House and Senate homeland security committees settled in on a proposed bill mandating *all* cargo entering the US on ships be screened in foreign ports.
Stewart Verdery, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official, said the measure would be very difficult to implement because technology did not exist to conduct such comprehensive scans. James Carafano, a homeland security expert at the Heritage Foundation, agreed, saying the requirement was “political theatre” that would antagonise US allies.
But Democrats painted the legislation as a victory. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, called it a bill “to make the American people safer.”
Traveling to a related story on the same issue, we find a few more devils in the details.
Buildings like the nondescript shed in a corner of Dubai’s Jebel Ali container port will become more important to world commerce if the US Congress passes proposed legislation to enhance the security of the country’s shipping industry.
Jebel Ali, the world’s eighth-busiest container port, is one of scores of ports worldwide participating in a five-year-old US initiative to examine suspicious cargo before it is loaded on to US-bound vessels. The shed is home to an x-ray machine that US Customs agents use to look inside containers for suspicious material.
The proposed legislation would, over time, require all cargo coming into the US to be scanned in the country from which it is shipped. Whether this is feasible for even the advanced scanning equipment at ports such as Jebel Ali is debatable. Since the US last year imported 18.4m, 20ft-equivalent units of containers and the busiest ports such as Shanghai handled millions of those, the US’s already accident-prone system for handling imports could break under the strain.
Let's see... the Dubai and Shanghai ports... both under the auspices of that dreaded, but efficient DP World. The very same company that the US Congress and hyped up Americans shunned because they were Arab. This despite their state-of-the-art cargo scanning equipment. And oh, BTW, DP World was going to equipment their US acquired port assets with the same equipment on *their* nickel, and not the US taxpayers.
Nice going, Congress.
Like most everything Congress does, the legislation is vague. Does it require screening before loading onto the ship in the first port? ... ...or at the last port where they are moved between ships before heading to the US – a process known as trans-shipment.
And what of the ignored fallout from such extensive cargo scanning mandates?
The potential disruption if the measure were enforced could be far worse than that in 2004, when many ports worldwide became congested after unexpectedly rapid volume growth.
If scanning has to be done at the first port of loading, scanners will have to be set up at even the most minor container ports handling US-bound goods, even in countries such as Vietnam which have so far not joined in other US container security programmes. If the scanning has to be done at big trans-shipment ports such as Singapore, however, the time necessary could seriously slow down the ports’ operations, Mr Page said.
There are also questions about the equipment used. The current standard radiation detection equipment tends to pick up items such as cat litter, earthenware and bananas regularly, causing significant hold-ups.
A delay extension of up to five years for scanning deadlines? Obviously that will leave out viability for shipping perishables. And what of the market costs? Will not vendors want return on their goods in a more reasonable time frame? Or will costs be raised to cover the holding costs for goods unable to be delivered?
And if so, who will pay for those increased costs. The end user/consumer, of course.
Add to that, the new mandate will inhibit shipments from some European countries.
A homeland security official said the legislation could also prevent some eastern European countries from participating in the US visa waiver programme. Under the legislation, countries with visa refusal rates higher than 10 per cent, which include Poland, would have difficulty signing up for the programme.
If that's the case, countries such as Poland will suffer economic loss with limited ability to import to the American consumer.
Yet does this fact even enter the minds of elitist electees? Of course not. They want to be seen, pre-2008 elections, as a party concerned with our safety.
What bozos we have in charge.... pshaw.