TWIC CARD - One Man's opinion

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by NYBEAR, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. NYBEAR

    NYBEAR Member

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  2. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Well everyone is entitled to an opinion and

    Dr. Cartner has no problem stating his and making an interesting yet from what I can tell totally contrived and specious case. There is not one relevant fact that is objectively and accurately stated in Dr. Cartner's opinion/op-ed, at least when it comes to the facts I have first hand knowledge of.

    I will concede and agree the TWIC program (when I write about a British Law and/or Government requirement I'll spell it like a Brit - programme - would. Until then I'll spell it like what I am - a hackneyed American Technologist, who is also a USMMA graduate who applies technology to address Force Protection and Homeland Security threats and challenges.) I'll only point out a few of Dr. Cartner's statements that i feel he makes to bolster his case which are specious:

    1) " The leading contractor for the TWIC was defence aeroplane manufacturer Lockheed-Martin. The aim was not to help in anti-terrorism but to bring another $1bn in revenue by selling a bill of goods for things unproven."
    1a) Fact in addition to making airplanes, Lockheed Martin is one of the largest system integrators in the world - they do plenty of things and do them well hat have nothing to do with airplanes as does Boeing for that matter, one of the largest exporters in America..
    1b) Fact, as a stockholder of LMT I wish they were going to see $1B of revenue from the TWIC program - maybe then I could afford that extra m and e in the title. The portion of a TWIC enrollment fee that goes to Lockheed Martin, is less than the portion that goes to the Federal Government to do the required background check, and even if 100% of the fee went to Lockheed Martin and every person who ever could be required to get a TWIC did (original estimates put that number at 7,000,000 when the USCG was proposing the rule originally, etc - do the math 7Mx135=945M. However my understanding is that basically the population who will get TWIC is less than half the 7M since airports have a different program (still spelled without a second m or an e at the end) and the TWIC contractor team splits about 1/3 of the fee collected or ~$60/card so that number is 3Mx60 or $180M which is spread over a number of years and does not take into account the fact that TWIC is a fee for service/transactional type program/system - like EZPass - which by the way Lockheed Martin developed and perfected before selling.

    2) "Existing and proven systems would have worked with minimal tinkering. The professional US Coast Guard should run all port security programmes. Never mind easily done record searches or common sense."

    2a) The TWIC Card is not and never was about an access control system as Dr. Cartner likely well knows despite his confounding, and erroneous statement - "The technology for a TWIC card reader cannot be produced and will not be for years. Every credit card company has secure card readers. ..." The TWIC card is and was about credential vetting and identity management. Further as Dr. Cartner alludes if TSA wanted there are and have been several proposals and there is readily available technology that would enable a TWIC card to function like an ID Badge and be read for use in granting access to a wide number of existing card readers and access control systems.
    2b) I find it interesting that Dr. Cartner disagrees with the basic law that created the Department of Homeland Security and allocated its responsibilities across it's underlying component agencies which include BOTH the TSA and the USCG. Of course that actually has and had little to do with the TWIC program and the CFR that mandated the program. In fact the roots of that CFR predate the DHS and the USCG was going down the same basic path that was taken to the ends in place today.

    Should we look to get more value and should the TWIC program continue to evolve to be more useful and effective - of course. Is it a topic worth debate - surely. However, lawyerly arguments which state opinion as fact and take small points to the absurd to "make a case", while making interesting drama ala Perry Mason do little in convincing astute and knowledgable policy makers and implementors to change things either constructively or destructively as is the case Dr. Cartner would like to see done here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011
  3. JACC

    JACC New Member

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    Twic -- a maritime hobgoblin

    You may be right.

    Best regards,

    John A. C. Cartner
     
  4. Lynpar

    Lynpar Member

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    Well now after reading and digesting all this with my morning coffee, I feel smarter! DS still has to get one. About 500 miles total for both trips to nearest port, a couple afternoons spent in the car with my kid~ worth it !
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  5. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I think this is a first for the message board: having the actual author of an article cited commenting.

