Two weeks ago, Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge said that U.S. ports and ships were in “full compliance” with international security requirements that go into effect today.1 However, a new report2 by the non-partisan General Accounting Office (GAO) reveals that Ridge was incorrect.
According to the GAO, around seven percent of all U.S. ports and half of all ships have not even been reviewed by the federal government. The Administration allowed industry groups to “self-certify to the Coast Guard that they were using appropriate standards.” But every security plan the Coast Guard did review “had deficiencies.” A GAO spokesman said he believed the plans that weren’t reviewed by the Coast Guard were also flawed.3
The failure to secure U.S. ports puts America at risk. But despite the Coast Guard’s estimate that it will take $7.5 billion over 10 years to secure ports from terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration has requested just $46 million in funding for that purpose in 2005.4
- “Ridge: Seaports, ships meet security rules,” CNN.com, 6/21/04.
- “Substantial Work Remains to Translate New Planning Requirements into Effective Port Security,” General Accounting Office, 7/01/2004.
- “Report: Ports, ships not in ‘full compliance’,” CNN.com, 6/29/04.
- “Lack of funding slows port security measures,” Boston Globe, 6/30/04.