August 15, 2005

When Terror Comes, Don't Forget Who Failed Us.

Every couple of months I like to post a diary on this issue, here there, or anywhere.  You see, terror will come to the United States, and it will kill lots of innocent men, women, and children.  When it comes, I believe two lamps will be lit, as it will come by Sea.

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So, who failed us?

Poor man's missile.

In the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, container security has become a fragile thing because of its potential in being used as a weapon-delivery device for explosives and hazardous materials. A single incident triggered from a conventional weapon going off in a box can literally bring worldwide intermodal transport to its knees, said US Homeland Security director Jeane K. Kirkpatrick.

Container security is making sure goods loaded in a box are legitimate and authorized from its point of origin to final destination. Ninety percent of the world's freight move in containers but its vulnerability remains a worldwide dilemma.

Would-be terrorists have all the opportunity and motive to tamper and load containers with weapons of mass destruction. Kirkpatrick said the almost complete absence of security oversight in loading and transporting a box plus the growing volume and velocity at which containers move, give terrorists ample opportunities to tamper or load boxes with destructive material. Scenarios of explosive and weapons-laden containers are conceivable and real in Cebu with the absence of security measures at the port or the intermodal transport industry that screens container integrity.

While containers have been considered a "poor man's missile," what motivates terrorists to use these are its profound effect on economic disruption. Kirkpatrick said that other than the substantial loss of life from attacks done in containers, it also puts much of the freight movements that make up international trade at the mercy of terrorists.

In other words, 90% of the worlds trade is done in containers.  WHEN the terrorists blow up a container it will mean all container traffic will be halted for some period - just like airline traffic.  Say hello to the Great Depression, Part Deux.  When will you be ready to have a container travel down your street?  

You see, that is the scary thing about containers, they are everywhere.  Start looking as you drive and you'll notice them.  At the grocery store, on the highway during rush hour, in downtown Manhattan, in downtown Punxsutawney.  They are everywhere.  Millions of them are in the United States everyday and we check almost NONE OF THEM.  And so it goes, one day a container will be loaded with explosives, shipped overseas, loaded onto a truck and driven into downtown (insert your city here) and exploded.  

If we are lucky it will only be an explosion.  If we are unlucky it will be a dirty bomb, or will target a bridge

Or a large building.

Or a high school football game.

No matter what it targets, we can't forget who failed to protect us.  Every single elected official in Washington.  Yes, it is largely the Republicans fault for not sponsoring and funding a law that requires some type of screening for ALL containers.  But, if Democratic Senators had any balls, they could shut down the Senate until such a bill was introduced, passed, and funded.  What American would not stand behind that action.  It isn't about Supreme Court Justices, or U.N. Nominees, it is about American safety.  

Not to say that Homeland Security hasn't beefed up its staff.  My own Senator, Elizabeth Dole, has seen to it that Homeland Security is spending more money searching containers with agents who are specially trained to find dangerous...

Senator Elizabeth Dole - "I am pleased that the Administration now recognizes the problem of transshipment and is hiring Customs agents to focus specifically on keeping out illegal textiles, as directed by Congress," said Senator Dole. "Especially with the expiration of quotas, our textile industry needs trade agreements to be strictly enforced."

On March 7, 2005, Senator Dole wrote Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calling for the department to explain why money Congress appropriated specifically for hiring Customs agents assigned to keep out illegal textile transshipments was not being used for that very purpose. During the past two years, Senator Dole has helped secure congressional funding for the hiring of these agents...

So, how about some agents to check out containers for bombs?

President Bill Clinton, 2004 Democratic Convention - On homeland security -- on homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost a billion dollars. It would have been paid for under our bill by asking the 200,000 millionaires in America to cut their tax cut by $5,000. Almost all 200,000 of us would like to have done that, to spend $5,000 to make all 300 million Americans feel safer. The measure failed. Why? Because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives opposed it. They thought our $5,000 was more important than doubling the container checks at our ports and airports.

There are nearly 300 million Americans.  We all want to feel safe.  How about a $5 tax on all Americans, across the board to secure our ports and borders?  How about a $50 tax on all businesses to secure our ports and borders?  

When the time comes and the bomb explodes, I will forgive no one.  Senators and Representatives alike are responsible for the terror that will hit our shores, yet they do nothing to stop it.

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