Bob's Links and Rants

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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Homeland Insanity. If you were worried that you might receive a bomb or anthrax in the mail, would you a) carefully inspect all of the mail that arrives at your mailbox, testing or discarding anything that looks suspicious; or b) hire tens of thousands of people to check all mail deposited in any mailbox or post office anywhere. If you picked b, congratulations, you could work for the Department of Homeland Security. Rather than station more agents at US ports to inspect incoming cargo, DHS and the other geniuses in the Bush administration have decided to inspect cargo as it departs foreign ports. And there are a lot of foreign ports, with lots of ships departing all of the time. Many will be headed for Yokohama or Rio or London, but that's what terrorists would say if they were really headed for New York, so you'll have to inspect them all. You'll also have to watch those ships all the way here, or else they might get a visit from a fishing boat off the coast of Africa or Asia with the forbidden cargo. In other words, Tom Ridge is an idiot, like many in our government. We try to fight the war on drugs by poisoning plants and people in Latin America and Afghanistan; we try to fight terrorism through terrorism; and we prefer to have an intrusive, largely useless inspection process at dozens of foreign ports rather than providing real security at our domestic ports. Inspecting every ship that arrives at a US port is a major task which would be expensive and difficult to make entirely effective. Inspecting every ship that leaves foreign ports will be much more expensive and impossible to make effective.