Minnesota’s defenses against terrorism are growing stronger, a U.S. Senate panel was told yesterday. U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, new chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, convened his first hearing and heard mixed reports about the local level of preparedness, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. There were familiar laments about too little money, too many targets and the impossibility of inspecting every ship, railcar and truck entering the state.
Senators also heard concrete signs of progress in countering threats. Patrols along the Canadian border have greatly increased. Gamma-ray scanning devices are being deployed to screen railcars entering the state. Sensors are being installed in remote border regions. And the first federal money for homeland security is finally starting to flow to local officials.
The Associated Press quotes Coleman as saying that “it was gratifying that during the conversation, not all of it was about money. The range of things we heard was not simply to ‘Give me more.'” Instead, the security experts talked about a need to coordinate activities from the local level to the highest reaches of the federal bureaucracy. And they said the new department must be able to provide local officials with one-stop shopping for services