How's That Port Security Coming Along?

Guess you can tell when a Republican isn’t telling the truth … his lips are moving. Now, it was just a little while ago that some of the neoconmen on forumosa were spending enormous energy trying to insist that because one (1) corporate press release had been found about one (1) port, then that meant that the Bushies had actually solved the whole darn port security problem.

Port security is an important issue. Figuring, among other things, that a nuclear or other very large conventional weapon can easily fit within the holds or containers of a freighter. For those who don’t recall what happened to Halifax, Nova Scotia (that’s up in Canada for the mouth-breathers), during World War I, an ammunition ship blew up and took out blocks around it. Several freighters, tankers, and other assorted vessels are stolen by sophisticated pirate groups each year, which adds to the reasons for concern.

But, as there are some unscrupulous folks who would like Americans to stop asking questions about the adequacy of port security, it’s interesting to see what an audit has turned up.

[quote]WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 - The Department of Homeland Security has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to protect ports since Sept. 11 without sufficiently focusing on those that are most vulnerable, a policy that could compromise the nation’s ability to better defend against terrorist attacks, the department’s inspector general has concluded.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been invested in redundant lighting systems and unnecessary technical equipment, the audit found, but “the program has not yet achieved its intended results in the form of actual improvement in port security.”

The grant program was intended to limit awards to what were considered strategic ports, meaning terminals that handle a large volume of cargo or a high number of passengers, are next to military facilities, or handle hazardous cargo.

After examining four separate rounds of port grants, the inspector general found that the department appeared to be intentionally distributing the money as widely as possible across the country, instead of focusing it on the biggest ports or on other locations that intelligence reports suggested were most likely to be future targets.

Major ports like New York, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland received large allocations. But smaller grants went to ports in places like St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Ludington, Mich., and six locations in Arkansas, none of which appeared to meet the grant eligibility requirements, the audit said. The department, as a result, “had no assurance that the program is protecting the nation’s most critical and vulnerable port infrastructure and assets,” the audit said.[/quote]

Ports in Arkansas? WTF!? When you see porkbarrelling like this, you know it’s GOP donors at the trough. How’s that Halliburton investigation going?

[quote]“Your administration awarded port security grants in the states of Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Tennessee,” Mr. Lautenberg wrote. “While there may be some form of maritime facilities in these locations, I question whether, of the nation’s 361 maritime ports, these locations are truly the front lines on the war on terror.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in four rounds of port security grants, received $6.2 million, or 1 percent of the total grants given out through the primary port security financing source, according to federal documents.[/quote]

The quality at one of the biggest ports near the U.S. capital is evidenced by this news article:

[quote]The Maryland Port Administration hastily replaced its security company at the Port of Baltimore after the U.S. Coast Guard found that officers were sleeping on the job, abandoning their posts and violating federal security regulations, according to a memo sent to port administrator James J. White.

The memo requested an emergency contract to replace the security officers, who are the first line of defense against a terrorist attack. State officials hired a new company “by the fastest means possible” in October in an effort to secure the city’s port, which includes five marine terminals and Baltimore’s World Trade Center.

“On numerous occasions, the contractor’s employees have failed to properly cover posts, vacated posts without being relieved and have been found sleeping at posts,” stated the memo, dated Sept. 24. “Although the contractor has been made aware of these deficiencies, little, if any, corrective action has been taken.” [/quote]

I expect the usual suspects will start up their usual choruses, leaving the rest of us to wonder how much longer this “buck don’t stop anywhere” attitude is going to carry them.

I will take those reports in the spirit that they are offered. Constant assessment is good and if there are holes in our port security, we need to analyze them and make improvements. These reports should help spur such developments.

I will note however that posting such information does seem to nullify MFGR’s early assessment that nothing had been done at all. Now, his criticism is that port security is being done improperly and this is directly counter to his earlier assertion that nothing was being done at all.

Anyway, we must take MFGR’s criticisms to heart and seek to improve our port security while laughingly noting how the bar keeps rising and rising and rising.

In those days, I said what was being done was inadequate and too slow. Now we find out that many more months have gone by to no avail. At least you’ve stopped trotting out that bogus “one-corporate-press-release-equals-all-ports-made-safe” routine. That was getting tiresome.

Now we see that massive amounts of money have been squandered making the great, famous port cities of Arkansas safe… When the Republicans are in charge not even urgent national security basics are enough to turn their heads away from burrowing our nation into Iraq and other massive boondoggles. As long as we’re wasting billions of dollars every month, why not at least buy coffee and alarm clocks for those Baltimore security guys? :loco:

Yes, now it is that MFGR said that such port security was “inadequate” and not that “nothing was being done.” Okay MFGR.

Anyway, thanks for posting something useful for a change. I will read it and try to understand it so that we can improve. At least, for once you have posted something positive in the sense that it actually does offer suggestions for what can be done and how it can be done better. That is a far cry from your usual smear and run allegations and accusations which have never once offered a suggestion for what should have been done instead or what could be done to improve the matter. So very much like Chouteau… or perhaps Broon Ale… I have always had my doubts that MFGR is not just another manifestation of … well you know who…

And thank you for acknowledging that there is a lot of room to improve with regards to port security. That’s a far cry from your usual hide-and-deny methods, and it’s far more credible than spending time claiming that one press release represents national-security reality. How very like Chaucer’s Absolon in terms of the butt-kissing. But wood shavings, dust, cloth and other assorted items are probably also not enough to get the bad taste of Republican policy out of one’s mouth…

There are clear opportunity costs to everything in the war on terror – spending hundreds of billions of dollars to supposedly get Iraq’s mythical “WMDs” was an enormous waste of resources and human life. Meanwhile, we are apparently wide open for cargo ships laden with stolen Russian nukes, a dirty bomb, or even just a lot of conventional weapons to waltz right in.