March 2007 | Commentary | Checking In

Playing Politics with Homeland Security: 100-Percent Wrong

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If you source or sell anything overseas, you are no doubt aware of Senator Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) efforts to mandate 100-percent scanning of inbound containers through an amendment to the SAFE Port Act.

As part of the effort to get the amendment adopted, Schumer, along with eight other Democratic senators—Obama, Clinton, Menendez, Kerry, Kennedy, and the rest of the usual suspects—sent an open letter to Wal-Mart demanding that the largest retail importer end its opposition to 100-percent scanning.

Thankfully, the Schumer measure was rejected by those lawmakers putting your security, our economy, and logic above their own political security. The time for play-acting to get votes on important security issues is past, right?

Wrong. The saga continues like a recurring bad dream.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)—one of the Wal-Mart 9—has introduced another amendment mandating 100-percent container scanning. "Scanning anything less than 100-percent of cargo containers is reckless security policy," he says.

"Port security has devolved into nothing more than algorithms, which are a sophisticated form of 'eenie-meenie-miney-moe.' I have yet to hear a persuasive argument for why we should not be scanning every cargo container entering our ports," he adds.

The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association calls the Menendez amendment a "backdoor mandate" to undo the defeat of the Schumer amendment.

Menendez likes 100-percent defense, but not offense, it seems. Last May, he was looking closely at censuring President Bush to prevent him from "eavesdropping" on suspected terrorist calls to the United States, according to Political Affairs magazine. I guess we can pick and choose which important security measures to support. Eenie-meenie-miney-moe.

Do the Wal-Mart 9 senators really care about your company, your job, or how attacking domestic commerce upsets the lives of everyday people when they are put out of work? Or do they only want to position themselves to get votes by conning those outside the industry into thinking they have their best interests at heart, and that they are "tough" on security?

Efforts to pass the 100-percent solution will continue. If you think playing politics with Homeland Security is wrong, make your voice heard now, before it is too late.

Readers of this column know where I stand on what I term Homeland Security Event Management (HSEM). A PDF of my previous columns on this issue is available for download

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