The Cold War concern over nuclear exchanges between superpowers has transformed to one over car bombs, suicide bombers, and the threat of attacks with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on civilians by seemingly technologically deficient, third-world renegades.

Though we focus on the choice of weapons used by terrorists, more worrisome are the terrorists’ agility, adaptability, determination, and rabid dedication to their cause. Prior to the 1990s, the U.S. national-security organs—Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. military, and so on—evolved to counter the actions of nation-states and their agents. The standard operating procedures, the protocols, the philosophy, and the “rules” behind it all developed over decades of preparing for conventional and nuclear wars with a nation-state. How terrorists act, react, and even think is thus foreign to U.S. intelligence and security forces and to its political leaders.

The U.S. government has developed intelligence gathering by technological means to a high degree of sophistication. But the terabytes of data we collect are well beyond human means to wade through, and our human intelligence is deficient. If ever there was a culture and mentality that the U.S. government does not understand, it is the Middle East and the Islamic world. In the Middle East, from which our current enemy hails, the United States does not have sufficient intelligence personnel who can speak and read the languages and understand their nuances. In contrast, during the Cold War, the U.S. invested heavily in personnel who could speak, read, and write Russian. Proof of our Arabic-language deficiencies came out after 11 September 2001 (9/11), when the FBI itself scrambled to recruit Arabic-speaking people just to help it “read the other guy’s mail,” much less divine his intentions.[1]

One Arabic speaker raised questions regarding the FBI’s methods for assessing fluency and the time involved in vetting such linguists.[2] Some three years after the 9/11 wake-up call, the FBI remains swamped with more than one hundred thousand hours of audio requiring translation, analysis, and action.[3] FBI director Robert Mueller notes that since 9/11 the FBI has increased the number of staff linguists by 69 percent and more than tripled the number of Arabic translators. The difficulty is greater in vetting linguists for sensitive positions.[4] Everything the United States did in confronting the Soviets has apparently been ignored in dealing with the Middle East. Given the tinderbox nature of the region, this negligence is incomprehensible. Although the United States was central to the existence and policies of the shah’s regime in Iran, the 1979 ouster of the shah and the taking of U.S. embassy personnel as hostages for some 459 days were the first highly visible, close encounters with radical Islamic fundamentalism for the United States. These events should have been a wake-up call, but existing policies continued largely unchanged.

The United States is very vulnerable—a large country with long, desolate borders and many lucrative, high-value, symbolic targets. U.S. vulnerabilities are more than a list of infrastructure; they include the economy, our national history, and the American way of life. This study reviews some of the most important current vulnerabilities and what has or has not been done to reduce them.

Air-Traffic Safety

Our air-transport system has undergone considerable “hardening” since 9/11, but it is not absolutely inviolate from future terrorist attacks. A significant threat to air travel is the use of shoulder-fired surface to air missiles: man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). As cited by Charles Pena, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, between the 1970s and 2003 worldwide there were twenty-nine MANPADS attacks on civilian aircraft involving some five hundred deaths.[5] In addition, the FBI estimates that twenty-five of these attacks were carried out by nonstate groups. The new Transportation Security Administration (TSA)[6] is in charge of security for all transportation modes, but most prominently for air-travel security. It does not inspire great confidence that one of TSA’s first actions was the federalizing of private airport security, considering that a recent U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) report indicates that federalized security forces performed worse than the private forces still employed by five airports as an experiment.[7]

Most of us are familiar with the increased scrutiny the public must endure at airports. As passengers, we have had to remove footwear, coats, and jackets; are scanned with hand-held magnetometers; and are required to walk through the door-frame-type scanning devices. We have watched as our carry-on baggage is X-rayed and in some cases opened and rummaged through. Our loyalty, honesty, and responsibility stand routinely questioned by people who themselves may be in need of closer scrutiny. In its haste to subject the American public to the federal microscope, TSA has required checked baggage to remain unlocked, making theft by airport screeners and baggage handlers easy. A report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March 2005 found high incidents of theft of checked baggage contents.[8] Though the report notes that the incidents of theft have declined, there is still a serious problem with theft by screeners who have themselves not gone through secure background checks.[9]

But the problem is not simply stolen baggage. What nobody seems to have voiced is that it is easy to insert contraband into unlocked baggage. An improvised explosive device (IED) or an improvised incendiary device (IID) can simply be inserted within unlocked baggage stored in the aircraft baggage hold. Leaving checked baggage unlocked for screening thus seems as hazardous as leaving it in the “watchful” care of a stranger. Government “safeguards” thus reduce one security problem but cause another.

Since September 2004, the TSA has demanded passenger data for use in a new passenger-screening plan called Secure Flight.[10] The new system will match passenger reservation information with a more extensive list of suspected terrorists or high-risk persons. The information can include name, flight origin, destination, flight time, duration of flight, seat location, travel agent, form of payment, credit card number, travel itinerary, address, telephone number, and meal requests.[11] Secure Flight and the associated “No-Fly List” have gained attention because they have “caught” prominent politicians by name at airports and barred them from flying—notably, Senator Ted Kennedy, Representative John Lewis,[12] and Representative Donald E. Young,[13] a member of the House Transportation Committee. It took Kennedy some three weeks and several phone calls to get his name removed from the list; his difficulty in doing so offers a glimpse of the nightmare ordinary citizens experience when their names match that of targeted people—the worst kind of guilt by association. But here is the conundrum in this situation: If Ted Kennedy has a name similar to one associated with a suspected terrorist or supporter, how do you “remove” his name but still retain the suspect’s name on the list?

The United Kingdom and the United States also now have a new passenger-screening system that gives the X-ray vision of Superman to airport officials.[14] The scanner employs low-level X rays that “see” through passengers’ clothes, permitting the imaging of the human body contours and surfaces—giving a black-and-white image, less the clothing. The TSA is already using the scanners at U.S. airports, though it acknowledges the privacy concerns. There seems to be no limits to the degree of intrusion governments will adopt, regardless of whether any security benefit results.

Is the public now to be irradiated with ionizing radiation at every turn? People who use X rays routinely are mostly medical personnel, such as radiologists and X-ray technicians. They are licensed and educated in the use and hazards of ionizing radiation and are legally and civilly accountable for their use of this technology. How much knowledge, education, and legal accountability do those persons have who may use such devices in the name of homeland security? Are they qualified beyond the fact that they are government law enforcement officials?

The bulk of screening currently done in the United States is of passengers themselves, their carry-on baggage, and their checked baggage. This practice has led to many problems, not the least of which are long lines; of the necessity to remove coats, belts, and shoes; and scrutiny of canes, wheelchairs, walkers, and so on. The efficiency and thoroughness of passenger screening has its limiting factor in the screeners themselves. In a 2003 paper, Jens Hainmüller of Harvard University and Jan Martin Lemnitzer of Heidelberg University have assessed the reasons for the greater aviation safety of Europeans than that of Americans.[15] In comparison between the United States and Germany, they found that three factors affect screeners’ performance: (1) high turnover rate of screeners, (2) low pay, and (3) poor training. Poor, repetitive working conditions are a contributor to the turnover rates. Because of the turnover, security checkpoints are rarely staffed by experienced screeners. The United States uses government (TSA) employees, whereas Germany have switched to private firms. These firms are certified by the German government, and the individual screeners must be licensed as well. Clearly with licensing comes professional accountability , esprit de corps and with retention of personnel, an institutional memory for avoiding past mistakes, and improving performance.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has had historical responsibility for aviation safety/security, but also has had as a major mission the promotion of commercial aviation. The conflict inherent between encouraging that which you are also to regulate is problematic. As a result of many high-jackings in the late 1970s through the ill-fated TWA 800 in-air explosion in July 1996, the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996 rescinded the FAA’s dual role and made safety/security its only priority. With the creation of the TSA, security for all transportation fell to it. Because 9/11 occurred when airport security was a function of private U.S. security firms, the vast majority of those screeners became federal employees. Some private firms still perform airport security, but they are very limited in the degree of freedom they have to deviate from the TSA script or from the procedures they must otherwise follow. As noted in a 2004 GAO report, TSA was not allowing private screening firms more flexibility in order to ensure standardized procedures, coordination, and consistency of results throughout all airports. For the five airports permitted private security firms (San Francisco, Kansas City, Rochester, Jackson Hole, and Tupelo), the report found that the private firms “achieved efficiencies that are not currently available at airports with federal screeners.”[16]

Writing for the American Enterprise Institute, Veronique de Rugy cites a secret April 2005 GAO report that found that private screeners performed better than TSA government screeners.[17] Though TSA sets the standards and protocols for screeners, regardless if they are private or government, perhaps the private sector is much more able to assume this critical and sensitive security function.

In light of 9/11 and the potential for heavy, fuel-laden aircraft to serve as “intelligence-guided missiles,” cargo aircraft are the other wing of aviation-security concern. Cargo aircraft have remained the “hole” in the sky, despite the many other measures imposed on the American air-traveling public. The vulnerability of the country and public to contraband air cargo is rivaled only by sea-borne cargo container shipping. For example, less than 10 percent of air cargo is inspected before taking to the skies at Newark Airport.[18] It is probably little better anywhere else. Not long after that report appeared, government officials announced plans to tighten air cargo rules.[19] Among the requirements is the screening of people who board the cargo aircraft. Those receiving packages must ensure that the cargo is free of explosives, guns, and stowaways.

Not to leave any stone unturned, the TSA began trial runs of a pilot program called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) at the end of October 2004. This program employs principles of surveillance and detection for assessing unusual or anxious behavior.[20] Those persons exhibiting nervousness, excessive sweating, and so on are taken aside and interviewed by police. Its use in Boston, however, prompted a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed in November 2004.[21] Pity the poor reluctant air traveler who is invariably nervous about getting on a plane. It is an axiom of common sense that a psychology undergraduate is not qualified to judge any person’s psyche, yet TSA is apparently turning this weapon over to those who do not have such a degree.

Education of screeners is the issue not only in the use of SPOT, but in the general screening for contraband on passengers’ bodies or in carry-on baggage. A May 2005 GAO report noted the systemic problems in the TSA’s ability to ensure effective and timely training of screeners before they are assigned to screen passengers, as well as problems with routine update and refresher training.[22] The TSA ascribes much of the difficulty to technical problems in the Internet/Intranet training program— making it the animist fault of the computers rather than of the humans in charge. Screeners are placed on the lines to screen although they are not yet fully trained to do so. Cannot many of the complaints and problems with current screening be traced back to this unacceptable practice by the TSA? The problems with government screeners has led to argument that private screeners can do the job better.

The availability of funds seems not to be a problem. One report indicates that the TSA spent about $500,000 on extravagant awards ceremonies for employees in 2004.[23] There is nothing new here with regard to wasteful federal spending.

