Port Security News--Capitol Hill’s window on port security
2007 Archived Content
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Welcome to Port Security News--Capitol Hill’s window on port security.
Port Security News.com offer a non-partisan information source that is provided to the United States Congress, the Administration, port authority officials, other government officials, media, port industry and other interested individuals.
As part of this service each Monday a significant number of Homeland Security legislative staff, most state homeland security directors, many Administration staff with DHS and the White House and port authority senior staff receive Washington BPS. Washington BPS is a condensed articulate briefing of legislative and regulatory happening on the Hill.
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Embattled immigration chief went to fake questioner at first press conference
Published: Tuesday November 27, 2007
ICE head already facing criticism for praising offensive Halloween costume
A top immigration official, who has been criticized for her youth, inexperience and poor judgment, took a question from a government employee posing as a reporter during her very first press conference last year, RAW STORY has learned.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Julie Myers called on an agency spokeswoman who was standing with about a dozen other reporters during a February 2006 press conference in San Antonio. Critics had criticized Myers as an unfit nominee because of her lack of immigration experience and close ties to the Bush administration. Her performance at that first press conference was panned when she "struggle[d] to pronounce Nuevo Laredo," a Mexican border town that is a hot spot of criminal activity and drug trafficking into the US.
The ICE employee was told not to ask any questions, and she was verbally reprimanded after doing so, according to a letter delivered last week to the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Committee chairman Bennie Thompson requested the Department of Homeland Security review its press-relations protocols after the Federal Emergency Management Agency was found to have staged a fake press conference in October to respond to raging California wildfires, causing the press conference's organizer to lose a promotion.
"[T]he intent of staff involved in each instance was different, but both episodes were foolish and completely unacceptable," J. Edward Fox, DHS assistant secretary for public affairs, wrote to Thompson. "Nothing can be more important than credibility and integrity when communicating with the public."
Fox's letter said the San Antonio press conference happened in January 2006, although the San Antonio Express News reported Myers' first press conference after garnering a controversial recess appointment as a DHS assistant secretary was not until Feb. 3, 2006.
DHS spokesman Russ Knocke, who discovered the fake question in a review of department press conferences, told RAW STORY that he was unable to determine the precise date of the press conference, which some employees remembered as happening in late January while others remembered the date as early February. Furthermore, he said his investigation did not reveal exactly what question was asked.
"There's some fog," Knocke said in a phone interview Monday. "Most folks who were present do not recollect exactly what the question was."
The immigration spokeswoman, who Knocke refused to name "because of obvious HR restrictions," asked Myers a general question about her feelings on ICE's relationships with other law enforcement agencies, he said based on general characterizations of the question. No transcript of the event exists in DHS or ICE records, Knocke said, although some employees he spoke to gave general characterizations of the question.
According to Fox's letter, the spokeswoman told her supervisor that she wanted to ask Myers a question and ignored her boss's admonition not to question Myers. In "short order" after the press conference, the spokeswoman was verbally reprimanded by her immediate supervisor and a public affairs official at ICE headquarters in Washington, Knocke said.
Myers called on the staff member by name "for purposes of concluding the press conference," after she had answered several reporters' questions, Knocke said. After responding to the staffer, Myers continued to take several more questions from reporters.
The ICE spokeswoman was "well known amongst San Antonio media," Fox wrote, and Knocke said she worked as a reporter in the area before joining the immigration agency. Reporters covering the press conference, which focused on an earlier immigration bust that netted $1 million in cash, drugs and heavy weapons, apparently did not mention that the spokeswoman was among the questioners. Attempts to reach reporters for further comment were unsuccessful Monday.
Since last month's revelations of the fake FEMA press conference, the agency has started to implement new protocols for handling press events that would prohibit government employees from asking questions alongside journalists, Fox wrote. A similar plan is expected to be enacted across DHS offices nationwide.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) also came under fire recently when her campaign admitted planting a friendly question with an audience member during a recent town hall forum.
It is unclear how many questions Myers took from real journalists to balance the soft-ball lobbed from her employee. The just-appointed assistant secretary had faced harsh criticism from conservative commentators and lawmakers who said she lacked the law enforcement and management experience to oversee ICE, which has 15,000 workers and a $4 billion budget.
President Bush elevated Myers to the position with a controversial "recess appointment" that subverted the Senate's ability to confirm the nominee. Critics say Myers' ascension to the top spot at ICE was another example of Bush's "cronyism" because she is married to a US Attorney who formerly served as chief of staff DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and her uncle is Gen. Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"This nomination is a monumental political and policy blunder in the wake of the Michael Brown/FEMA fiasco," wrote conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, a fierce critic of the administration's immigration policies, before Myers took on her new job. "And I can tell you ... rank-and-file DHS employees and immigration enforcement officials are absolutely livid about Myers' nomination."
