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Cruise Ship Terror Propaganda


Title: Seaports, Cruise Ships Vulnerable To Terrorism
Date: July 28, 2001
Source:
 Politics OL

Abstract: As a multi-mission, maritime, military service within the Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard is a leader in ensuring America's maritime security. As a lead agency for seaport security, we provide a valuable service to the American people by making the nation safer, cleaner, more mobile, and more secure. ... 

U.S. trade is expected to more than double by the year 2020. The Interagency Commission on Crime and Security in U.S. Seaports identifies a lack of adequate security for our critical Marine Transportation System (MTS) infrastructure, which can potentially affect our entire economy. We don't think often enough of our maritime ports as security threats. But, as indicated in the Interagency Report on Crime and Security in U.S. Seaports, our maritime borders are more porous and have lower security levels when compared to our airports and land borders. 

Recent history shows us that, throughout the world, terrorists target transportation. All of us remember the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, and the deliberate derailment of Amtrak's Sunset Limited -- each an example of an attack against a transportation target. 

Ridership on cruise ships has increased exponentially over the past ten years. Ten years ago, a cruise ship of 70,000 gross tons was the largest in the world. Today, we have an entire class of cruise ships that exceed 140,000 gross tons. These new mega-ships carry upwards of 5000 passengers and crewmembers. A successful terrorist attack on any one of these ships could result in a catastrophic number of casualties, and threaten the economic viability of the entire industry. 

Just last week, Coast Guard units in Miami, along with the FBI, responded to a bomb threat against a cruise ship capable of carrying approximately 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crewmembers. The ship implemented their security plan, a plan required by the Passenger Vessel Safety Act - to prevent the threat from being realized. We successfully ensured the safety of the passengers, crew, vessel, and port as a whole. 

Who can say what would have happened had we not responded as we did, or if the cruise line personnel had not followed their well-prepared plan? 

The same security activities used to prevent a terrorist attack also aid in preventing criminal acts such as smuggling of illicit drugs, contraband and stowaways; trade fraud and commercial smuggling; environmental crimes; cargo theft; and the unlawful exportation of controlled commodities, munitions, stolen property, and drug proceeds. This same security provides for secure ports in support of military deployments and national defense. 

In addition to the traditional physical security threats, the information age brings with it new vulnerabilities. We need to protect our critical information systems as well as our physical infrastructure. 

As we modernize our transportation infrastructure by integrating technology with automation, we also make their associated information systems more interdependent and interconnected. These systems become declared targets for attacks by hackers and cyber-terrorists. Someone intent on disruption, or destruction, of the flow of sensitive operational information contained in our transportation management systems will cause crippling damage. Consequently, we face a significant challenge to ensure our information systems are protected from those who would cause harm, and yet remain accessible to our customers -- the traveling public, commercial transportation operators and government agencies alike. 

The MTS is especially vulnerable to crime and terrorism because of the scale, complexity, and pace of activity in our ports. The task of protecting our transportation system is complex and requires close coordination between our regulatory, intelligence, and law enforcement organizations. Effective deterrence, prevention and response activities affecting U.S. transportation assets and programs must be coordinated between federal law enforcement authorities, the Coast Guard, state and local officials, and the transportation community. The willingness of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to share threat information with the Coast Guard greatly enhances our ability to work with the transportation industry to increase security awareness and, if necessary, implement security countermeasures. 

The reports from the Interagency Committee on the Marine Transportation System (ICMTS), the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC), the 1999 Report to Congress on the U.S. Marine Transportation System (MTS), and the Interagency Commission on Crime and Security in U.S. Seaports contain recommendations for improving security that will require additional resources for implementation. Both the ICMTS, chaired by the Coast Guard, and MARAD's MTSNAC are discussing many of these security issues and beginning to coordinate efforts ranging from national defense and terrorism to theft and our economic security. 

Examples include implementing infrastructure improvements to allow for interagency systems integration, and pursuing the "model port concept" through which best practices by marine terminal operators are shared, and voluntary minimum-security guidelines are developed. These groups are working to balance security imperatives and the increasing need for a fast and efficient U.S. transportation system, a key contributor to the country's overall economic prosperity. To the extent there are resource implications, they must be weighed against other priorities in the context of the overall budget. 

