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US officials want more security funding for Los Angeles, Long Beach ports

  13.11.2017    

US Congressmen and women, mostly Democrats, joined in demanding more federal funding for maritime security in the ports of Los Angeles Long Beach to counter cyber terrorist threats, according to Shipping Gazette.
At an on-site hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee at the port of Los Angeles, members heard port officials, the US Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the longshore union about measures that have been taken to protect the ports following two security scares earlier this year.
The testimony appeared to boost most of the federal politicians' determination to push through additional funding for port security.
The Trump administration's initial budget proposal last spring threatened to reduce port security funding, reported Transport Topics of Arlington, Virginia.
Democrats oppose switching budget priorities towards the building the Mexican border wall proposed by US President Donald Trump.
"The people we talked to today are getting it right, but more training and resources are needed," said Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, the committee's ranking Democrat.
The border wall was mentioned only once - by Mr Thompson - during the 90-minute hearing, arguably because there is no direct tradeoff between funding for the wall and port security measures.
But California Democratic Congresswoman Nanette Barragan whose district encompasses the port of Los Angeles, claims the issue of the wall looms over the matter of port security.
"These are conflicting interests," said Ms Barragan. "We can't put money toward the border wall without taking it away from something else.
"We believe that [the wall] would be a waste of money, and we should put more priority into airport and seaport security."
But California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said stepped-up port security should be paid for by the companies that profit from safer seaborne commerce.
The hearing in San Pedro came at the urging of Ms Barragan, who said the visit was important to raise awareness of port security issues following an August incident when a man in a stolen vehicle being pursued by police crashed through security gates at the Port of Los Angeles, climbed a 120-foot crane and either fell or jumped to his death.
The second scare that promoted the hearing was the June cyberattack against AP Moller-Maersk that forced LA's biggest container terminal to close for three days.
Port of Los Angeles executive director Eugene Seroka said the port has strengthened gate security and changed cargo-entry paths since the crane incident.
Mr Seroka told the panel the Maersk cyberattack was a "call to action for all of us". He said more could be done to monitor internet activities affecting the entirety of the nation's busiest container port.



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