This was first going to be a reply to my recent post on the whole DPW port deal but after catching a show on satellite tonight, things changed. I will say thank you to Mike, The Mary Hunter, and I guess AndyJ for the kind words on previous post.
Discovery Channel I think it was covered port security and the terrorist threat tonight. I apologize for not remembering the channel, I am just glad I was able to focus on the story. :)
After 911 the Italians intercepted an Egyptian living in a CONEX with cell-phone, bed, and even an aircraft mechanic's certificate. They called him Container Bob and as soon as he posted bail vanished. Then there were the two Arabs who hid behind a false bulkhead in a CONEX, snuck through Israeli security, got into the port of Aschelon, and then short of their target detonated killing a few Israelis while exposing their method of attack.
As for current US security measures, the show talked about them also. Now a ship has to radio in 96 hours prior to landfall and among the things they must provide are the last ten ports visited. If authorities find a questionable port listed, then that ship can face a more thorough investigation. Also each ship must now have painted on it an ID number that can be seen from the air, stern, or each side to try and prevent multiple ships with the same name.
The drug wars have been beneficial to the port of Miami. They have sensors deployed to detect strange underwater movements. Since some narco-smugglers have been known to weld bulges to ship bottoms to sneak in drugs; the dive teams, which conduct almost daily ship/dock inspections, look for them just in case instead of cocaine there are explosives smuggled in.
As for the weapons of mass destruction that has everyone nervous, Los Alamos has developed what is called the nuclear truck-wash. Run CONEX containers between the sensor posts and 95% of the time it will ping on even minute amounts of radioactivity. There is also talk of putting an aircraft style 'black box' in each CONEX to record everything that happens to the CONEX, estimated cost of each box? $500 was quoted.
So while Rep. Hunter evinces the voice of another generation that wanted the United States to isolate itself from the world and Sen. Clinton uses the ruckus in her cynical ploy for the Presidency in 2008; there is progress being made in defending the ports.
Will these efforts be enough to save the United States from a CONEX with a nuke? Maybe, but at least there is progress and that must always go forward because the bad guys will be thinking of new methods also. Like the cocaine cartels of Colombia trying to use a submerged barge to sneak cocaine north pops readily to mind. But to not try to secure the ports will invite disaster to visit the American shores. As one expert in the show mentioned, one CONEX bomb and the whole world stops because so much travels via ship.
Post script: spellchecker does not have 'nuke' in its dictionary? Strange.