Mugged by reality

Remember in 2007 when the Democrats tried to get to the right of Republicans on national security by demanding that all cargo entering the United States be scanned?

Lawmakers agreed Thursday to a goal of scanning all cargo-containing ships before they leave foreign ports as Congress neared a deal on a major security bill to carry out the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. In House-Senate negotiations on the bill, House and Senate Democrats pushed through a provision allowing a five-year window for radiation scanning technology to be put in place and giving the Homeland Security secretary authority to make exceptions. . .

The measure was part of the House bill that passed in January, but it was not included in the Senate version and is strongly opposed by the Bush administration, which said it was technically and economically unfeasible.

It was a worthy goal, but unfortunately an infeasible one. Still, that didn’t dissuade the Democrats; liberals are always reluctant to acknowledge the limitations of reality. Plus, it was great demagoguery.

Execution of the mandate fell to the Obama administration and the five-year deadline is about to expire. What happened? Well, well, well:

The Obama administration has failed to meet a legal deadline for scanning all shipping containers for radioactive material before they reach the United States, a requirement aimed at strengthening maritime security and preventing terrorists from smuggling a nuclear device into any of the nation’s 300 sea and river ports. . . The department’s secretary, Janet Napolitano, informed Congress in May that she was extending a two-year blanket exemption to foreign ports because the screening is proving too costly and cumbersome.

Too costly and cumbersome? Sounds a lot like “technically and economically unfeasible” to me.

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