DHS Decision-Making: Competence or Character?

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I do not hold allegiance to either particular political party and do not like to present one side or the other in an analysis that should be as objective as possible. However, it appears to me that Representative Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was right on target in expressing his displeasure with the progress and efficacy of DHS with respect to complying with the SAFE Port Act, and with DHS’ knowledge about comprehensive smart container systems that do more than check door integrity.  In his press release Congressman Thompson said "The department is looked to for setting security standards and enforcing laws, and here they are doing just the opposite.  This is the second time DHS is missing the mark on cargo security and it is two times too many.  We shouldn’t be waiting any longer for DHS to set standards for equipment that already exists."

Door-only, RF-only, and inbound-only are just three examples of “missing the mark.”  What does DHS say when a dirty bomb detonates in one of our ports because of action DHS did not take? For this writer, the depth and breadth of DHS knowledge of container security vulnerabilities that face us every hour constitute more than virtual misfeasance.  It may demonstrate a lack of moral judgment that today puts not only our ports and their surrounding communities in danger, but also our entire economy including you, the reader.  Maybe it should have been the moral character of DHS that we former agents ought to have been discussing at our breakfast table. 

With respect to DHS and CBP, all of us deserve better.

Dr. James Giermanski is Director of the Centre for Global Commerce at Belmont Abbey College and Chairman of Powers International, a transportation security company.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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