In summary, the Coast Guard is encouraged that seaport security concerns are receiving national attention. It is not my intent to instill fear or alarm in anyone today. But the sobering reality is, because we live in a country that prides itself on the openness of its democracy, we are always at risk of a terrorist attack. Therefore, it is very important that we address the issues of security and crime in seaports now. If we do, we can assure our national security and our ability to keep our nation's transportation system the very best in the world (Politics OL, 2001)

Title: Ports Ratchet Up Security To Block Terrorist Attacks
Date: July 1, 2004
Source: 
Orlando Sentinel 

Abstract: While officials at seaports across the world scrambled to meet today's deadline on new security measures, Port Canaveral's executive director Mac McClouth did something different.

He took a vacation.

"We're absolutely on course," Port Canaveral spokeswoman Dixie Sansom said earlier this week. "I assure you, if we were scrambling, Mac would not be gone."

Port Canaveral, the second-busiest cruise port in the world, announced Wednesday that it has met the standards outlined in the Maritime Transportation Security Act and imposed by the U.N.'s International Maritime Organization to thwart terrorism in ports and at sea.

Starting today, the Coast Guard will board every foreign-flagged vessel sailing into the nation's 361 seaports, including Port Canaveral, to ensure they are complying with the new rules.

Every port must have a Coast Guard-approved security plan in place to continue operations.

Some of the new measures include increased identification checks on crew members and visitors to the ports, perimeter fencing equipped with surveillance cameras, X-ray machines on all large cruise ships and increased patrols.

Most U.S. ports and ships are expected to comply by today, but many ports in smaller, poorer nations won't meet the deadline. That could cause problems, especially in trade, experts said.

Any cruise or cargo ship docking in the United States will have to produce documents showing the last 10 ports visited comply with the new rules.

Ships not in compliance could be delayed by lengthy at-sea inspections by the Coast Guard, or even turned away.

According to the maritime organization's most recent figures, 71 percent of tankers, 89 percent of cruise ships and 56 percent of cargo ships had certificates of compliance. Only 32 percent of foreign ports had approved security plans.

Meanwhile, officials at Florida's 14 ports were predicting few, if any, problems.

"I honestly think all our ports in Florida will do well," said Nancy Leikauf, executive vice president of the Florida Ports Council, a nonprofit state organization.

At the Port of Miami, spokeswoman Andria Muniz said officials there "have been working very diligently to meet the requirements.

The port received its letter of authorization from the Coast Guard this week.

The new security measures also call for expanded baggage and passenger screening, restricted access to sensitive areas, more bomb-sniffing dogs and additional employee training.

Inspectors will be looking under vehicles with mirrors and opening up trunks, said Jerry Simon, director of security at Port Canaveral.

All visitors to restricted areas will be escorted, and all trucks making deliveries or pickups at companies in restricted areas must be on a list to gain access. Ports could face fines starting at $25,000 per violation, per day if security plans aren't being followed, Simon said.

Despite the new rules, Port Canaveral officials predicted Wednesday that cruise-ship passengers won't notice a difference since many of the measures have been in place there for years.

In fact, the Brevard County port has been at the forefront when it comes to protecting passengers and property, spokeswoman Sansom said.

Three years ago, it was the first Florida port to come into compliance with state regulations imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Since then, the Canaveral Port Authority has spent $5.2 million beefing up security.

Before Sept. 11, the port spent $700,000 annually on security manpower, since then the yearly cost has skyrocketed to $4 million, officials said. Statewide, ports have spent $155.6 million over the past three years on security.

The International Council of Cruise Lines, whose members include major lines such as Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian, also announced this week that all of its 118 vessels are compliant with the new regulations.

While there was concern worldwide about the possible impact on foreign trade, Coast Guard spokesman Dana Warr said the agency is "trying to find a balance between security and the free flow of commerce."

"The Coast Guard is very serious about these regulations, but I'm sure they'll also provide some interim solutions," said Leikauf.

"The Coast Guard is not going to throw up a solid wall around this country."

At Port Canaveral, cruise ships make up 70 percent of the traffic, Cargo vessels represent the remaining 30 percent. Nine cruise ships sail in and out of Port Canaveral six days a week on three-, four-, and seven-day itineraries.

