Undercover Investigators Sneak Radioactive Material into US
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
The Government Accountability Office conducted an undercover investigation that revealed alarming lapses in US border security and vulnerability to nuclear smuggling.
The GOA purchased a small amount of radioactive material and one container used to store and transport the material from a commercial source over the telephone. One of the investigators, posing as an employee of a fictitious company located in Washington, D.C., stated that the purpose of his purchase was to use the radioactive sources to calibrate personal radiation detection pagers.
The purchase was not challenged because suppliers are not required to determine whether buyers have legitimate uses for the radioactive sources, nor are suppliers required to ask the buyer to produce an Nuclear Regulatory Commission document when making purchases in small quantities.
The radiation portal monitors properly signaled the presence of radioactive material when teams of investigators conducted simultaneous border crossings — one at the Mexican border, the other at the Canadian border. The investigators’ vehicles were inspected in by agents according to Customs and Border Protection policy at both the northern and southern borders.
Unfortunately, the investigators were able to enter the United States with enough radioactive sources to make two dirty bombs using counterfeit indentification. Specifically, they were able to successfully represent themselves as employees of a fictitious company and present a counterfeit bill of lading and a counterfeit NRC document during the secondary inspections at both locations.
The CBP inspectors never questioned the authenticity of the investigators’ counterfeit bill of lading or the counterfeit NRC document authorizing them to receive, acquire, possess, and transfer radioactive sources.
To address the threat of dirty bombs and other nuclear material, the federal government has programs in place that regulate the transportation of radioactive sources and to prevent illegal transport of radioactive sources across our nation’s borders.
The Department of Homeland Security through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses radiation detection equipment at ports of entry to prevent such illicit entry of radioactive sources.
The goal of CBP’s inspection program is to “…thwart the operations of terrorist organizations by detecting, disrupting, and preventing the cross-border travel of terrorists, terrorist funding, and terrorist implements, including Weapons of Mass Destruction and their precursors.”
Deploying radiation detection equipment is part of CBP’s strategy for thwarting radiological terrorism and CBP is using a range of such equipment to meet its goal of screening all cargo, vehicles, and individuals coming into the United States.
Most travelers enter the United States through the nation’s 154 land border ports of entry. CBP inspectors at ports of entry are responsible for the primary inspection of travelers to determine their admissibility into the United States and to enforce laws related to preventing the entry of contraband, such as drugs and weapons of mass destruction.
The GAO investigation was conducted at Congressional request as a result of widespread congressional and public interest in the security of our nation’s borders, given today’s unprecedented terrorism threat environment. The investigation was conducted under the premise that given today’s security environment, our nation’s borders must be protected from the smuggling of radioactive sources by terrorists.
Unfortunately, the GAO undercover investigators were successful in thwarting security protocols at both US borders.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.