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Old 01-15-2003, 11:31 AM
JeffL JeffL is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 699
Default Homeland Security

I agree with very little that Sen. Patty Murray says, but this interesting information from her site provides some food for thought.

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We've Got Efficiency. Now We Need Efficiency AND Security

For decades, we've built our port infrastructure and procedures around economic efficiency. That's helped make the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma the third-busiest container load center in the nation. But since September 11th, we now need to realign our port system around efficiency and security.

What's in the Containers?

Six million containers enter our nation's seaports each year. Unfortunately, we don't know enough about what's in them.

Port Security Challenges in Puget Sound

The Ports of Tacoma and Seattle form the third largest load center for containerized cargo in the United States.

A land and sea border with Canada.

Critical defense installations on our waterfront.

The largest passenger ferry system in the country.

We must balance these security needs with the continuing need to keep cargo moving efficiently.

Port Security Means Economic Security

Ports and international trade are critical to Washington's economy.

Washington state is the most trade dependent state in the nation.

1.8 million containers pass through our region each year, supporting good paying jobs for thousands of Puget Sound families.

One-fifth of our national economy: The United States receives some $750 billion worth of cargo at 360 seaports every year.

A terrorist attack on ports or cargo would have a major economic impact on tens of thousands of working families in the Puget Sound and beyond.

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My comments:
The Coast Guard is charged with the responsibility of this country's Port Security. I think the Coast Guard is failing in that job because it is an impossible task. The CG's Port Security forces are severely understaffed. I doubt that this historic and continuing problem will be solved.

The next time you're stopped by a passing freight train, count the containers on the train. If there are 100 of them (which is not a large container train) statistically less than 2 of them have been inspected when they were offloaded at some port in this country.

Using her figure of six million containers entering the country each year, only about 120,000 of them are inspected. Which containers are selected for inspection, and are they thoroughly inspected (I doubt it, due to time constraints) or are they subjected to merely cursory inspections (probably)? I've read that it can take an entire day to thoroughly inspect just one container.
(Maybe Bill or Pat know the correct time frame.)

Does this concern you? It concerns me. It's concerned me since way before the attacks in September 2000, and now it concerns me even more. What's in those other containers?

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From the CG's website:

Homeland Security
Source: G-IPA

The United States Coast Guard's homeland security mission is not new to us. It is more visible today than it was prior to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but it is just as important as it was when we first began protecting our national sovereignty 211 years ago. The Coast Guard maintains a clear vision and a keen sense of vigilance while keeping watch for threats to our security and those who would do us harm.

As part of Operation Noble Eagle, the Coast Guard is at a heightened state of alert protecting more than 361 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline, America?s longest border. The Coast Guard continues to play an integral role in maintaining the operations of our ports and waterways by providing a secure environment in which mariners and the American people can safely go about the business of living and working freely.

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Coast Guard immediately mobilized more than 2,000 Reservists in the largest homeland defense and port security operation since World War II. The Coast Guard has increased its vigilance, readiness, and patrols to protect the country?s 95,000 miles of coastline, including the Great Lakes and inland waterways.

The Coast Guard's homeland security role includes:

Protect ports, the flow of commerce, and the marine transportation system from terrorism.

Maintain maritime border security against illegal drugs, illegal aliens, firearms, and weapons of mass destruction.

Ensure that we can rapidly deploy and resupply our military assets, both by keeping Coast Guard units at a high state of readiness, and by keeping marine transportation open for the transit assets and personnel from other branches of the armed forces.

Protect against illegal fishing and indiscriminate destruction of living marine resources, prevention and response to oil and hazardous material spills--both accidental and intentional.
Coordinate efforts and intelligence with federal, state, and local agencies.

Operation Noble Eagle refers to U.S. military operations associated with homeland defense and civil support to federal, state and local agencies in the United States, and includes the increased security measures taken after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The operation involves joint agency coordination and cooperation to ensure our nation and borders are protected from future attacks. An increased presence will prevent and deter those who would cause harm to innocent Americans.

Operation Enduring Freedom refers generally to U.S. military operations associated with the war on terrorism outside the United States. Coast Guard port security units have deployed in support of this operation.

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Coast Guard Port Security forces were deployed to the Gulf after the 9/11 attacks, and the CG is still there.
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Jeff
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