During 2003, a record 2 million cruise passengers passed through the Canaveral's terminal.

"Our vessel schedule is so spaced out that we never have 10 or 20 vessels trying to get into port on the same day," Sansom said. "I would not anticipate a waiting line at the buoys."

Coast Guard and Port Canaveral officials acknowledged that more work needs to be done and that security is an ongoing process, but they said the port is the safest it has ever been.

"We're looking hard," Coast Guard Lt. Patrick Eiland said Wednesday. "And, we know who is coming in our port." (Orlando Sentinel, 2004)

Title: EXCLUSIVE: Cruise Ships Are Terror Target 
Date: October 12, 2005
Source: The Mirror 

Abstract: URGENT action needs to be taken to stop al-Qaeda attacking cruise liners and oil tankers, Tony Blair has been warned.

Maritime security is the weak link in the defence against another 9/11-style outrage, says an international agreement on combating terror.

The document, agreed by the Prime Minister and more than 30 other world leaders, said more must be done to lessen the "serious" risk of an attack at sea.

The warning comes after pirates attacked luxury cruise liner Seabourn Spirit off the coast of Africa last month with guns and rockets.

Security sources fear the raid could inspire terrorists to launch a Christmas spectacular against a passenger ship causing mass casualties. A security source told the Mirror: "Al-Qaeda has the aim of targeting weak links in the global economy.

"Given most of the 80 million barrels of oil the world uses every day is transported by sea, shipping is a high-value, low-risk target." Experts have warned that cruise ships with up to 5,000 passengers could be sunk by a small number of terrorists.

And suicide assaults against oil tankers could be made using small speedboats packed with explosives.

Such an attack in the English Channel - the world's busiest shipping lane - would cause economic damage and be an environmental disaster.

The Euro-Mediterranean Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism, agreed last month in Barcelona, said: "We must lessen our vulnerability to attack." EU chiefs are looking at increasing naval patrols, spot checks and tougher port controls. A major push will be made next year to get Gulf states to sign up.

The International Maritime Organisation is also to urge UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to take the issue to the Security Council (The Mirror, 2005)

Title: GAO Reports Waterside Attacks Threaten Cruise Ships
Date: May 21, 2010
Source: Security Director News 

AbstractThe safety of thousands of passengers afloat on the open sea was the topic of a recent government report highlighting threats facing the nation’s cruise lines. The Government Accountability Office in its April report, “Maritime Security: Varied Actions Taken to Enhance Cruise Ship Security, but Some Concerns Remain,” estimated that more than 9.3 million passengers departed from 30 U.S. ports aboard North American cruises in 2008.

The GAO determined that these cruise ships represent high-prestige symbolic targets for terrorists and evaluated the security measures in place to protect them. While the report emphasized that as of January 2010 the National Maritime Intelligence Center had no evidence of credible terrorist threats against cruise ships, waterside attacks are of utmost concern for cruise ships.

Charlie Mandigo, director of fleet security for Holland America, with a fleet of 14 ships embarking on 500 annual cruises from 320 ports around the world, agreed that waterside attacks are a concern for cruise operators, but said there are multiple security measures in place to prevent such attacks. For example, when a ship enters a port, it is in immediate and constant communication with port authorities. Ports will often send out escort boats when the cruise ship enters the harbor and create exclusion zones around ships, preventing unknown vessels from nearing it. 

Terrorist attacks aboard ships are also a threat cited in the GAO report. Mandigo said Holland America deploys stringent screening measures for both passengers and supplies boarding the ship. “We have the same type of security as an airport, using x-ray metal detectors, hand wands and, if necessary, pat downs for passengers,” he said. “Also, all goods are screened using canines, x-ray or other methods and that’s probably the most important component—controlling what can come onto the ship.” 

The cruise line also has security personnel patrolling the boat. For a cruise with 2,000 passengers and a crew of about 700, Holland America has at least 10 full-time dedicated security officers who conduct screening, patrol the ship and monitor the ship’s CCTV and access control systems. 

In addition to physical screening, cruise lines submit extensive passenger and crew member manifests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to compare against terrorist watchlists and the National Crime Information Center database, to determine their potential risk to the United States or the cruise ship. 

