Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cautionary Remarks on the Boston Marathon Bombings

The authorities will discover the bomber(s), perhaps not quickly, but they will put the pieces together. Years passed before the BI could discover the identity of the Atlanta Olympic Bomber and the sender of the anthrax letters, after false starts. The choices are either home grown terrorism, state sponsored terrorism, or terrorist group sponsored terrorism. It will come down to 1) a solo nutso, 2) a conspiracy of like minded domestic nutsos, 3) international terrorism, or 4) a sudden Jihad terrorist. Interestingly, no Islamist terrorist group has stepped forward to take credit for the Boston attack. Usually they want the publicity to attract new members. The authorities will also be able to determine the “fingerprints” of the manufacturer. They have probably already pieced together the prĂ©cis of the bombs. Whoever it was will make a difference in the nation’s response. The country is currently overreacting with security at public venues. That’s normal though as public officials must show they are doing something and fear exists of a subsequent blow. The long term will witness an increase in security, but America cannot be made absolutely secure. America is a country of infinite targets, not all of which can be protected at the same time. Trying to secure every inch of a 26 mile marathon is essentially impossible. The NFL can secure an isolated venue, such as the Super Bowl, and the Secret Service Pennsylvania Avenue during a Presidential Inauguration, but it is impossible, for example, to secure every Fourth of July Parade in small town America or NASCAR race. A terrorist attack, such as 9/11 or the Boston Marathon, receives great attention because of where it occurred. A series of attacks on our nation’s suburbs and small towns could be even more devastating to the American psyche, showing no on e is safe anywhere in this country. In addition, the study of most of these terrorist tragedies, such as 9/11, reveals human error as one cause of the tragedy. People get complacent and careless as time passes by without additional attacks. Human error cannot be totally eliminated. Let us also recognize that while air traffic can be highly secured, other forms of mass transit, such as busses and rail, remain vulnerable. England, Spain, India and Israel certainly understand that. Universities cannot be made secure against guns, knifes, and bombs, but steps can be taken to minimize the risk and to respond rapidly to reduce the victims of an attack. One purpose of improved security is to deter the potential terrorist; let him, and it is almost always a him, move on to a less secure target. The difference between a successful and unsuccessful terrorist attack is often luck. The Times Square Bomber, as well as the Shoe-lace Bomber and the Christmas Day Bomber, made mistakes, fortunately for hundreds of potential victims. The Boston Marathon Bomber did not repeat their mistakes. The reality is that our foreign terrorists are smart; they learn from their mistakes. They figure out how to improve bombs and evade detection. Too much info on building bombs and engaging in other terrorist attacks is available on the internet. New York City has prevented many potential attacks since 9/11 through intelligence and infiltration, perhaps bordering on entrapment on occasion. Many school attacks have been averted because the winnable teenage killers discussed their plans online. Authorities now monitor the internet. As President George W. Bush pointed out on many occasions, the authorities have to succeed every time to be successful; the terrorists only once. The Boston Marathon Terrorist(s) succeeded the one time, but not the last time.

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