National Maritime Security Advisory Committee Meeting – Part 1

National Maritime Security Advisory Committee Meeting – Part 1

The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (NMSAC) held the first session of its January meeting in Arlington, Virginia, this morning.  The Committee heard all the briefings that were scheduled for both morning and afternoon sessions and still managed to break for lunch before noon.  Sadly, once again, technical difficulties hindered those of us who attempted to participate by teleconference and internet meeting.  Especially during the more interesting (to me) subjects, the audio faded in and out over the course of individual sentences.  Apparently, only one briefer used slides, so the video glitch didn’t have much of an effect.  What follows is my best effort to interpret what I did hear.  I cannot guarantee that I understood everything correctly and there is much that I would like to have reported, but couldn’t hear.

Port Security Grants

Alexander Mrazik, a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers Port Security Grants, addressed various concerns that the Committee had expressed in a resolution at their previous meeting, last July.  In particular, he spoke about policy reasons that FEMA does not want to automatically extend grants past their initial three year term (the need to ensure appropriate oversight and accomplishment of milestones, since many grantees wait until the last minute to actually spend the money, and the need to allow a 90-day period to close out the grant and reconcile accounts before the money expires—five years after the end of the fiscal year in which appropriated.)  He claimed, however, that FEMA was very liberal about granting extensions, as long as a justification was presented.  He also indicated that, as of this year, FEMA was releasing grant money in the year awarded–much faster than in the past—and that his policy would continue next year.  In response to a question about using grant money to harden US-flag vessels against piracy, he suggested the Committee pass a resolution to lend impetus to the cause.  With regard to grantees having to put up matching funds, he did not know whether Congress would waive the requirement again in 2011 as it had in 2010.  While the DHS Secretary has the authority to waive the matching fund requirement, it is not delegable, which means that the process of obtaining such a waiver is long and involved, although some had been granted.   The final issue covered dealt with the possibly evolving technology of TWIC readers.  Mr. Mrazik indicated there were two approaches: the Government would work with vendors to ensure that readers purchased now would be upgradeable to any new standards issued in the Final Rule (two vendors have certified this) and grantees could use grant money install the necessary infrastructure (cabling, etc.) now and wait for the Final Rule before buying the actual readers.

Global Supply Chain Security Efforts

Sean Moon, a Department of Homeland Security representative, briefed the Committee on DH’s efforts to produce and national strategy on Global Supply Chain Security, to be supported by implementing plans and other supporting documents.  He expected the release of the strategy and “a few” of the implementing documents in February.  Federal agencies would then 270 days to produce their implementation plans, which DHS will analyze.  Eventually this will all lead to budgeting and other efforts to deal with the security gaps.  At the same time, DHS continues its outreach outside the Federal Government.  The secretary recent achieved a secure supply chain agreement with the World Customs Organization and the Department is actively working with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.  DHS is looking for upgrade standards by September and is working with the WCO and ISO in this regard.  DHS is also looking at new inspection requirements for US exports, in response to frequent complaints from the rest of the world about unidirectional US requirements.  (This revelation prompted an expression of concern from a Committee member who represents a US megaport to the effect that ports don’t have a lot of real estate on which to conduct new inspections, leading, inter alia, to back ups on adjacent roadways.  This issue needs to be planned carefully well in advance, rather simply being mandated.)

Norio Sasaki of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, gave a presentation on Japan’s efforts to improve port security.  These included legislation implementing the ISPS Code; testing of radiation detection, X-ray inspections, and open container inspections; and outreach efforts to other ASEAN countries, including four joint exercises in the last five years.  Most interesting to me was his statement that achieving 100% scanning of containers was “very important,” as this view is contrary to the positions of the European Union and a large number of other countries.

Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Issues

Commander David Murk of Coast Guard Headquarters talked about TWIC issues.  Unfortunately, the audio performed at its worst during briefing.  The TWIC Reader pilot is ongoing, with a report due out in the March timeframe.  The expectation is that the Final TWIC Reader Rule would be out in 2012, although there were “a lot of caveats” to that.  The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was still on track for November of this year, although there are “a lot of caveats” with that too.  A policy document providing interim guidance for the voluntary use of TWIC readers in advance of the Final Rule is currently undergoing OMB review, after which public comment will be taken.