“We provide CBP with full access to our reservation system,” said Mandigo. However, he would like to see cruise lines have greater access to the government’s terrorist watchlists, similar to the access given to airlines. “Airlines have AQQ (APIS Quick Query) capabilities, which gives them a direct link to the CBP list of terrorists or prohibited list,” he said. “Cruise lines do not have access to it, but we’re looking at it and do have an interest in doing this.” 

Another concern cited by the GAO was the threat based on the regularity of cruise lines’ schedules. “That’s something anyone can go on the Web site of a cruise line and access the itineraries and often, week after week, itineraries are repeated and that gives someone an opportunity for repeated surveillance,” said Mandigo. 

While the report was largely positive, the advisory committee made several recommendations including: (1) developing and publishing a listing of prohibited items not allowed on board cruise ships; (2) developing equipment performance standards for screening detection equipment; and (3) developing standards for screening operations, training, and qualifications of persons engaged in screening activities at cruise ship facilities.  

Also, the U.S. Coast Guard plans to develop new security regulations for cruise ships by 2011 in response to recommendations regarding cruise ship security measures made by the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee in 2006, according to the report. 

Overall, Mandigo said he was pleased with the GAO’s assessment. “I thought it was a balanced report and there were no big surprises,” he said. “Everybody on the industry side and government side seem to be on the same wave length” (Security Director News, 2010)

Title: Somali Pirates: Eyewitness Account Of The Threat To Cruise Ships 
Date: September 17, 2010
Source: Telegraph

AbstractThe Filipino chef at the breakfast buffet was about to slide a couple of fried eggs on to my plate, and John Brocklehurst, the ship's captain, was in his private quarters on the bridge deck when the pirates appeared.

Our cruise ship, the Discovery (operated by Voyages of Discovery cruise line), was making good progress from Mombasa over the glassy waters of the Indian Ocean towards the Seychelles when suddenly, in the bright sunshine of early morning, a speedboat came roaring in and stationed itself about 100 yards off the port side.

The officer of the watch informed the captain and over the public address system came the "Code Purple, Code Purple" call. My eggs stayed on the hotplate as the Filipino crew members rushed to their emergency stations.

Those passengers who were already up and out on deck – it was before 7am – were told to go to their designated "safe areas". Ironically, the practice drill had been scheduled for later this very morning, but suddenly it was for real.

The speedboat was now parallel with us, its seven Somali occupants sussing us out as a potential target. They were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, clearly visible to the trained eye of one of my fellow lecturers, Brigadier Hugh Willing. We were about 200 miles off the Somali coast, so the pirates must have been operating from a "mother" ship, perhaps a captured Taiwanese fishing vessel, a few miles over the horizon. Captain Brocklehurst fired two warning shots with a flare gun to show the Somalis that he knew they were there. Slowly the speedboat fell astern of us and veered off westwards. The impressive defences on Discovery – rolls of razor wire all over the stern rail, bundles of logs to be released to fall on any craft attaching itself to our hull – must have deterred them.

Aside from the few people at breakfast, not many of the 750 passengers saw the pirates. When news quickly spread of the threat, their reactions were mixed: some wished to disembark immediately; others took a more stoic view and reasoned that as the pirates hadn't attacked us it was rather a jolly drama that they could dine out on for some time to come.

For less prepared ships, the danger could have been real. Unofficial figures show that 2009 was the most prolific year for Somali pirates, with more than 200 attacks and more than £30 million received in ransoms.

The naval forces of several nations don't seem to deter them, however. The US Navy has some 15 warships stationed near Somalia, and Nato Response Force has up to 10 ships in these parts. But they seem to be hamstrung by the maritime rules of engagement – they can only intervene if they come across an act of piracy in progress. Even then, they often don't, as in the case of Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were seized by pirates from their yacht as they sailed from the Seychelles towards Tanzania on October 23 last year while a Royal Navy warship looked on, and have been held to ransom in Somalia ever since.

Statement from Voyages of Discovery

"The incident in question, which occurred in April, saw a small skiff operating as part of a group of three. The skiff left the other two and approached Discovery but never near enough to present a real threat. It then rejoined the other boats after a very short time. It remains unclear who was on board the boat and what its intentions were.

