Wal-Mart's dirty secret is out
The Dubai Ports World battle has trumpeted the gaping holes in our seaports' security systems, but few ask: Why are U.S. ports so poorly protected nearly five years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001? Why has the government spent just $630 million -- less than 4 percent of the $18 billion-plus we have spent since 9/11 on airport security -- to make ports safer?
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said it best: "(While we) talk about having strong homeland security, checking 100 percent of cargo containers. In the end, our commercial interests get ahead of us."
Those commercial interests are led by the world's largest retailer and the United States' biggest importer, Wal-Mart. Hunter let slip what is surely Wal-Mart's dirtiest secret: The company, through its Washington, D.C., lobbyist, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, has time and again since 9/11 opposed new port and supply-chain security rules that might cut into Wal-Mart's record profits. Its mantra is: "Security requirements should not become a barrier to trade."
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I have these arguements with my boss all the time. He's a staunch Republican, and is pro-national security while also being pro-Bush and pro-corporation, and when I show him stuff like this... I actually don't know what he'll say.
He's probably reading this right now. At least now he has a few minutes before I come in to prepare.