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Friday, January 21, 2011

Homeland Security Fails Again: GAO Reports A Dangerous Lack of Port Security

While many American passengers boarding Airplanes are being forced to make a choice between full body X-ray or getting their junk rubbed, foreign seafarers are basically getting "carte blanche" to anonymously enter the country. According to the report the Customs and Border Protection officers go on the Cargo Ships to inspect the cargo and the manifests etc, but hey have no portable electronic hook-ups to double check who they found on a particular ship with the lists pre-approved by their bosses at Department of Homeland Security.

This report should not come as a surprise to our "protectors" a the DHS, as the GAO report also claims the State Department has already warned DHS of this security hole, and told them it could be exploited by terrorists.
CBP conducts cargo vessel admissibility inspections on board the vessel without the benefit of tools to electronically verify a seafarer’s identity or immigration status because of a lack of available connectivity to network communications in the maritime environment. DHS has prioritized the acquisition of a mobile version of this technology capability but expects it to take several years before the technology is developed and available. CBP agrees that obtaining this capability is important but has not assessed the risks of not having it. Until CBP obtains the capability, identifying the risks and options to address them could better position CBP in preventing illegal immigration at seaports...By not having the ability to electronically verify the documents, CBP’s methods for inspecting cargo vessel crew offers less assurance that CBP is identifying fraud among documents presented by the foreign seafarers seeking admission into the United States.
Think about that for a second, the supposed richest nation in the world needs a few years to come up with a program where CBP agents can access the data remotely. Have you ever returned a rental car? You see that little hand held gadget where they enter your mileage, it accesses the data and prints out a receipt? If Avis can to it, why can't the DHS? Maybe the DHS does not know how to try harder.

Heck, my sixteen year old kid can access an excel chart he left on his home computer from his friends house but the folks trying to protect our borders, with the funding of the United States of America's Department of Homeland Security cannot access a database that would help them to keep out unwanted people and cargo from entering the country. Hey Secretary Napolitano, I'll tell you what. Since I am going down to DC for CPAC anyway, if you arrange to pay for my gas, the extra-hotel fees and meals and a taxi from my hotel to your office, I will bring my 16-year-old to DC with me. That way while I am in meetings, my son can meet with you and show you how to do it... at no other cost.

How bad is the problem? According to The GAO approximately five million seafarers enter US Ports each year, one million of them enter through this possible hole on cargo ships. The overwhelming majority of these seafarers, according to the GAO are aliens.

The Report warns:
Given the number of seafarers transiting U.S. ports each year and the continued threats posed by terrorism to the United States, it is important that seafarer risks are identified and actions are taken to ensure security of vessels and port infrastructure, while preventing illegal immigration.
The report casts doubt on the Department of Homeland Security’s data concerning illegal entries by foreign seafarers at U.S. seaports, saying it is of “undetermined reliability” because “DHS has no accurate and reliable estimate to gauge the extent of the incidents.”

The Department of Homeland Security is so poorly managed by Ms, Naplitano that they really even know the extent of the illegal entry by cargo ship seafarers :
In addition, both CBP and Coast Guard have reported challenges with respect to their reporting and tracking of the illegal entry events by seafarers, known as absconders and deserters, and based on our overall assessment, we found their data to be of undetermined reliability. Moreover, Coast Guard and CBP records of these incidents vary considerably, and consequently, DHS has no accurate and reliable estimate to gauge the extent of the incidents.
Gee, don't we all feel a lot safer right now?

Much of the "political argument about immigration surrounds the progressives unstated goal of completely open borders. That can be the only explanation for the fact that they have shown little desire to move their argument ahead by creating legislation for the United States to control who comes into the country. If they came up with a plan to secure the borders, they would probably win the political argument about amnesty for the illegals already in the country. But all they ever come up with is a retread of the same amnesty bill hidden by a new coat of paint.

The DHS under the present administration, works hard to find ways to warn people about conservative activists or our heroes returning from service overseas, but they need years to figure out how to make one computer to talk to another so we can know who is entering the country on a cargo ship. What a heck of a set of priorities they have!

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