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Homeland Security - Just Not In Our Homeland
We have the appearance of being protected in our country -- not actual protection. Here's an excerpt from a New York Times editorial, "Hokum on Homeland Security":

In a tour of the National Counterterrorism Center in Virginia last week, President Bush declared that “America is safer than it has been” and assured Americans that “we’re doing everything in our power to protect you.”

...But there is still no system to detect liquid explosives, a shocking deficiency more than a decade after terrorists were caught preparing to use such explosives to bring down a dozen airliners over the Pacific Ocean. The installation of “puffer” machines to detect trace explosives is lagging, and a program to integrate explosive-detection machines into the automated baggage conveyor systems at airports will not be finished, at the current pace of spending, for another 18 years.

Very little of the commercial air cargo that is carried aboard planes is screened or inspected, mostly because neither the shippers nor the airlines want to disrupt this lucrative flow of business. There is still no unified watch list to alert airlines to potentially dangerous passengers, and a prescreening program that would match airline passengers against terrorist watch lists remains stuck in development. All this in the industry that has received the most lavish attention since 9/11.

Even worse gaps remain in other areas. Port security relies primarily on certifying that cargo shipments are safe before they are loaded on freighters headed for this country. Only a small percentage of containers are screened once they hit our shores, raising the fearsome possibility that a nuclear or biological weapon might be smuggled in and detonated here.

Programs to keep dangerous nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union out of the hands of terrorists through greater security are moving so slowly that it will take another 14 years to complete the job. This is reckless beyond belief when nuclear terrorism is the most frightening prospect of all.

On the industrial front, the nation’s chemical plants, perhaps the most lethal and vulnerable of all our manufacturing complexes, remain dangerously underdefended, mostly because the government has been unwilling to compel private industry to take action. A new tamper-proof identification card for workers in the far-flung transportation industry has yet to be issued.

...Almost everyone agrees that the administration has taken some important steps toward greater security, but as the leaders of the 9/11 commission recently commented, it has not made the issue a top priority. The long, costly, chaotic occupation of Iraq, though touted as a front line of the war on terror, has actually sapped energy, resources and top-level attention that would be better applied to the real threat, a terrorist attack on the homeland.

Luckily, we're winning in Iraq, and it looks like democracy is just around the bend, Al Qaeda has been put out of business, and the Iraqi Shia and Shiites are just hanging around passing bouquets of flowers back and forth.

Posted by aalkon at August 20, 2006 8:10 AM

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What we really need is the obsolecence of mass air travel. When it becomes practical for those who need to commute across the Atlantic to do so in their own personal vehicles, will this problem of our vulnerability in this area truly be solved. I'll fly across the ocean when we have cars right out of "The Jetsons."

Posted by: Patrick at August 20, 2006 1:21 PM

Given that the earth generates a massive electromagnetic field, flying cars based on magnets shouldnt be to difficult

Posted by: lujlp at August 21, 2006 1:22 AM

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