The U.S. isn’t doing enough to combat terrorism, congressman says

The Bush tax cut is hurting America’s ability to protect itself from terrorists, U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said in a speech at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee annual luncheon.

He called on the Coast Guard to inspect every boat headed for an American port, noting that one well-placed nuclear bomb on a ship could possibly kill millions.

“Twelve million shipping containers enter the U.S. every year,” he said. “We currently inspect less than two percent of them…The U.S. should insists that no container be loaded on a ship bound for the U.S. in a foreign part until that container is searched, sealed, and inspected by an American inspection team. If a foreign country refuses access to American inspectors and their equipment, they should simply be prohibited from shipping anything to the U.S.”

“Inspecting each container before it is put on a ship would cost approximately $7 billion a year,” he added. “Objections may be made that these procedures would be too expensive or that they would reduce commerce. But … consider what would happen to commerce if one atomic bomb exploded in an American port … It would do tens of billions, maybe hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage and would certainly halt commerce completely.”

He added that the recent missile attack on an Israeli plane in Kenya showed the need to put missile defenses on most airliners.

“The total estimated cost of these measures is upwards of $50 billion,” he said. “We have the money. We can and must protect the American people with serious security measures. But this Administration has decided we should not. It prefers hundreds of billions of dollars of tax cuts for wealthy Americans — at the cost of leaving us all much too vulnerable to catastrophic attack.”

The JVC also honored the members of the Tanzanite Task Force, for acting quickly and taking control of an issue—the controversy over terrorist ties to tanzanite—that could have hurt members’ livelihoods.

The Stanley Schecter Award for cooperation with law enforcement was given to lawyers from the Florida State Attorney General’s office for their work in “truth in pricing” investigations.

Jewelers of America executive director Matthew A. Runci paid tribute to former JVC president Barrie Birks. The luncheon opened with a moment of silence in memory of former JA executive director Michael D. Roman.