PORT SECURITY….We have been told by conservative hawks that Iran is actively building a nuclear weapon and that we should do everything we can to stop this, up to and including a military assault on suspected nuclear sites. Since Iran is incapable of delivering a nuclear weapon 7,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, the primary doomsday scenario they’ve offered up is that Iran (or a terrorist group working with Iran) will ship a completed nuke through an American port and then threaten to detonate it in a large city.

Now, if you were truly concerned about this possibility ? really, truly concerned ? you would support more than preemptive action against Iran. You would also support funding to increase security at American ports. In particular, you would support funding to install radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry.

On the other hand, if a nuked-up Iran were not a genuine national security concern, but merely a convenient way to keep people scared and voting for Republicans, you would continue screeching about the mullahs but would oppose spending actual money on increased port security. In particular, you would not want to waste half a billion dollars on radiation monitors for a threat you don’t really believe in.

Today, House Republicans voted almost unanimously against an amendment to beef up port security and install radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry. They also blocked consideration of an amendment to require 100% scanning of shipping containers entering the United States. I think this tells you just how seriously they take the actual threat of a nuclear Iran.

NOTE TO REPORTERS: The next time a Republican politician tells you that a nuclear Iran is intolerable, the first question you should ask is whether said politician supports funding for serious port security. If the answer is anything other than a firm and passionate “yes, dear God, yes,” you should end the interview and walk away. You are talking to a partisan shill, not someone genuinely concerned about national security.

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