Airport security, whether related to commercial or private aircraft, is realistically no better or worse than the security of the airport itself. And there seems to be a significant and obvious hole in that security. The most common security seals off an airport by the use of chain-link fencing. As we all know from our youth, chain-link fencing is hardly an obstacle to the adventurous or determined. In November 2004, a naked man successfully climbed a fence at Los Angeles International Airport and made it to an aircraft, where he attempted to hide in a wheel well.[24] This is an example of low-tech security and a low-tech breach of that security. What if this man had been a terrorist wearing a bomb and had made it to a plane loaded with passengers ready to depart the gate? Not so amusing a story then. All of these issues are in need of closer examination and reasoned remedies. Airport and aircraft-security issues in the wake of 9/11 are orders of magnitude greater today than they were in the heyday of the Cold War, when aircraft high-jackings were common in the 1970s and 1980s. However, problems are not publicized willingly unless an embarrassing incident occurs, such as a breach of aircraft security by a college student with poor judgement who thought he would show how porous security was.[25]

Food Safety

The use of small, private aircraft, especially those suited for crop dusting, in a terrorist attack employing chemical or biological agents has been an ongoing concern for federal officials since 9/11.[26] Crop dusters might be used to attack people, but perhaps more likely they may be used for agroterrorism— spraying crops with biological agents (bioagents).

In November 2003, a government panel investigating food-supply security found that few safeguards were in place to guard against terrorist attacks.[27] In February 2004, President George W. Bush issued an executive order that directs three federal departments and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop procedures to protect the nation’s food supply against terrorist attacks.[28] The measures will seek to contain any outbreak of crop or animal disease that results from terrorist attacks, as well as to prevent or cure the diseases. In addition, the departments and agency are to assist agribusinesses in developing preparedness plans of their own. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to develop a national veterinary stockpile that would hold sufficient pharmaceuticals to respond to any disease outbreak among livestock. It is also developing an animal identification system designed to track infected livestock. In the event of an agroterrorist attack, the DHS would be the lead agency in charge of the response. Academia is involved in the agroterrorism watch, too. Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one institution leading the way to an early warning system to detect bioagent terrorism attacks and provide a nationwide alert.[29]

Possible attacks on agriculture have been described as “low-tech, high-impact.” Agriculture is “among the most exposed targets” for terrorists.[30] The confinement of large numbers of animals to a small area (feedlots) makes the spread of disease easy and rapid, and some animal diseases may well be communicable to humans. Infection of crops might be missed until an entire crop is lost. Adjoining fields may also need to be destroyed ensure (if this is even possible) that all the infection has been eradicated. In Tennessee, one effort at combating the vulnerability of agriculture to terrorist attack includes educating farmers, veterinarians, and agricultural agents to identify threats and breaches of agriculture security.[31]

After 9/11, the overall food-supply chain became the focus of worry in the determination of terrorists’ possible targets. The food industry, made up of processors and grocers, has argued that controls on the industry and its products, through regulation by some dozen or more federal agencies, are sufficient to guard against terrorist attacks. Soon after 9/11, it advanced the view that only more inspectors and more funding were needed for current regulation,[32] but a year later it reconsidered accepting additional regulations and measures to protect the system from terrorist attacks.[33] Increased regulation does not necessarily enhance security, however, and may undermine it by addressing the wrong threats.

To help with the inspections of imported foods and animal feeds for evidence of bioterrorism, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reportedly has employed U.S. Customs agents.[34] According to Domenic Veneziano, director of the FDA’s Prior Notice Center, a news report alleging that Customs performs inspections of imported foods and animal feeds is “in error.” Customs does not have the expertise to inspect imported foods and animal feeds.[35] According to Veneziano’s assessment, it takes a whopping three years of training and experience to develop a seasoned inspector—a time frame clearly not available to Customs agents inspecting food. Rather, the agents discussed in the report received a half day’s worth of education on the Bioterrorism Act of 2002.[36] One of the provisions of the law, the one important to Customs agents at borders, is the prior-notice provision for all imported foods and animal feeds.[37] As explained by Mr. Veneziano, before entering the United States, any shipments of imported foods or animal feeds require a report to the FDA of their pedigree—manufacturer, contents, and so on. What Customs agents are trained to do under the Bioterrorism Act is to know what the requirements for prior notice are. If an import shows up at an entry point without the prior-notice documentation, the agents are to seize and hold the material for FDA inspection or, if warranted, refuse admittance and return the import to its point of origin. Of course, this precaution may be for naught because terrorists will likely mislabel anything dangerous and provide it with a passable pedigree.

Since the inception of the DHS, agriculture inspectors were transferred from the USDA to the DHS. Yet fewer inspections of imported agricultural products have occurred at ports of entry.

The USDA is charged with responsibility for administering animal vaccines within twenty-four hours of the outbreak from an agrobioattack, but cannot possibly do so. The only vaccine currently held in stock is that for foot and mouth disease, and even in this case the vaccine must be shipped to the United Kingdom for activation.[38]

Power and Chemical Plants

Perhaps the targets offering the greatest potential carnage and damage to infrastructure and the economy are energy facilities, such as power stations and nuclear facilities. The consequences of hurricanes in Florida in August and September 2004 and the even worse consequences of the August 2005 Hurricane Katrina, which effectively erased the southern Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, have been devastating across the board, including the economic costs of the absence of electrical power. Like these natural disasters, a coordinated terrorist attack on several power facilities would also have a devastating impact on the economy of a region and, depending upon the region, perhaps on the United States as a whole. But the main issue of concern is not the effects on the economy, but the destruction and death associated with any such attacks.

Hydroelectric and other dams are also lucrative targets. There are some 79,000 dams in the United States.[39] Of them, 75,000 are nonfederal dams. States have declared approximately 3,300 dams sunsafe or deficient. About 10,000 dams present a “high hazard potential” to life and property. More than 5,300 dams of the “high hazard potential” have not been inspected since 1995. In its testimony before Congress, the American Society of Civil Engineers assigned a grade of “D” to the U.S. dam infrastructure. Certainly, not all of these dams are as large and imposing on the landscape as the Hoover Dam, but they all have one thing in common regardless of size: they hold back huge quantities of water. If they were to be breached, the flooding would kill many unsuspecting people downstream. Thus, the doubled-edged sword is disruption of any hydroelectric power they produce and the lethality of the torrents of water catastrophically released from them. Although terrorist attacks against petroleum and natural-gas facilities and against dams would be very serious, resulting in fire and rampant flooding, respectively, that would threaten to spread to surrounding areas, a much greater hazard lies in an attack on a nuclear facility.

Any attack on a nuclear reactor facility would compromise the containment building and the reactor itself. This effect does not mean a nuclear detonation. The best example of just how dangerous such an attack would be can be seen in the Chernobyl reactor facility catastrophe in the former Soviet Union in April 1986.[40] The closest the United States has come to its own major reactor failure accident is the Three Mile Island accident in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1979.[41] In the latter case, failure to follow procedures and the falsification of records may have contributed to the near disaster. Though no compromise of the reactor or its containment building occurred, the reactor fuel rods did show signs of melting, which is the preliminary requirement for a massive melt down characterized as the “China Syndrome.”[42] Melting of the fuel rods can occur only if there is a failure in the reactor coolant system, which is designed to maintain a safe operating temperature for the reactor. A terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant would probably be directed at any system that affects the reactor’s integrity and its cooling system.

The GAO published a study of nuclear power plant security in September 2003. In examining the means by which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspects and conducts exercises, the GAO found three particular concerns:[43] (1) NRC inspectors minimize security problems by the manner in which they classify those problems; (2) the NRC has no centralized means for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of inspection results to identify common problems among various plants or for gathering lessons-learned data; and (3) the NRC’s security exercises have inherent flaws that limit the usefulness of such exercises (for example, the simulated attacking forces are not trained in terrorist tactics, and the unrealistic weapons used— rubber guns— cannot simulate actual gunfire).

Running a close second to nuclear plants for the possible devastation caused by an attack are the myriad hazardous materials production and disposal facilities scattered around the United States. Chemical and pharmaceutical plants and nuclear waste facilities are particular targets of this sort. The accidental release of a toxic industrial chemical precursor for insecticides in the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984 offers sufficient proof of the hazards posed to a surrounding population if a chemical plant were to be effectively and successfully attacked by terrorists. The Union Carbide accident resulted in fatalities ranging from a reported low of 6,400 to a staggering high of 25,000, with an estimated 100,000 treated or compensated.[44] The GAO issued a report in February 2004 assessing the U.S. chemical industry’s lack of preparedness for terrorist attack.[45] It did note, however, various trade associations’ efforts to emphasize and improve preparedness of its members. Large concerns remain regarding chemical plants as potential targets for terrorism.[46]

An April 2005 GAO report places the issue of chemical facilities security in stark statistical clarity.[47] Some 15,000 chemical facilities— including manufacturers, fertilizer facilities, and municipal water systems—handle huge amounts of the most dangerous chemicals. About 123 U.S. chemical facilities are considered “worst-case” scenarios if attacked, placing at risk some one million people to exposure to toxic cloud releases. About 2,500 of the 15,000 facilities are covered by federal security regulations. Approximately 2,000 municipal water systems and some 238 facilities handling “bulk liquid chemicals” and lying adjacent to waterways are required to perform vulnerability assessments. Approximately 1,100 facilities voluntarily participate in efforts to assess vulnerabilities, to develop security plans, and to engage in third-party verification of security enhancements taken. Though DHS is in the process of developing strategies for protection of chemical-based facilities, it has no authority to require them to improve their security. Simply put in GAO words, “the extent of chemical facilities’ security preparedness is unknown.”

As regards nuclear threats, a nuclear explosion is by far the worst. With the rapid, unprecedented, and catastrophic collapse of the Soviet Union during the 1989–91 period, the Soviet nuclear arsenal became a greater hazard to the United States and the world. A December 2004 report to the U.S. Congress outlines the improvements (upgrading physical, procedural and technical means to secure its nuclear weapons), but notes the remaining and troubling concerns about current Russian nuclear security. The reports states, “We assess that undetected smuggling has occurred, and we are concerned about the total amount of material that could have been diverted or stolen in the last 13 years.”[48] Given the virulent antipathy various terrorist groups have for the United States, these words are sobering. That Russian and former Soviet Eastern Bloc countries have nuclear weapons capabilities and/or nuclear stocks of weapons-grade fissile material leaves the United States in serious jeopardy given the political and bureaucratic climate of the current Russian government. As Ariel Cohen recently wrote for the Heritage Foundation, “There is a pervasive sense in the military and security services that nobody is responsible for anything and that justice, accountability, and responsibility are not a part of the bureaucratic culture.”[49] So, after thirteen years of funding programs to shore up Russian nuke security, what do we have to show for it?

Health Care Infrastructure

Private facilities, such as hospitals, are not immune to terrorist attacks. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations issued advisories to hospitals on preparing for terrorism and mass emergencies. Those hospitals found deficient in planning and preparing for terrorism risk losing their accreditation.[50] The upgrading of hospitals’ response capabilities to terrorist attacks, especially WMD attacks, essentially boils down to one factor—money. Most hospitals are privately operated and for profit, yet they all claim near pauper status, despite many expansion construction projects. The cost issue is vastly exacerbated with preparedness requirements. The costs for upgrading response capabilities are in the area of medicines that have little daily use, making it difficult to assess charges to patients and insurance companies. If these costs were to be passed on to insurance companies, they may well refuse to pay. The patient would be crushed by such surcharges on already astronomical personal health care bills.

