Counter-Terrorism: June 17, 2005

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While there have been no Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, 2001, this is not reassuring to analysts at the Department of Homeland Security. That's  because most of the counter-terrorism effort in the United States since September 11, 2001, has been wasted. Over four billion dollars was spent on security equipment that didnt work, and numerous new procedures were implemented that were found to be useless as well. The most obvious of these have been those encountered at airports. 

The money was spent, and new procedures implemented for political, not security, reasons. People had to be reassured. Politicians could lose elections if they did not appear to be doing something about security.

But thats not the scary part.

When analysts look closely at what has been preventing terror attacks, the most important reasons have nothing to do with the Department of Homeland Security. First, theres the active participation of Americans themselves. On aircraft, passengers realize they have to act quickly if anyone tries another hijacking. There have already been several incidents where a flight attendant called for help, and the troublesome passenger was suddenly buried by other passengers. This is far more effective than seizing nail clippers or cigarette lighters, and patting down grandmothers just before boarding.

Then theres the FBI. Still a bit stiff and unresponsive, the FBI does have a lot more good leads coming in. The feds reached out to the Arab-American community and got the help it needed. Local police have also benefited from grassroots counter-terrorism efforts. People are much more alert about the terrorist threat. That has made it a lot more difficult for any al Qaeda, or their supporters, to get anything going. The Islamic radicals are trying, but with the American media still going bonkers with real, or imagined, terrorist plots, there are too many eyes and ears alert for any of these amateur operators to get something started. These guys are trying, because they keep getting caught. While many of their plans are half-baked and pathetic, it means the threat is still there. So Americans will keep paying attention. That is the mightiest counter-terror weapon out there. 

And then theres Iraq. If you check out the Islamic radical web sites, you see a lot more talk about the need to run the infidel soldiers out of the Middle East, than for attacks to be made on American cities. Islamic terrorists are overwhelmingly headed for Iraq, not North America. The March bombing in Madrid gave the Europeans a wakeup call, which has made it easier for al Qaeda to recruit European Islamic radicals to go fight in Iraq, than to try and pull something off in Europe. The army and marines are killing Islamic terrorists who might otherwise have found their way to the United States, or made attacks on Americans elsewhere in the world. 

So this leaves the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wondering what they can do to fight terrorism. Nothing they have done so far has made much difference. But like any new bureaucracy, they have to appear as if they are doing something, and making a difference. So more billions will be spent on anything that can look good in a press release, and more Americans will be annoyed, just to let them know that DHS is on the job.

 


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