More recently, Myers was forced to apologize after an ICE employee showed up at a costume party in what many thought was a racist costume and she was on a panel that judged the costume "most original."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who sits on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, has placed a temporary hold on Myers' nomination because of her failure to condemn the costumed employee, who reportedly showed up at the party wearing dark makeup, dreadlocks and prison stripes.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not scheduled a floor vote on the nominee, but Myers has the support of several key Senators and a McCaskill spokeswoman has said she does not intend to hold up the vote indefinitely. A McCaskill spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
Myers' recess appointment expires in January, and even some Republicans doubt whether she could or should be confirmed.
"The way things are going, we may not ever vote on her nomination," Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., who is a second cousin of Myers' husband, told the Associated Press earlier this month. "Our nation's immigration enforcement agency needs non-controversial leadership. That would be best served by going in a different direction with this nomination."
Where we are now: So many people considered Bush's appointee, Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Julie Myers, to be too inexperienced for her position. Jump ahead to the Trump administration. How many of Trump's appointees would be considered too inexperienced for their positions. In 2017 Trump nominee Matthew Petersen was probably the single most ill-prepared and inexperienced person considered for any federal position in recent times. Petersen was nominated for a lifetime’s job as a US district judge in Washington DC, where the courts regularly shape the conduct of the federal government. In fact Mitch McConnell, along with Trump have nominated a huge number of people for judgeships that under any other time would never have been considered in the first place. In addition, Trump has appointed the highest percentage of inexperienced ambassadors since FDR. “In short, it appears that campaign contributions may be generating an increasingly deleterious effect on the quality of U.S. diplomatic representation overseas,” writes Ryan Scoville, a law professor at Marquette University who conducted the study. https://qz.com/.
And then there was Donald Trump’s cabinet which he assembled in 2016 after winning the White House. Many felt it brought with it a combination of ethical problems, inexperience, hostility to the missions of the departments its members were being called to lead, and plain old ignorance that is simply unprecedented. Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury: Mnuchin has never served in government and has no experience in setting macroeconomic policy, but he did lead Donald Trump’s fundraising effort. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education: DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, has spent much of her adult life attempting to destroy public education in America.Andrew Puzder, Secretary of Labor: If Trump had searched America to find the individual most hostile to the rights of workers, he could not have done much better than Puzder, the CEO of a fast-food company. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: The former presidential candidate, who has precisely zero experience in housing policy, was apparently appointed to lead this department because he’s one of the few African-Americans Donald Trump has met. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior: Rep. Zinke is a former Navy Seal whose career was hampered by the fact that he was caught repeatedly billing the government for personal trips home which he falsely claimed were for the purpose of scouting training locations. Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Like Puzder and DeVos, Pruitt seems to have been chosen for his fervent opposition to the mission of the agency he’ll be leading. and of course Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser: Flynn, an ardent Islamophobe and purveyor of lunatic conspiracy theories, was fired from his last job in government because of mismanagement. How many of these folks are still around? Let's hope they are all out of the government by the end of 2020, except of course for all the incompetent judges that have been appointed. Oy vay!
What can one say. Listening to Trump's blunders day in and day out is truly stressful. And then the Covid pandemic hit. If we all thought things were bad before, the appalling approach by the Trump's administration was even worse. It was a relief the other day to just quietly do a search for popular eyeglasses styles. I was planning a trip to the small Caribbean island of Bonaire for two weeks of snorkeling. It would have been so nice to not have access to any internet, making it pretty difficult to follow the political news in the US. But no! No traveling, New York City shut down. It was eery seeing no cars on the West Side highway, standing in line for groceries, hearing ambulance sirens all day, wearing gloves and masks. I would end up doing facetime with my cousin who lives in Australia to see how she was doing, just to get my mind off what was happening here. She lives in Melbourne. Man, the residents there have have been through one lock down after another. At least they had a government who was taking the proper steps to help contain the virus unlike Trump who once suggested injecting bleach into one's vessels or simply saying the virus would go away by the summer because of the higher temperatures. My sister said she was turning to the internet to play online pokies and basically gamble at online casinos to keep her sanity. I thought she was joking but she emailed me a link to an affiliate for online casinos that she visits every Thursday to see what weekly promos for their featured Aussie friendly casinos were offering. She said they also had a promo page for US players. I informed her that NYS does not allow online gambling. Move someplace else was her reply. Not likely that was going to happen. I only pray that Trump is not re-elected and Biden wins. One more week before our elections!
Back in 2007 folks thought the Bush administration years were bad. Little did they ever expect to have to suffer through 4 years of the Republican administration of Donald Trumps. What is it with these Republicans anyway?
Jackson Resigns as DHS Deputy Secretary
Message from Secretary Chertoff: Resignation of Deputy Secretary Jackson
National Press Release 2007
WASHINGTON - It is with regret that I inform you of the resignation of Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson from the Department, effective Oct. 26, 2007.
