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Undercover Feds Slip Nuke Materials Into U.S


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WASHINGTON ? Undercover investigators slipped radioactive material ? enough to make two small "dirty bombs" ? across U.S. borders in Texas and Washington state in a test last year of security at American points of entry.[/b]

 

Radiation alarms at the unidentified sites detected the small amounts of cesium-137, a nuclear material used in industrial gauges. But U.S. customs agents permitted the investigators to enter the United States because they were tricked with counterfeit documents.

 

The Bush administration said Monday that within 45 days it will give U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents the tools they need to verify such documents in the future.

 

TheGovernment Accountability Office's report, the subject of a Senate hearing Tuesday, said detection equipment used by U.S. customs agents to screen people, vehicles and cargo for radioactive substances appeared to work as designed.

 

But the investigation, carried out simultaneously at both border crossings in December 2005, also identified potential security holes terrorists might be able to exploit to sneak nuclear materials into the United States.

 

"This operation demonstrated that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is stuck in a pre-9/11 mind-set in a post-9/11 world and must modernize its procedures," Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said Monday in a statement.

 

The NRC, in charge of overseeing nuclear reactor and nuclear substance safety, challenged that notion.

 

"Security has been of prime importance for us on the materials front and the power plant front since 9/11," commission spokesman David McIntyre said in an interview.

 

The head of the Homeland Security Department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, Vayl Oxford, said the substance could have been used in a radiological weapon with limited effects.

 

A Senate Homeland Security subcommittee, which Coleman leads, released details of the investigation and two GAO reports on radiation detectors and port security before hearings on the issues this week.

 

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, also found that installation of radiation detectors is taking too long and costing more money than the U.S. expected. It said the Homeland Security Department's goal of installing 3,034 detectors by September 2009 across the United States ? at border crossings, seaports, airports and mail facilities ? was "unlikely" to be met and said the government probably will spend $342 million more than it expects.

 

Between October 2000 and October 2005, the GAO said, the government spent about $286 million installing radiation monitors inside the United States.

 

To test security at U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada, GAO investigators represented themselves as employees of a fake company. When stopped, they presented counterfeit shipping papers and NRC documents that allegedly permitted them to receive, acquire, possess and transfer radioactive substances.

 

Investigators found that customs agents weren't able to check whether a person caught with radioactive materials was permitted to possess the materials under a government-issued license.

 

"Unless nuclear smugglers in possession of faked license documents raised suspicions in some other way, CBP officers could follow agency guidelines yet unwittingly allow them to enter the country with their illegal nuclear cargo," a report said. It described this problem as "a significant gap" in the nation's safety procedures.

 

Jayson Ahern, the assistant customs commissioner for field operations, said a system for customs agents to confirm the authenticity of government licenses will be in place within 45 days. Ahern noted the radiation detectors had sounded alarms.

 

"We're pleased when a test like this is able to demonstrate the efficacy of our technology," Ahern said.

 

False radiation alarms are common ? sometimes occurring more than 100 times a day ? although the GAO said inspectors generally do a good job distinguishing nuisance alarms from actual ones. False alarms can be caused by ceramics, fertilizers, bananas and even patients who have recently undergone some types of medical procedures.

 

At one port ? which investigators did not identify ? a director frustrated over false alarms was worried that backed-up trains might block the entrance to a nearby military base until an alarm was checked out. The director's solution: simply turn off the radiation detector.

 

 

 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,189283,00.html

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CNN article

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/03/27/radioacti...ling/index.htmlWASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two teams of government investigators using fake documents were able to enter the United States with enough radioactive sources to make two dirty bombs, according to a federal report made available Monday.

 

The investigators purchased a "small quantity" of radioactive materials from a commercial source while posing as employees of a fictitious company and brought the materials into the United States through checkpoints on the northern and southern borders, according to a Government Accountability Office report prepared for Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Chairman Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican.

 

"It's just an indictment of the system that it's easier to get radiological material than it is to get cold medicine," said a senior subcommittee staffer about the findings.

 

The report, along with two others by the GAO on the subject of smuggling and detection of nuclear materials, were provided to reporters by congressional sources in advance of the first of two hearings by the subcommittee scheduled to begin Tuesday.

 

The focus will be on what the federal government has done to protect the country against nuclear terrorism. This week's hearings come after almost three years of bipartisan and bicameral investigations into the subject.

 

A second GAO report notes that while the departments of State, Energy and Defense have provided radiation-detection equipment to 36 countries since 1994 to combat nuclear smuggling, operating the equipment has proven challenging.

 

Those challenges include technical limitations of some of the equipment, a lack of supporting infrastructure at some border sites and corruption of some foreign border security officials.

 

The report also notes that the State Department, the lead interagency coordinator in this effort, has not maintained a master list of U.S.-funded radiation-detection equipment in foreign countries.

