The project deals with the relationship between Homeland Security, transportation, and logistics management. The nature of the interconnection between the Department of Homeland Security, public transportation, and logistics is the focal point of the research. Measures elaborated by the state department for the protection of transport, passengers and hazardous goods delivery are scrutinized based on the data retrieved from governmental reports, programs and articles.
Keywords: homeland security, transportation, logistics management, terrorist, attack
The USA is a reputed peacemaker that stands up for peace and equality throughout the world. Valiant though these efforts are, they come up against a serious obstruction in the person of radical Islamist terrorists, most notably Al-Qaeda members, conducting merciless and pointless jihad against worthy adherents of a different faith. What these radicals are engaged in are sabotaging the means of transportation, taking passengers hostage, mining railways, bus stations, and airports, or intercepting toxic, flammable and explosive shipments for them to be potentially used in attacks. Following the events of September 11, America’s line of command, one of the most efficient authorities in its own right, came establishing antiterrorist institutions, of which the US Department of Homeland Security takes lead, watching there might be no potential threats whether it be at sea or overland. To this end, there have been a good number of measures developed by the establishment, including those protecting public transportation and people as well as shipments delivered by sea or land.
According to Wang (2005), it was exactly by the skyjacked commercial airliners that New Yorkers trapped in the towers of the now destroyed World Trade Center were attacked in the course of a heinous act of terrorism back in 2001. The entire airline industry is said to have been all but destroyed; consequently, it took this commercial activity as good as 2 years to fully recover from the blow. American foundation principles of liberty and democratic values became key contributors to the country exposure to a terrorist threat that needed handling. To do so, President George Bush came to create the Department of Homeland Security the better to protect civil freedoms against terrorism and violence. With the possibilities of terrorist attacks coming from anywhere in the shape of bombs, chemical and biological weaponry strong, the institution made it their priority to keep such a critically important infrastructure, as the system of public transportation, including bridges, railroads, subways, and airplanes, to name but a few, intact (Wang, 2005). Taylor (n.d.) believed that transit targets are focal in terrorist strategy that included highways, bridges, and tunnels attacks, including those conducted by terrorist committing public suicide and claiming the lives of multiple victims. Large airports, bus stations, and ferry terminals are chosen from among other targets inasmuch as these overcrowded conglomerating buildings tend to accommodate the large number of passengers on enclosed spaces (Taylor, n.d.).
The cardinal principle in fighting an enemy is to knock economic ground out of its feet. That is what terrorist do, according to Wang (2005), by cutting the lines of supply and unhinging economy, as well as targeting people’s welfare and health. To quote an example, as far back as 1997 terrorist intended to have carried out an attack in New York subway that, as good luck would have it, never came to fruition. During Tokyo rush hours passengers happened to smell sarin nerve gas applied by radicals, which left as many as 5000 people affected as well as claiming the lives of 12 individuals, to say nothing of those suffering permanent brain damage. Madrid attack from 2004 came to be known as the biggest railway terrorism-triggered tragedy on Spanish soil (Wang, 2005). Such are the most dramatic public transportation incidents both in the USA and abroad, which became either the reality due to security inconsistencies or a complete failure thanks to the superior skills of law enforcement structures.
In order for such attacks not to happen sometime in the future, the Homeland Security has elaborated transportation safety strategy to protect subway stations and airports among other transport facilities. It implies the increase in the number of security personnel and sniffing dogs for detecting illicit explosive and toxic substances, as well as checks of facilities. Important are the diagnosis and detection by means of security cameras, broadcasting or closed-circuit TV coverage as well as sensors to help detect radiological, chemical and biological weaponry or materials. To reduce death toll and damage, transportation facilities have been equipped with fire detectors, emergency phones, and quick-response networks. Additionally, if potential emergent situations were to transpire, special exits and rescue vehicles would become indispensable in preventing human casualties (Wang, 2005). As could be seen from the above, Homeland Security had done a lot to keep the US transportation protected by working it tight liaison with the system (Wang, 2005).
