Thursday, July 07, 2005

London and its implications on our country's security

Listening to (admittedly liberal) media coverage of the London transportation bombings has reminded me of how vulnerable public places in urban areas are to terrorism. It has been almost four years since September 11, and it seems like Americans have received little instruction on how to prevent attacks besides the vague warning to "be vigilant" and meaningless, color-coded terrorist alerts.

For instance, todayAmerica's public transportation systems status was rasied from a yellow to an orange alert. Presumably the only reason for this is because attacks just occurred against London's transportation system. Yet, the administration would do well to provide
(1) Any suggestion of what we can do to keep safe on our public transportation systems. (what looks suspicious, who should we contact)
(2) Which transport systems are the most vulnerable. (I'd assume New York's subway or the D.C. Metro are the most vulnerable while the Portland light rail can probably rest easy, but it would help for some sort of distinction from the administration who are more privy to intelligence than the rest of us)
(3) What they are doing to protect our "homeland," i.e. country against domestic attacks. Some of the radio shows I'm listening to brought up Bush's promise to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive" and Colin Powell's statement that "It's not enough to get one individual [i.e. bin Laden], although we'll start with that one individual."

What the London attack spotlights if it is indeed confirmed that Al Qaeda perpetrated them as they have claimed is that the U.S. government's focus on a country that had nothing to do with encouraging Al Qaeda--Iraq--is taking away precious time and resources from the true source of random killing of innocent people.

Another point that was made is that today's terrorist attack in London is virtually a daily experience for citizens and soldiers in Iraq. That is the world Iraqis live in, and the U.S. invasion has perpetuated it, not to mention caused increased terrorism in Iraq, purportedly what the war sought to prevent.

Hopefully these attacks will cause Americans to demand more information from the government on what we are doing to protect from domestic terrorism.

1 comment:

Chris said...

To take issue with the first of your points:

I think, in our passive memory, we know exactly what to do (look suspicious packages, people behaving weirdly)and who to call (a lot of people have cell phones - call the police). I have this stuff in the back of my mind while on the DC Metro, but it's not everpresent. I don't think it's been "ingrained in our system" yet.

Also, I was watching BBC today and they interviewed an American woman who was on the street when the bus blew up. She said she immediately ran towards the bus to help out, but Londoners held her back for fear of a secondary blast. It was great that the woman's first impulse was to help out, but the mindset of the Londoners who stopped her demonstrated a better grasp of that type of situation.