    I for one would be interested to hear your counterpoints to Jasperdog's.
     
  6. wth51

    wth51 Member

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    My DS has his initial appointment for his TWIC credentials this afternoon. Thankfully we are relatively close. :thumb:
     
  7. 2009KPer

    2009KPer Member

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    As I recall, I made my check out directly to Lockheed-Martin. So, do they pay the government back some of that money? The reduced price for not having to conduct another background check was around $100. So, apparently that part only costs around $30. The catch in that case is that your TWIC will expire with your license (excuse me, "MMC") so, if you were like the mids in my class who needed to get the TWIC right before we had our license, but after we were done with sea year, we had to pay the full price to get another background check done. As it is, my TWIC is forever destined to expire seven months before my license.

    I don't know the internal intricacies about the TWIC program, but I can say that from a currently sailing mariner's perspective, the thing is useless. Nobody has readers, the printed info on the card has nothing other than the name of the holder and the expiration date (reminder to have your renewal $$$ ready by then!) with absolutely no other defining characteristics. For all I know, the first time mine gets scanned (if it ever happens) it won't even work because the biometric chip is corrupt. It was not sufficient ID for me to get into a Federal building to visit my local USCG REC. There are many posts on gcaptain.com with people sharing their experiences in TWIC usage and stories similar to mine.

    The USCG also wants us to have the thing on ourselves, even while onboard the vessel. If my own captain and crew are not enough to vouch for my authorized presence, then something is wrong with the system and not the individual.

    ... my $0.02
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    True because all captains and crew should be trusted. I say no more boardings. Just call 'em up, ask to speak to the captain and then "hey captain, doing anyhing wrong?" and when he says "ah, nah Coass Gaaaa, noffin wranng hee." the cutter can move on to the next vessel.
     
  9. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Yes the Government get's their "cut" for the background check, as do everyone else involved in the program from the money you remit to Lockheed Martin the current prime contractor.

    As to the lack of "readers" once again the TWIC is NOT meant to provide a means of access control. It is a "Credential" that has been vetted by the US Federal Government that is its intent as per the implementing CFR and it's discussion and response to comments which were literally years in the making.

    JACC & KP2009er - As I said, does the program have lots of issues - including the ones you cite with regard to its usefulness for everyday use as well as the fact that it isn't tied to your MMC, and that it has no standing as a credential, etc. under the IMO. That said, maritime security in and around seaport facilities, as it is now, let alone to how it was prior to 9/11 and the implementation of things TWIC here in our post 9/11 world seems to me something that could still use improvement. Many of the fact and the basic workings of the TWIC program are a matter of public record including the items you cite - at least the stuff you are talking about. Some of the items are things that the commercial maritime community have questioned from day one.

    JACC: All that said even going back to the early days and the root of the CFR and implementing rule, the USCG has never taken issue with the program and in fact were going down the same path that TSA picked up and followed to completion. To me the first initial question to ask is does it make sense to require ALL personnel who routinely enter and exit seaport facilities undergo a similar identity and background check to those who have similar access to airports - BTW that requirement came into being also as a response to terrorist acts - in this case the Lockerbie bombing. I believe the answer should be yes, how do you come down on the subject? Do you agree it's the right initial question? If so do you agree or disagree that identity and background checks should be conducted?
     
  10. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    Well I'm sure you can trust the ones that have undergone a federal background check as part of the Coast Guard's issuance of their MMD. So in the case of U.S. flag ships that have filed an accurate and complete ANOA you CAN move on to the next vessel.. I've had my ship boarded by you people and the experience was not good. The last time it happened our treatment at the hands of our fellow citizen Coast Guardmen nearly resulted in me making a formal complaint to the local Captain of the Port. Looking back at it, I probably should have lodged that complaint.
     
  11. 2009KPer

    2009KPer Member

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    Not to risk starting an argument, but...

