When is this Madness Going to Stop

Two articles from Lloyds List

A seven-hour wait imposed on 2,000 elderly cruise passengers demonstrates how unwise it can be to question US border enforcement bureaucracy

By John AC Cartner

Wednesday 13 July 2011

THE events that followed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center showed the reality of the US government’s distance from the world. Police control and abuse of any person has become an art form in fully-propagandised and bizarrely theatrical attempts to secure borders from foreign aggression by controlling all residents or entrants. Residents deal with abusive government knuckle-draggers and their contracted lackeys daily. Aliens are subjected to worse doses of narrow-minded xenophobia from the border enforcement services.

Now comes the gross and wanton abuse of a group of 2,000 retirees by a US government-trained and organised gang of strutting macho types in flak vests. These sneering public salarymen also wear armbands and use attack dogs. The 2,000 retired people had become egregious state-threatening security risks — instantly. The abuse of those coming into ports is especially well practised.

The P&O cruiseship ARCADIA departed Southampton on April 12 on a 15 port, 72-day voyage to Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, the Panama Canal and the US West Coast to Alaska. The UK pensioners had been vetted by US immigration on first arrival with the submission of the standard forms for passengers requiring multiple entries. Subsequent arrivals occurred with ease. Southbound to Panama, the vessel called Los Angeles — the 10th US call.

Clearly the control weenies expected fully-obeisant grovelling when they sent a gang-squad of eight to clear 2,000 passengers. What were the ministerial morons thinking? By deliberate under manning they were contriving to guarantee a set-up of the exercise of free speech for which they could punish those speaking.

Upshot: Seven hours of confinement for 2,000 elderly people without toilets, drinking water or places to sit. However, the immigration inquisitors imposed that on the group indiscriminately. Hence, 2,000 waited seven hours.

The crime? Contempt of cop. Some 38 passengers questioned whether or not the security measures were wholly necessary for a group of elderly people cleared routinely nine times before on the same voyage. This was apparently done without due kowtowing, forelock pulling, hat removal and boot licking required by the rules of etiquette of their government betters in such situations.

Thus the passengers got the full Monty: fingerprints of both hands; retina scans; detailed checks of passports; questioning as to backgrounds. The ancillary punishment: herded as animals; made to stand in temperatures up to 80 deg F with neither food, water nor toilets. The expected results? Some fainted. Others were merely confused. All were abused. One woman asked a strolling uniformed punk about toilet facilities, to be told: “Do it over the side, we won’t mind.”

Then a little more perversion to increase the delay. The computers — so said those kindly folks behind the immigration counter — broke.

Class warfare is alive, well and bureaucratically and lawfully entrenched in the US. The “we of the government inside against those people out there” mentality prevails. The bureaucratic hive is fully informed of the state of the combat and intends to keep the upper hand now it has been won.

The government does not hesitate to use any method, howsoever questionable, to intimidate, induce fear, trample civil liberties and cause gross inconveniences when the dull little minds of its mediocre hirelings are ruffled — or simply for their own perverse delights. Seafarers know a good deal about this. Paying passengers are not immune. Why? The public clowns can pervert the system — and do.

We have seen the genital gropings of airport passengers defended by former FBI hack ‘Airport’ Johnny Pistole operating the Transportation Security Administration. We observe the absurdity of his Transportation Worker Identification Credential. The country has become security crazy. Everyone is a security risk, whatever that means to the assessor of the risk within the government and howsoever perverse he or she might be. Aliens are security risks simply because they are aliens.

What is interesting about the P&O matter: with travel, an eight-hour shift was fully consumed; precisely no more and no less. One supposes overtime was not allowed. One also supposes the managing superiors were fully knowledgeable about the goings-on of the gang of eight. Teach these people who can afford such a cruise a lesson. About what? American rustication, rudeness, crassness, frontierism and arrogance? The old saw, “Europeans view Americans as Americans view Texans” was verified empirically yet again by the official buckaroo set resident in Los Angeles.

What could P&O do for its customers? Very little, lest it be a target of the same revenge. Revenge against companies costs and the bureaucratic class know that. Companies, then, suddenly become quite circumspect knowing that there are many passengers coming their way but that they have to deal with the US government toads regularly and frequently.

P&O said: “The delay in immigration procedures was largely to blame on issues with the Customs and Border Protection computer systems, not aided by the verbal approach that a minority of our passengers, clearly frustrated by this delay, took with the local immigration officers.” Further: “The US has a record for the most stringent and thorough security and entry requirements in the world, and they felt the need to enhance their security checks further, which they have the power to do.”

