Bush budget calls for increased trucking security

Feb. 9, 2007
The Bush Administration’s fiscal year 2008 budget calls for significant line items related to vetting port truck drivers against criminal databases and terror watch lists

The Bush Administration’s fiscal year 2008 budget calls for significant line items related to vetting port truck drivers against criminal databases and terror watch lists, and guarding major cities against nuclear and dirty bombs built within the country.

This spring, the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) will assess new radiological detection devices that are design to screen cargo and automatically distinguish between naturally occurring radiation and bomb-building ingredients, reported The New York Times. Later this year, DHS plans to begin installing a network of radiation alarms at some bridges, tunnels, roadways and waterways within a 50-mile radius of New York City.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said that by the end of 2008, the first phase of the program in New York City, called the Securing the Cities Initiative, will be completed. Chertoff anticipates two more cities will participate in the program.

“To provide an additional layer of protection against radiological or nuclear threats to our nation’s major cities, we are building on the Securing the Cities Initiative, which is designed to develop radiological detection systems around key entry points to major U.S. systems,” Chertoff said. “This initiative will be funded in fiscal year 2008 with $30 million, which will enable us to begin the process of actually deploying a system in place around New York City.”

According to a DHS press release, the FY 2008 budget called for a $16.5-million increase to the TWIC program. This will provide an integrated, credential-based identity verification program through the use of biometric technology for port workers and truckers who require unescorted access into port facilities, DHS said. The TWIC final rule has been issued, with the initial enrollment of the program scheduled to begin in March 2007.

“We will also invest $26.5 million to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), to enhance worker identification and security at our nation’s ports and critical transportation facilities,” said Chertoff.

DHS said $178 million has been budgeted to procure and deploy radiation portal monitors, including those with next-generation technology designed to produce fewer false alarms. This equipment will be part of the DHS’s plan to screen 98% of all containers entering the U.S. by the end of FY 2008.

To comment on this article, write to Terrence Nguyen at [email protected]

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