"The safety of our guests remains our highest priority. Our crew members, security teams and procedures are capable of responding to a wide variety of challenges. All ships operating in an area with a perceived high risk of pirate activity follow standard maritime procedures. This includes being able to reach military vessels, which patrol the area, at a moment's notice should the need arise" (Telegraph, 2010)

Title: How Safe Are We At Sea? 
Date: 
2011
Source: Cruise Mates

AbstractAnd although the world changed dramatically on September 11, one thing that has not been required to change as much as other aspects of travel is cruise ship security. That's because cruise ships have, for the most part, always adhered to very strict security guidelines and practices. While the cruise lines and governments around the world have tightened and refined security after the recent turn of events, cruise ships have always been relatively secure.

As an avid and frequent cruiser, I decided to explore the subject. I talked to a number of people in the cruise industry and some in the U.S. government. Some things you'll find surprising, others you will not. If you're looking for real in-depth information about precautions, policies and tactics, please look elsewhere. It wouldn't be proper to discuss or divulge any information that is considered sensitive.

Immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, cruise lines implemented what they call "Level 3" security measures, as outlined by the U.S. Coast Guard's "Security for Passenger Vessels and Passenger Terminals" regulations. These measures include:

  • Screening of all passenger baggage, carry-on luggage, ship stores and cargo; intensified screening of passenger lists and passenger identification; close coordination with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and other federal agencies to ensure that any passengers or crew suspected of being on the INS "Prevent Departure" list are promptly reported to the federal authorities.
  • Restricting access to any sensitive vessel areas, such as the bridge and the engine room.
  • Implementing onboard security measures to deter unauthorized entry and illegal activity.
  • Requiring all commercial vessels to give 96 hours notice before entering U.S. ports. Previously, ships had to give 24 hours' notice.
  • Maintaining a 100-yard security zone around cruise ships.

    Let's look at some of the basic fundamentals of cruise ship security.

    Controlled Access 

    One thing that contributes to the security of cruise ships is that it's relatively easy for them to move about and alter ports of call if any are deemed unsafe. Cruise ships are also relatively easy to "contain"--that is, it's easy to control and limit access to the ships. When a ship is in port, passengers and crew can only enter through one or two controlled access points, where ship's security personnel can check IDs, manifests and such. Because access to the terminals and docking areas is limited as well, it's relatively tough to get onboard if you don't belong there.

    Anti-Terrorism Measures 

    The greatest threat to passengers and the ships themselves is terrorism. Consequently, the cruise lines are taking preventive measures like security checks of all passengers, carry-on parcels and checked baggage. Unlike the airlines, which only x-ray 10 to 20 percent of all checked baggage, cruise lines have the time to thoroughly x-ray every bag that goes into the ship. All passengers and crew are now required to pass through metal detectors before boarding. The crew and port officials also examine every shipment of supplies that is brought aboard. When ships are in port, watches are posted on deck, and at night, the decks are lit and ropes are let in.

    The ships are also keeping records of who is aboard and not aboard at any given time, and most major lines now have automated systems that enable security personnel to see exactly who is on the ship at any given moment, at the touch of a button. Recently, when the Golden Princess departed the Azores for Fort Lauderdale, it happened that two passengers had suddenly disembarked the vessel without notice. At that point, the ship abruptly reversed course heading back for the Azores and the entire ship was searched from stem to stern. Eventually the staff realized that there was no threat and all was well.

    Trained Security 

    Security onboard varies from line to line and ship to ship. Some cruise lines hire former military and naval personnel to implement and oversee their security, whiles others hire private security firms or former law enforcement officers. In the past, most security measures were intended to deal with passenger disturbances, but the focus now is on maintaining a safe and secure environment, eliminating or minimizing the threat of harm to passengers, crew and ship. Some lines even have dedicated security personnel whose primary job is to assess the risk potential and work with onboard crew to make sure all the proper procedures are taken. Each port is reviewed for its history of security-related incidents, stowaway threat, contraband threat, shore-side security operations and equipment, and so on. Ship staffers are trained to recognize and deal with things like a crew member being in an unauthorized area, an unfamiliar face in a crew area, a passenger in an off-limits area, or a bag being found somewhere it

    Some lines carry security to extremes: Princess Cruises uses Gurkahs, the famed and extremely fierce Nepalese fighters of the British Army, for it's fleetwide security force. They have been in place for some time; at last report, there were at least six on both Grand Princess and Golden Princess.