Most hospitals have a limited number of emergency room beds and staff, yet a serious biochemical attack would flood a local hospital with possibly hundreds of prospective victims—many, if not all, in emergency states either from the attack agent or from ancillary causes such as heart attacks. Nerve or blood chemical weapons or certain bioagents would cause nearly instant or rapid deterioration of patient health. The cost of emergency care equipment—such as respiratory assistance for those who cannot breath on their own—for even a dozen or so patients would be considerable, but this problem is exacerbated by the fact that such equipment would not be used in normal day-to-day operations. As a former U.S. Army chemical officer, I recall a briefing in which it was estimated that each nerve agent casualty would require two physicians and two nurses for around-the-clock care for the first forty-eight hours.

Security of hospitals also is a prime concern. If terrorists decide to hit a major hospital as well as a primary target, the misery index will increase dramatically. Jeffrey N. Rubin’s January 2004 paper offers an excellent treatment of the challenges hospitals face in making ends meet while trying to make theory and practice coincide.[51] In crisp detail, he lists and discusses the problems with which hospitals struggle, several of which I have already noted.

Hospitals, physicians, and nurses are one side of the overall health system of the nation. The other side is the pharmaceutical industry and its production of both over-the-counter and prescription medications. Pharmaceuticals needed for emergency response include vaccines, antibiotics, and antidote medications. These medications are the life’s blood of any credible response effort to chemical and biological attacks. The availability of vaccine for the most recent flu season may shine some light on the hopes of producing, stockpiling, and using any medications specifically designed for response to WMD attacks. According to a Florida newspaper report, the United States had some twenty-six pharmaceutical companies in the vaccine-production business in 1967. Today there are only four, none of which produce any flu vaccine. Only two flu vaccine producers have provided vaccine to the U.S. market—one French and the other British. This dearth of vaccine is attributed to liability issues and to the significant suits brought against flu vaccine manufacturers in decades gone past over the complications and deaths allegedly from the vaccines themselves.[52]

These legal and economic issues, real or perceived, may also work against a viable effort to produce sufficient quantities of medications that would be needed for an emergency if a successful chemical or biological terrorist attack should occur. For biological medications, such as antibiotics or vaccines, the potential liability from adverse reactions and complications is enough to chill the heart of any pharmaceutical CEO—patriotism notwithstanding. Stockpiling of such time-sensitive medications may only complicate the problem if, for example, shelf-life requirements are not rigidly followed by responsible government officials.

One only has to look at the government’s efficiency in other more routine and mundane pursuits to glean insight in this matter. For example, regarding the recent 2004–2005 vaccine shortage during the flu season, it has been reported that the FDA knew in 2003 that there were problems with Chiron Corp when it inspected the British manufacturer’s Liverpool plant.[53] The FDA failed to follow up that inspection result until the British government shut down the company’s flu vaccine line. The batch of vaccine was contaminated with the bacteria serratia, commonly found in the chicken eggs from which the vaccine is made.[54] Injection of the vaccine with high levels of these bacteria can lead to systemic infections. Does this case harbor potential concerns for the “safety” of stockpiled medications meant to deal with the results of WMD attacks?

The pharmaceutical industry is going to continue to be a major focal point of any medical response to WMD terrorism that may occur. With the anthrax outbreak in October 2001, the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile underwent a significant expansion of its capabilities to handle chemical, biological, and nuclear medicinal responses.[55] As of March 2004, $7 billion has been allocated for spending. High-tech research and development received $3.5 billion, and vaccines and improvements to the public-health system received $3.4 billion.[56] The U.S. Congress granted the pharmaceutical industry the financial assurances it needs to research, develop, and produce the required medications.[57] However, when the industry remained less than enthusiastic, Congress sweetened the offer with more incentives such as tax breaks, a “wildcard” patent extension for a drug of the company’s choice, and limits on liability in the event vaccines and medications used in biodefense should cause harm to recipients.[58]

Within the week of Congress’s action, President Bush signed into law Project Bioshield—the initial step thought necessary for “ensuring” an adequate medical defense in the event of a chemical or bioattack.[59] A study of the Bioshield program commissioned by the U.S. Army and the Alfred Sloan Foundation asserted, however, that Bioshield has been inadequate in creating new vaccines and drugs against a bioattack or even a natural epidemic.[60] Not surprisingly, American entrepreneurial spirit has lined up as businesses seek to provide products and services useful in combating terrorism. Research is vital for developing any medication and for responding to bioattacks. Thus, biological labs (biolabs) are essential. A number of facilities have been opened, reopened, or proposed.[61] Also, biosafety labs, so-called clean rooms, have sprung up like dandelions among various federal agencies.[62]

This proliferation of very sensitive labs has aroused concern in the communities in which these labs currently reside or will reside. Even the U.S. Army’s federal bioweapons research lab, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, was not sufficiently sealed from the escape of microscopic anthrax.[63] In December 2001, a few short months after the October 2001 anthrax mail incidents, anthrax spores were found on office surfaces where they should not have been. USAMRIID pioneered the protocols that are today used worldwide in lethal microbial research, so the escape of dangerous spores from its vaunted facility into habitable areas raised serious questions about locating such lethal labs in and around populated areas.

The concern for counterfeit medications (medications by an unauthorized manufacturer) was the focus of a study by a risk management firm in June 2003. The study found that as funding for terrorists dries up, they will turn increasingly to the marketing of counterfeit drugs for profit—a new installment of the drug war.[64] As a means to thwart counterfeit drug marketing, the FDA announced a new program of equipping medication bottle labels with tiny radio antennas.[65] The first medications to be so tagged are Viagra and OxyContin.[66] Prescription medications are expensive enough for the general public. If this security method catches on, it will only add to already hefty costs for the consumer.

The DHS has also made recommendations to the public for the use of medications, suggesting that prescription drugs be added to an individual’s emergency kit.[67] Aside from the administrative aspects of keeping track of medications in the kits, of expiration dates, of costs, and so on, there is the real problem of getting cooperation from the physicians and health-insurance companies within the government-controlled health-care system. Ever try to get a prescription refilled several days before the prescription date? And what would your physician say about issuing an extra supply beyond what he or she just wrote for you? And if it is a good idea to have extra regular prescriptions on hand, why not also have a supply of antibiotics for that bioattack? Imagine a physician’s reaction to a request for sixty days’ worth of Cipro (for anthrax) or a set of autoinjectors for nerve agent exposure. The barriers formed by medical personnel and insurance companies are enough to stifle any such ideas, but then there are the legal issues of what the DEA or the FBI may think of some of these “reasonable” precautions. In one interesting case, two North Carolinian teenagers were discovered with nerve agent antidote syringes, which they clearly should not have had.[68] What would the law enforcement responses be regarding the possession of such a medication by a responsible adult?

Another problem confronting the consumer is medical fraud committed by those seeking to capitalize on the fears and concerns of terrorism. By January 2002, the federal government cracked down on companies and individuals selling various products on Web sites that claimed to offer protection from chemical, biological, and nuclear agents.[69]


Of considerable concern in light of the anthrax incidents in 2001 is the acquisition and use of a bioweapon by terrorists. Surveillance of the air for airborne bioagents is a critical feature in any attempt to head off a bioattack, second only to intercepting the bad guys before they can execute the attack. In November 2003, DHS released some details of a program called BioWatch—a bioagent surveillance system established in January 2003 that has been placed in several “high-risk” cities around the nation.[70] It involves the dispersal of some five hundred separate sensors in approximately thirty-one cities. Among criticisms of the program is that even though small amounts of bioagents might be present, which could sicken the public, they might not trigger an alert by the system. In January 2004, the Bush administration sought and the Congress has agreed to increase the overall biosurveillance efforts, which includes funding increases for the BioWatch program.[71]

The problem of how to respond to any terrorist attack, even a WMD attack, has prompted numerous exercises in the United States and in other countries such as the United Kingdom. One exercise held in the United Kingdom received some bad press for the severity of some of the glitches that occurred. In one report, the exercise “victims” waited three hours for the “treatment” required after a mock gas attack.[72] It took some four and one-half hours for the exercise “victims” to be decontaminated. And, most incredible, not only did police delay firefighters’ access to the scene for almost two hours, but the refreshments for the participants arrived before any of the emergency crews. Thus went Exercise Horizon on the other side of the “pond.”[73] Lesson learned: perhaps we should train private catering services in emergency response.

U.S. exercises include the TOPOFF (Top Officials) series (May 2000, May 2003, April 2005) and Dark Winter (June 2001). Dark Winter was a tabletop exercise involving a smallpox attack on the United States in which various people played the roles of officials and received scripted reports and other information upon which decisions were made.[74] It revealed serious shortcomings across the board in government response capabilities, ranging from lack of concrete information (intelligence, again), limited stocks of smallpox vaccine, and difficult questions about how to control populations stricken with and panicked by the outbreak. Do you isolate and quarantine people? Do you force isolation? Do you use lethal force to do so? How do you feed isolated people? How do you use health and other emergency personnel to supervise and assist isolated, quarantined people if the officials are not themselves vaccinated because of the shortage of vaccine? A myriad of difficult questions emerged from the exercise named Dark Winter.

Prior to Dark Winter, the first TOPOFF exercise centered on Denver, Colorado, in May 2000.[75] It too involved a bioattack, but with Yersinia pestis—the historical black plague. Colorado is experienced in having some plague infections each year, but it was not prepared for the severity posed by a deliberate terrorist attack. With three of Denver’s hospitals participating, the magnitude of the problems quickly rose and overwhelmed participants.[76] Among the revelations were: (1) no routine agency business could occur; (2) the rapid spread of the infection and the number of cases quickly overwhelmed the responders; (3) the twenty-two acute-care hospitals in the Denver area experienced significant difficulties in maintaining patient surveillance; (4) and decision makers were stymied as to who should receive antimicrobial prophylaxis. This latter issue centered on health-care workers, first responders, public-safety workers, and their families. (Does not this situation create an Orwellian equality issue?) In addition, isolation of infected people was not possible. The medical facility infrastructure had insufficient surge capacity to permit it. This problem included not only insufficient rooms, beds, and space in general, but also insufficient medical staff. Quarantining several million people as a means of controlling the spread of the disease also proved very difficult, if not untenable. A subsequent major national-level exercise, dubbed TOPOFF 2, occurred in May 2003. A classified report alleges that major problems remained with communications, shortages of medical supplies, hospital room space, and confusion over the extent of spreading radioactive residue.[77]

TOPOFF 2 involved a two-pronged WMD attack on two major U.S. cities: Seattle (“hit” by a radiological dispersal device [RDD]) and Chicago (“contaminated” with pneumonic plague, Yersinia pestis). TOPOFF 2 also played through lesser attacks elsewhere in the United States and included a cyber attack.[78] It was essentially a replay of TOPOFF 1, with sixty-four hospitals participating. The after-action report shows that some problems encountered in TOPOFF 1 had not been adequately resolved. Among the revealed deficiencies in TOPOFF 2 were: (1) bottlenecked communications impeded coordination, action, and timely information dissemination; (2) the surge capacity of the participating hospitals was not effectively determined because the exercise ended before this challenge could be assessed, and the improvisation of wards was necessary due to inherent facility limitations, including the problems of lack of positive pressure facilities (facilities with higher internal pressure to prevent outside contaminated air from entering); (3) synchronization of local, state, and federal response remained problematical; (4) with respect to the radiological problem, officials did not fully understand the principles behind plume models (assessing extent of wind-driven contamination) or how to use such data; and (5) enormous problems remained in the logistics of distribution of crucial medicines. The TOPOFF 2 report notes a comment directly from TOPOFF 1: multiple direction and control nodes, numerous liaisons, and an increasing number of response teams complicated coordination, communications, and unity of effort. Two significant features also resulted. TOPOFF 2 was the first time the new DHS was involved in an exercise. The concept of utilizing a DHS principal federal official (PFO) was tested in both the Seattle and Chicago components of the exercise. In general, this position performed well in facilitating coordination and planning. Yet an urgent need exists to clarify the PFO’s role relative to other critical players such as the FBI special agent in charge and the FEMA regional director.

