What worries me here is that, on some level, Congress and the American people might congratulate themselves, thinking they've taken some affirmative step toward increasing port security.
All the news reports I saw focusing on the danger of unscreened truck drivers being allowed in and out of the ports . . . .
Pop quiz: What percentage of containers are screened before they enter US ports?
You think the ports are any safer now? You think more money will actually go toward port security? How about in Blue California? Last I recall, Texas ports seemed to be well funded. LA and Long Beach, not so much.
But great job Congress. Great job George Bush. See, that rampant Anti-Arab sentiment came in handy after all.
And, really, shouldn't we be better than this?
One House Democrat, Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee, produced a television commercial for his coming Senate run in which he is shown walking through the Port of Baltimore as pictures of a member of the Taliban, wearing a black turban, and two Sept. 11 terrorists are shown. "I'm running for the Senate because we shouldn't outsource our national security to anyone,'' Ford says in the ad.I've really liked Harold Ford. But he should be ashamed of running an ad like that. I'm ashamed that he ran an ad like that.
This political ick factor for this issue is uncomfortably high. There are some who acknowledge this:
Democrats insisted their cause was not anti-Arab but applied to any foreign operations at U.S. ports, and they pushed measures to require that U.S. companies be the only ones allowed to manage terminals. The legislation would fundamentally alter most of the nation's largest ports, including the Port of Oakland, where terminals are managed by companies headquartered in Japan, Singapore, Denmark and Korea.I think that just about covers it.
"This is not aimed at any company, it's not aimed at any country, it is aimed at trying to send a big wake-up call to our own government that we've not done what we need to do on security in our ports and so much else that has basically been neglected since 9/11,'' said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Such words did little to convince skeptics that opportunistic politics hadn't trumped policy.
"They are full of s -- ,'' said Zogby, himself a Democrat. "They know just what they are doing.''