Was UPS behind that “huge security gap” story?

On Tuesday we linked to a story from WTOP Washington about a supposed “Huge security gap” that results from a lack of security checks on packages entering the country via the postal service. The article quoted spokespersons Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) under George W. Bush, and Juliette Kayyem, who was a DHS Assistant Secretary in the Obama Administration.

What the article didn’t talk about was who exactly was behind the organization, which calls itself “Americans for Securing All Packages” (ASAP). In an article published earlier today, CNBC’s Eamon Javer fills in some of the gaps. While ASAP’s web site doesn’t list a physical location for the organization, CNBC found that the group’s incorporation papers gave the address of “a powerhouse D.C. law and lobbying firm called Perkins Coie”.

The lobbying firm directed the reporter back to an ASAP spokesperson, who declined to reveal where it gets its money- which is perfectly legal for a “dark money” 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization”, which is what ASAP claims to be.

So Javer looked to the published comments of ASAP’s headliners, Ridge and Kayyem:

Ridge and Kayyem both mentioned two public companies: UPS and FedEx. Ridge wrote that those companies follow strict new security procedures implemented after Sept. 11, but their government-run competitor, the U.S. Postal Service, does not — despite a law called the Trade Act of 2002 and a recommendation by Congress that agencies “be provided with the electronic security data necessary to weed out dangerous packages.”

Senate records reveal that this exact issue is one focus of the lobbying effort of UPS, which has spent more than $4.5 million lobbying in Washington so far in 2016.

Among the various measures UPS is pushing on Capitol Hill, the documents show, is a bill that would “apply customs and security parity to posts and the private sector for all parcels imported to the U.S.”

So the bottom line is that ASAP, far from the grassroots group of “families” it claims to be, is  more likely a somewhat indirect way for UPS to lobby for more restrictions on the US Postal Service- not because it would make America safer, but because it would remove what UPS regards as a competitive advantage for the USPS.

It is, as Javer writes, “a small example of the way money, power, and national security interact in Washington 15 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks”.

Read the entire CNBC article here: A DC mystery behind a 9/11 newspaper column

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  • Charles Prescott

    The writer is missing the point and simply diverting attention. If a skillfully crafted bomb can only be detected thruough careful vigilance, and UPS or FedEx will find the bomb, but the USPS won’t, isn’t it the case that the package sent through USPS is going to kill me? Why is it ok for the USPS not to do what Congress has ordered them to do in order to protect the public? And, yes, there is a cost, which the USPS isn’t assuming, and their competition has a right to complain about it. It’s an unfair advantage.

  • postalnews

    You’re missing the point. UPS is free to express their point of view, and to lobby Congress and the Administration, and they do. But it’s dishonest to finance a pressure group and pretend it’s some kind of grass roots gathering of “families”. I don’t know of any “families” who spontaneously get together at the offices of high priced lobbyists. It has nothing to do with “protecting the public” and everything to do with protecting UPS profits.