‘Way off course …

We’re spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars for homeland security, but are we getting our money’s worth? First, let’s look at what we’ve been forced to buy:

– Because the first step in defending the U.S. from the threat of terrorists would be to ensure that our borders were secure, Congress established a Department of Homeland Security.

– And because the longest borders in our country are our coasts, the Select Committee directed that the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard report to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

– The U.S. Customs Service, another of the primary enforcement agencies protecting the nation’s borders, was also directed to move to the new Department.

– All told, some 22 existing government agencies and an estimated 170,000 employees were transferred to this new Department because this new entity was intended to have a clear and efficient organizational structure with four divisions:

* Border and Transportation Security
* Emergency Preparedness and Response
* Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures
* Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection

Do you remember all that? Then you probably recall the televised Amendment Debate showing a number of prominent members of the Select Committee objecting to the haste and waste in the structuring of the new Homeland Security Department because no definite scheme of operations had been presented, in spite of the preparations being made and the enormous amounts of funds being approved for appropriation.

Those members of the Select Committee were right … but they were also ignored. During committee meetings in the House a great many questions were raised with respect to the “response” capabilities within the Department branches, and the many years it would take to put in place appropriate but unknown methods of interdiction. The general outlook was pessimism, and at his swearing-in ceremony even Thomas Ridge, the newly appointed Secretary of the Department, stated that another terrorist attack was “not really a question of ‘if’; it’s a question of ‘when'”.

The Department, and the administration as well, prepared the citizens of this country for years and years of assault. They adopted a defensive position and conditioned the nation to react because they knew of no way to take a proper and effective initiative. As a result of this ineptitude, billions of dollars have been spent to erect a “shield” of enormous proportions and questionable effectiveness.

“Questionable effectiveness”? If 22 unsophisticated aliens can sneak out of China and get all the way to Gate 4 at the Port of Seattle before they’re “spotted”, then U.S. taxpayers have been ‘had’.
News reports about these 22 aliens spotted in the Port of Seattle highlighted a number of points:

1. These people spent “about 15 days in a 40-foot container”.
2. There was no evidence of “any real criminal or terrorist activity … just an alien smuggling operation”.
3. The vessel “docked about 9 a.m. Tuesday … Security guards spotted the 18 men and four women about 1 a.m … early Wednesday …”
4. The container “had been flagged for a special examination which had not been conducted before the group was caught”.
5. It was “the first detection of a human smuggling attempt using a cargo container in Seattle since a flurry along the U.S. and Canadian West Coast in 2000 and 2001”.
6. “After Shanghai, the ship made three stops at other Asian ports … and then at Pusan, South Korea …”
7. “About half were discovered by a guard ‘on a routine patrol’ within the terminal and the other half were spotted trying to get out through Gate 4 …”
8. “there was no attempt to flee … they were cooperative.”
9. “Port and city police as well as federal authorities … are confident no one who might have been in the container escaped detection …”

Now for our questions.

1. Undetected for 15 days? Our patented shipboard retrieval and inspection system would have detected these people while the vessel was still at sea and long before it docked in Seattle.
2. If “just an alien smuggling operation” can escape detection, how could we stop dedicated and suicidal terrorists?
3. From 9 a.m. Tuesday to 1 a.m. Wednesday … the group was undetected by port security for a period of 16 hours. A bomb-carrying terrorist could do a lot of damage in 16 hours.
4. Why was the container neglected for 16 hours after it was flagged for “special examination”?
5. This statement by the AP is hogwash, and they should have known better. On January 15th, 2005, in fact, it was the AP that carried the report about the 32 Chinese immigrants that were seen climbing out of a container in the Port of Los Angeles. These aliens were spotted by an alert crane operator, not by an expensive security system. Then on the following April 4th, another 29 Chinese nationals were found wandering around a cargo area in the same port. They were caught only after seven of the men injured themselves attempting to scale fences.
6. This gives validity to Dr. Flynn’s “scenario”. Such scenarios could never happen, however, if we utilized only U.S.-built vessels, containing our patented retrieval and inspection systems and manned by U.S. Navy or Coast Guard personnel.
7. Knowing that “an alert crane operator” came through for us on January 15th, 2005, how many aliens and terrorists have actually been able to elude these “routine patrols”, do you suppose?
8. Their cooperation attests to their naivete. Scheming terrorists, on the other hand, utilizing similar port-to-port routing, could gain entry to a port and blow it to kingdom come.
9. Being “confident” doesn’t cut it. Even a loser starts out with a confident attitude.

[Do we need clearer indications that this nation is ‘way off course? Must we wait for a second 9/11-type event before we make a course correction and regain the maritime prominence we’ve forfeited?]