Wednesday, March 29, 2006

“A Warning Sign?”

UPDATE: Commenter Andre Szara sent the following link from a story in CNN from 2005. Old news but useful information.

The item outlines the Patriot Act requirements for truck drivers; like most government regulations it makes for depressing reading. Basically, they’re going to:

  • fingerprint every hazmat trucker in the U.S.
  • this will take five years, minimum
  • most states have only one fingerprinting site
  • since they don’t have the fingerprinting process up and running the Transportation Security administration used a list of names of almost three million current hazmat truckers to check against a list of known terrorists. They were able to turn over approximately a hundred leads to the FBI.

So beginning in January, 2005, all truckers applying for hazmat licenses would be fingerprinted upon application. The rest will slowly come through the mill:

The fingerprints will be submitted to the FBI, which will run them against its extensive criminal database. If the background check reveals that the driver has been convicted of terrorism, espionage, murder or certain other felonies, the driver will be permanently banned from hauling hazardous materials. They also will be banned if they are fugitives or adjudicated as mentally ill.

Critics say this is a “feel-good” resolution. Of course, they will be the first in line to complain if somehow a hazmat driver becomes involved in a terrorist act.

Have you noticed that for those who thrive on angry outrage, whatever attempts are made to make things safer are both useless measures and, at the same time, not enough? So if nothing happens, they can sneer, and if awful destruction occurs they can point fingers. These are the people who cringe at the idea of domestic intelligence because it might involve someone examining their library card use.

In the phrase “useful idiots” it is the noun which is operative here.

Fox News had a video up tonight titled “Warning Signs.”

The FBI in Kansas City is said to be conducting an investigation into a truck-driving school in West Plains, Missouri.

So Central Career SchoolThe South Central Career Center, with its peeling sign out front, offers truck driving lessons. It seems to have attracted a large number of Somali Muslims from a community of Somalis in Kansas City. In the last 18 months, the majority of its students have been Somalians.

Should we be concerned? Probably. Why in the Midwest? Why the concentration of Somalis in this line of work? Is this anything like flight training school except you don’t have to learn to land? Are they bothering to learn how to brake one of those things?

Pay records for schoolIn a way, trucks are of more concern than planes. They are ubiquitous, a commonplace in our everyday landscape. They pass us all the time on the highway and we don't even notice. An 18 wheeler loaded surreptitiously with something explosively unstable could be a nightmare beyond the wildest imaginings of whatever concerns Dubai Ports raised.

The FBI is investigating, but it isn’t talking. I’ll bet a great many driving schools are under scrutiny. Fox News just happened upon one of them.


Andrew said...

Although I think it's fair to investigate, I also think it's fair to point out that this school might be seen as a way to move up in the world amongst a small network of Somalis who all know each other and told each other about it.

me said...

NO! NO RATIONALITY ANDREW! Panic! Time to panic! The brown people are driving trucks! Panic!

And vote for Bush please.

William Zeranski said...

Anything is possible.

The FBI is paid to check stuff like that. It's their job.

--Hey, Sgt

Vote for Bush . . . ? George can't run again, you know, the Constitution thingy . . . . or do you mean Jeb . . . ?

Tom said...

I am a truck driver and I see LOTS of drivers of Persian and Arabic decent on the roads. I do get a little concerned. Yes, I am sure that the vast majority of them are just hard working folks looking for a way to make a living in this country, but it is indeed a good way to blend in and do great harm by way of explosives or even tampering with the food supply. We should not just close our eyes but must be ever watchful. "They" can have one failed attempt after another and still try again, on the other hand if we fail even once the results may be another 9-1-1 type event.
It's not panic to be cautious.

Dymphna said...

Andrew I agree that this may be a way to move up, though the school is nowhere near where these people live. It's quite a hike. And one of the people involved, a black American with a Muslim name, is also being investigated for fraud in this driving scheme. So it may be nothing more than his criminality at issue.

Nonetheless, it deserves some investigation. As do the Muslim compounds in Virginia. Not nice places, according to the few who've managed to get out.

Post 9/11 anything anomalous deserves a look-see. I suggest you read some of the former posts on this blog about the many arrests in the Midwest for money-lundering, fraud, etc., by Pakistani convenience stores.

Susan Baker If you saw panic in my post, I suggest professional help -- it was a report on a company the FBI "finds of interest."

You will notice that the title of the post has a question mark. This indicates that we don't know if there's a problem or not.

What you don't know can't hurt you, right? So keep on truckin', kid.

Dymphna said...


Thanks for the info. You save me asking my trucker brother-in-law...and you confirm what I'd wondered about.

Jason Pappas said...

No doubt the men and women from Somali as well as most other Islamic countries are hard-working and only interested in personal advancement … for the most part. But so are immigrants from South Korea, Latin America, and the Ukraine. We obviously can’t let all the honest hard-working people from around the world into our country. Why not give preference to people from Christian and Buddhist nations? After all they require less vetting and less monitoring. We’re going to have to turn away some good hard-working people … why not make it easier for ourselves?

Maverick Muse said...

Interesting story. Jason introduced an interesting point. Immigration laws need to be fully enforced. Practicality makes sense even if favoritism would hard press whatever "improvements" Congressional leaders are currently promoting. I do agree that idealism needs to be practical or else it's all a bunch of hot air. So if the vote were mine, I absolutely support exporting illegal emigrants and limit access to citizenship in favor of those willing to support the US Constitution and accept fellow AMERICANS as we all are under the laws of our beautiful land.

Epaminondas said...

Interesting story which deserves **professional** and skeptical attention.