Asked about the feasibility of a March report with complete data analysis, he responded that the report is still on track for March, although how much data will be available was still in question.  He regards any data from the pilot as “a plus,” as the Coast Guard does not usually do pilots before rulemaking (this one was mandated by the SAFE Port Act) and it is collecting data in the normal ways in addition to the pilot.  One of the things the TWIC group is looking at is the risk level of regulating without all the data from the test.  Responses to these effects also provided the answer to a question of how a rule cold be made without testing labor participation (labor on the West Coast apparently has not participated in any significant way in the pilot program).  In any event, the TWIC Reader Rule “will not get out the door” unless the economic analysis makes sense and the Final Rule will depend on public input. He was asked how long it took to clear a worker through a reader.  He did not have the numbers, but said the pilot showed that facilities that trained their workers how to use the readers had shorter “transaction times” than those that didn’t.  The pilot also showed that transaction times dropped between the Early Operational Assessment and later full-blown testing.  In further comments, CDR Murk indicated that data from 80% of the participants was available and that the Coast Guard was still looking at the reasons for the transaction time—was it caused by the card or the reader.  A Committee member commented that over the course of the pilot, times in the New York/New Jersey area were down, but still well above what the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee deemed acceptable (2-3 seconds) a year ago or so. She also reported that the transaction time varies significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer.  (A comment from the public indicated that at large ports 3,000 people a day might pass through one gate; three seconds is the maximum time.)  She also urged that the interim guidance on voluntary use of TWIC readers address whether the three-tiered risk approach suggested in the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (issued in March 2009) will be the way ahead, as this will impact purchase decisions.  In response to a question from the public, CDR Murk gave a best case estimate that the interim guidance policy would be issued in four months (based on OMB review being completed in only 30 days, public comment for 30 days, and time to analyze and respond to the public comment).

CDR Murk also address several provisions of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act that deal with TWIC—the Coast Guard has the lead on some, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on others.  TSA will do a pilot study on using DHS facilities in remote areas for TWIC activation.  The Coast Guard is working on an implementation plan of the “very difficult” “challenge” posed by Section 809 of the Act, under which credentialed mariners who don’t work on vessels that require a Vessel Security Plan are no longer required to have a TWIC.  Under a third provision of the Act, the Coast Guard is charged to coordinate with regulated facilities to facilitate escorts for persons whose TWICs have been lost, stolen, or damaged.  While statutory language ruling out any requirement that facility owners pay for these escorts significantly ties the Coast Guard’s hands, CDR Murk projected a policy update would issue eventually.

Seafarer Access Shore Leave Policy

Commander Murk also provided an update on this issue.  A lot of progress has been made over the last year as a result of ALCOAST 575/09, which tasked Captain’s of the Port with reviewing facility security plans to ensure they had provisions for seafarer access through secure areas.  CDR Murk said had heard from the Seamen’s Church Institute and other concerned groups that access was much better now, but there were still problems.  With regard to the provision in the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act that prohibits charging individual mariners for this access, he indicating that the Coast Guard was looking to the relevant Congressional committees for further definition of what they meant by key terms, such as a “system” ensuring access and how responsive did that “system” need to be (24 hour gate guards vs. someone who would show up sometime after being called).  In response to a question, CDR Murk revealed that the Coast Guard had not time frame for issuing a regulatory or policy change.  In a segue from another question, he indicated the Coast Guard had been working with TSA and that, at some point in the future, persons holding B-1 and B-2 visas would be eligible for TWICs.

The Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan and the Maritime Transportation System Security Recommendations

Michael Callahan of Coast Guard Headquarters provided an update on the status of the Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan (MIRP) and the Maritime Transportation System Security Recommendations (MTSSR).  Since November, the focus had been exclusively on the Global Supply Chain Security Strategy (GSCSS).  Now the MIRP is getting some attention.  Upon reviewing an earlier proposal, the National Security Council (NSC) staff had mandated consideration of a number of issues, which would now have to e dealt with.  The time line is in a state of flux.  Originally, June had been proposed (and rejected by the NSC staff).  Then the deadline was to be 120 days after signature of the GSCSS.  In view of the delays in getting the GSCSS signed, the 120-day period may well be shortened.

Other Issues

In the afternoon, the Committee heard from Eleanor Thompson on Cyber Risks, an increasing concern of the Administration.  An updated Transportation Sector Sector-Specific Plan has been submitted to OMB for review.  Subsequent discussion is probably best summed up by the comment that “we don’t know what we don’t know.”  There seemed agreement to modify the Committee’s business plan to allude to the cyber threat and possible logistical and operational issues, without being able to specify what they all are.

The Committee then turned to consideration of its Business Plan.  Part of the purpose of this document is to create and inventory of maritime security issues great and small.  Some may never be made a priority, but all should be listed.  The only actual decision taken was to abolish the Committee’s standing subcommittees, which deal with: Waterway Security; Facility Security; Vessel Security; Training, Personnel, TWIC; International and Inter-Agency; and CDC Cargo Security.  Instead, the Business Plan’s introductory section will be amended to reflect that NMSAC will consider all there areas in any matter it takes up.  Additionally, ad hoc working groups may be formed to deal with any particular items, such as forthcoming documents on Supply Chain Security and CDCs.

