More Than 10 Ways to Avoid the Next 9/11

More Than 10 Ways to Avoid the Next 9/11
September 16th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: More Than 10 Ways to Avoid the Next 9/11

More Than 10 Ways to Avoid the Next 9/11
On 10 September 2006, the New York Times published a feature called "Ten Ways to Avoid the Next 9/11": "The Op-Ed page asked 10 people with experience in security and counterterrorism to answer the following
question: What is one major reason the United States has not suffered a
major attack since 2001, and what is the one thing you would recommend
the nation do in order to avoid attacks in the future?"
Actually, they asked more than 10, myself included. But some of us were
cut because they didn't have enough space. This was my essay:
Despite what you see in the movies and on television, it's actually very
difficult to execute a major terrorist act. It's hard to organize,
plan, and execute an attack, and it's all too easy to slip up and get
caught. Combine that with our intelligence work tracking terrorist
cells and interdicting terrorist funding, and you have a climate where
major attacks are rare. In many ways, the success of 9/11 was an
anomaly; there were many points where it could have failed. The main
reason we haven't seen another 9/11 is that it isn't as easy as it

Much of our counterterrorist efforts are nothing more than security
theater: ineffectual measures that look good. Forget the war on terror;
the difficulty isn't killing or arresting the terrorists, it's finding
them. Terrorism is a law enforcement problem, and needs to be treated
as such. For example, none of our post-9/11 airline security measures
would have stopped the London shampoo bombers. The lesson of London is
that our best defense is intelligence and investigation. Rather than
spending money on airline security, or sports stadium security --
measures that require us to guess the plot correctly in order to be
effective -- we're better off spending money on measures that are
effective regardless of the plot.
Intelligence and investigation have kept us safe from terrorism in the
past, and will continue to do so in the future. If the CIA and FBI had
done a better job of coordinating and sharing data in 2001, 9/11 would
have been another failed attempt. Coordination has gotten better, and
those agencies are better funded -- but it's still not enough. Whenever
you read about the billions being spent on national ID cards or massive
data mining programs or new airport security measures, think about the
number of intelligence agents that the same money could buy. That's
where we're going to see the greatest return on our security investment. d&emc=rss


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