It's either a way to move up or ...

Where's agent Bauer?

Andre_Szara said...

1. Why in the Midwest? A: It may be that the CDL requirements in MO are easier so aspiring drivers go there.

2. Why the concentration of Somalis in this line of work? A: We don't know whether there is a high concentration nation-wide or just at that school. As another commenter suggested, word of mouth may have brought them to that school. Immigrants or those wishing to work in the US temporarily may be attracted to long haul trucking because it’s a job where someone with minimal education and moderate English skills can make a fair amount of money to send back home if they are willing to work hard for long hours.

I've played debunker above, but the Baron and Dymphana may wish to check out the number of CDLs holders who also have Hazmat licensces, as well as whether Hazmat licenses are easier to acquire in MO.

For a little more on Hazmat and truckers see,

Shellback said...

Using 18-wheelers to achieve some damaging, possibly strategic, strike on America? So unlikely so as to be unimaginable, just like no one thought it imaginable to fly aircraft into skyscrapers.

But as we now live in an age where an unforgettable example of asymetric warfare has been demonstrated on our soil, the unthought-of is now what must be thought about. Or at least be considered possible.

Just a few years ago a demented driver rammed an 18-wheeler into the Capitol Building here in Sacramento, fortunately at night. Did a heck of a lot of damage. Imagine, though, if that truck had been filled with explosives, and he had done that on one of the many days that events (with large crowds) are held on the grounds of the capitol.

Scott said...

Well yeah, If you've got to get an
illegal cargo someplace to do some
terrorism you want to have your own
people in charge.

That is why the Dubai ports deal
concern was so ridiculous.

al Qaeda isn't going to put is best
marbles onto an American President
Line container ship to be sent thru
the Port of Los Angeles! What the
hell for?

They get their own ship. A smaller
less conspicous one than a mighty
MSC that needs pilots, Coast Guard
inspections and is scrutinized by
every maritime concern in the world
ranging from governments, insurers
to buyers and sellers with cargo

Samething applies to moving cargo
within the US. You don't send via
J.B Hunt or Mayflower. You use your
own truck to move the stuff. You
don't have timetables, supervisors
or shippers asking what in the hell
is Abdul doing in Shreveport when
he is supposed to be Houston.

Still I bet this truck school has
more to do with defrauding the US
government of tuition loans than
terrorism. Somalians are damn good
at that too.

shoprat said...

Even if the vast majority are simply people looking to make a good living, it would require only one of them being a terrorist to create a real danger. I believe at least keeping an eye on the situation is the right thing to do.

Frank said...

I can't imagine NOT keeping an eye it something like that. I can't imagine why Sgt Baker would have an objection to it either. It happens to be the brown people from Islamic nations who fly airplanes into buildings, and chances are it'll be brown people from Islamic nations who pull off the next 911 stunt, so it would probably behoove the FBI to check out brown people from Islamic nations when they start flocking to a given transport school.

Does Sgt Baker suggest that checking out brown people in flight schools is a panic reaction? Or should we wait for a truck bomb to level a city block or two before we start watching trucking schools?

sammy small said...

sgt. susan baker seems quite excitable. And isn't it typical of a lefty to focus on the "color" of a person's skin.

sgt. baker, what "color" is a Muslim?

enuff said...

Every state has hundreds, even thousands of fingerprint sites, their called 'police stations.'

I have to have background checks done, at least, yearly as part of Fed/State legislation to operate a pari-mutual business. Every trucker could be printed well inside of a year, the fed only needs to provide the print cards and the registration questionaire.

This is plain stupid.

Adaneshju said...

For what it's worth, a friend of mine is from Minneapolis and says that after our operations in Somalia in the 1990s, we basically evacuated a ton of Somalis to America.

One of the places where many of them ended up is Minneapolis (where there's similiarly apparently a huge Hmong population, with Hmong gangs, etc)--I don't know numbers offhand, but it sounds like we've basically transplanted Somalis en masse to certain areas. Wouldn't surprise me that since MN got a lot, other areas in the midwest did too.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

West Plains, Missouri? That's in the heart of the Ozarks, not far from my hometown.


Jeffery Hodges

* * *

Anonymous said...

You people are completely ridiculous! Somalis are terrorists?? Just because they are MUSLIM?? Listen to yourselves people! You can't discriminate against people because they are Muslims? Just because 9/11 was caused by Muslims DOES NOT, by any means, mean that all Muslims of any culture are terrorists. Do you even know where Somalia is on a map? And even if some Somalis involve themselves in illegal activities that does not represent the rest of Somali population. You guys are complete idiots. What makes you think you can judge? Absolutely ridiculous. You need to get past your biases and become realistic. A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, or a Buddhist, any one person from any of these religions can become a terrorist, BUT that does not mean everyone belonging to that faith is a terrorist. Keep that in mind and quit being such fucking assholes.

VinceP1974 said...

I love when the "Peace and tolerance" crowd show thier true colors like hibo here does.

First off, hibo, no one said "ALL" Somalis are terrorists. In fact , you came to that conclusion yourself and so you responded in typical cliched boring Lefty tripe.

You know nothing about Islam therefore you are not qualified to state we are "complete idiots".. I can assure you we have forgotten more about Islam than you'll ever know.

So yes.. we can judge.. we can dicern.. because we're not stupid.

Only willfully ignorant persons such as yourself believe you can't judge... that'a limitation you put on yourself.

Who are you tell us we can't?

Why can you judge but no one else... especially when you know nothing?

When will a Leftist break the mold and make counter-arguments intelligently and without the typical emotional whining?