‘Ports security’ – fear-mongering propaganda with a disastrous anti-people aim


HALIFAX (24 March 2007) – THE following news item (“Senate panel calls for tougher security at Canadian ports”, reproduced below) suppresses crucial facts of the ongoing actual context in which the Canadian Senate’s “security and defence” committee has been addressing the issues of ports security. The result of this suppression is disinformation to the effect that Canadians at any moment could be consumed in fireballs of nuclear “dirty bombs” detonating in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax or any other international cargo-handling facility in the country.

This “news” is actually a fascist propaganda act delivered on the classic Nazi model famously described by Hermann Goering at his trial in Nuremburg. It is aimed at terrorizing a people to submit to the most extreme measures of their own government which, Goering cynically added, “works the same with any country.”

The US empire is mobilizing all its forces, including the Canadian corporate wealthy and their state, for its program of pre-emptive wars against the world’s peoples. To this end, in the sphere of international trade for example, the US Navy has evolved a highly-developed strategy of controlling “choke points” of the world’s oil tanker traffic. Meanwhile, the US Department of Homeland Security has unfolded an elaborate scheme to tighten “ports security” at all major international cargo terminals, including both airports and shipping facilities.

In last November’s congressional midterm elections, US voters clearly repudiated the Bush Administration’s policies of war and aggression, especially in Iraq.

However, far from these efforts dissipating, the new Democratic Party majority as its first act of Congress this January [2007] – HR-1 – voted more than US$21-billion for stepped up port security schemes.

A month later, in close coordination, the Canadian Senate’s security and defence committee resumed its public relations hysteria about the “danger of a terrorist attack” lurking in the country’s “lax” scrutiny of ports workers. This month, it is openly calling for deploying to the ports a vast goon squad of 1500 RCMP to put an end to this laxity.

At no time in the last two months of corporate media coverage of this fear campaign is it mentioned that the work of Senator Kenney’s committee is coordinated with the US Congressional effort.

Nor has it been mentioned that the US set up CIA branches to direct the monitoring of container movements in the ports of Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax immediately following 9-11. In other words, it can be expected that the ports workers will not only be subject to security surveillance of every aspect of their and their families’ lives but also goon squad attacks by 1500 RCMP directed by the CIA.

Transportation and communications workers are a prime target of current imperialist strategy for two reasons:

* First, the monopolies demand maximum profits in minimum time, and intensified exploitation of the ports workers is one way to minimize the time it takes for their capital to circulate. Speeding up trade with Asia in general and China in particular is their lucrative object, and to this end the bourgeoisie, including ports capitalists in British Columbia, the Maritimes and the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes regions, have been falling over themselves advancing one “gateway” scheme after another  – “Asia-Pacific Gateway,” “Atlantic Gateway,” etc., – while related projects such as the broadening and deepening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Panama Canal or opening up the Northwest Passage are underway.

* Second, the entire “anti-terrorist” assault unfolded at this time in the context of these US imperialist aims on the world scale has been aimed at splitting the people over ethnic and religious origins and backgrounds, and especially at isolating Arabs and Muslims in North America.

However, it is increasingly being countered by struggles waged with the aim of defending the rights of all and opposing the warmongering aims behind the escalation in state-organized racist attacks as well as other more overt war preparations. Struggles in the transportation and communication sectors have enormous ripple effects in the modern social economy that tend to bolster demands for and reassertions of public right against the claims of monopoly right. The entire “anti-terrorist” agenda of the rich is aimed at subordinating to monopoly right the struggles in defence of the rights of all.

* * *

News Item: Senate panel calls for tougher security at Canadian ports

By JIM BRONSKILL, Canadian Press, 23 March 2007

OTTAWA – A SENATE panel says Canada’s ports need tougher sea-container screening, hundreds more police and a high-tech security pass system to prevent terrorists from sneaking a deadly weapon into the country.

The Senate security and defence committee said yesterday there are too many holes in the tattered port safety net to effectively scrutinize the four million containers that arrive annually by sea, almost one-third of them en route to the United States.

“Any one of these containers could contain chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive devices designed to lay waste to a large Canadian or US target,” says the 108-page report, evoking a 9/11-style attack.

“Is this probable? Perhaps not. But was it probable in 2001 that a bunch of terrorists would commandeer planes and fly them into buildings?”

Government and port officials bristled at the allegations of weak security, insisting great strides have been made in the past five years.

“It’s not something that’s been ignored,” said Gary LeRoux, executive director of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, calling it the “No. 1 issue.”

The senators, however, say organized crime, staff and equipment shortages, and a desire to “do security on the cheap” have left the country’s 19 ports vulnerable to terrorist weapon-smuggling.

“We know that Canada’s a target,” Senator Colin Kenny, the committee chairman, told a news conference. “And we know that this is a very likely way of getting something into the country.”

The report says on any given container ship there will be up to half a dozen “ghost cans” — undeclared containers with no indication of where they came from, or what’s inside. Pointing to a system in place in Hong Kong, the senators recommend that every port be equipped with imaging machines that use penetrating gamma rays to inspect sea containers, as well as the staff to operate them round-the-clock.

The goal: Ensure all containers, not just a sample, are scanned for the presence of a “dirty bomb” or other dangerous device.

Mr. LeRoux said it’s “impossible to have complete control of every item in the containers moving all around the world.”

The current security scheme is based on a risk-management system that zeroes in on suspicious containers — a targeted approach that mirrors the overall federal strategy on marine security.

The senators reject that selective means of screening containers. “What you are missing might be infinitesimal, and it might not,” the report says.

The committee also recommends:

A restricted-area identification card for employees that would help control access to sensitive areas at ports.

Increasing RCMP national port enforcement teams by between 1,300 and 1,500 members to “significantly expand” their ability to combat organized crime and deal with national security threats.

More Mounties would also allow, through joint operations with provincial and local forces, additional presence on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway system and major rivers.

Mr. LeRoux said expanded police numbers are not the key.

“We’re playing a chess game, not a football game. You can have all the bodies out there, and that still doesn’t give you the intelligence you need.”

Duncan Wilson, spokesman for the Vancouver Port Authority, said he was disappointed with the Senate report. “We don’t think it’s a responsible look at what’s taking place at the port. Frankly, we’ve been very pleased with government’s attention to port security.”

Natalie Sarafian, spokeswoman for Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, noted Ottawa has put $930-million toward marine security since Sept. 11, 2001 – a program that’s “moulded to the needs in Canada.”

Still, she said the government will review the Senate recommendations, and suggested more police could be placed at ports. “We’re consulting with our partners in the area.”

The report came a day after the same committee blasted airport security as far too lax.

Source: Shunpiking Online, Volume 4 Number 4, March 24, 2007


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Filed under Atlantic Gateway / Atlantica, No Harbour for War (Halifax), Working Class

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