London attacks fuel debate over U.S. transit security


"Debate erupted Thursday over federal funding for U.S. mass transit security after four bombs in London ripped through several commuter subway trains and one bus, killing at least 37 people and injuring hundreds more.

London authorities said the bombs appeared to be a coordinated terrorist attack, but did not know whether suicide bombers set them off or whether bombs had been left in packages."

As I sat in traffic this morning behind a county transit bus, I watched people get on and off. Two or three of them with backpacks. There was no percievable security. I thought, "How hard would it be to someone - anyone, "pack" their backpack with explosives and set it off while on the bus?

Not much. Take a look around you as you go about your day. Look at people on the bus, at the mall, the Wendy's, McDonalds, etc. Not all terrorists look like the "poster" child for Al Qaeda. Today's Al Qaeda isn't the one of 9/11. Today there are hundreds if not thousands of splinter cells throughout the world.

Today wasn't the first time I noticed this "laspe". One day while shopping at the local mall, where it is usually shoulder-to-shoulder people, I noticed many people wearing such packs, or carrying large bags. I saw bags lying alone, packages that may have been innocent enough, yet they were just sitting there. Yes, there were some police and mall security, but in the several hours I was there I didn't see one instance of bag check, or even an interview, and even past my protestations they didn't seem too concerned about the packages.

Again, "How hard could it be?"

When we talk "beefing up security", we are a bit naive to think that we can secure every instance in every place. Terrorist don't try to attack when we expect it. Who thought on a clear cool day in New York City that planes would be used as missles?

Who thought that after one of the most happiest days in London, the next could be the most sad?

Terrorists don't always plan a "grand-scale" attack. One terrorist with a device in a backpack is all it takes.

"We have asked state and local leaders and transportation officials to increase their protective measures, including additional law enforcement police, bomb-detecting K-9 teams, increased video surveillance, spot-testing in certain areas, added perimeter barriers, extra intrusion-detection equipment, and increased numbers of inspection of trash receptacles and other storage areas," Chertoff said during a news conference. "But we are not suggesting that people avoid public transportation systems. Rather, we are asking that they use those systems, but with an increased awareness of their surroundings."

While we can fund the hell out of homeland security, and improve all the measures mentioned above, the last sentence tells us the greatest defense we have: That we become more aware of our surroundings. We are at war - today was not the first nor last time these monsters will show their "values".

The government is charged with protecting us, and as far as I am concerned, since 9/11 they have done a stellar job. But like it or not they can't be everywhere, seeing everything, 24/7. It just isn't possible.

Yet we as individuals, Americans are everywhere, doing everything, and if we want to stay safe, we HAVE to be diligent. We have to be aware, lest when we least expect it, terror comes home.


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