Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Can The United States Government Really Protect Its Citizens Against Terrorist Attacks?

Nearly nine years after the security lapses of September 11th, 2001, another individual has attempted an attack, this time a car-bombing in Times Square in New York City, and were it not for his bumbling he likely would've both succeeded in his bombing and in his escape.

In the aftermath of the current debacle, someone is going to begin asking if intelligence agencies and the security arm of the government had any leads on this guy before he attempted his attack. If they did, people are going to wonder why he almost blew up a bomb in Times Square anyway. If they didn't, people are going to wonder how this individual managed to elude suspicion and notice and almost pull off such an attack as something of a complete surprise-- especially if it turns out that he had some kind of foreign backing or training.

Already, politicians are beginning to scratch their collective heads about how they all blew it, yet again, amidst bouts of apparently uncontrollable self-congratulatory praise and appreciation, according to the New York Times:
Top Obama administration officials and some members of Congress on Tuesday praised the government’s handling of the investigation, noting that Mr. Shahzad was identified, tracked and arrested before he could escape.
Yes, except Mr. Shahzad was not "identified, tracked and arrested" before he attempted to blow up a car-bomb in Times Square. Definitely a praiseworthy effort seeing as how the bomb luckily did not go off.
But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, while saying he was reluctant to criticize those in charge of airport security, added: “Clearly the guy was on the plane and shouldn’t have been. We got lucky.”
Clearly, Mike Bloomberg is the only politician thinking clearly about who (or rather, what) was responsible for this man's successful apprehension-- LUCK.
Senator Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine, said she applauded the work of law enforcement officials in quickly solving the case. Still, she added, “A key question for me is why this suspect was allowed to board the plane in the first place. There appears to be a troubling gap between the time they had his name and the time he got on the plane.”
A key question for me is why anybody in this country still believes the government is capable of protecting anybody from these types of attacks. Is it not obvious that for every rule or regulation they create, ex post facto, to address the circumstances of a plot that already played out, future plotters will simply change their strategy and take into account these new obstacles which they will subsequently work around?

Personally, when I get on a plane or a subway or what have you, I figure I am just gambling. I don't actually believe I am safe from terrorist attacks. I just figure that they're still relatively rare occurences and therefore I will take my chances.
At a news conference in Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that despite the break in physical surveillance, he had never been concerned that Mr. Shahzad would get away.

“I was here all yesterday and through much of last night, and was aware of the tracking that was going on,” Mr. Holder said. “And I was never in any fear that we were in danger of losing him.”
Imagine this excuse given to you by the baby-sitter that experienced a momentary "break in physical surveillance" of one of your children you had tasked them with watching. Would you buy that excuse?
Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, called the capture of the accused terrorist “a great team effort.” She added: “The law enforcement work in this case was truly exemplary.”
GOOOOOO TEAM! And since no one died THIS time, I think we can all head to the bar for happy hour to celebrate without anyone getting on our case too much!

This whole thing is a farce. If Shahzad had been a bit more anxious to get out of the country, as in "leave less than 24 hours after attempting to bomb Times Square"-anxious, he'd be in Dubai right now, if not already back in Pakistan, kicking up his sore feet and enjoying a tasty non-alcoholic beverage to celebrate a job well done.

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