Tuesday, March 28, 2006

U.S. Fails Port Security Test

The General Accounting Office (GAO) just announced that undercover investigators were able to smuggle radioactive material - enough to make two dirty bombs - across U.S. land ports during tests in December of last year. They actually purchased the radioactive material in the United States posing as a fake company, took the material outside of the United States, and brought it back in through two ports, one at the U.S. Canadian border and the other at the U.S. Mexican border. Failure to catch the radioactive material exposes serious flaws in our port security program. Only 40% of our seaports have equipment in place capable of detecting radioactive material and many port operators have resisted installing such equipment, especially for screening cargo put on rail cars.

This new study raises more concerns as the Bush Administration plans to give a Hong Kong-based company rights to screen cargo in the Bahamas (65 miles from Florida's coast) for illicit radiactive and nuclear material. Fortunately the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affiars Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations intends to monitor the deal to make sure the company is operating properly and in the best interest of America's national security.