    With all due respect, I resent that you are that mistrusting of the people that you serve. If that's the USCG's current attitude, I'd say they got a long ways to go in the area of respecting the people and industry that they serve. Without evidence to the contrary, you have to be borderline paranoid to not trust that an American captain of a vessel (whose been sailing for longer than most inspectors have been alive) to see that those crewmembers onboard are actually authorized to be there. I'm not talking about initial signing-on or walking through the terminal. Unlike military vessels, our crews are small enough that we all know who's supposed to be there and who's not. My wearing of my TWIC around my neck while on deck during a cargo watch does nothing to enhance security.

    What I and many others have a problem with is the complete disregard from "higher-ups" about the realities of shipping as viewed from the perspective of those who are actually working in the terminals and onboard the vessel day-in and day-out. Every little requirement and mandate is tacked on as "just do this one more thing and all will be good". I remember back when the TWIC was still being debated, reading a hypothetical story joking about the only two crewmembers of a whale-watching boat checking each others TWICs (since every credentialed mariner needs a TWIC). Obviously, they must've been more secure. Granted, I'm relatively new to the industry, but this has been the general attitude of most every one I've sailed with since my cadet days. They had years, sometimes decades, of experience to back that up.

    FWIW, my vessel is uninspected... for now (towing), as are thousands of others like it. I'm fortunate to be with a reputable company that really does take care of its employees and vessels, USCG-inspected or not. I really wish there were more ways for USCG guys to actually ride a ship or tug for some time (an actual voyage - not a pilot run) to see how things really work and how not everything revolves around the one or two times per year that they visit the vessel in port. If you're going to be tasked with making policy and enforcing it upon an industry that you are not part of, riding on a voyage is the least you can do. (sidenote: USMMA professors who do this are some of the best at the school - pencil, papers and computer screens can only show you so much.)

    Lots of mariners would like the USCG get out of commercial shipping altogether. It seems as though since the switch from DOT to DHS, the USCG has viewed merchant mariners more as threats than as professional, mutually-cooperative partners to promote true safety and security. Whether this is "justified" by post-9/11 hype or not is immaterial. It's all about perception and the perception from many MM's today, from Masters down to Wipers and Ordinarys is one of distrust, bureaucracy and a big disconnect from the reality of sailing (whether it's brown or blue-water), not to mention the costs this adds onto already-expensive U.S. shipping. Compared to true entry-level people seeking this industry, us maritime-academy guys are pretty much spoon-fed all that we need when it comes to required credentialing (to a very powerful license) and training. Yet another thing to be forever grateful about in regards to the KP experience. I have the upmost respect for those who try to hawsepipe it these days. What a mess.

    Personally, the couple of ABS surveys and external audits I've been onboard a ship for were far more enlightening than the COI renewal (USCG). I actually sympathize with the CG on this task because I don't think they're the right people for it through no fault of their own. The USCG is great at their SAR and ATON work and that is to be commended. But, vessel inspection should be left to experienced MM professionals who are civilians. The NMC credentialing process leaves a lot to be desired too, but that's another topic.

    On a last note, the whole TWIC argument is further voided since the biggest "maritime" security threat is more likely from the cargo than from the mariners themselves. No amount of TWIC checking will prevent a dirty bomb from entering the country on a (probably TWIC-less, foreign flag) container ship. Don't think that we don't care about security. It is in our best interest to secure our vessels (actual, common-sense security). If anything goes wrong, it is we who will suffer the consequences first on the "front-line" so to speak.


    Biometric security cards, fancy scanners and mandatory onboard carriage to ensure security all look good on paper or from behind a computer. My TWIC is barely glanced at every time I walk through a gate.
     
  12. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    +1 :thumb:
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I had to pull a kleenex out before I could respond. I assume you understand who needs TWIC. Sure U.S. flagged merchant vessels "should" be trusted, and most can be.

    I respect them as I would any UPS pilot, an 18-wheeler driver, the conductor of a train....for the essential service they provide, not for some figment of higher purpose. They're good at what they do, and they are paid well for it.