One other twist to the TOPOFF 2 exercise was the question of the level of aid forthcoming from a Presidential Disaster Declaration versus from a Presidential Declaration of Emergency. In the event of a real catastrophic terrorist attack, are the American people to be subjected to delays while lawyers decide these legal semantics?

The April 2005 TOPOFF 3 has been perhaps the largest exercise to date. It involved some ten thousand participants, international players (from Canada and the United Kingdom), as well as many federal agencies and the states of New Jersey and Connecticut. The Union and Middlesex Counties of New Jersey were the subject of a bioattack, and New London, Connecticut, was the focus of a chemical attack. The exercise after-action report is not yet available.

Although some exercises are supposed to be unexpected, they are apparently not a surprise. In an exercise at the Y-12 nuclear facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, guards may have been tipped off to the exercise, which invalidated the results.[79] The problems of unauthorized advance notice of mock attack exercises go back to the mid-1980s, thus invalidating this possible means of measuring the results of a real attack. A Department of Energy report notes many questionable practices by those charged with the responsibility to protect nuclear power plants.[80] By way of tipoffs, the security forces have benefited from advance notice of the specific building or wall to be attacked, the specific target of the testing opposition force, and the nature of any diversionary tactic (if any) to be employed by the opposing testing force. With advance notice of the exercise, the facility to be tested (1) assigned a security force member to tail the testing force members touring the facility prior to the actual test, (2) placed vehicles as obstacles to create barricades or concealments for facility force members to use as firing positions, (3) provided special training for defending a targeted area, and (4) employed the best-trained personnel on the day of the test.

Another bioterrorism exercise at the state level took place in Bismarck, North Dakota, in July 2003 and employed a brucellosis outbreak as the bioweapon.[81] A regional exercise called Oktoberfest 2003 was held in Kansas. Consisting of six regional exercises, the two-day effort was aimed at improving response plans.[82] A series of regional exercises in Iowa, which were administered by a private company, revealed problems from the top down.[83] Senior elected officials knew very little about bioterrorism, and other officials were not sure who had the authority to shut down events during a public emergency.[84]

A 2003 GAO study found that preparedness varied across state and local jurisdictions. Among problems commonly found were regionally incompatible communications and coordination, workforce shortages, and inadequacies in disease surveillance and laboratories.[85]

The first international terrorism exercise was held between the U.S. government, the state of Vermont, and Canada in October 2004.[86] A major concern and focus of the exercise was the rapidity of response to events across international borders. Legal teams from the United States and Vermont were on hand to address questions. In this exercise, officials also sought to resolve issues of authority, assets, availability, jurisdiction, and so on before the attack actually came. Exercises serve a useful purpose only if they are not tightly choreographed and participants are not unduly warned about them in advance. But the bottom-line question is: Are we prepared? Most experts emphatically say no.

In a 2002 issue paper, the RAND Corporation asked the same question. Its results show that communities with a one million or greater population may be better prepared than less-populated areas because large population centers are considered likely targets.[87] Such large metropolitan communities, the authors of the paper reasoned, are likely to have (1) interagency task forces, (2) plans or standard operating procedures in place for responding to moderate-level chemical-biological attacks, (3) exercises to test the plans, and (4) plans for dissemination of public-health information to other agencies. Yet they hedged this conclusion of better preparedness with the qualification that the data for assessing a community’s preparedness derive from self-reporting. There is an expectation that the data have an inherent upward bias.

Biodefense is the one area of homeland security that is not solely vested within the DHS. It is spread across many different agencies and coordinated out of the White House through Kenneth Bernard, whose power is relatively limited.

The National Institutes of Health, which has the historical role of research, resists the need to embark on serious new-drug development. And the BioWatch system cannot detect a bioattack as it occurs because the system requires removing filters designed to trap particulates, such as bioagents, and hand carrying the particulates to a lab for computerized analysis, which can detect only around ten biological agents. This procedure imposes as much as a twenty-four-hour time lag from when an agent is released to the time anyone can know it. If the selected agent is not one of the ten that can be detected, then the time before it is identified will be much, much longer.[88]

New technology may help identify bioagents more quickly. Integrated Nano-Technologies, LLC announced the conversion of DNA to a wire by coating a DNA strand with metal. Each pathogen DNA so treated is part of a library in a briefcase-size detector unit. A card with many such coated pathogen DNA samples can be mounted in the unit for comparison controls with a test unknown.[89] Although not quite instantaneous, it offers perhaps a much more discriminate and quicker analytical means of identifying bioweapon pathogens than traditional laboratory methods.

The Boston company Immunetics has developed and received federal approval to market the first antibody blood test for anthrax. Previously only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USAMRIID were authorized to test blood for anthrax antibodies. The new kit offered by Immunetics makes it possible for local hospitals to test for anthrax quickly on site.[90]

The U.S. Army reportedly has been conducting tests on a new pretreatment nerve agent antidote. The new medication is a group of enzymes called paraoxonases, which are known to break down organophosphorus nerve agents, such as Sarin.[91] In principle, injection of these paraoxonases into the blood stream offers ongoing and long-term prophylaxis against military-type organophosphorus nerve agents that may be used in terrorist attacks. Beyond their obvious military advantages, these enzymes, if developed successfully, are a valuable option in safeguarding the civilian population against a nerve agent. In the interim, the CDC began shipping “chem-packs,” kits with antidotes for chemical weapons, to states throughout the United States, with New York City and Boston receiving the first for the 2004 political convention season.[92]

In September 2004, the U.S. Army cleared the way for first responders to buy and possess chemical antidotes.[93] There has been talk about equipping police with antidotes for nerve agents.[94] But given the rapidity with which a nerve agent acts, within minutes, how effective can this precaution be? Before a police officer shows up with the antidote, you may well be dead.

Border Control

Public safety from terrorist attacks depends in part on the security of national borders and ports of entry. Problems with border security invariably raise heated arguments about immigration, both legal and illegal. Without efficient border controls to distinguish between terrorists and the vast majority of harmless immigrants, terrorists inevitably will leak in, and legitimate immigrants will be kept out. The problems with the border hail back long before 9/11.

Time magazine indicated the potential severity of the border problem when it revealed that an Egyptian captured in Pakistan near the Iran and Afghanistan borders in August 2004 disclosed plans by al Qaeda to smuggle nuclear materials from Europe to the United States or Mexico.[95]

In mid-December 2001, concerns arose over Canada’s less-strict border controls and the real possibility that terrorists might exploit that means of entry into the United States.[96] And as high-tech sensors have made cross-border smuggling more difficult on the southern border, smugglers have resorted to low-tech tunneling.[97] In August 2004, the new chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, David Aguilar, asserted that the southwest border was secure.[98] Yet in October 2004, a report noted that illegal border traffic had hit a three-year high in New Mexico.[99] The average immigrant is not a sophisticated terrorist. If this average immigrant can find ways to circumvent the usual means of detecting and stopping illegal entrants to the United States, it stands to reason that the terrorist can too. One proposed remedy is fingerprinting, photographing, and running security checks on those wishing to enter the United States. These procedures are on the drawing boards for some fifty busy southern and northern borders entrances. It is a system that has been used at airports for some time, but technical problems have delayed its intended use at border points. How this procedure will intercept illegal crossings at places other than authorized entrance points remains in question.

In today’s global economy, hundreds of thousands of cargo containers enter and leave countries by ship every day, in addition to what crosses borders by train and truck. These cargo containers can easily harbor a destructive device of some kind— an improvised nuke, a conventional bomb, a dirty bomb, or chemical or biological weapons devices. They can even serve as a (desperate) means for smuggling terrorists into the country, though this is far from easily workable. The scrutiny these containers receive is a subject of much contention and concern for both public and private interests. Commerce is time sensitive and seeks to hasten movement (time is money, as the saying goes), but at the same time the inherent risk of lethal contraband entering the United States through one or more of these containers offers horrors that can rival 9/11. The fundamental question is: How do we screen these containers effectively and efficiently without impeding commerce?

The screening of cargo containers depends on the technological means available and on the organization of the inspection teams. New tools are available for inspection of cargo containers. David A. Hostetler, assistant director of trade operations of the U.S. Customs Services Norfolk office, notes that Customs inspectors have small hand-held radiation-detection devices, modern-day Geiger counters.[100] In addition, cranes used at Hampton Roads seaport facilities can detect explosives within sealed cargo containers. U.S. inspectors at overseas ports also inspect containers that originate from other countries, although such U.S. inspections have raised concerns from the European Union, which claims authority over inter- and intrashipping in Europe.[101]

Academia and industry have teamed together to develop technology for more efficient screening of sealed containers. Idaho State University, in collaboration with Advanced Research and Applications Corporation, has developed an X-ray device called Eagle, which can completely screen a forty-foot container in less than one minute.[102] On the northern U.S.–Canadian border, new gamma ray machines called the Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System irradiate containers and vehicles, permitting monitoring officials a Superman view of the contents. If a stowaway were to be seen on the monitor, the irradiation process would be halted, the person removed for interrogation, and the process resumed. The whole process takes about two minutes per container. Officials note that vehicles can be similarly irradiated. The radiation dose is twenty thousand times less what a person would receive in a routine chest X ray.[103] Texas representative Jim Turner insists that the government needs to place radiation screening devices at all U.S. ports and to have sufficient personnel to use them.[104] Another approach is the development and fielding in November 2003 of so-called smart boxes, containers with special locks and sensors that can detect the opening of an otherwise sealed container. The principle behind the use of smart boxes is that such a container can pass through green lanes at ports much faster than other containers.[105] Also, newer containers can be equipped with transponder tag units, recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission. The tagged units report to monitoring stations the contents of the container and whether the container was opened in transit.[106]

Petroleum, fertilizers, and other highly flammable or explosive materials in ports can be a terrorist target. More of such highly hazardous materials enter the United States through Texas and its fifty-mile-long Houston shipping channel than through any other region in the United States.[107] The potential devastation and carnage from such an explosion is perhaps made imaginable by the example of an earlier incident in Texas City in 1947, when an ammonium nitrate–laden ship exploded, destroying a major portion of the city, killing 580 people, and injuring about 4,000.[108]

The acquisition of ships by terrorists and the use of those ships in attacks are of utmost concern to all governments, especially the U.S. government.[109] These means would be ideal for transporting a crude, heavy, and bulky nuclear weapon into a port. Al Qaeda is thought to have as many as two hundred vessels under its control. In December 2003, the United States and its allies sought to locate twenty-eight ships suspected of carrying al Qaeda suicide bombers and targeting British oil rigs.[110] There is a concern that al Qaeda seeks to target cruise ships; having its own navy would make such sea raids more feasible.[111]

The United States favors a ship-identification system called the Automatic Vessel Identification System (AIS), which was the subject of a GAO analysis in a July 2004 report.[112] The costs and development time frame appear so large that the GAO recommended a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard and local private organizations as a solution to these obstacles. In today’s terrorism-conscious environment, this identification system has the sound of an emerging unfunded mandate.

