Before Congress passed a port-security bill on September 30, a House-Senate panel deleted Senator Jim DeMint's (R.-S.C.) proposed ban on current or future dockworkers convicted of murder, conspiracy, explosives trafficking, and transporting hazardous materials, among other felonies.
As the Wall Street Journal's John Fund reported October 2, conferees stripped this language "in the dead of night at the behest of unions fearful that too many of their members could lose their jobs." Call this measure "No Longshoreman Left Behind."
Among the 9,000 truck drivers the Department of Homeland Security investigated in New York's and New Jersey's ports, about half carried convictions for such crimes as homicide, arson, and drug distribution. DHS concluded: These are "vulnerabilities that could be capitalized by terrorist organizations." Former Customs agent Joseph King wondered: "Instead of bringing in 50 kilograms of heroin, what would stop them from bringing in five kilograms of plutonium?"
WTVJ "checked more than 1,300 members of the three major Longshoremens' unions listed in port records," NBC's Miami affiliate reported in March 2001. "We found nearly one in five are convicted felons in Florida. Their offenses include: attempted murder, armed robbery, assault and battery, trafficking in cocaine, grand theft, auto theft, and sex with a child. Despite a county law with strict guidelines on hiring convicted felons, nearly half who appeal to a special panel to work at the port are approved.
"Miami's Deputy Port Director, Khalid Salahuddin, said: "From our standpoint, what benefit would it do to kick him out on the street? We see none."
In the 2004 election, UnionFacts.com reports, the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) made $463,500 in political contributions -- 89 percent to Democrats, 10 percent to Republicans. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union gave $367,035 -- 98 percent to Democrats. Like other AFL-CIO affiliates, these unions help deliver Big Labor's vote on Election Day.
Longshoremen also have colluded with the Mafia. "To control and dominate the New York/New Jersey waterfront and The Port of Miami," the Justice Department announced July 6, 2005, "the Genovese and Gambino families placed organized crime members, associates, and relatives into high-ranking positions on the ILA's governing Executive Council and into positions as trustees of ILA pension, welfare and benefit funds." Former Brooklyn ILA boss Frank "Red" Scollo, indicted with Gambino capo Peter Gotti and 15 others in June 2002, pleaded guilty to racketeering in 2004. Genovese control of ILA Local 1588 included enforcer Joseph Lore's embezzlement of the New Jersey union as its presidents, Eugene G'Sell and John Angelone, acquiesced. According to the National Legal and Policy Center, Lore "got rough if the union front men were uncooperative, at one point threatening to use a blowtorch on Angelone's crotch."
The FBI frets that terrorists could exploit the greed of underworld figures."They will deal with anybody if they can make a buck," Matt Heron, the FBI's top New York City Mob fighter told the Associated Press' Pat Milton. "They will sell to a terrorist just as easily as they would sell to an order of Franciscan monks. It's a business relationship to them."La Cosa Nostra's economic philosophy is simple, explained Pat D'Amuro, an FBI alumnus and now chief of Giuliani Security."
I am aware of a high-level Mafia figure, who was cooperating with authorities, being asked if the Mafia would assist terrorists in smuggling people into Europe through Italy," D'Amuro told AP. "He said, 'The Mafia will help who ever can pay."
Even if most wiseguys would spurn al-Qaeda's advances, the weak link could be a lone Mobbed-up watchman, say, on a Staten Island dock. Desperate to pay his impatient bookie, terrorists -- or local sympathizers -- could bribe him to take a long walk along a short pier, just before a small boat unloads a non-descript box at 3:15 one morning. "I ain't seen nuttin'," he truthfully could tell cops days later, as they investigated how an atomic device rearranged Times Square.
Bipartisan Congressional conferees took an oath to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic." Invited by Senator Jim DeMint to do precisely that, they chose instead to keep U.S. ports safe for politically connected, criminally infested labor unions.
No wonder Americans hold Congress beneath contempt.