[ The real security needs of the American people are not being properly funded. Then again, Bush never intended to do “everything we can to protect the homeland,” as David Corn documented in his “Homeland Insecurity” piece for The Nation (4 Sept 2003). –BL ]
At Ports, Cargo Backlog Raises Security Questions
excerpted from 27 July 2004 | New York Times
by John M. Broder
LOS ANGELES, July 26 – Severe cargo congestion and labor shortages at American seaports are creating long delays in delivering goods and potential threats to national security, dockworkers and security experts say.
The problems are particularly acute at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest, handling roughly a third of the nine million cargo containers that arrive in the United States each year.
David Arian, president of Local 13 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which works the Los Angeles waterfront, said the facilities and work crews here could not keep up with the volume of incoming freight. Mr. Arian said that as a result some new port regulations from the Department of Homeland Security were not being followed.
“The specific regulations for checking seals to ensure integrity of containers and cargo in them are presently not being enforced,” Mr. Arian said in a telephone conference call on Thursday. “In terms of checking people coming into the terminals, the only people they’re checking are longshoremen. We’ve been down there 70 years, and we’re the most secure part of the work force. The truckers they don’t check at all.”
He said that terminal operators had begun to hire small numbers of additional workers to handle the freight backlog but that as many as 13,000 extra full- and part-time waterfront workers were needed in the Los Angeles ports alone.