Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Matter of Time

Today's CBS News and Baltimore Sun stories differ in the details, but the theme is the same - another terror attack on the homeland is only a matter of time. According to the experts CBS News talked to, the next attack is likely to be smaller in scale than 9/11; the Sun's experts say that the next attack will be even bigger than 9/11. My bet is that both sets of experts are right - we are likely to see small scale attacks against "soft" targets like sporting arenas, shopping malls, nightclubs and restaurants before too long, and a large scale attack that makes 9/11 look small by comparison.

The signs are all pointing in the direction of another attack - a steady stream of threatening messages from bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zahawari; an international environment (i.e., Iraq, Iran, the Hamas government in the Palestinian terrorities, and Afghanistan, even) increasingly hostile to us and our interests; the rise and proliferation of "home grown" terror cells inspired by Al Qaeda but not directed by it; the foiling of recent plots abroad and at home that suggest the intensity of terrorists' activity and their absolute determination to strike again; and, perhaps most ominously, a devil-may-care, back to normal attitude on the part of our government as regards the terrorist threat (how else to explain, for example, DHS' decision to dig in its heels and stick to its guns as regards the 40% cut in counterterrorism funding for New York City and Washington, DC announced last week, the top two terrorist targets in the country?)

Perhaps the hardest circle to square is the fact that key government leaders acknowledge that the signs are pointing to another attack (one story quotes the State Department's Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism to this effect) and yet we continue to underprepare for that contingency. The latest example is the CQ News story this afternoon that Senate conferees are likely to drop port security funding from the supplemental appropriations bill when they meet later today. Old Testament prophets put it better than I can - "when there is no vision, the people perish."


Anonymous Tim Bilbro said...

Perhaps the public has "alert fatigue" and the elected leaders are acting accordingly. Not saying that another attack isn't probable, rather that sounding a constant alarm about the next great attack has caused folks to tune it out just like a car alarm in the garage.

If DHS would do its mission, there wouldn't be a need to sound the alarm all the time.

8:53 AM  

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