Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Aw crap...

You can put this under the ‘This can’t be good’ file.

Undercover investigators (in a report by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, the Congressional watchdog) put radioactive material in the trunks of cars and drove to Canadian and Mexican border checkpoints on Dec. 14, 2005. When Homeland Security radiation detectors went off, the investigators gave the border agents falsified government licenses and receipts. Agents searched the cars, reviewed the documents and promptly gave the investigators the ‘wave through’ and the OK to bring the materials into the US.

Some solace can be taken in the fact that the Homeland Security Department's equipment worked properly, but that goes for naught when the agents (who, according to the report, acted in the way they were trained) let them in anyway.

The GAO also criticized the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for failing to require companies that sell radioactive material to verify who is buying it, with the report stating that there is no way for border agents to verify NRC licenses or other documents.

A NRC spindoc- , sorry, I meant 'spokesman,' said the GAO bought a small amount of radioactive material (is any amount 'small' when talking about radioactive materials?) and stated that the company selling it wouldn't have been required to ask for proof of licensing from buyers because the amount of material purchased was too small to pose a safety or security threat.

(Now, I see a quite a few problems with all of this; first, the fact that the investigators were able to bring the materials into the country in the first place is troubling. Second, that the radioactive materials were purchased so damn easily. Third, that the NRC would respond so flippantly about the ease of purchase of radioactive materials. Yes, the amounts they bought were small, but the fact remains, they were able to make up a company name and get the materials, and if someone did that enough, they would be able to amass enough to make something that would pose a safety or security threat)

Or, to borrow a line from my esteemed colleague, am I oversimplifying this too much?

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