Deputy Secretary Jackson has served the Department as its chief operating officer since coming to DHS in January 2005. He is the longest serving Deputy Secretary at this Department and has devoted enormous energy, talent, and thought to making it a stronger, more integrated, and mature organization. He is a remarkable chief operating officer, my most trusted counselor, and a close personal friend.
The Deputy Secretary is an outstanding public servant. He came to this Department after his tenure of more than two years as Deputy Secretary at the Department of Transportation. Among his many achievements, he helped to stand up the new Transportation Security Administration and managed the recovery efforts for the nation’s aviation industry after 9/11. He has served in two other administrations, as Special Assistant to the President for Cabinet Liaison and later Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Transportation under President George H. W. Bush, and in various capacities at the Department of Education during President Reagan’s administration.
The Deputy Secretary will leave this Department having made an enduring impact on our homeland security. At this Department, he was fundamental in invigorating our operating components, fusing our intelligence capabilities, building a new FEMA, and managing the response to the disrupted airline plot of August 2006. He brought tremendous focus, discipline, and planning to Department-wide operations, budgets, and polices, and he significantly advanced the integration of our component agencies. He is widely respected throughout the Congress, by state and local officials, and international allies.
Our homeland is more secure and better prepared as result of Deputy Secretary Jackson’s tireless service, and on behalf of all Americans, I offer him our deep gratitude. I respect and admire his difficult decision to move on, and I look forward to our continued friendship.
| Hearing Reveals Weaknesses Along Northern Border
Monday, October 01, 2007
| Web Site Allows Employers to Verify New Hires
Monday, October 01, 2007
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Law of Sea
U.S. Senate Holds Hearings on UNCLOS
The U.S. Senate recently held two hearings on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Treaty, which governs the world’s oceans and oceanic resources, on September 27 and October 4. Some aspects the treaty regulates include maritime pollution, offshore fishing and drilling, the ability to travel through coastal countries’ waters, and high sea interdictions. This controversial treaty has been debated since the Reagan Administration.
Proponents of the treaty, including energy companies, the military, and environmentalists cite many positive reasons why the United States should ratify the treaty that 154 countries have already signed. The Law of the Sea Treaty sets a global standard for marine environmental protection -- all signing nations are legally bound to prevent pollution and protect fish populations and the marine environment in general. The treaty also ensures the U.S. Navy and commercial ships’ right to travel freely through foreign countries’ territorial waters. Additionally, the treaty’s Law of the Sea Tribunal provides a peaceful method of settling quarrels over natural resources and territory.
Finally, the treaty provides each signing country with exclusive rights to managing the resources near its coast. When mapped out by the United Nations Law of the Sea, the United States’ zone is larger than that of any country in the world, 3.36 million square miles (larger than the 48 contiguous states combined), enabling the U.S. to claim more oil and mineral resources on the continental shelf near Alaska.
There are also many opponents to the Law of the Sea Treaty and several of their reasons to not sign the treaty are direct responses to proponents’ reasons to ratify it.
First, some of the treaty’s environmental provisions would allow non-U.S. environmental groups to file lawsuits in U.S. and international courts in attempts to manipulate domestic U.S. environmental policy.
Second, opponents state that legally-recognized navigation rights are not necessary because they are not presently jeopardized by any law or military able to oppose the United States.
Third, the Law of the Sea Tribunal, which is not necessarily democratically elected, would be able to command the U.S. to free a vessel held on suspicion of illegal activity -- including those interdicted due to transporting illegal weapons or terrorists.
Other concerns over the treaty include the U.S. not having any control over the funding of the project and the treaty applying eminent domain to intellectual property, enabling the United Nations to seize technology if it so desires. Regardless of the concerns over the treaty, President Bush wants the United States to ratify it.
In a May 15 statement, he said, “First, I urge the Senate to act favorably on U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea during this session of Congress. Joining will serve the national security interests of the United States, including the maritime mobility of our armed forces worldwide. It will secure U.S. sovereign rights over extensive marine areas, including the valuable natural resources they contain. Accession will promote U.S. interests in the environmental health of the oceans. And it will give the United States a seat at the table when the rights that are vital to our interests are debated and interpreted.”
Senator Richard G. Lugar, who opened the second Senate hearing, agrees with President Bush, "At the first hearing on the Law of the Sea one week ago, we heard unequivocal testimony from the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Navy in support of U.S. accession to the Convention. It was clear from this testimony, as well as from President Bush’s statement on the Law of the Sea, and communications from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, that the U.S. national security leadership is strongly united in favor of this treaty. As Admiral Patrick Walsh, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and former commander of the Fifth Fleet, testified: 'Right now, where I sit, we have a deficiency, by not being party to the Law of the Sea Convention, and it is one that we must correct.
