Counter-Terrorism: August 31, 2005



  Although it is nearly four years since the devastating attacks of 9/11, and despite enormous expenditures of money, and the energetic efforts of federal, state, and local officials and security personnel, Americans as a people still do not seem particularly serious about the possibility of domestic terrorism. Consider some recent incidents:

@An Israeli citizen, in the U.S. on business, spotted a brief case standing in the corner of a busy rest room in a major hotel. When he tried to alert the others present to the possible danger, he was ignored. Nor were hotel security people overly concerned, opening the brief case in order to try to identify its owner despite urgings that they call the bomb squad.

@Guns and explosives continue to be easy to obtain, at least on the illegal black market. As long as you dont tell the crooks you want to use it for a terrorist attack (gangsters can be patriotic too, or they dont want the extra heat coming from association with terrorism), all it takes is money. A little luck is required as well, to avoid getting involved with a police or FBI sting operation. Its not like you can look the illegal weapons merchants up in the Yellow Pages.

@Fertilizer producers continue to oppose introducing tracer chemicals to their products, which would make it easier to determine the source of explosives improvised out of fertilizer, such as was used in the Oklahoma City attack.

@An automobile dealer who specializes in restoring vehicles for collectors, leaves an ambulance with the full markings of a real volunteer fire department parked where anyone could tow it away in the night. Confronted by the chief of the department in question, the dealers response was incredulity, followed by Mind your business. In most states, private ownership of a vehicle with such markings appears to be legal. 

There are numerous other examples. So far, we have been lucky. But how long can our luck hold?


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