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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:37 AM
Original message
Homeland Security hearing yesterday
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 08:39 AM by TayTay
Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Mr. Chairman, thank you. Just a brief statement, if I may.

First of all, thank you for holding this hearing.

Mr. Chertoff, thank you for coming in and sharing some time with us.

I was pleased to support your nomination. I know you're working hard to protect the country.

There are a lot of areas to focus on. Obviously, you've heard some of them expressed in the concerns of my colleagues.

KERRY: I'd just like to focus on one quickly in my opening comments, if I can, and that is the issue of port security, specifically management of the grant program and the status of national prevention and contingency plans.

In January, the DHS inspector general issued a report you're well familiar with saying that the current design of the grants program compromises DHS's ability to direct resources to the nation's highest priorities.

In assessing the administration of the program, the I.G. found that only one staff person at TSA managed the distribution of 811 grants in 2003; found that 82 of 86 grant applications transferred from TSA to the Office of Domestic Preparedness lacked merit but still received funding; and most importantly, found that of the $564 million that was awarded through 2004, only $106 million was actually spent to improve port security.

This is a fairly amazing statistic, as well as reality, when you measure what experts have told us about ports and the potential threat, which you're well familiar with.

I know that you and DHS concurred with most of the recommendations, but it's never been set forth, sort of precisely, how that's going to ultimately be implemented.

Last week, on the homeland security appropriations bill, I submitted an amendment to require the inspector general and others to report within 90 days detailing how that implementation is taking place, will take place. So, obviously, I hope you'll cooperate in that effort.

But, more importantly, I am really concerned, and I think others are, that we remain ill prepared.

Now, I heard your comments the other day, and I respect the distinction you're trying to draw. I would concur that we can't prevent everything, and there are certain limits and there are certain realities we have to live with.

But the department still has not finished a national maritime security plan mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act. The country still has no plan to reroute commerce should a port be attacked. And that lack of planning could prove destructive to our economy if there were a major port being closed, especially if oil or natural gas deliveries were stopped. So I would urge you to tackle this. Obviously, I have some questions on it when the question period comes.

I hope we never need it, but there's no doubt in my mind that railroads, highways and cities are all impacted by what does or doesn't happen with respect to port security itself, because they're so interconnected.

And I look forward to having a chance to explore this with you a little bit.

(SNIP) There was a not more. You can see the hearing as it is archived at: http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/witnesslist.cfm?id=... (And it was fairly short ~ Hour)
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MH1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thank you, thank you!
I love it when he gets wonky...
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. There was a lot more
He JK was a principle questioner and Chertoff referred back to his questions even when addressing another Sen.

The doldrums of August are coming up. Then you can go back and look at interesting hearings that got missed the first time due to little things like Rove and TreasonGate and the nomination of a Justice for the SC. (Sigh! We are busy now aren't we.)
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
3. Do you have a link for the transcript,
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 10:35 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. No, Congress has given up publishing transcripts
However, if someone were to, theoretically, PM someone else and theoretically request proprietary and copyrighted material, well then, it would of course be refused as you know, copy right and everything.

wink, wink, nod, nod.
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 12:46 PM
Response to Original message
5. Okay, a little more
Conrad BURNS: Well, the airlines will tell you that it's pretty hard to pass along any fees back to the passenger now, because it takes away their ability to adjust for their costs.

And from what I have seen, they are right about that.

And as far as your travelers are concerned, you know, whenever we went, we had to take off our shoes, it cost me a couple of -- well, about a dozen pair of socks I suppose. I wear awfully good tops, and that happened.

But I also found out they get very nervous when you have a set of spurs in your bag if you're traveling between here and Montana too. I never got them spurs back.

But anyway, we would work with you -- as far as EAS, I think we would work with you and come up with some plan. When we reauthorize the aviation part of that, we want you to be involved in that a little bit, because we feel like that it's part and parcel of what we're trying to do.

With the new technologies that we're going to employ, we're going to change the FAA just a little. Of course, that's a very slow process, as you well know, understanding the bureaucracy.

And I thank you for your willingness to cooperate and to communicate on that issue.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

STEVENS: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I was, kind of, curious what the senator uses the spurs for in Washington, but I won't go there. (LAUGHTER)

Mr. Secretary, as I mentioned in my opening, the Maritime Transportation Security Act requires the maritime security plan. This is prior to your coming in. It was passed in 2002. It didn't have a deadline in it. But because the deadline wasn't met by DHS prior, again, to your coming there, the Congress put a December 31st, 2004, deadline into the intelligence reform bill.

