Port Insecurity: What keeps you up late?

How about this?

Customs inspectors at a pier in New York City send a sealed cargo container just taken off a ship from Istanbul through a radiation scanner. A dozen new tractors seem to be inside. Although the detector senses no radiation, the inspectors open the container anyway. Their handheld units show no radiation either, so they allow the container to leave. A private hauler drives it to a small Midwestern city. There terrorist cell members remove what was their final shipment of highly enriched uranium, concealed as 10 metal washers in the tractor engines, together weighing two kilograms. Months later an improvised nuclear device with a yield of one kiloton is detonated in Los Angeles. The blast, fire and airborne radioactivity kill more than 100,000 people. Virtually all shipping into the U.S. is halted, precipitating a financial crisis. Military operations commence in the Middle East after forensics and intelligence efforts trace the plot to cells in Pakistan and Iran.


Impossible?  Sorry, not even so farfetched.  You see, the radiation detectors that the DHS (Dept. of Homeland Mendacity Security) has been installing at US ports and border ports of entry since late 2002 don’t work. But wait, there’s more!  The new and improved second generation “advanced” detectors that we are about to spend billions of dollars on to replace them won’t work either.

The quote above opens the disturbing article Detecting Nuclear Smuggling in the April issue of Scientific American. It was written by Thomas B. Cochran and Matthew G. McKinzie, two nuclear physicists at the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) who are not exactly DHS’s favorite people.  These are the guys who helped ABC News smuggle a 15 lb. slug of depleted uranium from Istanbul into Staten Island in 2002, and just to show that that was no fluke, did it again a year later.  This time from Jakarta to Long Beach. And what sophisticated method was used to confound the sensors and inspectors?  Well, they carried the section of pipe containing the uranium in a suitcase to where the suitcase was packed in a trunk that was loaded into a shipping container with a bunch of other stuff and off it went.  Devilishly clever, what?

Contrast that with this reassuring propaganda news piece.