    As for the mistrust....that doesn't happen in a vacuum.

    I would love to trust the Fisher Island Ferry captain and crew. I sure the people of CT an RI (those I serve) would have loved to trust them too. Not sure how much those people liked swimming in the sewage discharged directly into the sensitive Long Island Sound for over a decade. Knowing how they feel about most environmental issues, I'm sure they didn't appreciate it.

    Or maybe we should drive on down the coast to New Bedford, Mass., figure out how many heroine addicts are either crew or masters of vessels.

    Or head on down to a fellow tug lover in Louisiana who decided to drive his tug and barge into a bridge in New Orleans, dumping oil into the Mississippi River. Do you think that individual was qualified to drive that tug.....did he have a TWIC? Do you think someone vouched for him?

    So, sure, I would hope most masters would be trust worthy, and heck, I'll even go out on a limb and say many are....but what would you like people to do, trust someone because they have a kind heart or a twinkle in their eye? Or should they be trusted because there's no bypass valve and their paper work checks out? Which do you believe the American people would prefer? For everyone one bad apple there are hundreds of good ones...still need to find that bad apple.

    I'll give you that it's a work in g progress and there are issues that need to be ironed out but the "shouldn't our word be good argument" doesn't play well in this post-9/11 world. That word is good until someone lies.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  14. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    Yeah, and I render the Coast Guard the same respect I would any customs inspector, TSA screener, INS agent or other government bureaucrat… for the best service (both essential and non-essential) my tax dollars can buy.

    Look doggone it, we’re not saying you should take our word because of who we are. We mariners provide the Coast Guard and DHS more than AMPLE (and in many cases REDUNDANT) information so that we can be screened and vetted to work in the maritime industry. Please USE what we give you. You’re practically BURIED with information about who we are and it’s still a hassle dealing with you.

    True story.. The last time I went into my local REC to renew my license I was asked for 2 pieces of identification. So I pull out my Z-card and was told, believe it or not, the REC does not recognize its own Coast Guard issued card as an acceptable form of ID!!! I kid you not.. Never mind that I have been dealing with that Coast Guard office since I got my original license 34 years ago! It wasn’t like I was asking them to trust me base on a “twinkle in my eye and kind heart”. Does anybody else see a problem here, or is it just me?

    Well LITS, You know what the three biggest lies of all time are, right?
    -- The check is in the mail.
    -- I gave at the office.
    AND…
    -- I’m from the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and I’m here to HELP you.

    [FONT=&quot]There’s actually a forth one, but I don’t think the moderators would appreciate me listing it.. [/FONT]
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2011
  15. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    INS no longer exists..ICE?

    We modify that last one internally, "I'm from HQ and I'm here to help." The reaction is generally the same, if not worse. :wink:
     
  16. JACC

    JACC New Member

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    Reply from the author

    Thank you. I am pleased to do so. I do not respond to individual criticisms, however. As E.B. White, the literary critic, said to all his critics, "You may be right." I take his position. Indeed my critics may be right and I give them my permission and blessing to be so.

    That being said, it is my sense that the panic of the Congress sustained by political activists created several bad statutes and parts of statutes after 9-11. Further, some of the consequences of those laws could not be foreseen. The assembly of the DHS from its various components went very much against the tradition of the US government and the people by concentrating extraordinary police powers is in one department. To a large extent this seems to have been with no true planning policy but more nearly large funding pressed by lobbyists and others and then applied to a host of undefined and indefinable problems. The sense of the Congress and the people was clear when Adm. Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program was defunded. However, the reality is -- and I think many of us knew it -- was that the defunding was political theatre. TIA continued under another name. The TSA and Lockheed developed the TWIC as a TIA kind of exercise.

