In the wake of media attention on the sale of the "largest independent stevedore and terminal operator on the US East and Gulf coasts, with operations in most ports from Maine to Texas," the Seattle PI reminds us that the budget President Bush released earlier this month "seeks to eliminate federal grants to improve cargo security at Seattle and other vulnerable ports."
The op-ed goes on: "In a perfect world, members of Congress might well want to look closely at whether Dubai Port World should control terminals at six Eastern and Gulf Coast ports." Unfortunately, "Congress has done little to advance agreement on better security plans for ports, decide how to reopen ports if an attack occurs or spend more than a fraction of what's needed to reduce threats from conventional, biological or nuclear attacks using cargo." (tip)
In November, Sen. Pat Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) [current co-sponsors include Norm Coleman (R-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)] introduced the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act (S 2008), a bill to improve cargo security. Among its provisions: it sets minimum standards for securing containers in transit to an importer in the United States, including international standards for the security of containers moving through the international supply chain, and requires all containers entering the United States to be examined for radiation.
In an official statement, Murray said: "An attack launched on, or through, America's seaports could result in significant loss of life and the crippling of our economy. Consequently, since 9/11, experts have been calling for an upgraded security system for shipping containers. The Murray-Collins bill builds on the lessons from the 9/11 Commission, GAO investigations, and other reports to protect against the human and economic costs of a terrorist attack through our ports."