Friday, February 11, 2005

OK -- you know about the newly released Richard Clarke memo from January 25, 2001, warning Condi Rice about al-Qaeda in no uncertain terms (available here). And you know that the FAA got 52 specific warnings about bin Laden and al-Qaeda between April 1 and September 10, 2001 -- more than two a week.

But hey, that's all in the past. The folks who run things are keeping us safe now, right?

Well, let's see. Here's a story from The Boston Globe: It seems that a certain American company recently imported some radioactive material. The plan was to ship it to Houston. It wound up, instead, slightly off course -- that is to say, it wound up in Chelsea, Massachusetts, an inner-ring suburb of Boston that's fallen on tough times in the past few decades (and happens to be where I was born).

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires immediate notification when such a shipment goes missing. This one went missing in October. The company told the NRC it went missing on Tuesday.

I haven't told you the name of the company. It's possible you can already guess the punch line:

The container held devices that use the radioactive element americium to probe oil wells. It had been imported from Russia by Halliburton Energy Services....

I found this story via a post at Sisyphus Shrugged. You should read the post, because Julia has discovered that the shipper was participating in something called the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program. A little taste of what the Customs Department says about C-TPAT:

Q: As a company, we are very interested in C-TPAT but we are not interested in spending a lot of money, nor putting ourselves in a liability position if something goes wrong. Is it still possible to do this partnership?

A: Yes. Customs intent is to not impose security requirements that will be cost prohibitive....

That should make you sleep better tonight.

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