Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

They're Really Good At Stopping Illegal Cheese
The "Ag" team at airport Customs will probably catch you if you try to bring a wedge of brie into California, but restrict yourself to smuggling in radioactive material and you shouldn't have a problem.

Yes, there we are all stripping naked every day at the airport while the TSA guys wave all the bombs on through, and the "point of entry" people are giving the radioactive materials, and the faked documents accompanying them, the high sign:

To test security at U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada, GAO investigators represented themselves as employees of a fake company. When stopped, they presented counterfeit shipping papers and NRC documents that allegedly permitted them to receive, acquire, possess and transfer radioactive substances.

Investigators found that customs agents weren't able to check whether a person caught with radioactive materials was permitted to possess the materials under a government-issued license.

"Unless nuclear smugglers in possession of faked license documents raised suspicions in some other way, CBP officers could follow agency guidelines yet unwittingly allow them to enter the country with their illegal nuclear cargo," a report said. It described this problem as "a significant gap" in the nation's safety procedures.

Jayson Ahern, the assistant customs commissioner for field operations, said a system for customs agents to confirm the authenticity of government licenses will be in place within 45 days. Ahern noted the radiation detectors had sounded alarms.

"We're pleased when a test like this is able to demonstrate the efficacy of our technology," Ahern said.

False radiation alarms are common — sometimes occurring more than 100 times a day — although the GAO said inspectors generally do a good job distinguishing nuisance alarms from actual ones. False alarms can be caused by ceramics, fertilizers, bananas and even patients who have recently undergone some types of medical procedures.

At one port — which investigators did not identify — a director frustrated over false alarms was worried that backed-up trains might block the entrance to a nearby military base until an alarm was checked out. The director's solution: simply turn off the radiation detector.

Maybe we should be a little less focused on listening in on everybody's telephone calls, and delving into whether they checked out Charlotte's Web or fed the homeless, and a little more focused on hiring and equipping people to guard the borders?

Homeland Security? What Homeland Security? Are all our dollars going to the mere perception of safety?

Posted by aalkon at March 28, 2006 9:30 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Homeland Security? What Homeland Security? Are all our dollars going to the mere perception of safety?

Next question.

Posted by: John O at March 28, 2006 8:37 AM

Am I the only one dismayed at the media exposing all our vulnerabilities? Why don't we just draw our enemies a map? Wouldn't it be better for the news media to give the world the impression that we know what we are doing and can effectively defend our own shores? Yeah it's not honest but didn't we use cardboard tanks in the gulf war to give the impression that we were a larger force than we were. If we are going to sensor the media so they don't televise flag draped coffins coming home why not sensor them showing what ports and what borders (3000 mexicans a day) to use.

Posted by: thechicknlady at March 30, 2006 12:47 AM

yes, if we just pretend we don't have any vulnerabilities, they'll go away. lovely idea.

the problem is that you have two options:
1. the media reveals a weakness in our national security, enabling the government to make corrections (and providing a little motivation as well)
2. several years later, terrorists reveal one particular weakness, killing several thousand people in the process.

and if you think the mexicans are gonna let some raghead ruin their best bet at a better life by running the border, guess again.

by the way, it's 'censor'

Posted by: g*mart at March 30, 2006 6:42 AM

Leave a comment