That was missed by DHS, who then said it would be completed by April 1st, 2005. That was missed. It wasn't completed. It was then expressed to this committee's staff that it would be expected on June 1st. That deadline has passed. And again, there is still no plan.

So the question looms large, particularly in light of what you've said about catastrophic possibilities, why no plan? Where is the plan? When can we expect the plan?

CHERTOFF: Well, Senator, I know we are working on this issue both in terms of the maritime security plan, what we call maritime domain awareness, and it's in the interagency process, meaning that we are coordinating this, obviously not only with -- agencies within DHS like Customs and Border Protection and Coast Guard, but also with Department of Defense and Department of Transportation.

CHERTOFF: I guess the lesson I've drawn from the recitation of missed deadlines is I would hesitate to give you a deadline here if I'm not comfortable that I can back it up. But I will get back to you as to what the deadline is.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to leave the impression that we're not working on it or we're not doing additional things in the area of port security, because one of the things which we focused on as part of this review is the whole issue of how do we deal with the problem of cargo and people coming into our ports through the maritime domain and to start to think about more comprehensive policies to deal with the major threats.

And as I know you know, when you look at the ports, there are threats that both come from the land side and from people mounting a direct attack on the port itself.

And then there's the somewhat distinct question of cargo coming in, which is the whole container issue, which we are dealing with partly through targeting and screening, partly through detection equipment, but which also, I think, ultimately requires us to look more comprehensively at the whole way in which the cargo system and the container system operates.

KERRY: Can I interrupt you there for a minute just to kind of use the time as effectively as we can?

I appreciate what you're saying. But you said, and I accept what you said, that catastrophic threat with devastating impact is the most significant thing we need to be thinking about.

We have discovered containers with human beings in them who have been smuggled in and they died, and there are others who have gotten in obviously.

Containers, according to most experts, are sort of a prime target because there are millions of them. And we're currently inspecting -- what percentage now are we up to? Two, 3 percent?

CHERTOFF: I think it's a little more than that, but we screen 100 percent. We inspect some small portion of those.

KERRY: And the question is when you look at the potential of either dirty bombs or biological or other kinds of threats, why some of the proposals with respect to security and tracking have not been put in place over the course of the four-year period? Why a more robust inspection process when law enforcement itself suggests that unless you get up around 20 percent, you're not reaching a sufficient deterrent level?

So the question is how do we get there? And particularly in view of the fact that out of $564 million, only $106 million had been spent as of several months ago.

CHERTOFF: Let me tell you where we've been -- what we've done so far and where we're going.

We screen 100 percent of the cargo that comes in. We inspect a percentage of them based upon how we score the risk of the cargo depending on, among other things, what we know about the shipper, what we know about the underlying cargo, whether the shipper is involved in any, essentially, a Registered Traveler program.

And then with respect to inspection, we are in the process of deploying detectors that can detect radiation, as well as non- intrusive screening devices. For example, something that allows you to essentially look into a container and determine whether there's something there that's...

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: The point is that technology has existed now for some period of time. If we're on a, quote, "war footing" and we have this available funding -- obviously, we don't have all the money in the world, but we do have money that's unspent -- why has that not been put on the sort of "war footing" deployment schedule?

CHERTOFF: Well, I think some of the money that's -- when you deal with money that's unspent, I think some of that involves grants.

And I think one of the issues with grants is, of course, sometimes the grantee doesn't spend the money that quickly. Sometimes, of course, they have to obligate the money first, as you know, and then they only draw down the money once they get the delivery of the goods.

CHERTOFF: I guess for the public the way I would explain it is, you know, when I get a contractor in the house, first I get him to sign up with a contract, but I don't pay him the money until he does the work. Sometimes that takes a month, sometimes it takes more than a month.

And that's just kind of common sense. You don't want to pay until you get the stuff. And that's sometimes why there appears to be a delay in drawing down on funds.

KERRY: A lot of Americans would ask the very practical question: How many years does it take, how many months does it take when your security is at risk?

CHERTOFF: Well, it should not take years.

And one of the things we want to do is work with our grantees to make sure they are more prompt about obligating and getting contractors who deliver more quickly so we can pay the money out.

But I will say we have deployed dozens and dozens of -- I don't have the exact figure, but many radiological detectors in ports. We've got a number of ports now completely covered by radiological detectors.

But we also, again, want to move to the next level of technological ability, which is one of the reasons we've pushed so hard for this domestic nuclear detection office, because in the end we really need to get a better quality of detector. We have a good quality now, but a better quality. And that means we've got to jump start some research and really move forward on it.

