The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, November 16, 2007


Since I've been picking on the media so much lately, why not continue? We're being subjected to an infotainment (even that might be too generous) presidential race, in which Barack Obama's choice of lapel decoration or Hillary Clinton's stance on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants in New York state-- a plan which has been dumped anyway, making it a moot point-- are center stage.

What are we not hearing anything about from the MSM? The dire state of the union, and problems which are genuine, significant, and complex. Including issues of terrorism and border security terrorism, which the GOP has spent hundreds of billions trying to resolve in their usual inept way.

*U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the governmental agency responsible for keeping terrorists and other inadmissibles out of the United States. They are charged with fulfilling this mission while simultaneously facilitating the cross-border traffic of millions of international travelers every year. The CBP conducts this mission at 326 ports of entry (international airports, harbors, border crossings) throughout the United States. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, nearly a quarter million ineligible individuals were interdicted by CBP and turned away, but the agency estimates that several thousand more were admitted to the country through our ports of entry.

Weaknesses that compromise border security include not verifying the nationality and admissibility of individuals. This failure of the system is the most acute at land crossings. When the GAO did spot checks, they found some checkpoints entirely unmanned.

In the intervening time since the [FBI's Terrorist Screening Center] watch list was initiated, it has mushroomed to include records on over three-quarters of a million individuals. The list has led to approximately 53,000 positive matches. These matches have led to arrests, denial of entry into the U.S., but most often questioning and release. In a disturbing revelation, the GAO found that some of these positive matches occurred after-the-fact. Individuals positively identified and confirmed to be inadmissible to the United States had already boarded and flown on aircraft, or even been admitted to the country, and perhaps become untraceable. . .

Although the GAO found that some progress has been made in the promotion of effective screening procedures, both in the federal sector and the private/critical infrastructure sector, many potentially effective screening opportunities remain untapped. This situation is perpetuated because the government lacks a current strategy and implementation protocol for optimizing the terrorist watch list.

In addition to the lack of formal protocol, clear lines of authority, accountability and responsibility are missing.

After the new [aviation security] protocols were in place, a request was made for the GAO to test the system. To do this, the GAO attempted to:
  1. Obtain the instructions and components needed to create devices that a terrorist might use to cause severe damage to an airplane and threaten the safety of passengers and
  2. Test whether GAO investigators could pass through airport security checkpoints undetected with all the components needed to create the devices.
. . .[T]
wo GAO investigators demonstrated the weaknesses of the security screening process in American airports by smuggling the components for multiple explosive devices and one incendiary devise through security and aboard commercial airliners, without being challenged by TSA officers.