The Transportation Security Administration or TSA have elaborated 1 million dollars’ worth of a specific screening equipment called the Train and Rail Inspection Pilot or TRIP for screening baggage and passengers at the New Carrollton station in Maryland. As per Department of Homeland Security spokespersons, there was an international border security program initiated back in December 2004. The program covers international airports, bridges, and borders and authorizes the application of photographing, fingerprinting, as well as the so-called background checks in databases for any foreign visitors other than those from European countries to be identified. These are visitors from 27 countries, being allowed to spend up to 90 days in the USA, without them having to get a visa issued. In the period between September 2003 and May 2004, there had been 4,9 million banned items found to be in possession of passengers at airports, including 400 firearms and 1,4 million items of cold steel. All of them could well have been used in hostage-taking incidents; however, the work of security staff was still wanting as of 2004 (Wang, 2005).
Later in the year, the TSA or Transportation Security Administration decided on installing TIP software or Threat Image Protection on all scanners as well as including lighters into the list of the proscribed items. What transportation officials are planning on doing in the foreseeable future is introducing brainwave fingerprinting or CKA, a computerized knowledge assessment. This technique was developed in 1990s and has been applied ever since then by the FBI, US Navy and courts that uses the electrical properties of suspects’ brains for eliciting information on their affiliation with certain organizations or involvement in illicit activities (Wang, 2005).
Once seized Khalid Sheik Muhammed, one of bin Laden’s closest associates confessed that terrorist were to have assaulted the subway system in Washington D.C. That the USA has 140,000 miles of train routes, over 500 transit operators and that Americans utilize public transport 32 million times per day make transportation system the number one target. Bin laden may no longer be a threat to the US; however, radicalism converts hundreds of neophytes to the extreme ideology of jihad, making them become willing to conduct terrorist attacks, bin Laden or no bin Laden. This is why it is important that changes to the existing means of security be made. To enhance the visibility of personnel, and security measures, to increase security patrols frequency, to encourage awareness by inspiring a security mindset in personnel, to enlist public watchfulness, and to decrease the number of potential bombs’ hiding places is all low-cost steps to be made by transportation services (Prieto, 2005).
Rehearsing rapid response and evacuation measures, assessing the exposure to potential threats in concert with local and federal dignitaries, and verifying the readiness of equipment are about as important for having security system counteract any attempt of a terrorist attack. Still, some measures are yet to be taken given proper financial support. They include the equipment of transportation facilities with cameras and surveillance equipment, the improvement of communication systems, the increase in training on preventing emergencies as well as responding to such. Nor should authorities disregard the importance of the application of new technologies and canine teams for detecting WMD and explosives, improvements to enhance the physical security of bridges, tunnels, vehicles, as well as stations, and the improvement of passengers’ survivability in case of terrorist attacks by amending fire safety, drainage, ventilation and other systems (Prieto, 2005).
Another task of the Homeland Security is to oversee logistics management since the shipments of hazardous goods may be of particular interest to terrorist who look to sabotage the economy and inflict heavy human losses on the American nation. Branscomb, Fagan, Auerswald, Ellis, and Barcham (2010) believed that land-borne hazardous industrial materials, such as flammable, toxic, corrosive, and infectious substances were the potential target of terrorists. They are the staples of American economy and its cardinal branches, such as mining, farming, and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Anhydrous ammonia, chlorine gas, ethylene oxide, dioxide, and hydrogen fluoride are among the most toxic of industrially consumable substances. In the wake of September 11th attacks, there were legitimate concerns as to the possibility of substances being released raised by both public activists and the Homeland Security, be it as a result of an accident or an act of terrorism. The better part of accidents throughout 2000s is reported to have occurred in the nighttime in the areas where the population was sparse; however, health officials reported dangerous inhalation of the substances released to be the case in those transportation accidents. With 140,000 miles of freight railways and as many as 1,2 million dangerous materials delivered on a daily basis, the risk of accidents and attacks is particularly high, especially coupled with the density of population and their unpreparedness to react adequately to a potential emergency (Branscomb et al., 2010).