Discussion of borders, transportation modes, and so on also raises the issue of international travel, which in turn raises the subject of passports. An April 2004 ABC News report noted that over the past several years at least one million passports have been lost or stolen and might be used by terrorists.[113] Documentation attesting to a traveler’s pedigree may therefore be suspect now. But the problems go further. For example, drivers licenses were fraudulently given out by Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees.[114] One recommendation for dealing with the problem was that the DMV do background checks on future employees. Weren’t employees checked before they were hired in the past? Is this problem unique to Connecticut, or is it common in all states?

To try to ensure that whoever enters the country is who they say they are, border agents are using a biometric identification (ID) system called United States Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT).[115] The system checks to see if the person and visa offered at entry and those processed by State Department officials at the time of issuance are the same. The system utilizes digital photographs of the person and inkless fingerprint scans. At this writing, the system is in use at Laredo, Texas; Douglas, Arizona; and Huron, Michigan. A related technological system being developed by the Ultra-Scan Corp., in conjunction with the University of Buffalo’s Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors Research, combines fingerprint and signature scanning. The fingerprints are scanned using sound waves. The aim of the work is to employ multiple biometric measures to reduce the number of false positives.[116] Another program called the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) failed a test put to it by the GAO.[117] When the names of sixty-seven federal and state fugitive felons were entered, it was discovered that thirty-seven of them were not in the system. If the system misses the names of known domestic felons, how much confidence can we have that it will not also miss known terrorists’ names? The issue of border ID brings into focus a larger issue of a national ID system for the American people.

The proposals for a national ID system have their adherents and opponents. Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission on border and transportation security may stimulate the implementation of a national ID card. Some noted politicians also back the idea, among them Senator John McCain of Arizona.[118] The establishment of standardized drivers licenses may de facto establish a national identification card, as some civil liberties groups argue.[119] Moreover, the proposals, if ever passed and adopted, would require the sharing of database information between the fifty states, Mexico, and Canada. In addition to the larger question of whether a national ID system contravenes too many liberties in a republic, why should personal identifying information on Americans in this age of identity theft be accessible to Mexico and Canada?

At the center of the debate is the cherished tradition and right of Americans to travel freely, without explanation or justification to any level of government or its minions, such as the beat cop or FBI agent or even the airport-security agent. Those of an older generation may well remember Check Point Charlie in Berlin after World War II or how travel in the Eastern Bloc countries, under the yoke of the Soviet Union, led to challenges by police. Will Americans some day very soon have to produce papers to justify to the beat cop or FBI agent their existence and reason for being on the street or traveling the highway? A lawsuit filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on September 7, 2004, asserts that the government cannot operate under secret law requiring ID at airports.[120] Secret laws do not speak well for the future of our democracy.

The national borders and ports of entry remain the two most important weaknesses in our efforts to guard against terrorists entering the country. Whatever measures we make to improve security in all the other areas of vulnerability, a terrorist and his munitions must still of necessity get into the country. Our borders and ports of entry are the key element in homeland security. Nothing else the government does will have any value if our borders and ports of entry remain our single weakest link in securing the nation. A homeowner can have an intrusion alarm, security lighting, and even a gun for protection, but none of it buys him fundamental security as much as locking the doors and windows. All of the technological means of border control are fine if terrorists try to enter through portals where those means are employed. But what if they attempt entrance elsewhere? The government spends billions of dollars a year on internal security of national monuments, dams, airports, seaports, infrastructure of all stripes, and yet it leaves the borders vulnerable. Better border security might reduce the exorbitant costs of other more local security measures. We worry and fuss over minutia, such as tweezers in the possession of little old ladies boarding an airliner, but leave the borders permeable. That gap can somehow make sense only to government officials, elected or appointed.

The War Abroad

The initial volley in the U.S. war on terrorism was leveled at Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government. It was the Taliban that gave tacit approval and sanctuary to bin Laden’s al Qaeda, the driving force behind 9/11. But in fact it was the U.S. support of the militant Islamist opposition to the Soviet-supported Afghan government in the 1980s that led to the rise of the Taliban. Though U.S. military forces have largely destroyed al Qaeda in Afghanistan, its remnants remain in the course mountainous regions of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Though events in Iraq have relegated Afghanistan to a near side-show as far as news reports are concerned, Afghanistan remains central to the war on terrorism as long as al Qaeda forces remain in existence and any principals remain at large. The car-bomb attacks so common to Iraq also run amuck in Afghanistan, and the Taliban has promised more to come.[121] Given the terrain problems in Afghanistan and the manpower limitations imposed by the simultaneous war in Iraq, rooting out these elements will take more time. Because of the continuing violence, the U.S. Army announced in September 2005 that some 1,100 more troops will be assigned to the Afghanistan theater. It is far thus very far from clear that the United States has won the war in Afghanistan.

The United States is the only nation today with troops in scores of countries.[122] One argument advanced for U.S. presence in the Middle East was made by President George W. Bush when he said he would rather fight terrorism overseas than at home. Although that is a policy that Americans can seemingly live with, foreign peoples cannot feel good about their backyard being made the front lines of a seemingly endless, certainly protracted war between the U.S. and terrorists. Yet as noted by Ivan Eland, the United States seems predisposed by its foreign policies to the establishment of an informal political empire[123] very different from the formal British Empire. According to Eland, if the U.S. meddled less in the affairs of other nations, less blowback anti-U.S. terrorism would occur, thus reducing the need for expensive homeland security.

Robert Kaplan asserted, “If your neighbors don’t seem able to get their political act together, then it may be in your best interest to colonize them.”[124] Max Boot qualifies this view as: “We don’t want to enslave other countries and loot their resources. We want to liberate oppressed peoples and extend to them the benefits of liberal institutions.”[125] This policy seems laudable and magnanimous, but has it worked in Haiti, in the Middle East, and in the many crucibles of oppression and death in Africa (Sudan and Somalia, to name only two)? Bringing democracy to non-Western nations seems to be fundamentally different from and much more troublesome than bringing democracy to Western-oriented nations. As any police officer well knows from hard experience, inserting yourself into the domestic squabbles of strangers in their home sets you up as the de facto common enemy. The same can be said of U.S. interventions into the internal disputes of foreign nations.

Having emerged from World War II as the preeminent world power and from the Cold War as the remaining world superpower, the United States continues to approach discord in other countries with the application of Cold War methods. In its initial involvement in foreign affairs, before using military might, the United States continues to throw political will and money at virtually any problem and country that it regards as troublesome, less advanced, or less politically developed than itself. This approach translates to U.S. economic aid in many, if not most, cases. For example, the United States has attempted to resolve problems with North Korea’s nuclear program essentially by bribery.[126] This is not the first case where we have attempted to buy off problems. In the Camp David Accords, we thought we could deal with the Palestinian-Israeli problems with more U.S. dollars.[127] Yet the violence and hostility there has only increased, and we are no closer to finding peace there. Washington has not yet learned that dollars are not the currency with which one pays for peace. Make no mistake about the motives: they are well intentioned. But the application of Western, specifically American, concepts of right and wrong to governance in regions of the world that have no history or culture in democracy has had little success. (Eastern Europe, the former Warsaw Pact countries, would seem to be an exception, but really are not. Most of those countries for the most part are Western in culture. Unease continues to fester in the few that are not.) Apply this practice to regions and countries that have, as their only Western background, experiences in the form of classical colonialism, and a clash of cultures and mistrust are the logical outcome.

Post–9/11 Foci and Actions by Government: The Homeland Security Advisory System

The U.S. government implemented a national alert system after 9/11. Since that time, we have had several strategic elevations of the alert level.[128] The color-coded alert system generally stands at yellow, though it was increased to orange (high) during the 2003 Christmas holidays and on several other occasions. In-between those formal national alert status increases, there have been many more informal alerts in which government officials have cautioned the American public to be vigilant because nonspecific intelligence indications suggest something may be in the wind. As one journalist opined, these alerts border on the annoying.[129] Though well intentioned, they are similar in character to someone shouting the warning “Watch out!” When the person is asked, “For what?” his reply would be: “I don’t know yet, but watch out.” The risk in repeated alerts is that if no specific information about what, when, and where attends the warning, the “cry wolf” syndrome takes hold. There is a point at which such an alert becomes the norm and is thus ignored when it should not be. In early August 2004, some specificity did apply. Federal officials picked up information that al Qaeda was planning attacks against specific financial institutions in the New York City, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., areas.[130] The alert status normally yellow was increased for these areas to orange or high. In mid-November 2004, the orange alert for financial institutions was reduced to the normal yellow.[131]

The other side of this coin is that perhaps the terrorist sources are feeding us misinformation and testing our response system and measures. Such tests can provide them with valuable intelligence in the planning of some future event. How and where government forces react also indicate what they regard as valuable.

The color alert system is as generic as it can be. Perhaps it means something to federal authorities. But one police official I spoke with said that all it means to him is that every time the alert is raised to a higher level, he has to figure out where the money will come from to pay the overtime to increase the number of officers on duty for special events and functions.

The alert system may be workable for government officials, but it is wholly meaningless to the general public. If a national alert system is needed, each level should spell out specific actions for private citizens. Elevations should be based only on specific threats to locales, facilities, time frames, and so on. The increase in the local or tactical alert level for New York City, parts of New Jersey, and particular businesses during the summer of 2004 was an exception to the generally veiled warnings the public gets all too often. Realistically, although some alerts may need to be given, it is not always possible specify target, locale, or nature of the threat. The conundrum here is that any alert system must offer specifics on what each area of concern must do for that level of alert. The areas of concern are: government (state, local, federal), private sector (businesses, organizations), and finally the public (individuals). One improvement to the current color-coded alert system would be to offer a regional alert. Even if information is sketchy, it may be more specific for a region than for the nation—as in, for example, the August 2004 alerts for the financial centers in and around Washington, D.C., New York, and New Jersey. Given the potential threats of agricultural terrorism, the central areas of the United States that have greater agricultural resources might represent another specific region.

For lower alert levels, individuals may not really need to do anything. At much higher alert levels, however, where there supposedly is a much greater concern or probability of an attack, the public should be informed of what they should or should not do, as well as of certain personal precautions they are well advised to take.

These precautions might include preparations for taking shelter at either residences or workplaces. Most important, recommendations for a given alert level must not be countered by public officials in news conferences, as was the case during the 2003 Christmas holidays and the 2004 Super Bowl Game. Although the nation was on high or orange alert at this time, the second-highest possible alert level, government officials from President Bush and DHS secretary Tom Ridge on down encouraged us to continue our normal activities, enjoy the season, go shopping, go to the game, but be cautious. Yet the instructions for the alert and even in FEMA’s own guide tell us to avoid large public or symbolic gatherings.[132] Two agendas are at work here. One certainly is necessary for the economy, but the other concerns individual as well as public safety. If an alert is really necessary, then perhaps holding certain public events should be rethought? The contradiction in the government’s signals is obvious.

