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February 21, 2006

President Misplaces Shield

On September 20, 2001, George W. Bush gave one of the great presidential addresses in modern history. In it he made this vow:

It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We'll remember the moment the news came -- where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end.

I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

Today, President Bush asked the following rhetorical question:
I don't understand why it's OK for a British company to operate our ports but not a company from the Middle East when we've already determined security is not an issue.
And I ask this: What happened to that police shield that's supposed to be in your pocket, Mr. President? What will you tell the victims and their families if port security does turn out to be "an issue?"

This is a big mistake.

Update: Ken sees a parallel with the border situation.

Like the border with Mexico, the President seems to be tone deaf when it comes to guarding our borders. He seems to think it is more important to play nice with Mexico than it is to keep millions of illegal aliens from entering the country. I believe the same mind set the President uses towards Mexico is the same he is employing to rationalize the UAE takeover of our ports. Both situations are wrong and risk our national security.
Update 2: the best argument I have read on the subject was written, not suprisingly, by Hugh Hewitt.

Posted by annika, Feb. 21, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


You seem to agree with the conventional wisdom. I don't know enough yet to say whether this is a good or bad decision. However, when Chucky S., perhaps one of the most vile, disgusting (though shrewed) members of the Senate, is the lead spokesman for a position, I'm always tempted to take a look at the opposing view.

Hey, you could be right; but, all I'm hearing now is politics. None of the talking heads have been terribly convincing. And the politicians appear the most cynical---looking at 2006 more than security. The most neutral voice I've heard on this has been, surprise, Rush Limbaugh.

Anyway, along with you, our esteemed hostess, there are a lot of smart contributors (even you, Strawman) to this blog and I'm looking forward to getting educated.

Posted by: Blu on Feb. 21, 2006

The only reason there's bi-partisan opposition to this is that the Democrats see it as another Harriet Miers. A way to bang on Bush from two sides again. It's not because they give a rat's about homeland security. I predict hearings, then a bi-partisan roll-over. This thing will go through, and we better hope something bad doesn't happen.

Posted by: annika on Feb. 21, 2006

Malcolm Muggeridge was right. "We live in an age where it is possible to know everything, and understand nothing."

Posted by: Casca on Feb. 21, 2006

The second deadliest terrorist incident in U.S. history, one which killed nearly 200 people, was conceived by a citizen of which nation? And does the U.S. still do business with companies from this nation? All the time.

Actually, the thing that surprises me most about Bush is not that he entrusts security to Middle Eastern outfits, nor that he thinks illegal alien amnesty is a good thing. The big surprise is that he has NEVER vetoed a bill. Yes, his party controls Congress, but it's still surprising that Bush has NEVER exercised the veto. I find this especially ironic when comparing Bush to Gerald Ford, a creature of Congress if there ever was one, but someone who understood the powers of the executive and how to use them.

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on Feb. 21, 2006

It is Customs, the Port Authority and the Coast Guard that are responsible for security not the companies running the terminals. This is all politics.

Posted by: Shug on Feb. 22, 2006

Shug...I don't think it's possible for the Coast Guard, the Port Authority, and Customs to be fully responsible for port security. These places are too big, and there is too much going on. A malevolent port operating company could probably sneak an illicit container off the ship and onto a trailer or a rail car chassis without the authorities knowing anything about it. This could probably also be done by a conspiracy of malevolent employees without the operating company knowing anything about it.

Posted by: David Foster on Feb. 22, 2006

Maybe I watch too much 24, but I'm not convinced that you can prevent a mole from getting into the system once you hand over operations to the UAE company. There isn't such a solid dividing line between security and operations as you might want to believe. By necessity, the two speres must have knowledge of each other, and therein lies the weakness.

Maybe security will all be handled by Americans, but security details would have to be disclosed to operations in the UAE. I don't think it would be out of the realm of possibility (as Bush has said) that our enemies would know this and try to gain access to the security details by getting moles into the UAE company. Or trying to turn sympathetic UAE employees.

Unfortunately, it seems Bush is willing to bet that this won't happen.

Posted by: annika on Feb. 22, 2006

It's time for a serious discussion of port security procedures: conducted partly in public and partly in closed Congressional hearings. It's certainly not possible for all incoming containers to be inspected; there are just too many of them. What is essential is that the freight documentation (describing the container contents) be produced by trusted entities, that there be a rigorous process for determining who those entities are, and that the system for receiving and reviewing those documents is not easily hacked, either electronically or by the insertion of human moles. It is also essential that nothing get out of the container yard without matching an appropriate document.

Posted by: David Foster on Feb. 22, 2006

I just read an informative post on Michelle Malkin's blog. Defintely worth a read.

Posted by: Blu on Feb. 22, 2006

If it is not possible for the Coast Guard, the Port Authority, and Customs to be fully responsible for port security then *that* is the problem not who owns the company running one of the terminals. In matters like this I would not trust a British, Danish, Chinese, or US Corporation any more or less then a UAE one

Posted by: Shug on Feb. 22, 2006