Maloney, National Security Committee Probe Anti-Terrorism Plans at Ports in NY/NJ & Nation
NEW YORK: The seaports of New York and New Jersey are highly susceptible to terrorist activity, according to testimony presented today before Members of the House National Security Subcommittee at a Congressional field hearing held in lower-Manhattan. The Subcommittee, within the Committee on Government Reform, held the hearing in New York to look at multi-agency efforts to enhance security at the nation's seaports.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY), a 5-term member of the Government Reform Committee, noted at the hearing, "Our ports are extremely vulnerable to terrorist activity and so far, we haven't made near enough progress in making them safer. We are inspecting every sneaker and shirt collar at airports across the country, but we are letting thousands of ten ton containers into port without screening their contents. As the General Accounting Office has said, 'the nation's ports are far more vulnerable to terrorist attacks than the nation's aviation system.' Less than 2% of shipping containers are inspected when they enter one of dozens of U.S. seaports. Our port security procedures should be every bit as strong and thorough as our aviation security procedures are becoming."
Congressman Christopher Shays (CT), Chair of the National Security Subcommittee, noted that a recent ABC News investigation demonstrated just how porous the nation's ports really are, with 15 pounds of uranium being transported successfully into the country, without even a single hint of its movement toward and across our borders.
The field hearing reviewed 1) efforts to streamline enforcement jurisdictions for port security, 2) federal investments in x-ray and gamma ray cargo detection equipment, and 3) cooperative international efforts to strengthen the inspections of shipments before they embark for the United States.
Witnesses at the hearing included: The Honorable James E. McGreevey, Governor of New Jersey; Rear Admiral Lawrence Hereth, Director, Port Security, U.S. Coast Guard; Mr. Jayson Ahearn, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs Service; Rear Admiral Richard Bennis, Associate Secretary for Maritime and Land Security, Transportation Security Administration; Mr. James Kallstrom, Director, New York State Office of Public Security (Governor Pataki's Office); Ms. Bethann Rooney, Manager, Port Security, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Ms. JayEtta Z. Hecker, Director, Physical Infrastructure Team, U.S. General Accounting Office; Mr. Frank M. McDonough, Esq., President, New York Shipping Association, Inc.; General Charles Boyd (USAF, Retired), CEO & President, Business Executives for National Security; Mr. Brian D. Starer, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP, Mr. John Hyde, Director of Security and Compliance, Maersk, Inc.