    Passengers often ask if there are armed security personnel aboard. For obvious reasons, I cant answer that--but no one really wants to find out, do they?

    Big Brother is Watching

    Did you realize there are surveillance cameras all around you onboard ship? Security personnel, officers, staff and crew can visually monitor virtually ever area of the ship. There are cameras in the embarkation areas; corridors; public rooms; entry points to the "out of bounds" areas for passengers such as crew areas; machinery spaces; and even common deck areas such as the promenade and pool areas.

    Port Security Abroad

    Don't assume that foreign ports are any less secure, or security conscious, than North American ports. England, for instance, has laws that oblige the terminal owner/operator to take specific actions and provide certain equipment and procedures, and require the ship owner to take specific measures as well. As one cruise ship captain with a great deal of security experience told me, "European ports have always struck me as being more security conscious in general. When sailing from countries that have had previous land-based terrorist activities, there has been more active screening processes, identification checks, and a higher general awareness of port security. The general level of security in the European ports, both on the northern coast and on the Mediterranean coasts, has been fairly consistent. Most European countries have, unfortunately, been touched by terrorism. England has dealt with the IRA, Spain with the ETA and Germany, Greece, and others have all dealt with various threats."

    What to Expect Now

    Since September 11th, much stricter security measures have been in place to protect ships and their passengers.

    Every U.S. port now maintains and enforces a minimum 300-foot "no float zone," a security perimeter that prohibits private craft from coming near cruise ships. In addition, cruise ships are getting an armed U.S. Coast Guard escort in and out of port.

    There is also stricter access control to ports and terminals: Passengers are now required to show their tickets to enter both the port area and the terminal.

    Look for multiple security checkpoints: You can expect to pass through three or four security checkpoints before being granted access to your cruise ship.

    Cruise lines are working with local, state, federal and international authorities such as the port authorities where ships call, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Interpol. This will enhance the safety and security of everyone onboard cruise ships.

    Embarkation and debarkation may take longer to accommodate additional security procedures, so plan your flights accordingly.

    Expect strict enforcement of required ID and nationality/travel papers. Boarding will be denied if you don't have the proper documents.

    Don't expect to catch that early morning flight home. Passengers and lines have been reporting delays in disembarking passengers. In most cases, don't expect to be ashore before 9-10 a.m.

    Have patience. You may encounter some long lines as you wait to embark or disembark. Everyone is in the same boat, so keep your sense of humor and remember, it's for your own safety! (Cruise Mates, 2011)

    Title: U.S. Authorities Can't Really Fault Al-Qaeda For Deadly Bombing Of Carnival Cruise Ship
    Date: February 9, 2011
    Source:
    The Onion

    Abstract:
    Following Monday's deadly terrorist attack on a Carnival Cruise Line ship, U.S. officials have had difficulty issuing a stern condemnation of the incident, saying that while any act of terrorism is inexcusable, they couldn't completely blame al-Qaeda for wanting to blow up what is essentially a giant, floating symbol of everything that is truly god-awful about America.

    The ship, a 15-deck, $740 million vessel that slowly traveled up and down the Atlantic Ocean while its passengers continuously ate and drank—referred to by Carnival as a "fun ship"—was destroyed in an act U.S. authorities have said is "not completely senseless" and "actually makes a pretty solid point about American excess run amuck."

    "Terrorism is a crime against humanity for which there can never be any justification," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters. "But then again, so is a 130,000-ton boat with an indoor ice skating rink, 24-hour buffet access, and a dance club called the Caliente Lounge. To condemn al-Qaeda outright for this attack would be to ignore the fact that, well, you can't really argue with them on this one."

    "Those things are really just atrocious," Napolitano added.

    DHS officials said the understandable act of terrorism occurred at 1:24 p.m., just as cruise director Harold Granger was attempting to get everyone off their pool chairs to dance the Macarena. At that point, 19 coordinated explosions ripped through the ship's most populated areas, including the Ocean Plaza Bar, the Wet 'n' Wild water park, and the Burgundy Lounge, where, according to the DHS report, "the sort of Americans who typically go on these things" were learning how to get good deals on jewelry in the Bahamas.

