Saturday, February 25, 2006


When nuke comes to port
Security begins offshore, says man with plan

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G2 Headlines

© 2005 G2 Bulletin
Publishing date: 24.02.2006 23:11

With all the controversy over the United Arab Emirates company approved to run port operations, one man with a lot of experience and expertise in the area says it really doesn’t matter who gets the contract – though he is sure it should be an American company. Robert Pfriender, president of Allied International Development, says everyone is really missing the point on port security. "The real concern,” he says, “is that if a weapon of mass destruction arrives at one of mainland ports, it will be much too late for any possible security measure to have any effect.”

A 12-kiloton nuclear device (small by today's standards, and similar in size to that used on Japan) detonated at the Brooklyn Redhook Terminal would likely kill 2 million people or more as the radioactive fallout rains downwind on the completely unprotected citizens of Long Island, his company estimates. ”Such an event which is unfortunately entirely plausible at the current time would change the nature of our free society in profoundly negative ways and would likely ruin the national economy aside from the great human tragedy of immeasurable proportions,” he adds. And that’s why Allied International Development put together a comprehensive plan for Customs and Border Protection to develop three offshore cargo container security inspection ports to inspect each and every container prior to it being cleared for entry to the U.S. mainland.

The ports would be located 25 miles offshore to mitigate the effects of a detonation and so any fallout (which is minimal over water) would not pass over land.

“We offered to develop these ports with private financing and at no cost to the government,” he said. “The operation of the ports would generate revenue from a small inspection fee for each container. The fully automated robotic process would add only a slight delay to the container delivery time.” Not only did Pfriender ensure the proposal was seen by Customs officials as far back as August 2002, less than a year after the Sept. 11 attacks, he also took the time to see that virtually every member of Congress received this proposal – along with officials in the White House, the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security.

Interestingly, the only response he received from Customs was a letter signed by Jason Ahern, the administration's point man on pushing the UAE deal through. ”Obviously, Mr. Ahern and his superiors have either no idea of what security should be or they purposely choose to not implement a security protocol that will prevent the demise of our country,” says Pfriender. “This is now the same department [Homeland Security] that dropped the ball on Katrina relief and has 11,000 mobile homes sitting unused in mud, has left our borders completely unsecured, fail to provide fallout shelters to our citizens despite serious nuclear threats, have reversed their policy on allowing sharp and dangerous items on airliners, have never implemented any screening of checked airline luggage or freight and the list just goes on and on.”

Pfriender says Customs chooses to rely on the "Container Security Initiative," which is a virtual (as opposed to a reliable physical) "inspection" of containers. In reality, less than 4 percent of containers are targeted for this "inspection" which is really only a screening, with less than 1 percent of the 4 percent of containers which are screened being actually inspected. Further, these "inspections" are carried out by foreigners at foreign ports and Customs can only rely upon the honesty of the foreign inspectors. Worse, there are only a few dozen ports enrolled in this program out of thousands of ports worldwide.

None of these ports are located in countries which are the most serious threats to U.S. national security. ”Even the GAO has issued a report that essentially describes the CSI program as being worthless. Many more informed experts have concluded it is a complete farce,” he told G2B. “It offers something worse than poor security, namely a false sense of security which leaves us even more vulnerable to attack.” Yet, it was CSI plan that Ahern insisted was the key to port security.

“Due to the CSI,” he wrote to Pfriender in 2002, “it is difficult for me to speculate on what role your proposal could play in our partnership with foreign customs agencies to protect all countries from the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. At this time, I am encouraged by the prospects that CSI holds for fulfilling the mission of Customs in combating these threats. Customs is, however, committed to considering every possible option in accomplishing its mission and your proposal could receive additional consideration in the future.”

To date, the only support his proposal has received comes from Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY. “Most of the other officials have not even bothered to reply despite their professed interest in port security,” says Pfriender. Pfriender’s proposal for offshore cargo container inspection ports offers a sobering view of the reality the U.S. faces from the threat of weapons of mass destruction entering the country in an uninspected shipping container.

“Despite the enormous risks faced by America in accepting uninspected cargo containers in its ports, currently there are no practical means available to protect America from attack with weapons of mass destruction that may be easily concealed in the nearly 9 million cargo shipping containers that are not inspected before entering the United States each year,” it says. The U.S. has 361 ports located on 95,000 miles of coastline. Containers arrive daily on more than 7,500 ships during their more than 50,000 port calls.

“This is the most dangerous security threat faced by the United States from terrorists, or rogue nations, who could easily deliver one or even worse, many nuclear, biological or chemical weapons into the country utilizing what can best be characterized as ‘Intercontinental Stealth Container Missiles.’” The central problem, explains the proposal, is that no matter who runs the ports, if a nuclear weapon arrives, it is already too late to avoid the consequences of millions dying and the nation facing economic ruin and instability.

In one 2002 simulation of a terrorist attack involving cargo containers, every seaport in the U.S. was shut down, resulting in a simulated loss of $58 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy. “Comparing that figure to what we now understand the costs of the attack on 9-11-01 to actually be, in excess of $120 billion, one can easily surmise that a nuclear attack involving cargo containers would vastly exceed that original estimate,” says the report. “Other experts have calculated that the resulting economic losses would be more likely in excess of $1 trillion. A single incident would result in the crippling of the international trade and shipping industries and could cause serious worldwide shortages of materials, supplies, resources, food, medicines and many other essential items shipped by container.

One could only imagine the dire consequences if several weapons were delivered simultaneously. American society, as we know it, could easily be at tremendous, irreparable risk.” Most international trade take place through shipping containers – about 90 percent of all the world’s cargo Almost half of incoming trade into the U.S. is by cargo container. The odds heavily favor the terrorists using this means of transportation. Only 2 percent – about 180,000 containers per year – are inspected. And all of those inspections occur after the container is already in a U.S. port – many of them near major population centers.

“That leaves some 8, 820,000 opportunities each year for terrorists or rogue states that want to destroy American to successfully ship us a weapons of mass destruction, which is undetected in a container,” says the report Under Allied International Development’s plan, the containers would be inspected robotically and there would be the ability to quarantine chemical and biological materials detected. The new security ports would offer a deepwater, 25-mile offshore location to provide an effective distance barrier to any nuclear, biological or chemical weapons incident that occurred during inspection.

The creation of these offshore ports would also mean a boon in new jobs, approximately 2 million, at existing mainland-based ports, the proposal said – all accomplished with private financing and no government spending. The ports would then be leased to the U.S. government on a long-term basis. Sound too good to be true? Apparently that’s what the U.S. government thinks.

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