What’s Next

Tomorrow morning the Committee will hear briefs from the Subcommittees it just abolished and vote on any resolutions. There will be a “MTSA II Tasking Discussion,” followed by an opportunity for public comment and then closing remarks from Committee members.  To participate, log on to (although there may not be anything to look at).  The audio (much improved after lunch today) is available by teleconference at 866-717-0091, using passcode 3038389.

NOTE: This post may be copied, distributed, and displayed and derivative works may be based on it, provided it is attributed to Maritime Transportation Security News and Views by John C. W. Bennett,

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5 Responses to National Maritime Security Advisory Committee Meeting – Part 1

  1. Don Hamrick says:



    Both documents are linked through the National Drivers Register (49 U.S.C. § 30301-30308). With all the security make-overs and enhanced background check for both the TWIC and MMC I do not understand why a data field cannot be added to the TWIC and MMC for a National Open Carry Firearms Endorsement. This would require bringing in BATFE to streamlining the regulatory process for what would amount to be a Federal Firearms Endorsement on the TWIC Card and the MMC for those who travel interstate with a firearms but who are “not in the business of selling firearms in interstate commerce” and who are not a prohibited person from owning or possessing firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) et seq.

    Adding the data field for National Open Carry will give a boost to internal national security for society in general because what is going on here is the U.S. Government’s onward movement for ever greater security in the name of public safety. What we have here is Benjamin Franklin’s worst nightmare! “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    And then there’s Ayn Rand’s concern: “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

    We have an opportunity here with TWIC, the TWIC Card Readers and the MMC’s to restore American freedom to interstate travel to restore “actual freedom” by resurrecting the Second Amendment and Ninth Amendment right to openly keep and bear arms in intrastate and interstate travel by adding the National Open Carry endorsement to the TWIC Card and MMC.

    Security is all well and good. But when and where does security goo too far? Security can go so far that you no longer have that sense of freedom because you will begin to feel like you are perpetually under suspicion of criminal activity no matter where you go. That is the essential difference in freedom in the United States from other countries. But are we now morphing into other countries where there are little to no freedom at all?

    What is to stop the Secretary of Homeland Security declaring interstate truckstops as a security zone and installing security checkpoints at truckstops? At all roads crossing state lines?

    Why cant the Secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, TSA, FBI, BATFE, CONGRESS get together to balance security and freedom by acknowledging the existence of the Second Amendment and implement safeguasrds for the protection and exercise of Second Amendment rights during interstate travel?

    Are this TWIC Card Readers the first stage of National Security trickling down to a Police State?

  2. Don Hamrick says:


    Give it up! It appears the NMSAC is under-funded and ill equiped to conduct a proper teleconference. It seems they just do not have the necessary equipment to conduct a flawless teleconference. The “technical” problems are based in a failure in funding and equipment through appropriations.

    If NMSAC cannot get improved funding and proper audio/video streaming equipment to give the public a better forum to participate in the regulatory process then they must consider bringing in CSPAN to provide the public viewing which will relieve the strain on their technical resources so they can provide a better means for the public to submit live comments in a manner that NMSAC can see the comments or at least have someone monitor the comments and narate the comments to the NMSAC Committe as appropriate, i.e., presenting direct questions from the viewing public.

  3. Don Hamrick says:


    If armed self-defense in your travels is a fundamental human right as part of the Natural Law then it can be viewed and considered as a fundamentual human Truth. From that perspective I give you three quotations on Truth by Mahatma Ghandi:

    (1) Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.

    (2) Truth never damages a cause that is just.

    (3) Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.


    Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like. WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS (1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice, Points of Rebellion, 1969.

    The mark of a truly civilized man is confidence in the strength and security derived from the inquiring mind. FELIX FRANKFURTER (1882-1965), U. S. Supreme Court Justice, Dennis v. United States, 1950.

    “In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.” EDWARD GIBBON (1737-1794), Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

    Security is when everything is settled. When nothing can happen to you. Security is the denial of life. GERMAIN GREER, Australian feminist.

    Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit. This is the fine point on which all legal professions of history have based their job security. FRANK HERBERT (1920-1986), Dune, 1965.

    Security is mostly an illusion. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. HELEN KELLER (1880-1968), The Open Door, 1957.

    We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is a very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. JOHN F. KENNEDY (1917-1963), U. S. President, Address to Newspaper Publishers, 27 April 1961.

    The only real security for social well-being is the free exercise of men’s minds. HAROLD J. LASKI (1893-1950), Authority in the Modern State, 1919.
    It is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could someday facilitate a police state. BRUCE SCHNEIER, Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Net-worked World, 2000.

    A new fascism promises security from the terror of crime. All that is required is that we take away the criminals’ rights – which, of course, are our own. Out of our desperation and fear we begin to feel a sense of security from the new totalitarian state. GERRY SPENCE, Give Me Liberty, 1998.

