BEST DEFENSE AGAINST TERRORISM - 2004
Haiti and Cuba
With 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline to protect, it's nice to know the United States Coast Guard has more than 200 years' experience doing its job, especially considering that the Turkey Point nuclear plant and the sprawling, wide-open Port of Miami offer tempting targets to terrorists. Since 9/11 the Guard has mobilized reserves, mounting its largest defense since World War II. Miami is receiving extra attention, and not just because historically we've been a swinging door for smugglers and migrants. The main reason Miami gets bonus protection -- more cutters, more Port Security Units, more helicopters -- is that so many desperate souls try to sneak into South Florida from their native lands of Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. With all that going on over the years, the Guard has had ample opportunity to practice the tricky business of monitoring the open ocean and the nearly infinite approaches to the mainland. Local Coasties were ready to take on terrorists even before the jihad began in force. No wonder the Department of Homeland Security celebrated its first anniversary at Bayfront Park.