Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Security cost of war

Robert Scheer takes a non-hysterical look at the fact that making war against Muslim countries has been since 9/11, and continues to be under the Obama administration and the Bush-Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates, far more of a priority that ordinary airline security in The Global War on Stealth Underwear The Nation 12/30/09:

The technology that could help detect a sophisticated plane hijacker or suicide bomber has been largely botched in development and only halfheartedly deployed even when it is available. On Tuesday, a devastating report in the Washington Post revealed that the full-body scanning equipment hyped after 9/11, which might have detected the explosives involved in last week's incident, is still not in wide use. As the Post stated, "A plan that would have helped focus the development of better screening technology and procedures--including a risk-based assessment of aviation threats--is almost two years overdue, according to a report this fall by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress."

So, screening equipment that can detect plastic explosives exists, but it was not used in this case and, as the GAO predicted, "TSA cannot ensure that it is targeting the highest priority security needs at checkpoints; measure the extent to which deployed technologies reduce the risk of terrorist attacks; or make needed adjustments to its PSP (Passenger Screening Program) strategy." As a result, the GAO concluded: "TSA lacks assurance that its investments in screening technologies address the highest priority security needs at airport passenger checkpoints." [my emphasis]
As I've written before, I'm not at all thrilled about the full-body scanning notion. Like any technology, it requires people with good sense in charge of using it to make it effective. But Scheer's point about security priorities is well taken. And the more wars we make on Muslim countries the more enemies we will make in the Muslim world.

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