    To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing. To be on the alert is to live, to be lulled into security is to die. OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900), Oscariana, 1911.

    (The source of these quotations from from a book published in Edinburg, UK in 1823.)

    Pirata communis omnium hostis.
    A pirate is the common enemy of all men.

    Atma in armatos sumere jura sinunt.
    The laws allow to take arms against the armed.

    Impius et crudelis judicandus est qui libertati non favet.
    He is to be considered a wicked and cruel person who does not favour liberty.

    In favorem vitæ, libertatis et innocentiæ, omnia præsumuntur.
    In favour of life, liberty, and innocence, all things are presumed.

    In maxima potentia minima licentia.
    In the greatest power there is the least liberty.

    Libertas est naturalis facultas ejus quod cuique facere libet, nisi quod de vi aut jure prohibetur.
    Liberty is the natural power of a man to do what he pleases, unless what he may be prohibited to do, concerning violence, or encroaching upon another’s right.

    Adversus periculum naturalis ratio permittit se defendere.
    Natural reason allows one to defend himself against danger.

    Bonum defendentis ex integra causa, malum ex quolibet defectu.
    Good is the result of a person defending from an entire cause : evil results from one defending from any defect.

    Necessitas”quod cogit, defendit.
    What necessity compels to do, it defends.

    Veritas quae minime defensatur, opprimitur ; et qui non improbat, approbat.
    Truth which is by no means defended, is oppressed ; and he who does not disapprove, approves it.

    Veritas est justitise mater.
    Truth is the mother of justice.

    Consuetudo licet sit magnae authoritatis, nunquam tamen praejudicat manifesto veritati.
    Custom, although it be of great authority, is, however, never prejudical to evident truth.

    Contra veritatem lex nunquam aliquid permittit.
    The law never allows any thing against truth.

    Fictio cedit veritati.
    Fiction yields to truth.

    In rebus manifestis errat qui authoritates legum allegat : qui perspicua vera non sunt probanda.
    In evident things he errs who alleges the authorities of the laws, because self-evident truths are not to be proved.

    Perspicua vero non sunt probanda.
    Self-evident truths are not to be proved.

    Qui non libere veritatem pronunciat, proditor est veritatis.
    He who does not freely declare the truth, is a betrayer of the truth.

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Truth dreads nothing, unleis to be hidden,

    Veritas, a quocunque dicitur, a Deo est.
    Truth spoken by any one, is from God.

  4. Don Hamrick says:

    Since 2002 with the filing of a lawsuit for Second Amendment rights of U.S. merchant seamen in the federal court in Washington, DC I have stood in opposition to the Government’s move for greater and tighter security measures without formal recognition of Second Amendment and Ninth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens to intrastate and interstate travel.

    And for several years now I have posted my criticisms and commentaries on my blog, American Common Defence Review on the affairs of Government on all matters concerning the Common Defence Clause of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. And over the years my persistence criticism of the U.S. Government has had an accumulating effect of greater curiosity or annoyance with my public commentaries from the U.S. Government.

    For the last few years my Webcounter has logged visit from the U.S. Department of Justice (FBI & U.S. Marshals Service have the same domain name as the Justice Department), the U.S. Coast Guard.

    Most recently the Webcounter twice logged the Executive Office of the President (the White House) from two different IP addresses from the White House. The U.S. Department of State has visited my blog on several occassions because I criticized the Djibouti Code of Conduct, the international effort to combat Somali pirates, as a failure because the Somali pirates moved further East toward India and further South toward Madagascar. As a result of my ceriticizing the Djibouti Code of Conduct I have had visitors from Djibouti. I have no direct evidence on whether these visits were from Djibouti Government officials but the coincidental visits from the U.S. Department of State suggests the possibility of a Djibouti Government reaction.

    The first visit from the White House was a surprise to me. Since that technically was the “first contact” from the White House I consider that as my invitation to email Robert Bauer, White House Counsel. So, I email him about my ongoing federal litigation. That prompted a second visit from the White House from a different IP address.

    The Butterfly Effect from Chaos Theory (i.e., the First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of the bloggers, … Oops! that’s freedom of the press!) seems to be having its desired effect.

    I hope more people begin to speak up against the Government’s ever increasing move toward greater security measures at the expense of our freedoms because the Government cannot retaliated against millions of Americans standing up for the Bill of Rights.

  5. Marmot says:

    There are documented reports of applicants for the TWIC being denied the card because their names did not fit the bureaucratic standard established in the Spanish American War of FIRSTNAME MIDDLE INITIAL LASTNAME. On report resulting in a criminal complaint was an applciant who was assaulted and battered by a clerk of the contractor because he protested the misstatement of his name. He was told by a DHS spokesman later “If you have that name you do not get a TWIC.”

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