Much has been made of King "breaking" with Bush over the Dubai ports deal earlier this year. King is supposed to be some sort of "hero" for speaking out. King stood up with Senator Schumer to demand an investigation into the deal and got praise for that.
Does this make him more appealing to democrats or people who are concerned about port security? Some say yes, but the answer should be NO.
King recently voted against increased funding for port security which mirrored his vote back in 2003 when he voted against an amendment for more money.
The fact is, even without the Dubai Ports World deal, our port security is still miserably bad. Back during the 2004 election, Sen. Kerry brought up the fact that only 5% of incoming cargo is checked "....95 percent of the containers that come into the ports, right here in Florida, are not inspected. Civilians get onto aircraft, and their luggage is X-rayed, but the cargo hold is not X- rayed."
Bush countered "I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises. It's like a huge tax gap. Anyway, that's for another debate."
Has our port security gotten better since 2004?
Not at all.
King says its better but still only 5% of incoming cargo is checked. "Well, they are safer than at 9/11. You know, they say that only 5 percent is actually tested. But a good number of the cargo -- a very high percentage of the cargo is actually screened overseas, and it's monitored. So, it -- listen, we have a long way to go. But it is far better than some of the critics say."
How is the same number as two years ago better?
Isn't it contradictory for King to be against Dubai Ports World managing our domestic ports but as he says "a very high percentage of the cargo is actually screened overseas"?
He is still accepting the fact that foreign security is checking US-bound cargo. What about the foreign ports controlled by DP World?
Does King find it acceptable that US-bound cargo is "screened" at those ports?
How is it better than DP World managing US ports?
While King makes noise about the deal, he also lays cover for Bush.
The DP World deal is only a small part of the over-all problem with port security and King has been MIA on the larger issue of checking cargo.
On Meet the Press King offered some weird convoluted explainations for the weak port security "
"MR. RUSSERT: I--gentlemen, the Democrats have--are saying very loudly that they have tried repeatedly to put more money into port security. Benny Thompson, Democrat on your committee, Congressman, he tried to increase spending by a billion dollars, he wanted to double the number of oversea port inspectors, he wanted to put radiation portal monitors. And every time, the Republicans said no, you voted no. Do you regret now opposing some of those measures to improve port security?
REP. KING: Tim, we have voted to increase port security dramatically, it’s gone up almost $2 billion since four years ago. Almost 100 percent is screened, it’s not actually examined. But even, you know—people use a number that only 5 percent of the cargo is actually examined. Even Senator Clinton the other day, said 15 is maximum. So it’s between 5 and 15, we do have to do more. I support doing more. In fact, my committee is holding hearings next month, Congressman Lundgren, Congresswoman Harman are holding hearings on the issue of port security. More does have to be done, but a lot has been done also.
MR. RUSSERT: So the Democrats were right?
REP. KING: No, we—no, a lot more has to be done. The fact is you don’t just throw money at it, you do it in a way that works. Well, half this technology the people are talking about doesn’t work that well, and the idea is how do you do it? You can’t be examining every piece of cargo that comes in, it’s to do it effectively and also to do it in a way that doesn’t stop world commerce. Having said that, we realize more has to be done. But their idea, in all due respect, often is throw money into it. And you—again, the idea is to do it in an effective, smart way. I think more should be done, and I’ve said that all along."
More has to be done but the Democrats aren't right according to King. And in doublespeak King says "almost 100 percent is screened" but then "it's not actually examined."
King has opposed increased funding for port security and makes cheap excuses. He argues that funding has "gone up almost $2 billion since four years ago" yet he is opposed to "just throw money at it."
Where did that $2 billion go? That's only $500million to cover all our ports from New York to Miami to New Orelans to San Diego and more plus airports. That's just a drop in the bucket and in four years, nothing has changed with cargo.
How is it that we are not checking all cargo coming into this country? Hong Kong checks 100% of cargo containers and HK is a huge pacific port. And they use US made machines "Since 2004, the Hong Kong Terminal Operators Association, which includes both public and private shipping companies, has screened 100 percent of containers using two huge American-built scanners. Trucks carrying containers drive through the machines, which screen for radiological material or high-density metals that could be used to shield a nuclear or "dirty" bomb."
Almost five years after 9/11, multiple attempts by Democrats to get more port security money voted down by King and the republicans, and the uproar over DP World the pace of securing our ports is still stagnant.