Friday, June 12, 2009

More homegrown terrorism

The shooting at the Holocaust museum in Washington DC earlier this week reminds us that the threat of terrorism is not confined to foreigners or to followers of any particular religion. And yes, it is terrorism: the shooter targeted innocent, non-combatant civilians in order to make a broader political point. If that isn't terrorism than I don't know what is.

This is why we must go beyond basic profiling or bureaucratic mechanical charades that value appearance over actual provision of security. Terrorists can be hard to identify (although it seems that in this case, von Brunn, the accused shooter, had a long and public history of indications that he could do something like this), and neither removal of shoes at airports or the closing off of public areas do anything meaningful to help identify them. It takes intelligence and behavioral observations - tasks which are less easy to farm out to $10/hr unionized rent-a-mall cops, but which ultimately yield much greater bang for the buck in terms of actual security.

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