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PORTS & POLITICS: Lessons From the Past: A Renewed Commentary on Port Security

Security measures are much different than 20 years ago, and as we experience and deal with new threats, we must take the lessons learned and build on that framework.

By Albio Sires (NJ-08)

Safety at our country’s ports is not only essential to our economy but critical to our national security. Each day ships arrive at our shores carrying cargo from every corner of the globe, and it is essential that each ship and each container that enters the United States is safe. Today, port security is of paramount importance as ports continue to face growing cyber, nuclear, radiological and chemical threats, and the occurrence of natural disasters continues to rise. Just as we have increased scrutiny at our land borders and our airports, it is vital that we are vigilant in protecting our ports. Security measures are much different than 20 years ago, and as we experience and deal with new threats, we must take the lessons learned and build on that framework.

I proudly served as mayor of West New York, N.J., from 1995 to 2006. West New York is one of the most densely populated towns in the country and sits atop the New Jersey Palisades across from Manhattan. It also neighbors the Port of New York and New Jersey; the nation’s third-largest port. Serving as mayor was one of my proudest experiences, but the attacks of September 11th presented an unprecedented test to the region. At this time, the Department of Homeland Security did not exist, and terrorism was not a household term. Preparing for an attack of such magnitude was foreign because we had never experienced one.

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