Sunday, October 30, 2005

Preventing future threats: not with a "lack of protective imagination"

And, after hurricane Katrina, I would add that on top of a "lack of protective imagination", government continues to suffer as well from "pork barrel security projects" and "visible-but-ineffective security projects" that divert precious resources away from the real or more likely threats.

An unfortunate example of this is how "The federal government will pay the overtime of cops and emergency medical workers if the drill involves an act of terrorism, but it won't if locals rehearse for a natural disaster." So, the government is still making it difficult for localities, such as Seattle, to prepare for _likely threats_ and instead they have to fake it by running drills for the more unlikely terrorism-related scenarios instead. See Is Seattle Really Ready?

The other glaringly-apparent issue is that unqualified people are being put into positions of authority of governmental agencies that are in charge of protection and response for natural disasters and other events. I have lost my belief that government can be a reliable first line of assistance and that individual citizens and localities have to take matters into their own hands to be prepared, just like you would do for a retirement plan. Don't rely on social security, welfare, or unemployment as your sole safety net and now add to that governmental response to disasters.

I'm going to be reactivating my local neighborhood disaster preparedness facility since I can't believe that if there was any kind of significant event that there could be a reasonable expectation of a decent national response.

Forwarded from: Richard Forno

The London bombs went off over 12 hours ago.

So why is CNN-TV still splashing "breaking news" on the screen?

There's been zero new developments in the past several hours.
Perhaps the "breaking news" is that CNN's now playing spooky "terror
attack" music over commercial bumpers now filled with dramatic
camera-phone images from London commuters that appeared on the Web
earlier this morning.

Aside from that, the only new development since about noon seems to be
the incessant press conferences held by public officials in cities
around the country showcasing what they've done since 9/11 and what
they're doing here at home to respond to the blasts in London.....which
pretty much comes down to lots of guys with guns running around
America's mass transit system in an effort to present the appearance of
"increased security" to reassure the public. While such activities are a
political necessity to show that our leaders are 'doing something'
during a time of crisis we must remember that talk or activity is no
substitute for progress or effectiveness.

Forget the fact that regular uniformed police officers and rail
employees can sweep or monitor a train station just as well as a
fully-decked-out SWAT team -- not to mention, they know it better, too.
Forget that even with an added law enforcement presence, it's quite
possible to launch a suicide attack on mass transit. Forget that a
smart terrorist now knows that the DHS response to attacks is to
"increase" the security of related infrastructures (e.g., train
stations) and just might attack another, lesser-protected part of
American society potentially with far greater success. In these and
other ways today following the London bombings, the majority of security
attention has been directed at mass transit. However, while we can't
protect everything against every form of attack, our American responses
remain conventional and predictable -- just as we did after the Madrid
train bombings in 2004 and today's events in London, we continue to
respond in ways designed to "prevent the last attack."

In other words, we are demonstrating a lack of protective imagination.

Contrary to America's infatuation with instant gratification, protective
imagination is not quickly built, funded, or enacted. It takes years to
inculcate such a mindset brought about by outside the box,
unconventional, and daring thinking from folks with expertise and years
of firsthand knowledge in areas far beyond security or law enforcement
and who are encouraged to think freely and have their analyses seriously
considered in the halls of Washington. Such a radical way of thinking
and planning is necessary to deal with an equally radical adversary, yet
we remain entrenched in conventional wisdom and responses.

Here at home, for all the money spent in the name of homeland security,
we're not acting against the terrorists, we're reacting against them,
and doing so in a very conventional, very ineffective manner. Yet
nobody seems to be asking why.

While this morning's events in London is a tragedy and Londoners deserve
our full support in the coming days, it's sad to see that regarding the
need for effective domestic preparedness here in the United States,
nearly 4 years after 9/11, it's clear that despite the catchy
sound-bytes and flurry of activity in the name of protecting the
homeland, the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.


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