Feds want boat operators to have photo ID - not to make boating safer, but so they can build a database of boaters found in restricted areas. Whats next? Requiring a government issued photo ID to leave your home? So they can make a database of people who are suspisious? Didn't the Nazis in Germany do the same thing? "Papers Please?"
Small boats seen as a terror threat
WASHINGTON - The nation's 17 million small boats face increased scrutiny from the Homeland Security Department, which fears they could be used in a nuclear attack or a lethal explosion at a U.S. port.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said this month that he had ordered agency leaders to "raise the protection level with respect to small boats." Attacks this decade by terrorists ramming bomb-filled speedboats into two U.S. battleships and a French tanker are worrisome, Chertoff said.
The Coast Guard is seeking a new federal requirement that all boat operators carry identification wherever they are on the water so it can build a database of boaters found in restricted areas.
The agency also wants to require state boater-education courses to teach security protocols such as avoiding cruise-ship terminals and military facilities. New requirements would apply to people operating most boats with an engine.
Boat operators, represented by the Boat Owners Association, support the effort as long as they don't have to get separate ID cards or install costly tracking devices, lobbyist Margaret Podlich said.
The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office plans to test next year whether sensors on buoys and boats can detect radiation from a nuclear or radiological bomb on a small vessel.
Next month, the Coast Guard will give Chertoff a plan to better oversee recreational boats and small ferries and fishing boats with "additional surveillance, monitoring and information systems," said Dana Goward, director of the Coast Guard's Maritime Domain Awareness program. "We need to know more about who's out there."
Large boats - generally those longer than 100 feet - must, under a 2002 law, have security plans and transponders that relay their position to Coast Guard stations.