The government needs to note clearly and definitively what individuals should do for a given alert level. The public currently does not know what to do. Get your emergency kit ready. Kit for what? All emergency kits advertised are more for natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and so on. They have no specific information on materials necessary for a response to a terrorist attack. They have nothing specific on what to do in the event of a chemical attack. How do you respond without a protective mask, the possession of which many dismiss as overreaction? Perhaps it is. After 9/11, there was a rush on purchases of gas masks. Yet even today government Web sites, for example FEMA’s, do not offer any instruction to individuals on what to look for in a protective mask if they are insistent upon buying one. Also, information available through government agencies, such as FEMA materials, does not educate the public in recognizing a chemical-biological attack. It offers no information on characteristics of chemical or biological weapons. If it is announced that a gas cloud is moving through a city street, what should people do? How should they determine where to go?

FEMA’s current guidelines, written up in the report Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness,[133] are inadequate and even in some respects potentially harmful. FEMA is the primary disaster response and education authority, but it is not the single government source for information on disaster response and terrorism for the public.

The public should not have to wade through a dozen or so agencies (for example, the CDC, the EPA, or the Department of Energy) for information that in some cases is either too deficient in useable detail or too technical. FEMA’s current guide is more a natural-disaster document with a spattering of information about terrorism stuck in it. It is not specific as to chemical weapons, types, characteristics, and symptoms of exposure. It fails to address decontamination of residences and environs, a necessity that may be required of individuals should their residences be in the path of a chemical-biological agent cloud. In contrast, the Journal of Undergraduate Research has published papers on household decontamination cleaners useful against chemical and biological agents, thus offering information the public needs to know.[134]

In effect, the government gives the public inadequate information that is not useable and is operationally ineffective. The best that can be said of these offerings is that they amount to little more than lip service.

Reorganization of Homeland Security Agencies and the Intelligence Services

In 2002 came the new TSA [135] and the DHS,[136] the latter a cabinet-level agency cobbled together from numerous other agencies and purported to resolve problems and limitations of enforcement, intelligence sharing, and incident response alleged to be at the heart of our vulnerability on 9/11. However, with DHS barely three years old, another investigative commission, the 9/11 Commission,[137] recommended the creation of a national intelligence director and the National Counter Terrorism Center, which were enacted into law. These recommendations for the intelligence community (which totals fifteen agencies) are similar to the idea behind creating the DHS to rein in the many security agencies. The GAO recommended improving DHS information development, analysis, and dissemination and the development of a comprehensive and coordinated national plan to facilitate information sharing on critical infrastructure protection.[138] Why can’t the counterterrorism offices of the State Department, the CIA, and the FBI be combined into one, rather than creating yet another office? A combined and streamlined bureaucracy might be a little more agile in combating small, nimble terrorist groups that do not have to surmount administrative red tape before attacking.

The cobbled-together DHS consists of numerous agencies and services taken from other cabinet departments and placed under it. Those agencies and services are organized into four directorates:[139]

1. Border and Transportation Security Directorate:

  • U.S. Customs Service (Treasury)
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service (Justice)
  • Federal Protective Service
  • TSA (Transportation)
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Treasury)
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Agriculture)
  • Office of Domestic Preparedness (Justice)

2. The Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Strategic National Stockpile and the National Disaster Medical System (Health and Human Services)
  • Nuclear Incident Response Team (Energy)
  • Domestic Emergency Support Teams (Justice)
  • National Domestic Preparedness Office (FBI)

3. The Science and Technology Directorate:

  • CBRN Countermeasures Programs (Energy)
  • Environmental Measurements Laboratory (Energy)
  • National BW Defense Analysis Center (Defense)
  • Plum Island Animal Disease Center (Agriculture)

4. The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate:

  • Federal Computer Incident Response Center (GSA)
  • National Communications System (Defense)
  • National Infrastructure Protection Center (FBI)
  • Energy Security and Assurance Program (Energy)

In addition, the Secret Service and the U.S. Coast Guard will be in the DHS and report directly to its secretary. Although the gathering and sharing of intelligence among various governmental agencies and offices have been a major bone of contention, DHS does have an office of information analysis (intelligence) associated with it. The U.S. intelligence community is an alphabet soup of agencies sprinkled among various departments. They include:

  • CIA
  • NSA
  • National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
  • National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA)
  • DIA
  • U.S. Army Intelligence Center (USAIC)
  • U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
  • Air Intelligence Agency (AIA)
  • U.S. Marine Corps (an integral intelligence organization within it)
  • U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence Review (INR)
  • U.S. Justice Department Office of Intelligence Policy and Review
  • FBI
  • U.S. Treasury Department (usually organized crime)
  • U.S. Department of Energy (primarily nuclear matters)

Intelligence is key to conducting our war on terrorism. Most of the intelligence agencies are military or military-related intelligence-gathering agencies. The CIA was born from the World War II Office of Strategic Services and became focused on Soviet intelligence gathering up to 1991, when the Soviet Union finally was buried in history’s graveyard. Thus, the primary agencies charged with gathering intelligence cut their intelligence teeth on military and geopolitical intelligence gathering, with means and methods that are fundamentally different in nature from the means and methods needed to gather intelligence to fight terrorism.

On August 27, 2004, President Bush drafted and signed several executive orders aimed at implementing provisions of the 9/11 Commission recommendations concerning a national intelligence director, the National Counter-Terrorism Center, and intelligence sharing.[140] Many of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations were later enacted into law by Congress.[141]

The new national intelligence director fills the role formerly held by the director of central intelligence. Historically, the president has enjoyed the benefit of differing views on intelligence from different sources. He has the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the NSA, and so on. In principle, he has multiple opinions on intelligence. But with a national intelligence director becoming the head of the entire intelligence community, all intelligence will funnel through that office.

In theory, this national intelligence director will streamline intelligence because information will go through one source to the president. In practice, this figure creates another layer of bureaucracy through which the intelligence must pass. There appears to be no definitive provision to bring the different intelligence analyses (foreign, domestic, criminal, and military) together in any better fashion than already exists, even with the proposed national intelligence director and the National Counter Terrorism Center. Interoffice turf and budget jealousies are not likely to be reduced.

The list of U.S. intelligence agencies is extensive. Each agency has its own historically mandated mission, agenda, and prejudices. Foremost in the operations of any government agency is justification of its budget and the need to increase it among a myriad of competing agencies and services. The most effective means of bureaucratic self-justification is the product each agency produces. Competition occurs among agencies to demonstrate premier worth and thus to garner expansion of funding and mission. This institutional drive to outshine others is a powerful and natural characteristic of any organization. Though current dogma insists on cooperation among intelligence agencies and the cross-sharing of information, each competing agency decides what is and is not relevant for others to see. Cooperation is the key word, yet practicing it seems ever elusive.[142] The personnel of any agency fear that a tidbit of information they give to another agency may become the crucial tool needed to break open an analysis or investigation and may then become the property and the credit of that second agency, potentially undercutting the original source of the information in the eyes of the powers that be. There is no getting around that human frailty as long as a multiplicity of agencies must work together and under separate charges.

Stansfield Turner, the CIA director under President Jimmy Carter, asserts that political pressure from the White House does not help intelligence agencies.[143] His point is that there needs to be a separation between analysis and policy decisions. Since Representative Porter Goss, a former CIA agent, took charge as director, there has been significant upheaval at the CIA over resignations and departures, past and future—in an intelligence organ that is centrally critical to our war on terrorism.[144] Amid accusations of political infighting, the CIA’s internal allegiance to U.S. security may have been compromised. Any changes in such a large and critical organization will have spillover consequences to our intelligence efforts in the homeland security area.[145] Will these shake-ups compromise intelligence gathering? Is the CIA undergoing a political house cleaning (and exactly for what?), or is it being revamped for better intelligence gathering and analysis meant avoid a repeat of 9/11? Time will tell.

In the view of Eugene Poteat, president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, the current changes may be due to the errors in intelligence estimates on Iraq. According to Poteat, John McLaughlin, former CIA deputy director, was part of the old crew that made wrong analyses and therefore perhaps should have step down.[146] And according to confidential sources at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has not been happy with the CIA’s performance.[147] The dissatisfaction is reportedly so significant that Rumsfeld has authorized the U.S. Special Operations Command to collect its own intelligence. The revelations of the internal discord at the CIA beg the question: Were these internal problems and intrigues in play as far back as 10 September 2001? Were the collective eyes and attention of the CIA on provincial concerns rather than on ballooning clandestine foreign threats to our security? A real investigation of these matters is required. A major problem is that most CIA operations are shrouded from scrutiny. Nonetheless, our biggest problem in the war on terrorism is getting real-time human intelligence on the terrorists.

One suggestion for dealing with these problems is the creation of a domestic intelligence agency along the lines of the British MI5.[148] This view has enjoyed some currency after the examination of the quality of intelligence and its dissemination to appropriate officials.[149] The creation of a U.S. MI5 would diminish, if not eliminate, the domestic intelligence role of the FBI. In June 2004, FBI director Robert Mueller suggested that a new agency for all homeland counterintelligence be created within the FBI.[150] This new agency would likely preserve the FBI’s bureau of counterintelligence. A new MI5-type intelligence agency would likely reduce the FBI to only a law enforcement role. A few months later President Bush signed orders expanding the power of the CIA director and creating the new National Counter Terrorism Center, which theoretically will vastly improve intelligence sharing. Though the CIA is forbidden by law to engage in domestic intelligence and surveillance activities against U.S. citizens, the authority to do so may have come into being through the back door by the assignment of dozens of case officers and analysts to FBI offices to work hand-in-glove with FBI agents.[151]

Adding yet another intelligence agency or two to an already bloated federal homeland security Goliath frustrates the very requirement for timely, speedy, and accurate intelligence information and action. We therefore have not streamlined our efforts in fighting terrorism; we have only added more bureaucracy, more middle managers, and more layers through which the critical nugget of information must pass, making it unlikely that the nugget will ever be recognized as the Rosetta stone. We have merely added more in-boxes in which papers and files must sit until reviewed by yet more bureaucrats, who also must apply frail human insight to what is germane and what is not. Government is much like a malignant tumor. It will only grow larger and more ponderous. Unchecked, unreasoned, quick-fix growth will kill the host. After 9/11, we enacted many new programs and agencies in a pell-mell rush to do something. We created the Office of Homeland Security in the White House, the TSA, and the DHS, and then we enacted the USA PATRIOT Act. We invented a color-coded alert system that means virtually nothing to the public. What critical analysis went into these inventions? Who in the Congress read the PATRIOT Act cover to cover before voting on it? In most emergencies, bills are rushed through so Washington looks like it is doing something.


The USA PATRIOT Act[152] was and is, in the federal government’s view, instrumental to efforts at uncovering and pursuing terrorists. The act invested the U.S. government with powers to fight terrorism that it did not have on September 11, 2001. Indeed, the U.S. government most probably could not have acquired such powers in the absence of 9/11, and certainly there has been some objection to the sweeping and intrusive powers now granted to the federal government.[153]

One U.S. Department of Justice study makes the case for the usefulness of the act.[154] Its introduction states, “The USA Patriot Act equips federal law enforcement and intelligence officials with the tools they need to mount an effective, coordinated campaign against our nation’s terrorist enemies.”[155] In section V, “Updating the Law to Reflect New Technologies,” the study cites one example of the law at work. Under the act, Indiana State Police in 2003 investigated a child pornography case. Grand jury subpoenas were issued, and the guilty party arrested.[156] What this criminal issue necessarily had to do with a law aimed at generally unreachable terrorists is a good question. Child pornography incidents may be terrorizing to the child, but they hardly come under the definition of terrorism or the reason for which the law was enacted.[157] In another case, the FBI invoked the PATRIOT Act in arresting an Oregon attorney in connection with the Spanish train bombings based on (faulty) fingerprint evidence allegedly uncovered at the scene in Spain.[158] The Department of Justice initiated an investigation into the arrest to determine if the use of the PATRIOT Act was improper.

