President Bush says that protecting the nation’s ports is a “solemn duty.” But yesterday on Hardball, Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, explained how President Bush failed to do what’s necessary to protect America’s ports, long before the UAE entered the picture. Watch it:
Kean explained to Matthews the gaping security holes at the nation’s ports: “[Y]ou and I can walk today into the port of New York. I don’t think there’s any question about that and get in areas where people shouldn’t get.”
The problems that Kean describes are part of a consistent pattern of neglect. The 9/11 Commission recently concluded that Bush’s cargo-screening efforts are “so far a near-failure.” The Coast Guard estimated in 2002 that it would cost $5.4 billion over 10 years to implement critical security improvements to the nations’ ports as mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act. Bush asked for $46 million for fiscal year 2005, which was below pre-9/11 levels.
Full transcript below:
MATTHEWS: Governor, we only have a minute here, but I think the most graphic example, the problem was this fellow who got himself inside one of these containers and took a trip, you know, he was a stowaway obviously, down to Dallas, and he made — all the way aboard the whole passage down to Dallas and nobody knew he was in there. I mean, if a human being can get in one of these things, I assume something more dangerous can be put in there.
KEAN: I think that’s true and you and I can walk today into the port of New York. I don’t think there’s any question about that and get in areas where people shouldn’t get. That’s the — those are the problems and these people are looking at this issue should transfer their attention, once this is settled and I hope it’s settled in the next week, once it’s settled, they have to concentrate on the really important issue, which is how to secure these ports, how to secure these containers.