Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Oh, go bomb something else

I agree that instituting a random search program at DC metro stations is neither good for mass transit efficiency nor the best way to prevent terrorist attacks, but still, it’s not to at least acknowledge the logic behind the system.  This quotation from security analyst Bruce Scheier, then, is a little over the top, even as he diagnoses the problem correctly.

Excuse me, miss, is that a bomb in your bag?

Excuse me, miss, is that a bomb in your bag?

“The threat is terrorism, and smart solutions reduce the threat overall. Dumb solutions move the threat around — from the Metro to buses, from D.C. to another city — and so on. But Metro officials have a different view; to them, the threat is terrorism on the Metro. If they institute this program and the terrorists go bomb something else, it’s a win for them. But for all of us, it’s a waste of money.”

I have my issues with Metro officials every now and then, but I’m not quite cynical enough to suggest that having a terrorist blow up something else in the city could in any way be a win for them.  They may be misguided, but they’re not evil.  Furthermore, this logic is based on the faulty premise that there are a finite number of terrorist attacks; if they don’t bomb the metro, they’ll bomb something else.  Unfortunately, terrorist could bomb both the metro and something else.

As much as the search program could represent a slippery slope — will we next be getting patted down by the maitre d’ at restaurants? — it’s at least understandable that it’s being implemented in a high traffic area.  It may not address the root causes of terrorism, but an attempt to mitigate the effects is not necessarily useless.  That said, I’d certainly prefer “smart solutions” to “dumb solutions.”

(photo from flickr user Robert Stromberg under a Creative Commons license)

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November 16, 2008 - Posted by | Washington DC |

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