Some Ships Get Coast Guard Tip Before Searches

Doesn't really breed more confidence in our government's commitment to securing the fatherland, does it? Everyone who travels frequently (or even semi-frequently) knows that airport security is a joke, apparently so is port security. What's the point of even checking the ships altogether if there is a 48 hour warning? Sounds like what happened in the prohibition era in Capone's Chicago (advance warning of raids)

The Outfit (Gus Russo)

“The Outfit” (Gus Russo)

Some Ships Get Coast Guard Tip Before Searches:

The Coast Guard is tipping off some large ships about security searches that had been intended as a surprise.

Under intense pressure from shipping companies concerned about costly delays, the Coast Guard is tipping off some large commercial ships about security searches that had been a surprise, according to high-ranking Coast Guard officials.

The searches began after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of a major revamping of the Coast Guard and its new antiterrorism mission.

..But critics worry that the practice may undermine an important component of the layered security effort to keep terrorists out of the nation's longest border, its more than 96,000 miles of coastline.

“The purpose of the inspections is for the Coast Guard to send a message to all these ships that they might be boarded at any time, basically to make sure there's no mischief on board,” said Stephen E. Flynn, a former Coast Guard commander who is now a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. “If you say, 'Heads up, when you get close to port in two days we're going to board you,' that sort of defeats the purpose of the boarding.”
..Since the middle of last year, the Coast Guard nationally has boarded more than 16,000 vessels and found numerous violations, most related to safety or crew status. In 144 cases, the vessels were temporarily held back from anchoring in American ports, the Coast Guard said, without giving more details.

Shippers and carriers consider the inspections a nuisance because they delay the delivery of goods, and suggest that the notice allows them to make more efficient use of the inspection time. Critics, however, suggest that the notice also gives a heads-up to potential terrorists, who could use the time to conceal evidence, create diversions or possibly even find a way off a ship.

The Coast Guard now requires self-reporting by big shipping operators 96 hours before entry along with electronic tracking. But it is largely an honor system, and terrorists are not going to report their contents or identity, numerous experts have noted.

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on May 20, 2006 1:38 PM.

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