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July 21, 1999|Stephen Gregory

Members of a presidential task force looking into crime and security issues at U.S. ports are scheduled to meet today with leaders of businesses that deal with the Port of Los Angeles, as part of their fact-finding efforts.

Executives of various truck and rail cargo carriers as well as customs brokers, freight forwarders and shippers are expected to share thoughts on beefing up security and reducing cargo theft, drug smuggling and other crimes occurring at the nation's ports.

The Interagency Commission on Crime and Security in U.S. Seaports, which has been reviewing port facilities across the nation since its formation in April, is scheduled to submit its findings and recommendations on port safety to the White House next spring.

President Clinton formed the commission, composed of members of dozens of federal departments and agencies such as the CIA, Justice Department and National Security Council, in response to concerns by Congress that the nation's seaports are vulnerable to crime and possible terrorist attacks.

Already this week, commission members have met with local officials of federal agencies and the union that represents dockworkers. The task force plans to talk to steamship companies, terminal operators, port police officials and cruise ship operators this week.

The commission is expected to review the Port of Long Beach, the nation's busiest foreign trade harbor, next week. Los Angeles is the nation's second-busiest.

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