In my effort to get past the political grandstanding and trying to point out the real issue with local national security, I have found another perspective for you to consider.
Former labor secretary Robert Reich concludes his Marketplace commentary on the UAE’s Dubai Ports World terminal management issue with:
“The real issue here is not about nationality. It’s about what we are prepared to pay for our security. And whether we pay mostly for a war in Iraq or we finally get serious about security here at home.” He prefaced this statement with the following specifics, which I have restated.
When will citizens and Congress be willing to pay for more:
- gamma ray monitors,
- radiation scanners,
- shipping container inspectors, and
- security checks, special ID cards, fingerprints and other biometrics for workers at the ports and border crossings?
When will businesses be willing to support implementing the above and accept:
- slower commerce at the borders, and
- reduced corporate profits?
When will we all ante up and pay the additional cost for all this – $7,000,000,000 a year according to Mr. Reich. Compare that to the hundreds of billions that are now spent on Defense and Homeland Security.
In the following article from the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Joel Connelly reported:
How much money is proposed for port security grants in President Bush’s budget for the coming year? Zero.
Deep down, the Washington, D.C., press corps can be awfully shallow. Coverage of the Dubai deal has focused on Democrats seizing a security issue and a split between Republican lawmakers and a Republican president.
“We’re spending billions at our airports with the TSA, but this administration has really put very little in the pot for the ports,” said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., dean of the state’s congressional delegation.
In a bipartisan letter to Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas Collins, Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., this week wrote, “It is extremely difficult to maintain the security of our borders and ports with the minuscule resources provided by the Coast Guard to conduct its port security mission.”
In a nationwide review, under the Maritime Security Act, the Coast Guard identified $7.4 billion in port security upgrades needed in the next decade.
Our congressional delegation and other coastal lawmakers have fought hard to appropriate at least $400 million a year to meet these needs.
They managed to get $175 million last year — a drop in the bucket compared with even the weekly cost of the war in Iraq.