    Following the deadly explosion, al-Qaeda leaders immediately took credit for the attack; and after information surfaced that comedian and featured Carnival Cruise performer Bill Bellamy was killed in the blast, U.S. leaders gave al-Qaeda even more credit for the attack.

    "Yes, violent extremism against our people will not be tolerated, but come on, if there's one thing that has no reason at all for existing, it's cruise ships," CIA director Leon Panetta told reporters. "Imagine you come from a dirt-poor country that can't afford running water, and then you see more than 3,000 gluttonous pigs scarfing down all-you-can-eat French toast and whining because nobody told them there was whale-watching in Cozumel. Hell, you'd want to blow up the thing, too."

    "I mean, have you ever been on a cruise?" Panetta added. "Jesus Christ."

    When asked if the CIA had any prior information about the terrorist attack, Panetta questioned if one could really call the destruction of a horrible thing that offends the very core of what it means to be human "terrorism."

    Foreign leaders in France, Britain, and Germany, as well as citizens in the Carnival Cruise port city of St. Thomas, have joined the U.S. in issuing strongly worded statements of their own, saying that the suspected architect of the attack, Ayman al-Zawahiri, did the United States a huge favor. In addition, sources in the State Department said their only problem with the strike was that it wasn't on a Disney cruise ship, which they claimed would have allowed al-Qaeda to kill two birds with one stone.

    "The thing had a 70,000-watt sound system and an LED jumbo-sized television screen the size of Mexico hanging over the pool deck, for crying out loud," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "It deserved to go up in flames. And, frankly, so does anyone who can get that excited about duty-free cigarettes."

    Thus far, Americans have praised President Obama's calm in the wake of the tragedy. According to a CNN poll, 95 percent of U.S. citizens who wouldn't be caught dead on a cruise ship said he made the right decision to continue reading to schoolchildren upon hearing news of the blast.

    "Typically I would say that if we don't move on and go about our daily lives, then the terrorists will win," Obama said during a late-day announcement. "But if this stops just one U.S. citizen from booking a 10-day getaway on one of those abominations, then I am happy to cede victory to al-Qaeda on this one. Congratulations, al-Qaeda. And thank you" (The Onion, 2011).

    Title: Police Dogs Join Port Canaveral Security Amid New 9/11 Terror Threat
    Date: September 9, 2011
    Source: 
    Bay News 9

    Abstract: It's a first not only for Central Florida's port, but also for the nation.

    On the same day U.S. announced a new "credible, but unconfirmed" terror threat related to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America, the Transportation Security Administration announced a new police dog explosives detection team at Port Canaveral, with the goal of protecting the country's fastest growing cruise port.

    More than 1 million passengers pass through Port Canaveral, and officials said they hope the new, TSA-certified dog team will keep the port and the people safe from potential explosives.

    Three dogs and their handlers will work as the first team dedicated to a cruise ship facility. One of those dogs served in the war in Afghanistan.

    TSA touted the team as a mobile asset to thwart potential threats to the port, much like teams have been doing at national airports since 9/11 -- and also to protect the seven ships based at Port Canaveral, each carrying thousands of passengers on any given day.

    John Daley/TSA Orlando

    "Port Canaveral is an important economic driver in the local community," said John Daley, a TSA official based in Orlando. "Having a safe environment for people who stop to cruise is critical to that vibrant economy."

    The new team has a partnership with a new one at Sanford International Airport. That, too, is a first.

    They will have the ability to pool their resources if a threat is seen.

    The seaport's new police department has also recently taken over security duties from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office (Bay News 9, 2011).

    Title: GPS At Risk From Terrorists, Rogue Nations, And $50 Jammers, Expert Warns
    Date:
    February 23, 2012
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract:
    The Global Positioning System guides our ships at sea. It’s the centerpiece of the new next-gen air traffic control system. It even timestamps the millions of financial transactions made across the world each and every day.

    And it's at extreme risk from criminals, terrorist organizations and rogue states -- and even someone with a rudimentary GPS jammer that can be bought on the Internet for 50 bucks, said Todd Humphreys, an expert on GPS with the University of Texas.