This Convention is valuable to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast Guardsmen and it’s time we joined the Convention, and we owe it to them.'"
| Coast Guard Acquires New Responsibilities
Monday, October 01, 2007
| New Passport Requirements Begin Today
Monday, October 01, 2007
| This Week’s BPS Agenda in Congress
Monday, October 01, 2007
| Congress Passes, President Signs, Continuing Resolution
Monday, October 01, 2007
Port of Charleston Unveils New Port Security Inspection System
NEW PORT SECURITY INSPECTION SYSTEM DEBUTS IN CHARLESTON
Charleston Regional Business Journal
The OmniView Gantry X-ray Inspection System is able to penetrate up to 14 inches of steel, which provides port officials a comprehensive and secure means of inspecting cargo containers for terrorist threats. It is also deployed on a gantry system, which allows mobility.
The system was developed jointly by American Science and Engineering Inc. and the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center-Southeast, a program of the National Institute of Justice that is administered by the South Carolina Research Authority.
OmniView will be transferred to Project Seahawk and operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Development of the equipment was funded through a grant from the National Institute of Justice.
“The relocatable OmniView Gantry is an ideal solution to secure our nation’s ports,” said Anthony Fabiano, president and CEO of American Science and Engineering, which is working closely with the Port of Charleston to provide technology for efficient inspection of containerized cargo. The company develops and supplies X-ray inspection systems for a range of uses, including detection of plastic explosives and weapons, liquid explosives, dirty bombs and nuclear devices. The company’s product line includes cargo inspection systems and baggage screening systems.
The Port of Charleston, one of the largest container ports in the nation, is home to Project Seahawk, a law enforcement task force that brings together federal, state and local agencies to improve port security and serves as a model for other ports around the nation.
“This further enhances the Port of Charleston’s aggressive security posture,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority. “It is vital that increased security be balanced with the smooth flow of commerce. This new unit will help do that.”
| House Adjournment Target is November 16
Monday, September 24, 2007
| Action on Continuing Resolution Expected This Week
Monday, September 24, 2007
| This Week’s BPS Agenda in Congress
Monday, September 24, 2007
| Federal Deficit Declines by 9.8 Percent
Monday, September 17, 2007
DHS Announces Maritime Pilot Program
DHS Announces West Coast Maritime Radiation Detection Project
Written by American City & County Administrator / 6th September 2007
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) announced the West Coast Maritime pilot program that will provide maritime radiation detection capabilities for State and local authorities in Washington's Puget Sound and California's San Diego areas. The three-year pilot program involves the development of a radiation detection architecture that reduces the risk of radiological and nuclear threats that could be illegally transported on recreational or small commercial vessels. The pilot will be conducted in close coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) announced the West Coast Maritime pilot program that will provide maritime radiation detection capabilities for State and local authorities in Washington’s Puget Sound and California’s San Diego areas.
The three-year pilot program involves the development of a radiation detection architecture that reduces the risk of radiological and nuclear threats that could be illegally transported on recreational or small commercial vessels. The pilot will be conducted in close coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection.
“The West Coast Maritime pilot program addresses a potential threat pathway in the maritime domain,” says DNDO Director Vayl S. Oxford. “This project reflects the priority that the department has placed on balancing risk against all potential threats.”
DNDO anticipates investing roughly $10 million in the pilot program. The Puget Sound region and San Diego, with DNDO assistance, will leverage existing federal grant funding to support small vessel radiation detection programs and the procurement of recommended equipment.
DNDO expects to deploy non-intrusive, passive detection sensors, such as human-portable radiation detection equipment, mobile sensors, and fixed-position detectors. The goal of the program is to evaluate the efficacy and begin to facilitate the use of radiation detection equipment by local authorities and maritime partners as part of their routine operations in the maritime environment.
A small vessel is defined as any watercraft that is generally less than 300 gross tons. Small vessels include commercial fishing vessels, recreational boats and yachts, towing vessels, uninspected passenger vessels, or any other small commercial vessels involved in foreign or U.S. voyages. The definition distinguishes small vessels from large commercial vessels and yachts, generally 300 gross tons and over, that are subject to security regulations already put in place under the authority of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
The West Coast Maritime pilot program is underway at Puget Sound, with initial assessment activities beginning in July, and will start soon in San Diego. DNDO will be working with maritime partners and local authorities in both areas to assess the geographic configurations of the ports to maximize detection and interdiction opportunities. Additional analyses for local partners will include a baseline survey of the existing radiological and nuclear detection architecture, a gap and risk assessment, and associated recommended actions to be developed in conjunction with maritime stakeholders. Maritime stakeholders will also receive guidance from DNDO on operational protocols, training, and exercises that support small vessel radiation detection capabilities.
| DHS Announces New Steps to Approve Private Aircraft Security
Monday, September 17, 2007
BILL AND REGULATIONS