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Poker News: January 08, 2007

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HEADLINE: Port of Miami Security Scare May be Blamed on Internet Poker?

Senators were more concerned with attaching a measure to ban internet poker to vital Port Security Act, then they appeared to be about protecting their country

"Sunday's security scare at the Port of Miami was a 'comedy of errors,' to quote one official. Language difficulties and flawed paperwork apparently led to the security scare that disrupted cargo operations at one of the nation's busiest ports." This is what CBS 4 in Miami reported Sunday evening. But they were wrong in some respects.

The real comedy of errors involving the Port of Miami Security Scare began in earnest just as Congress was about to recess the last day of September. That's when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ensured that a measure to ban internet poker would be attached to the unrelated Port Security Bill during the final minutes before recess. Few of those in Congress knew what Frist and his colleague (the co-author of this measure), Senator Jon Kyl (R) of Arizona, were up to.

Co-authors of the Port Security bill became outraged at discovering that the internet gambling measure had been attached to their bill.

Representative Shelley Berkley of Congressional District number 1 of Nevada - presumably speaking on behalf of many in the Vegas casino industry now opposed to internet gambling legislation - slammed Republicans for adding the extraneous provision to limit internet gambling when they found fit not to include measures to increase security to the nation's rail and mass transit system.

"If this is all about port security then why is there a provision to prevent internet gambling?" she demanded to know.

That measure incidentally excluded horse racing and state lotteries.

And while Frist and Kyl found time to ensure that a measure to curb internet gambling would be included in the port security bill, other important provisions to make the nation's rail and mass transit system safer were swiftly removed.

"God forbid something happens on our mass transit system and the American people find out that Republicans could not find time to add provisions to make mass transit safer yet you found time to add a measure that would prohibit internet gambling," said one representative speaking before the House.

Poker players nationwide were so outraged over the internet gambling measure that another of its co-sponsors, Jim Leach (R) of Iowa, reportedly lost his bid to be re-elected because of his efforts.

A top federal official in Miami told WFOR-TV's Brian Andrews that the driver of a semi-truck attempting to make a delivery at the Port of Miami Sunday morning raised red flags when he was unable to satisfy security officials who questioned discrepancies between his manifest and his cargo.

The driver, who is of Iraqi nationality, apparently had difficulty communicating with the security at the port. As they looked more closely at the truck, the security guards found two other men in the truck, another Iraqi and a Lebanese national.

FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said, "At some point he said he was alone," but officials now believe he may just have not been properly understood.

According to CBS:

"The men should not have been in the truck, so all three men were detained for questioning. They were never arrested, and after a day long scare at the port, which involved a bomb squad and hazardous materials examination of the truck, officials decided it was all a misunderstanding based on language and cultural differences, along with flawed paperwork.

"All three men are legal residents of the United States.

"The Miami Herald reported that 'suspicious' 55-gallon drums were found in the back of the truck, and that while the driver's paperwork claimed he was carrying auto parts, no such cargo was found on the truck, according to authorities. The drums and the discrepancy raised suspicions, and prompted the search.

"Members of the Miami-Dade County bomb squad and the county's hazardous materials team were on site to examine the truck, which had been moved to an area away from other trucks or cargo containers."

The Port of Miami is the busiest cruise ship port in the nation, and Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week for cruise ship traffic, with as many as 15,000 passengers boarding cruise ships.

Port of Miami security was noticeably ramped up later in the afternoon Sunday.

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