Link By Linda Chavez, @ Town Hall.com With all the recent talk about security vulnerabilities at the nation's ports, one subject goes virtually unmentioned. The men who actually control many of the nation's docks, especially on the Eastern seaboard, are in the hip pocket of the Mafia and have been for decades...... .....How can that be? It all has to do with the peculiar institution of the union hiring hall. No matter who owns or operates the ports, the union, not the employer, actually assigns workers to jobs. You can't work unless you carry a union card. And on East Coast and Gulf ports, the union card belongs to the International Longshoreman's Association (ILA), one of the most mobbed-up unions in the country. In July 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against the ILA, which targets the entire 31-member ILA executive council, including the president, secretary-treasurer, executive vice president, general vice president and more than two dozen others.... .....Yet despite this sordid history, few lawmakers who profess concern about port security seem in the slightest bit worried that the ILA's role on the docks may constitute a huge security risk. The ILA contributes millions of dollars each election cycle. In the 2004 election cycle, the ILA's political action committee (PAC) had over $7 million cash on hand to distribute to candidates. Among the top recipients of ILA PAC money in the last few elections were Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, Robert Menendez, D-NJ, Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, all of whom represent states with important ports. Some of these same senators are among the chief critics of the Dubai port deal, but they are noticeably silent when it comes to mob influence in the union that actually controls who works on these ports. Union bosses who would rob their members of pensions and health benefits, extort money to secure jobs on the docks, and use the docks to run gambling, loan sharking and other illegal enterprises could just as easily facilitate terrorists hoping to slip agents or weapons into the country, perhaps unwittingly, for the right price. But few in Washington seem to have considered the risk. The Dubai deal is not the only port issue that deserves more congressional scrutiny; ILA corruption surely deserves a close look as well.