    “If you’re a rogue nation, or a terrorist network and you’d like to cause some large scale damage -- perhaps not an explosion but more an economic attack against the United States -- this is the kind of area that you might see as a soft spot,” he told Fox News.

    Humphreys was the keynote speaker at a conference of world experts organized by the UK - ICT Knowledge Transfer Network in London yesterday. His predictions for what lies ahead with this emerging threat were dire.

    For example, in 2010, UK researchers aimed a low-level GPS jammer at test ships in the English channel. The results were stunning: Ships that veered off course without the crew’s knowledge. False information passed to other ships about their positions, increasing the likelihood of a collision. The communications systems stopped working, meaning the crew couldn’t contact the Coast Guard. And the emergency service system -- used to guide rescuers -- completely failed.

    Then, there’s the incident with the U.S. drone lost over Iran. Humphreys believes that by using simple jamming technology, Iranian authorities confused the ultra-sophisticated RQ-170 spy drone to the point that it went into landing mode. The drone’s Achilles heel? It had a civilian GPS system -- not a military-grade encrypted model. It didn’t take much to blind it and force it down.

    Another level of rapidly-emerging threat is so-called “spoofing." Unlike a jammer, which blocks or scrambles GPS signals, a “spoofer” mimics information coming from a satellite. It can make an aircraft, ship or other GPS-guided device think it’s somewhere that it’s not.

    Humphreys says organized crime is already attempting to exploit the possibilities. Gangs could hijack a container truck full of high value goods, and through spoofing, make its owner think it’s on its way to the intended delivery point -- instead of to the gang’s warehouse.

    “The civil GPS signal's completely open and vulnerable to a spoofing attack, because they have no authentication and no encryption," Humpheys told Fox News. "It’s almost trivial to mimic those signals to imitate them and fool a GPS receiver into tracking your signals instead of the authentic ones.”

    Hijacking a cargo container is one thing. Spoofing the global financial system is quite another. In his London presentation, Humphreys warned about another emerging GPS threat -- the worldwide network of stock and commodity trades. 

    Every trade is time-stamped using GPS clocks. Computer programs monitor those time stamps down to the millisecond. If something seems amiss, many programs are designed to pull out of the market. Humphreys says a hacker could fairly easily interfere with those time stamps, triggering trading programs, creating a sudden liquidity crisis and potentially a mini market crash.

    Then, there’s the high-dollar reward of manipulating time. An unscrupulous trader -- or criminal organization could make millions by delaying time even by a heartbeat.

    “You’re able to match the prices between the networks in a way that’s different from everyone else in the world,” Humphreys said. “Everyone else in the world might be 20 milliseconds off and you happen to know the actual timing. And so you’re able to buy low in one market and sell high in another market.”

    The system is so vulnerable to attack because signals coming from the network of GPS satellites orbiting the earth are very weak. They’re about 12,000 miles away. It doesn’t take much to disrupt them.

    A landmark study in the UK published Wednesday, Feb. 22, found GPS jammers in widespread use on that nation’s highways. While it has not yet been studied in the U.S., it’s believed an equal or greater problem exists in America.

    The devices are illegal in the States, yet they are readily available over the Internet for as little as $50. People use them to avoid tolls, evade a snooping spouse, or use a company vehicle for something other than its intended purpose. And that sometimes has unintended consequences.

    Recently, the new GPS landing system at Newark airport, just outside New York City, was crashing several times a week, forcing airliners to switch to a backup system. Airport officials were baffled. It turns out some fellow was moonlighting in a GPS-tracked company van. He was using a jammer to obscure his movements. Every time he drove by Newark airport, he took down the landing system.

    As much as GPS jammers or spoofers can cause havoc to multiple systems, Humphreys sees a conflict between the growing integration of GPS technology and our personal lives.

    He says devices that interfere with GPS might actually have a legitimate use: Protecting a person’s privacy.

    “People have a right to be private in their lives,” he said. “But with GPS tracking devices the size of a small dot being able to place them surreptitiously on your friends -- they’re going to want to resort to some sort of jamming or spoofing as a defense against that kind of invasion of privacy” (Fox News, 2012).