Monday, August 14, 2006

Terrorism vs. Technology

Raghead Mujahideen Sketch
Airport Luggage X-Ray
Toxin sniffers, missile jammers, dirty-bomb detectors:
Will a new security arsenal make us safer?

Five years after terrorists chillingly exposed our home-front vulnerabilities to unconventional warfare, are we safer? Ask Maureen McCarthy, director of science and technology transition at the Department of Homeland Security, and she answers in a word: “Absolutely.”

Pause. Clarification: “They can still game us, but figuring out how to get past our defenses now is harder to do.”

In the race to prevent future 9/11-style attacks—or worse—Washington has marshaled the U.S. science establishment on a scale not seen since Sputnik. Federal investment in homeland-defense research has swallowed nearly $4 billion since 2003, and that’s a mere drop of total security spending. (DHS’s budget this year alone is $40 billion.) More important, McCarthy suggests, is that the accelerated spending has brought together formerly disparate disciplines: Software engineers, epidemiologists and biologists have teamed up to produce technologies that protect air and food against bioterrorism. Nuclear physicists and bioforensics specialists now cooperate with the best brains in behavioral science to devise ways to reduce the threat of nuclear smuggling and suicide bombers.

Yet some experts argue that much of the big spending provides only an illusory sense of security. “A lot of it is security theater—technology designed to make you feel better,” says Bruce Schneier, author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World. He points to high-tech protection poured into landmarks, from the White House to local city halls, that he claims diverts terrorist attention to “softer” targets like subways and stadiums. But the government seems to have taken the point. Its ever-expanding homeland-security measures cover not just big targets but the nation’s broader vulnerabilities as well.

Check out the article at Popular Science.

For a look at the technologies that will soon safeguard your travel plans, launch the photo gallery.

There will always be "soft targets" for Islamic militant extremists, we just need to make sure they don't hit a vital area. One major vital area that we are extremely vulnerable in is our shipping ports. There's a hella lot of cargo coming in through our major port cities, such as New Orleans, every day.

Not many people are talking about shipping ports because of the fact that recent targets were passenger aircraft on 9-11 and very recently in England. I would think it important to correct such a vulnerability BEFORE it is exploited... wasn't 9-11 a big enough wake-up call? No, it was only a wake-up call for the airline industry.

It's like plugging a leaky dam one hole at a time... sooner or later we're going to run out of fingers.

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