Government generally does overextend its power. The use of the act’s powerful gift of authority to government for common crimes illustrates many citizens’ concerns that government will abuse such powers over time for reasons that clearly, in the absence of the 9/11 incidents, would not be tolerated under our Constitution.

Another U.S. Department of Justice study addressed some of the violations of civil and constitutional rights alleged to have occurred under use of the act in the period December 16, 2003 to June 21, 2004.[159] Perhaps the most contentious issue regards the authority of the president and the executive branch to hold suspect terrorists as prisoners indefinitely. The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in and ruled against the incommunicado holding of suspects.[160] The ACLU has initiated law suits against the government centered on the pervasive secrecy and warrantless searches that have accompanied the PATRIOT Act. One suit filed in July 2003 challenged the government’s seizure of personal papers, its access to lists of books people read and their medical records, and its ability to force charities and advocacy groups to hand over membership lists.[161] In another suit filed earlier in April, the ACLU challenged the government’s “No-Fly Lists.”[162] It has had some success in its challenges. Courts have struck down secret searches,[163] acquisition of business records without a court order,[164] and use of secret subpoenas for Internet data.[165] A 1972 Supreme Court ruling that opined a sentiment at the heart of secrecy still applies today: “The danger to political dissent is acute where Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent.”[166]

Government clearly needs tools with which to fight crime or terrorism, but it cannot be allowed to violate law or the U.S. Constitution to do so. If it can decide what rights are less necessary or are subject to its view of limitation, then our Fourth of July celebrations will be reduced to a meaningless charade. Perhaps the PATRIOT Act was too hastily and thoughtlessly considered and enacted. A few years later, the Congress seemed destined once again to act rashly with the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations as well. Politicians’ fear of real or perceived culpability does that to a democracy.

Natural Disasters—Practical Models for Catastrophic Terrorism Attack

The chaos wrought by Hurricane Katrina has spilled over into the political arena, and the entire episode is a example of massive government failure. As is often the case in such partisan squabbles, the business and interests of the American people were not served. Any post-Katrina investigation must assess the decisions and actions of the principals responsible for executing emergency plans. All emergencies and natural or technological (including terrorist-inspired) disasters are a local matter. In other words, the citizenry and local officials have the prime responsibility for assessing, preparing for, and responding to those calamities. If the magnitude of the disaster exceeds the local authorities’ capabilities, they can then call on surrounding state and federal authorities for assistance. In that regard, municipalities seldom act alone. Adjacent municipalities often have agreements (mutual-assistance agreements) in which resources (and the personnel to use them) not at hand in one locale can be borrowed from another to aid in responding to an emergency. They also can draw on private sources, such as heavy construction equipment. Again, if the magnitude of the catastrophe exceeds the resources of the local and state governments to respond, a state’s governor by law can call, rightly or wrongly, on the president of the United States to declare the municipality or even the state a federal disaster area. That declaration by the president mobilizes the federal government, through FEMA, to aid the local and state officials in their response efforts according to the Stafford Act. The local authorities still administer the response, but they now have federal material aid and even manpower to do so. As a supplement and hedge against catastrophic events and the breakdown of government control, action, and assistance, the military’s Northern Command was created to provide just the type of domestic military assistance seen in Katrina.[167]

The operative chain of command under this historical system is: (1) the local executive (mayor, etc.); (2) the governor; and only then (3) the president (through FEMA’s director). The reason for this configuration of authority is logically simple. Only local officials (in principle) are thoroughly familiar with the local infrastructure, geography, asset availability, unique needs and risks of certain areas, political authority, and so on. This concept of authority broke down and failed miserably in the wake of Katrina. Many national-level disaster exercises (Dark Winter and TOPOFF 1, 2, and 3) were held before Katrina struck, and FEMA should have been an integral part of those exercises and thus privy to the lessons learned from them. FEMA either did not learn from those practicals or was out of the loop entirely. In any case, it and all government agencies, at all levels, proved to be incompetent, chaotic, often brutal, and outright disruptive in directly hampering private relief efforts in this disaster.

The 9/11 emergency involved a very limited area, some tens of square city blocks or so with the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, not tens of thousands of square miles as with Katrina. The transportation system to the 9/11 site was still clear and available for use. In Katrina, however, vast networks of government-built roads, highways, and even waterways along the entire southern Gulf Coast, in particular in New Orleans owing to its unique geography, were rendered impassable and useless for one reason or another. This problem impeded repair of the government-erected levees, which many experts had previously said were vulnerable during a strong hurricane. Twelve hours elapsed between when the hurricane was over and the water came rushing into the city—plenty of time for evacuation and maybe even levee repair. But the Army Corps of Engineers had no viable plan to make repairs; they could not bring in the cranes and barges to do so because bridges were down or broken or could not be opened without electricity. When the water finally gushed in, the city’s pumps failed. Thus, the disaster was not caused primarily by nature alone—Katrina itself caused less damage than anticipated—but rather by the failure of public infrastructure and disaster response.[168]

During the 9/11 incident, communications problems between and among government agencies caused unnecessary deaths. Yet four years later, despite the billions of dollars given to and distributed by DHS, such communications difficulties still remained during the response to Katrina.[169] Communications among responders in 9/11, though not perfect, were not destroyed, as was the case following Katrina’s rampage across the Gulf Coast and at least fifty miles deep inland. In the latter instance, both landlines and microwave communications effectively were erased. Why FEMA and even state and local authorities did not have a tested, reliable emergency radio communications net in place should be a reasonable focus of any after-action investigation. One result of this communications failure was FEMA’s delay in responding to the horrible conditions of the people at the New Orleans Convention Center, which the agency failed to hear about for days. The mayor of the city should not have sent people to the center or stadium, but rather should have used the city and school buses available to begin a mass evacuation out of New Orleans. In addition, poor coordination between local and federal authorities resulted in a delay in sending federal troops and supplies to stabilize the city.[170]

This breakdown in lines of communications (roads, phones, etc.) was apparently the most significant factor leading to all other problems in the response at all levels of government. It also included turf conflicts between city, state, and federal (FEMA) authorities. If we experienced such problems in the wake of a natural disaster, what will happen in the event of a terrorist nuclear attack, when a communications blackout arising from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) will also be the paramount problem affecting any postevent response?[171]

Another problem is FEMA’s standing in the current structural organization of the federal government. FEMA is now a secondary, if not tertiary level, of the DHS. The focus and concern of DHS is vastly different from the focus and concern of FEMA. Any demands by FEMA on DHS assets in responding to a natural disaster are a drain on DHS resources and tangential to the concerns for which DHS was fashioned in the first place (the war on terrorism).

In the case of Katrina, FEMA failed in its primary mission—rapid disaster response. Yet according to Michael S. Rozeff, a professor of finance at the University of Buffalo, the public has been lulled to sleep by its belief that the federal government will ride to the rescue in times of disaster or terrorism. The public depends on vertical relationships wherein a small group of anonymous local, state, and federal government officials create and implement unknown plans for disaster response, instead of on horizontal relationships within communities wherein local citizens themselves provide emergency response and security. He concludes that because of this dependence on government to handle things, plans by businesses, private relief organizations, and loose associations of the willing are not being adequately prepared.[172]

Education, Education, Education

What Katrina points out is that relying on government agencies for relief efforts is a deadly mistake. There are photos of several hundred New Orleans school buses flooded in their parking lots. There are photos of many of the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of private vehicles flooded in New Orleans. Why were these vehicles not used by the citizens of New Orleans or the mayor to evacuate? It represents both a failure in prudence by many private citizens and by the mayor of New Orleans to take the storm seriously and to make use of all available means to evacuate as many people as possible with the assets clearly at hand. Did many citizens think that the storm would not be as bad as advertised? What does that second guessing say about how the public will heed advise in the event of a terrorist WMD attack? Americans certainly have a better understanding of natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes than they do of WMD terrorist attacks, so their preparation for the latter is likely to be abysmal.

James Jay Carafano points out a major fallacy in the belief in government preparedness.[173] He notes that people prepare for disasters with which they have experience. That spirit of preparedness diminishes with time as the period between events lengthens. Not only do most people have little or no national experience with WMD attacks, they also may not believe they will be subject to such an attack. Carafano asserts that preparedness programs work much better when the local community is engaged in the planning. He notes that some government programs such as are redundant to those offered by the American Red Cross. Community-based programs enlisting citizen participation will be more effective.

Preparedness for bioattack presents specific time-dependent urgencies that current government plans most likely cannot meet. Edward Kaplan, professor of public health at Yale University; William Bicknell, M.D., professor of international health at Boston University; and Lawrence Wein, professor of management science at Stanford University, offer a clearly radical approach to citizen preparedness.[174] Recognizing, as most do not, that the individual is the real first responder to any terrorist attack, they argue that plans for dispensing needed antibiotics from the Strategic National Pharmaceutical Stockpile will likely cost lives, not save any. The release of 1.0 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weapons-grade airborne anthrax would infect approximately 1.5 million people. Even assuming that officials recognize anthrax as the first symptoms develop, a call for antibiotics from the stockpile will not likely happen for two days after the attack. Beginning with day three, each day’s delay in receiving the medication will cost an added ten thousand lives.

For smallpox, it is a similar case. The moment of infection to the moment a physician might suspect and diagnose smallpox will likely take fifteen to twenty days. Laboratory confirmation will add an extra one or two days. Vaccine for those infected will then be too late. If vaccines were administered rapidly, the spread of the infection potentially would be halted in about thirty days. The argument here is simple: a better way is required to reduce the death toll. Kaplan, Bicknell, and Wein suggest that private citizens should be permitted to buy useful bioattack antibiotics to have on hand in case of an outbreak. This approach lessens the surge problems in hospitals because those with antibiotics or other bioweapon medications can self-medicate. Many in the medical community argue, however, that equipping people with antibiotics risks contributing to the antibiotic resistance problems already upon us and transfers medical decisions to people who are unable to assess risk-benefit issues. But a precedent exists for this approach.

As Kaplan, Bicknell, and Wein point out, the Peace Corps provided medical kits with antibiotics and instructions for their use. Americans going overseas are advised and encouraged to acquire medications, including antibiotics, for use in emergencies while away from home. The authors regard a similar approach for WMD attacks as a form of life insurance. Perhaps such a plan can be considered for nerve-agent autoinjectors, considering that nerve agents can kill a person in minutes (not days or weeks as with some microbes). At some point, if this antiterrorism effort is to work with optimal efficiency, Washington, the medical community, and law enforcement will have to trust the public.

