Dymphna wrote on Wednesday about the over-representation of Somalis in a certain Midwest truck-driving school and the potential security issues involved. Her post prompted a flurry of comments and emails from truck drivers, each with his own take on the problem. One of the commenters was trucker L.M., who had this to say:
I am commenting on the post of 3/29. I am a hazmat driver. Before I go into the meat of the post and why I say and have said all along that fingerprinting us is a feel-good law, I will go into what hazmat loads are.
- Car parts: Not just batteries, but airbag modules. These are the cylinders that expand airbags in an accident.
- Coca-Cola syrup: this is more harmful than some poisons and acids.
- Grocery loads: This also includes cigarette lighters.
- Hazmat does not necessarily mean dynamite or gasoline.
This is a feel good law for the simple fact that if someone were going to use a hazmat load to carry out a terrorist act, he or she is not going to be stupid enough advertise the fact that the vehicle is so equipped to do so. The first thing that would happen is that the placards would be removed from the vehicle, making it as innocuous as possible. Was the U-Haul driven by Timothy McVeigh marked as carrying a hazardous load? In fact, as far as I know, Tim McVeigh only had a regular driver’s license, not a CDL, and certainly not endorsed with an “H” (for Hazmat) or “X” (for hazmat tanker).
Most likely if such an act were to be carried out, the person who did it would most likely not be a hazmat driver.
In fact, what this law does, is tax the truckers who are already taxed at a rate approaching 60% with another $94.00 per renewal.
I’m told this isn’t even a one-time thing, but must be done each and every time a CDL is renewed. Sorry, this is a reactionary move at best and another tax at worst.
As soon as L.M. points it out, it’s obvious. Of course! Why would someone who wanted to do harm with a tractor trailer put a “hazmat” label on it? Better to fill a milk tanker with gasoline and drive it on in to Manhattan, as is.
Or imagine this scenario: an Islamist group in Oakland cuts the lock on an Ikea lot in the dead of night and steals a company delivery truck. Back to Al Qaeda headquarters (which masquerades as pita bread bakery and warehouse), dump the dollies and whatnot out of the back of the trailer, and fill it to the ceiling with propane tanks, bags of nails and ball bearings, and a detonator. Then down to the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco at first light, with the driver wearing an authentic Ikea uniform and carrying authentic Ikea paperwork, ready to pull up at the loading dock just as the offices fill.
Whoops! Forgot the HAZMAT sign… Oh, well.
Before you flame me for giving the terrorists ideas, remember: I have no military training, no knowledge of explosives, and no experience in intelligence. But many of the enemy’s operatives have all three. Very shrewd and very ruthless people are brainstorming on topics like this all the time, and coming up with new schemes like the one carried out in September of 2001.
No doubt my idea is unworkable, and all the spooks and truckers and weapons experts among our readers will get in the comments and explain to me the error of my ways.
But be sure that their turbaned counterparts, scheming right now in the caves of Waziristan, are devising much less amateurish schemes, and without any help from me at all.
Seems to me if these yoyos really wanted to cause hazmat havoc they would be better off skipping the expensive licensing and whatnot. Why bother with all that when you’re just planning to indiscriminately kill people anyway? I mean it isn’t as if would-be jihadis would have any compunctions about putting a bullet through the head of a licensed driver and seizing his cargo and rolling on their merry way. They need only a minimal knowledge of how to keep the truck going long enough to reach their target. As your commenter says, it would just be a feel-good piece of regulation, not a hurdle to the average jihadi.
Well, your (and your quote’s) example have one major supposition. That the RIFs buy (or pay to obtain stolen) the hazardous materials.
How about a legally licensed CDL holder drives off with his employer’s load of haz-mat materials and head off to claim his 72 virgins. No alert would be given until the load was missed at the other end, and as has been stated here, the placards alerting the public (and the various DOT and LEOs) could be removed after obtaining the “free” load.
And the employer would be sued and pilloried for “racially profiling” if they made any attempt to limit their liability by denying any Muslim a position driving such. (Hint, if many RIFs have ulterior motives and are willing to drive such loads more cheaply then somebody else just trying to feed their families, then they will shortly be driving the bulk of the hazmat moved and could pick and choose for the most hazardous ones for an attack).
Just because Mohammed prays 5 times daily and ends each prayer with screeches of “Death to America” is no legitimate reason to deny such an upstanding person the job of hauling materials that could be used in a manner to cause injury (or megadeaths) upon the public at large.
Think of what a terrorist could do with a misslabled hazmat truck. The emergency people use the wrong chemical to dowse the fire. Like you said us network admins can be paranoid.
Off subject – David Duff of Duff and Nonsense in addition to being English is certainly a different read.
You will love this post: Germany calling!
My Dear Ba-ron and Madame Bodissey,
I feel it only fair to point out to you and your readers that the eclectically meandering Hank is actually my agent and any recommendation should be taken with a hazardous lorry load of salt!
Talking of which, I remember a cartoon, in the Spectator, I think, showing two over-turned lorries, one of which had spilled its load of Rice Crispies (“Snap! Crackle! Pop!”) over the road, the other was a milk tanker whose contents were running down the road towards the Rice Crispies. Various fire-fighters were to be seen running away as fast as possible with their hands over their ears!
(Oh well, you need to have been there, I suppose!)
Our “leaders” all responded in similar fashion after 9/11 – outlawing flying, then easing restrictions, but keeping them against . . . small airplanes? Meanwhile the tractor-trailers kept barreling along the USA roadways.
Now, which would be more harmful, packed with explosives? The single-engine airplane (which the Feds wanted restricted, dammit, right now!) or the tractor-trailer? I know the answer the Feds came up with, which is why this idea is just as silly.
Let’s worry about our borders. Not our carriers.
Never be afraid to discuss a potential method for a terrorist attack. If we don’t discuss it, we won’t be aware of it, won’t think about it, and as such would not be able to protect against it. Knowledge is power.
L.M. is perhaps upset because his ox is being gored.
I believe that GoV readers understand that a position as a Hazmat licensced driver is an excellent spot from which to learn how the industry works, properties of various Hazmats and how best to acquire some dangerous Hazmats.