CBP May or May Not Detect Nuclear Materials Crossing Our Borders


The Department of Homeland Security has covert operations to assess capabilities “to detect and interdict smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials into the U.S.”

DHS conducted “144 covert operations” in “86 locations by air, land and sea between 2006 through 2013” to test their ability to detect and interdict transport of these materials.

The assessment shows that sometimes CBP can detect and interdict and sometimes they can’t.

The GAO found “differences in the rate of success”.

The CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) had only a $1 million budget for covert operations between fy2009 through fy2013.

CBP had a $1 million budget for covert operations of various activities—including nuclear and radiological testing—covering fiscal years 2009 through 2013, and DHS policy requires that components with limited resources make risk-informed decisions.

It was found that CBP testing does NOT inform capabilities across all border locations and it has NOT conducted a risk assessment that could inform and prioritize the most dangerous materials, most vulnerable locations and most critical equipment for testing through covert operations.

GAO recommended they use their funds better.

Hello, it’s a million dollars. We’ve spent that much on IRS workshops.

The OFTD does not issue annual reports on covert operations despite recommendations to do so and that “limits CBP oversight for improving their capabilities to detect and interdict smuggling at the border”.

There is also a lack of follow up.

The OFTD cites limited resources.

The budget allocated for this seems paltry given the fact that it has spent $791 billion since its inception in 2001.

The Nation in early 2013 called DHS an “obese boondoggle” that has grown into a “miniature Pentagon”.

“Their decision to combine domestic security under one agency turned out to be like sending the Titanic into the nearest field of icebergs,” wrote The Nation.

Other findings:

For around $14 billion each year, the Department of Homeland Security handles disaster response and recovery through FEMA, something that’s meant to encompass preparedness for man-made as well as natural disasters. But a 2012 investigation by the GAO found that FEMA employs an outdated method of assessing a disaster-struck region’s ability to respond and recover without federal intervention—helpfully, that report came out just a month before Hurricane Sandy.

[…] DHS had spent $431 million on a radio system for communication within the department—but only one of more than 400 employees questioned about the system claimed to have the slightest idea how to use it. It’s never surprising to hear that officials at separate agencies have trouble coordinating, but this was an indication that, even within the DHS, employees struggle with the basics of communication.

I don’t often get to quote The Nation but they seem to have this right.

Is it surprising that CBP isn’t getting accolades for their performance assessing, prioritizing, detecting and interdicting nuclear and radiological materials coming into the US?

This is while Mr. Obama has our borders wide open.