So I share your urgency, and one of the things I'm very eager in doing is continuing to push our initiative overseas. We now have a number of foreign ports where we do the inspection overseas. We need to continue to do that and work with our allies overseas to really get a global network of these inspection capabilities.

KERRY: I couldn't agree more.

The only frustration that I have, and a lot of people have, is that we've been talking about this for several years. This priority of getting the ports abroad involved in the full inspection, as well as the tracking security devices to make sure there's been no tampering during transit, has all been part of the discussion for a long period of time now. It seems to me we've been frustrated. Last question, just quickly, the light's on. Do you feel as if you -- I know there's been a struggle, you testified in the House about the risk-based judgment of where the grants should go. Senator Lautenberg raised part of the risk question.

But Congress has frustrated you to some degree by insisting this be a competitive program.

And my question to you is, do you have, do you believe, the power now to be able to assert the risk awarding of those grants sufficiently or is Congress still standing in the way of that?

CHERTOFF: I think, as the president's budget proposal indicated, our fondest desire would be to have a situation in which as much of the money as possible was not driven by a geographically-based formula, but driven by risk altogether.

I think under that kind of a system -- I don't know that you can call the winners or losers, because it wouldn't be driven by political jurisdiction, it would be driven by where the consequences would be, where the vulnerabilities are and where the threats would be across the country.

So, obviously, as we move toward that, the closer we move to that, the more ability we will have to apply some of the tools, and they're pretty sophisticated tools that we are now developing that will allow us to identify where the consequences are the greatest and use some of our intelligence to see where the threats and the vulnerabilities are.

So the more we can encourage that move, I think the happier we're going to be.

KERRY: Well, I think it's important.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Love the contrast between Burns and Kerry
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 01:56 PM by karynnj
Kerry politely but firmly asked such serious questions - that really address port security, Burns complains that taking off his shoes at the airport has ruined about a dozen pairs of sock???? And complains that they took his spurs??? How on earth did he ever get elected.

I may need to reconsider who the dumbest Senator is.

Thanks for posting this - for Kerry's comments (although seeing Burns' comments was interesting. )
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. I loved the spurs comment
I included it just because Kerry's joke about it was pretty good. (What does he do with those spurs in DC. and Where or where is WEL when I need her. Or Vektor.)
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Loved Kerry's comment
especially when I saw it on the video - it was too bad the camera was on Chertoff when Kerry said it - but he had a nice grin when the camera returned to him. (He really has a nice sense of humor) The grin was a nice contrast to the very serious demeanor that followed.
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Island Blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 06:36 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. That spurs comment was classic!
I didn't see it (or hear it) but from reading it I got the feeling that Kerry's mind was probably in the gutter just like most of ours would have been if someone mentioned having spurs in a place where they are hardly needed! That comment was funny (yet ever so subtle)!
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. VEKTOR -- Emergency Haiku needed
Spurs! Yeah. Id totally go there is I could produce haikus.
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Island Blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Certainly not Vektor but ...
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 08:12 PM by Island Blue
Senator has spurs
Keeps them with him all the time
Why the need for spurs?


or


Thinks he's a cowboy
Keeps his spurs in D.C.
Who could he be riding there?



Okay, not really funny or dirty - like I said I'm certainly not Vektor. I hope she will forgive me for these latest lame attempts!
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. I liked them. I can only do lame ones
spurred to action
damn that hurts
ER docs laugh lightly

I just went to get a good look at Sen. Burns and I gotta tell ya, those spurs were for the dude ranch in VA, cuz there ain't no way.....
All the pics on his own web site were taken at a distance. That is not a good sign. http://burns.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Images.Hom...

Sometimes a spur is just a spur.

Now if someone else had the spur, well that would be a different story.

:evilgrin: (Damn, I need a vacation.)
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Island Blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I just took a look and all I agree with you
it's probably best if he keeps his spurs to himself! I still think your Junior Senator was having a mind in the gutter moment though. Burns was probably scratching his head saying "Whaaaaaa?"
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. I was right there with him
in the gutter. Right gutter, wrong Sen. (I need to adjust the pic a bit on that one.)

And what's up with those Burns pics? His own website can't post up close pics of him? Not everybody's a keeper I guess.

You know, that transcript was pages and pages long. Even the excerpt here was long. And I focused in on the spurs. Sigh! I just couldn't help myself.
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whometense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:03 PM
Response to Original message
9. Thanks for the video!
I haven't seen him speak in DAYS!! That grin alone was worth the price of admission.
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