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.