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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Panel cites security gaps, creeping complacency"

Gov Exec.com:
Panel cites security gaps, creeping complacency (6/28/05)
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Some serious points (except for the NIMBY-ish complaint about LNG by a disgruntled mayor).
Stephen Flynn, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the maritime industry remains particularly vulnerable. "Looking in the maritime arena ... there is not much in place that would deter me from exploiting this sector and targeting this sector," he said.

He speculated that a maritime attack could bring the global trade system to its knees in a matter of days.

"We're still struggling and recognizing just how dependent we are in these systems and just how fragile they are," he said.

He noted, for example, that 21 million containers moved through the port of Hong Kong last year. He said a half hour delay at the port would snarl traffic throughout the waterways, a two-hour delay would back trucks up to the China border, and shutting down the port for about 100 hours would back trucks up 140 miles. "This is a fragile, sensitive system that we have to keep moving by both managing the threat within it and managing the mechanisms we put in place."

The United States, however, does not yet have a comprehensive maritime security strategy, he said. President Bush has created an interagency group to draft a plan by next month, he added.

But C. Stewart Verdery, former DHS assistant secretary for policy and planning, noted many efforts that the Bush administration has undertaken in recent years, particularly with regard to implementing a biometric entry-exit system at the nation's air, land and sea ports of entry. He cited several challenges the government still faces, but said many recommendations from the 9/11 commission are being carried out.

"I believe the government has moved about as quickly as is possible to turn the commission's recommendations into concrete action," he said.
Fuzzy over the concern over 21 million containers in Hong Kong? That's where we want to prescreen containers to keep any problems from reaching our shores and any screening effort that slows the process will create a big traffic jam...

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