Boris, Brzezinski, Flynn, Hauter, Hind, and Poje (n.d.) claimed that the 2001 attack made millions of toxic materials, commercial explosives, radioactive nuclear waste, and flammable gasoline delivered by trains and trucks the priority of the Homeland Security. Terrorists seem to have a special interest in hazardous substances that can be hijacked or used in the act of sabotage. Washington’s political infrastructure is in jeopardy, with a considerable number of 90-ton railcars passing in close proximity to the US Capitol. Such chlorine-laded containers alone have the fatal potential of decimating at least 100,000 individuals in 30 minutes’ time as well as jeopardizing 2,4 million people. In 2003, Joy Morgan, the then FBI chief and WMD specialist, noted that intercepting and seizing the shipment of toxic chemicals, such as sarin, was far easier than entering the perimeter and compromising a military base. Such an evaluation speaks volumes for why these substances pose such a huge danger and are within the primary concerns of the Department of Homeland Security (Boris et al., n.d.).
According to Jenkins, Butterworth, Poe, Reeves, Shrum, and Trella (2010), TSA in conjunction with the Homeland security have developed a number of preventive safety measures, such as personnel examination to obstruct any infiltration of hostile intruders in the shape of fingerprint-based security danger evaluation for drivers conveying hazmat, background check of employees, including the verification of immigration status and citizenship. Background checks of criminal records are also an important preventive strategy that is highly efficient. Access control is implemented by means of locked doors, gates, and unattended parked vehicles, photo identification system, security personnel, closed-circuit television surveillance, alarm system, and fenced facilities. Additionally, the current safety system guarantees security en route to a destination point. It requires that drivers’ ID and waybill or route sheet be confirmed, vehicles in transit be attended, communication with drivers be maintained, law enforcement services be alerted in the event of drivers’ not arriving or raising an alarm, and vehicle tracking system or panic button be installed in drivers’ cabin (Jenkins et al., 2010).
The safety of public transportation and passengers is one of the most important tasks of the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attack. Not only do radicals target highly-crowded convention centers, such as shopping malls and conglomerate skyscrapers, but they also attempt to inflict harm on public transport by attacking tunnels, bridges, highways, vehicles, airports, bus stations and other facilities. In order to prevent these attacks from being conducted, Transportation Security Administration together with the Department of Homeland Security have elaborated specific deterrent measures. They include an increase in the number of patrolling security personnel, surveillance and detection cameras, the installation of sensors, and nonstop television coverage to have a clear picture of what goes throughout the perimeter of transport facilities. Logistics management has also become the priority of the DHS over the past decade inasmuch as millions of tons of flammable, radioactive and toxic materials are carried daily. The safety department officials are doing their utmost to protect hazardous materials stirring a particular interest of extremists due to their expensiveness and high toxicity.
Boris, J., Brzezinski, M., Flynn, S.E., Hauter, W., Hind, R. Poje, G. (n.d.). Hazardous materials unsecured: terrorist use of trucks and trains a major threat. Citizen.org. Retrieved from: http://www.citizen.org/documents/ACF1B4.pdf
Branscomb, L.M., Fagan, M., Auerswald, P., Ellis, R.N., & Barcham, R. (2010). Rail transportation of toxic inhalation hazards. Policy responses to safety and security externality. Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved from: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/rpp/Working%20papers/Rail%20Transportation%20of%20TIH.pdf
Jenkins, B.M., Butterworth, B.R., Poe, W.T., Reeves, D.A., Shrum, K.S., & Trella, J.E. (2010, January). Potential terrorist uses of highway-borne hazardous materials. Mineta Transportation Institute. College of Business. San Jose State University. Retrieved from: http://transweb.sjsu.edu/MTIportal/research/publications/documents/2981-terrorist-uses-highway-borne-hazardous-materials.pdf
Prieto, D.B. (2005, August 04). Mass transit security after London bombings. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Retrieved from: http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/3275/mass_transit_security_after_the_london_bombings.html?breadcrumb=%2Fpublication%2F17863%2Ffiscal_stimulus_issues
Taylor, B.D. (n.d.). Terrorist attacks and transport systems. Uctc.net. Retrieved from: http://www.uctc.net/access/28/Access%2028%20-%2001%20-%20Comment%20-%20Terrorist%20Attacks%20and%20Transport%20Systems.pdf
Wang, C.Y. (2005, March). The Protection of public facilities against terrorist attacks. Pro Quest. Retrieved from: http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/homeland/overview.php