    The TSA was perhaps a logical consequence of airline difficulties. It is very hard to see how and when -- except for internal maneuvering and turf building -- the TSA was or is qualified to deal with seaport matters. There was substantial contention between the USCG and the TSA over the matter as I understand it. Be that as it may, the TSA ended up with the job. The USCG vets every person with an MMC or license quite well. There was nor is there a need now for the TWIC for mariners. I refer you to the Emerson quote in my column -- it is clearly applicable to the TWIC program. I am told by senior Coast Guard officers that except for the military order, the TWIC is not well regarded in the USCG at all.

    As to trust and mistrust, the government has never defined national security in any clear and uniform fashion. It comprises an inchoate mixture of terrorism, crime, natural disasters, man-made disasters, economic policy, trade policy, public health concerns, nuclear attacks, intelligence, surveillance technology, continuation of government and the suppression of insurrections among several others. Whenever a turf needs building, the magic words 'national security" are invoked and things start to move with apparently less justification than other matters.

    The national security concept as encompassing almost everything has now become an established fact. There are degrees and certifications in it. There are conferences and various journals There are speeches and blogs and websites. A corner has been turned in American history.

    Thus is seems that the government has maneuvered itself into a position in which it has predicated its utterances on "trust." The government Constitutionally is created by the people. Thus, the government is saying in essence that it is "we" the government who does not trust "them" the people. The consequences of the bad policies and laws after 9-11 virtually dictated that. Essentially, I sense that we have lost control of the government and the government senses that. When there is loss of control, the stronger party will inevitably take advantage of that. Governments, historically, do that and never give it back once taken. That is the real concern here.

    If the government does not trust the people, why should the people trust the government? No amount of Secretarial or Administerial assurances can get around that underlying a good deal of the malaise in this fundamental shift in the trust equation. The TWIC is a good example. The TSA was designed not to trust mariners. It has created an atmosphere of mistrust and antagonism in the TWIC which is reciprocated by mariners. It is all in all a bad downward spiral which has no real end in sight, I think.

    The political language has conflated safety and security. Safety is a concept of negligence. When there is negligence things are not safe. Security is a matter of control of people, places and things. They are vastly different. Further, there has been conflation of freedom and liberty. Freedom is the ability to act under one's conscience. Liberty is what the law allows one to do. Therefore, in Franklin's words, "He who is secure is not safe and he who is safe is not secure." Henry said "Give me liberty or give me death." He did not say "Give me freedom or give me death." He was already free to express his conscience, treasonable though that expression may have been

    The TWIC, when all the technological language and ""geek-speak" is stripped away is a method of security and therefore a method of control. It is an access system. Any other definition may sound fancy. It is likely wrong. It does nothing to make our ports safer. It likely, from what I have seen, does not make them more secure. The latter is because of its foundational fallacy. In real time it cannot be maintained. Further, in real time the technology is not yet available to make it maintainable. The secret I have divined is that no one cares. I have heard of concerned people -- good citizens -- advising the TSA of lost cards. One would think that would be important. That apparently is not the case and the TSA is fully not responsive in many of those cases.


    It seems to me that the TWIC was yet another "making up as it goes along matter" which, as in many cases, simply does not work because of contractor greed and bureaucratic ignorance and incompetence and lassitude. Further, it will not work because it cannot work as I have discussed. The MMC, the CDL, background public records checks of a simple sort would have done just as well and a lot less expensively. The USCG as a military organization knows well how to do that and has done it well for some time. Hence, the USCG should control port security, not airplane bag searchers.

    As to costs, I am aware of the mariner contribution to cost. One should always look at the change orders and add-ons for any federal contract. The total payment to Lockheed netted substantial sums.

    I stand by my column as do my editors.

    With best regards,

    John A C Cartner, '69
    Member, D.C. Bar Association
    Enrolled member, The Law Society of England and Wales
     
  17. NYBEAR

    NYBEAR Member

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    TWIC CARD

    Thank you John for defending the article you authored.

    You have confirmed most of my concerns and suspicions concerning the "need/requirement" of the TWIC card.

    As an accomplished alumnus of USMMA, would you be interested in relating your observations of the current status and future direction of the Academy as you view it?
     

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