 

Without such a list, program managers at the agencies involved "cannot accurately assess if equipment is operational and being used as intended; determine the equipment needs of countries where they plan to provide assistance; or detect if an agency has unknowingly supplied duplicative equipment," the report says.

 

It further criticizes the State Department, saying that "without taking steps to ensure that all previously provided radiation-detection equipment, specifically hand-held equipment, is adequately maintained and remains operational, State cannot ensure the continued effectiveness or long-term sustainability of this equipment."

 

A third GAO report observes that, while the Department of Homeland Security has made progress in deploying radiation-detection equipment at U.S. ports -- which include 670 portal monitors and more than 19,000 pieces of hand-held radiation detection equipment as of last December -- the agency's program goals are "unrealistic" and its cost estimate is "uncertain."

 

GAO's analysis concluded that the program may exceed its budget by $342 million.

 

David McIntyre, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told CNN that the agency disagreed with the GAO over the risk significance of the materials taken across the border, but then said he didn't know what materials were involved.

 

The NRC ranks radioactive materials by order of their security significance, such as radioactivity, dispersability and how attractive they might be to terrorists.

 

On the issue of the fake NRC documents downloaded from the Internet and doctored by the GAO investigators to get their shipment past border officials, McIntyre said, "We are concerned about their ability to counterfeit an NRC document, and we are taking steps to address that."

 

The steps include finding ways to make NRC documents more difficult to counterfeit and working with customs officials if they need information about NRC licenses or licensees.

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Why are these things being released to the public?

 

It's like that airport article a few weeks ago... "you can now sneak explosives onto planes without being detected!" Gee, thanks for letting all of us and any potential terrorists know...

 

 

Because this is a democracy. The people have a right to know so as to make conditions better.

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Why are these things being released to the public?

 

It's like that airport article a few weeks ago... "you can now sneak explosives onto planes without being detected!" Gee, thanks for letting all of us and any potential terrorists know...

 

 

Because this is a democracy. The people have a right to know so as to make conditions better.

Nah, they'd probably like to see a terrorist attack, because it would boost Bush's ratings.

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Why are these things being released to the public?

 

It's like that airport article a few weeks ago... "you can now sneak explosives onto planes without being detected!" Gee, thanks for letting all of us and any potential terrorists know...

 

 

Because this is a democracy. The people have a right to know so as to make conditions better.

Nah, they'd probably like to see a terrorist attack, because it would boost Bush's ratings.

 

I'll FESTA you in a second!

 

"YOU f***ING MOTHERf***ING c**k SMOOCHING PUNK!"

 

There. You just got FESTA'd. Let's run this part of the site for a day doing nothing but ad hominem attacks and see how fun it is?

 

....Or not.

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Is this fear-mongering or real? I really can't tell anymore, especially since reports like this come out every time Bush hits an administration low in the polls.

 

 

Wouldn't you like to know about this kind of thing though?

 

These kind of reports come out during highs and lows. They get more press and word of mouth when his numbers are low, of course.

 

I don't think it's a conspiracy.

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Is this fear-mongering or real? I really can't tell anymore, especially since reports like this come out every time Bush hits an administration low in the polls.

 

 

Wouldn't you like to know about this kind of thing though?

 

These kind of reports come out during highs and lows. They get more press and word of mouth when his numbers are low, of course.

 

I don't think it's a conspiracy.

 

Thank you.

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It just always makes me laugh when Republicans are in control of the Executive, Legislative, and, theoretically, the Judicial branches, but they still whine about something. In this case, the media. It's always the media's fault. I mean, isn't it common knowledge that the New York Times and the rest of the liberal media conspired to create 9/11 in the first place? How much more can they possibly hate America? [/end sarcasm]

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Guest Festa

Why are these things being released to the public?

 

It's like that airport article a few weeks ago... "you can now sneak explosives onto planes without beingdetected!" Gee, thanks for letting all of us and any potential terrorists know...

 

 

Because this is a democracy. The people have a right to know so as to make conditions better.

Nah, they'd probably like to see a terrorist attack, because it would boost Bush's ratings.

 

I'll FESTA you in a second!

 

"YOU f***ING MOTHERf***ING c**k SMOOCHING PUNK!"

 

There. You just got FESTA'd. Let's run this part of the site for a day doing nothing but ad hominem attacks and see how fun it is?

 

....Or not.

 

 

YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

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Why are these things being released to the public?

 

It's like that airport article a few weeks ago... "you can now sneak explosives onto planes without being detected!" Gee, thanks for letting all of us and any potential terrorists know...

 

 

Because this is a democracy. The people have a right to know so as to make conditions better.

Nah, they'd probably like to see a terrorist attack, because it would boost Bush's ratings.

You're an ignorant little sh*t, you know that?

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