A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stowaways and Port Security

Written by Kevin of The Amboy Times:

When the port security issue came up back in February, we were assured that everything was under control and that a foreign influence in our ports was of no consequence. A county that supplied some of the 9/11 hijackers running our ports wasn't going to be a problem because the US was still going to handle the security.

The problem with that is port security is nearly as bad as border security.

Three stowaways who boarded a freighter in Panama were caught as they ran from a ship docked at Port Elizabeth Wednesday afternoon. A fourth is presumed dead after jumping into the water to try to elude authorities. The men, whose identities were not released, got off the freighter Hanjin Wilmington at about 1:50 p.m., said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the seaport. The boat was docked at berth 98 at the APM Terminal when the four tried to run from the terminal grounds, Coleman said.

Congratulations to the Port Authority for catching these guys, but it brings up a larger issue, what's to prevent terrorists from doing the same thing?

APM security and Port Authority police responded, and quickly caughtthree of them. The fourth jumped into the water, Coleman said.


"The police officers threw him flotation devices, but he was unable to grasp them," Coleman said. "He went under the water, and that was the last we saw of him." Dive teams from several rescue agencies looked for the man's body, but called off the search shortly after 5 p.m. The three others were in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the ship left South Korea on Oct. 12 and traveled to Panama, where it had a five-hour layover. Officials said they believe the stowaways boarded the ship there.

"If stowaways can come into our port, what about nuclear weapons? What about biological weapons? What about chemical weapons? Again, containers these days are sealed with mechanical bolts that can easily be opened and tampered with," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.

Indeed.

Homeland Security officials could not be reached for comment. Officials from Customs and Border Protection said they inspect every ship arriving from foreign ports, and the Coast Guard inspects the rest.Schumer renewed his call for stricter security measures. "Tonight,I'm calling for DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to release within the next 90 days new rules and regulations pertaining to tamper-proof locks and seals on all cargo. These rules should have been released two years ago and are long overdue," Schumer said.The three stowaways are being interviewed and will likely face immigration charges before being returned to Panama.

All the signs are there, will America heed the warning?

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.**

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