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WASHINGTON, March 7, 2006 - In Washington today, House Republicans vowed to defy President Bush's effort to have a Dubai company take over six major U.S. ports. But ABC News has learned about a port threat from within - a major security breach at the ports of New York and New Jersey.

The two ports handle millions of tons of cargo, with scores of cruise ships passing through each year. Truckers who transport much of the cargo are issued ID cards, which give them access to all areas of the port.

ABC News has learned that the cards, given to thousands of truckers by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were issued with virtually no background checks. The Department of Homeland Security recently investigated the New York and New Jersey ports, and found stunning gaps in security.

The new DHS report, obtained by ABC News, shows that of the 9,000 truckers checked, nearly half had evidence of criminal records. More than 500 held bogus driver's licenses, leaving officials unsure of their real identities.

"We have no idea who's in the ports. And many of the folks who come in to service the ports, that drive the trucks back and forth, are people who don't have very distinguished backgrounds. May have criminal backgrounds," said Stephen Flynn, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan think tank.

The intelligence report found truck drivers had been convicted of homicide, assault, weapons charges, sex offenses, arson, drug dealing, identity theft and cargo theft.

According to the report, a review of incident logs involving truck drivers at the Newark Seaport in late 2005 revealed one who was identified as an MS-13 gang member. MS-13 has been described as one of the most dangerous gangs in the United States. The logs also highlighted an incident involving "four cabs without containers [which] exited the terminal without stopping at the red light and ignored verbal commands to stop."

ABC News' Pierre Thomas filed this report for "World News Tonight."


5,559 Posts
Glad that Homeland Security is getting around to checking the ports....wow what a original idea. Now one would think that regardless of who has charge of the ports that Homeland Security would still be responsible for...well...Homeland Security.
A few months back 60 Minutes took a stroll through the back gate of a major chemical plant to show lax security.
I posted a article regarding the red team of the Dept of Transportation finding security violations in 90% of their airport checks. Now the Dept requires 24 hour notificaton of a planned security check.....Now I feel safer.
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