And do it they did. Another shameful step down for the Sweet Land of Liberty.

John AC Cartner is a maritime lawyer practising in Washington DC. He holds the US Coast Guard’s unrestricted master mariner certification and is the principal author of The International Law of the Shipmaster (2009)

 

Ten years of bad treatment of seafarers and those with legitimate reasons to visit ships is enough

By Michael Grey

Thursday 14 July 2011

HAS security become something of a nonsense and even something of a scam? It is may be worth thinking of these things as we approach the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist outrage which rewrote the way security was defined.

Some might say that security has become utter nonsense, as they watch elderly people struggling with their shoes in airport security checks, with no discretion or vestige of common sense given to the people manning the electronic detectors.

As somebody always selected for a more intensive search because of a metal knee, I now refuse politely to take my shoes off unless a chair is provided and recommend this strategy to anyone thus handicapped.

But these are but momentary inconveniences to air travellers. It is those who have anything to do with ships these days who have a permanent reminder of rigid, unthinking and mostly nonsensical security rules, in the way authorities interpret the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

The members of the International Ship Suppliers Association, for instance, have become so frustrated at the security hoops through which they must jump that they are going to raise the matter at the next meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Facilitation Committee, whose purpose is , er… facilitation, which the ISPS Code seems determined to prevent.

The association cites practical difficulties, where every single person going in and out of a port to board a ship has to have individual certification, a matter frequently laden with bureaucracy.

ISSA president Jens Olsen points out this is often a money-making exercise, as these certificates have to be bought, and in some places “large amounts of money” have to be paid to take supplies in and out of a dock gate. This is a scandal and abuse and has nothing to do with security and is all about people cashing in on the residual fear of terrorism, which has never been an issue in the shipping industry.

When the ISPS Code was rushed into place, amid the protestations that it was not in any way going to harm international trade, the practical issues of implementation tended to be left to people who either “love to say no” or saw it as a revenue raising exercise.

In far too many places, they also seemed to fail to understand — maybe they never knew — that when a ship came into port there were all sorts and conditions of people who had a perfectly legitimate reason for boarding it.

The person delivering the stores that had been ordered by the agent was just one of these welcome callers. Why should his company have to pay a “toll” to deliver the groceries or the essential spares?

When the radar breaks down, why should an electronics expert have to plead on his bended knees to some jobsworth minding a private wharf to permit him access, so as the ship can depart in a seaworthy condition?

What possible reason could there be, other than some mind-numbing and nonsensical excuse, for denying a technical superintendent an essential visit to his own ship?

And so the stupidity goes on, all around the world.

But these are occasional, albeit important, callers to a visiting ship. What about the sheer bloody-minded misery that is visited upon the crew in so many countries, with routine denial of shore leave, unreasonable visa requirements and idiotic conditions attached to people joining and leaving ships.? Much of this owes its genesis to the fallout from 9/11, when it might have been thought that it had been captured bulk carriers rather than aircraft which had been the chosen transport mode for the suicidal Islamist terrorists.

At the time it might have been appropriate to examine maritime security, although all the endless debates about terrorists employing a ship like a guided missile and Bin Laden’s phantom fleet have been ridiculously far-fetched.

But in the pain all this ham-fisted security has caused to people who live and work on ships, the over-reaction has produced a tangible and negative effect upon their quality of life and we ought to be remedying this forthwith.

To some security minded person who will immediately write in to the editor and accuse me of taking a terrible threat lightly, I would just suggest that he provides the evidence — any evidence — of maritime terrorism over the past 10 years.

He might also answer my inquiry as to how he would feel after a voyage, with the ship wrapped in razor wire and with the accommodation locked down for a passage across the Indian Ocean, the crew on treble watches, he arrives in a port where some officious official tells him that there will be no shore leave, and no visitors permitted to the vessel.

Let us take the security bull by the horns. Ten years of this bad treatment of seafarers and those with legitimate reasons to visit ships is enough. It is time to revisit ISPS and to relax those rules and regulations flowing from the code that are over the top and bear no relationship to actual threat.

And in this process, we should not only hear from the security experts who have a vested interest in maintaining their activities, and in some cases lucrative businesses, but also the people who have been on the receiving end of their rules and regulations and who deserve to have their views strongly represented.

 

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