipping history and other data. Customs & Border Protection officers working with port officials at more than fifty overseas ports review this information and physically inspect any container that is designated as high-risk cargo. Radiation detection equipment is being installed in selected overseas ports to scan 100% of US-bound containers for radiological or nuclear emissions. This, says Chertoff, is part of a ‘Hong Kong integrated approach’, where radiation portals operate simultaneously with traditional x-ray technology.

“He said that the aim is to manage (italicized) rather than eliminate (also italicized) risk, since any attempt to physically inspect everything would bring commerce to a screeching halt. Moreover, he pointed out that scanning cargo containers overseas requires the permission of foreign governments that own and operate the ports.

“One of the DHS goals is to deploy radiation detection systems at all US ports of entry to scan every vehicle and cargo container entering the country. To date, 1,000 Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs) have been installed at major seaports and land ports of entry across the US. By the end of next year, nearly 100% of inbound cargo containers will be scanned, and the Department is beginning to test what it expects to be the next generation of scanning technology – Advanced Spectroscopic Portals (ASP). ASP automatically distinguishes between naturally occurring radioactive material and dangerous nuclear material that actually poses a threat. ASP systems have the potential to significantly reduce the 400 to 600 alarms that the Ports of LA and Long Beach experience on an average day.”

• Why “virtually’? Why not inspect them all … actually?
• And why state that these containers are “… entering US ports …?” In truth, these containers are not “entering US ports” … they’re leaving foreign ports.
• And why “… manage rather than eliminate risk …? Is that what they call ‘security’?
• And all this is carried out “… in selected overseas ports … ?” First we’re told that “foreigners hate our freedoms”, and then the DHS puts our very lives in the hands of foreign port officials.

[Sleep tight.]