Now the public is expected passively to watch TV, listen to the radio, or watch the national threat level go up (and down) and to count on the government to handle whatever problem may exist. Though many government Web sites offer information on terrorism and WMD, they fall into two major categories: those that are too technical for the public or those that are too simplistic in nature, advancing nothing that the public can use to assess and respond in their own defense. Much of the information given is related to natural disasters, and the sites deserve an A+ grade for dealing with that spectrum of calamities. But regarding the material specifically earmarked for terrorism, especially WMD, they earn an F. This is particularly true for FEMA’s information.

FEMA’s premier document titled Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness is wholly inadequate to offer the interested citizen useful information that can be used for protection or assessment of risk in case of a WMD attack.[175] This guide follows a previous FEMA effort titled Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness, which contained information and suggestions, several of which are now considered dangerous or hazardous to the individual if followed. The newer in-depth guide excludes some of those elements, but retains others. Overall, among other deficiencies, the in-depth guide does not discuss the four types of chemical weapons, the symptoms of contamination, or the characteristics (persistent versus nonpersistent) of the chemicals—knowledge that is crucial to decontamination of residential environs. And though some would argue that no private citizen has any business undertaking decontamination, it has to be said that neither should citizens be subjected to these lethal weapons. In the event of a catastrophic chemical attack, an individual’s location will likely not be the only site contaminated, and government forces will be entirely too busy to deal with each location. Those sheltering within their homes will likely have to deal with contamination when they emerge. No government discussion of decontamination is offered in these government Web sites. The fact remains that public information is lacking for realistic preparation and a response pending assistance (if any) from authorities.


America’s great challenge is achieving security and protecting cherished liberties. If we act rashly in response to further terrorist attacks, we endanger our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Contrary to what is published, our greatest threat is how government agencies may restrict us in the pursuit of security, which will have far greater long-term consequences than anything that the terrorists can do. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore or dismiss the threat of extremist fundamentalist Islamic terrorists arrayed against the United States.

Several efforts are going on simultaneously in the U.S. war on terrorism. There is the law enforcement component, with airport security as an example. There are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and who knows where else in the future). And there is the intelligence effort. We have come to recognize and accept that our intelligence services missed a big attack. This lapse cost some three thousand lives, untold billions of dollars in direct real damages, and indirect damage to the economy in the months following 9/11. The intelligence factor may well be the single most significant factor of the antiterrorism equation. Multiplying any number by zero yields zero; if intelligence is zeroed, everything else is zeroed.

The 9/11 Commission, among its many recommendations, argued for a single intelligence czar, with many powers not in the hands of any prior single intelligence agency or official. Unfortunately, the commission did not specifically address the bloated bureaucracy of the existing fifteen intelligence agencies. What is needed is not more intelligence bureaucracy, but a streamlining and privatization of intelligence processing. (Similarly, the creation of the DHS was supposed to address the lack of coordination in homeland security, but the commission clearly believed it was not done.) Creation of newer intelligence organs, levels, offices, and officials ignores the fundamental problems: (1) timely analysis, (2) recognition of a tidbit of information in context of many other tidbits, and (3) dissemination of that crucial nugget to those who, if apprised, can act on it. In addition, the U.S. Congress, with the power of the purse, has oversight responsibilities.[176] Any revamping of the U.S. intelligence community must also include a serious examination of the U.S. Congress’s role in intelligence failures. After all, no organization can be any better than those giving it guidance—not just the office of the president, but Congress as well. Yet Congress has refused to reorganize itself to provide better oversight of the executive branch’s anti- and counterterrorism activities.

Moreover, the public needs better education on preparedness and response for terrorist attacks than what is currently available through government sources. Counterterrorism exercises are necessary because they are the only means, short of actual attack experiences, to uncover problems with preparation and response plans. The large exercises conducted so far make several points not delineated by the authors of after-action reports. Each succeeding exercise is becoming much bigger and more expensive. Each also reveals recurring problems. Communications is the key to effective response in the aftermath of any disaster or terrorist attack. Yet in each exercise government communications has had significant, if not serious, shortcomings. This failure explains to a large extent the problems with coordination among different governmental levels, coordination among agencies within a governmental level, the unity of command, and the transfer of tactical and other critical information up and down the various responder levels. The response to Hurricane Katrina, a real incident requiring a response, demonstrated the continuing and intrinsic problem with government communications and control-of-crisis response. In addition, the medical infrastructure’s ability to accommodate a surge load is still dangerously deficient.

The real lesson we have to learn is that bloated, ponderous government bureaucracies frustrate the speedy decisiveness and responsiveness required for intelligence analysis, information dissemination, and potential responses to terrorist attacks, just as they do for dealing with natural disasters.


[1] Darlene Superville, Associated Press, “Lack of Arabic Translators Hurts U.S. Around the World,”, 19 November 2003

[2] Geoff D. Porter, “Lost in Translation at the F.B.I.,” New York Times, 1 June 2002, A15.

[3] Curt Anderson, Associated Press, “Justice Department Audit Finds Large FBI Backlog

of Untranslated Intercepts,” at, 28 September 2004,

[4] Kaitlin Bell and Charlie Savage, “FBI Slow to Translate Counterterrorism Tapes: Inspector Cites Mounting Backlog,” Boston Globe, National/Foreign, 3rd ed., 28 July 2005, 1.

[5] Charles Pena, Flying the Unfriendly Skies: Defending Against the Threat of Shoulder-Fired Missiles, Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 541 (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 19 April 2005).

[6] Aviation and Transportation Security Act, Public Law 107-71, 107th Cong., 1st sess. (19 November 2001).

[7] Leslie Miller, Associated Press, “Private Screeners More Diligent Than Government Counterparts,”, 27 April 2005; U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), Private Screening Contractors Have Little Flexibility to Implement Innovative Approaches, GAO-04-505T (Washington, D.C.: GAO, 22 April 2004).

[8] Office of the Inspector General, A Review of Procedures to Prevent Passenger Baggage Thefts, OIG-05-17 (Washington, D.C: Office of Inspections and Special Reviews, Department of Homeland Security, March 2005), p. 2.

[9] Jaime Hernandez, “Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Airport Screeners Face Charges of Stealing from Baggage,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 30 June 2004; “Baggage Theft Hasn’t Stopped” (editorial), Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 15 July 2004, 6; Stephanie Hanes, “3 Charged in Alleged Mail Theft at Airport; BWI Worker Stole Checks, Credit Cards, Officials Say,” Baltimore Sun, 8 September 2004, B2; Don Philips, “Airport Security Company Faulted; Argenbright Still Hiring Those with Criminal Records, Prosecutor Says,” Washington Post, 12 October 2001, E1; Sara Kehaulani Goo, “TSA’s Hiring Practices to Be Probed: Homeland Security Office Questions Background Checks,” Washington Post, 28 May 2003, E2; Sara Kehaulani Goo, “Airport Finds That More Screeners Are Questionable,” Washington Post, 12 June 2003, A3; Associated Press, “More Screeners Arrested in Luggage Theft Investigation,”, 25 June 2004; Associated Press, “Airport Screener Charged in Ticket Scam,”, 16 July 2004

[10] Sara Kehaulani Goo, “U.S. Orders Airlines to Release Fliers’ Data; Passenger Records to Be Used in New Screening System,” Washington Post, 22 September 2004, A3.

[11] Leslie Miller, “Feds Demand Passenger Lists to Test System,” Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee), 22 September 2004, C5.

[12] Sara Kehaulani Goo, “Sen. Kennedy Flagged by No-Fly Lists,” Washington Post, 20 August 2004, A1; Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, “Getting Off Terror List Harder Than Getting On,”, 20 August 2004

[13] Leslie Miller, Associated Press, “Alaska Lawmaker Finds Name on No-Fly List,”, 29 September 2004

[14] Mohammed Abbas, Reuters, “New UK Airport Scanner ‘Undresses’ Passengers,”, 9 November 2004

[15] Jens Hainmüller and Jan Martin Lemnitzer, “Why Do Europeans Fly Safer? The Politics of Airport Security in Europe and the US,” Terrorism and Political Violence 15, no. 4 (2003): 1–36.

[16] U.S. GAO, Private Screening Contractors Have Little Flexibility to Implement Innovative Approaches, GAO-04-505T, General Accounting Office, 22 April 2004.

[17] Veronique De Rugy, “TSA Disaster: Leave It to the Government . . . ,” 5 May 2005, available at the American Enterprise Institute Web site:

[18] Ron Marsico, Newhouse News Service, “Less Than 10 Percent of Cargo Inspected Leaving Newark Airport,”, 7 November 2004

[19] Leslie Miller, Associated Press, “Government Plans Air Cargo Safety Rules,”, 10 November 2004

[20] Sally B. Donnelly, “Spotting the Airline Terror Threat,” Time magazine On Line, 2 October 2004,

[21] “Profiling Program May Soon Be Adopted by Airports Nationwide,” American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) press release, 10 November 2004; King Downing v. Massachusetts Port Authority; Massachusetts Department of State Police, State Police Trooper Thompson, State Police Sergeant Croxton, Thomas G. Robbins, and Peter J. Didomenica,

[22] U.S. GAO, Screener Training and Performance Measurement Strengthened, but More Work Remains, GAO-05-457 (Washington, D.C.: GAO, May 2005).

[23] Leslie Miller, Associated Press, “Report Finds Lavish Spending at TSA,”, 13 October 2004

[24] Associated Press, “Naked Man Hides in Plane Wheel Well at LA Airport,”, 4 November 2004

[25] Robert Higgs, “The Pretense of Airport Security,” The Independent Institute, 23 October 2003, published 7 December 2003 in The San Francisco Chronicle.

[26] David Weber, “War on Terrorism; No Lift-Off for Crop Dusters; FAA Orders Stand across the Nation as Precaution,” Boston Herald, 25 September 2001, 7; Curt Anderson, Associated Press, “FBI Checking Crop-Dusting Planes and Pilots, Still Worried about Possible Terror Use,”, 22 April 2004

[27] Bart Jansen, “Panel Probes Terror Threat to Food; A Committee Chaired by Sen. Collins Finds That Few Safeguards Are in Place Against Diseases Spread Through Food Production,” Portland Press Herald (Maine), 20 November 2003, B3.

[28] Ira Dreyfuss, Associated Press, “Bush Orders New Measures to Protect Food Supply from Terrorist Attack,”, 3 February 2004

[29] Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press, “WSU Veterinary Hospital in Front Lines of War on Terror,”, 11 September 2004

[30] Thomas W. Frazier and Drew C. Richardson, eds., Food and Agricultural Security: Guarding Against Natural Threats and Terrorist Attacks Affecting Health, National Food Supplies, and Agricultural Economics, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 894 (New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1999); Michael Woods, “Agroterrorism Poses Devastating Threat, Easy to Plot, Experts Warn,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 23 May 2003, A14; Elliott Minor, Associated Press, “Agriculture Officials Say Farms, Food Supply Too Exposed to Terrorism,”, 13 October 2003

[31] Associated Press, “Farmers Joining the Fight Against Possible Terrorist Attacks,”, 28 October 2003

[32] Eric Pianin, “Food Industry Resists Anti-terror Proposals; Lobbyist Says Protections Adequate,” Washington Post, 6 December 2001, A49.

[33] Andrew Kaplan, “Anti-terror Effort Continues to Gain Speed: Food Industry Re-evaluates Its Level of Preparedness,” Food Logistics 48 (15 March 2002), 8(1) (ISSN 1094-7450).

[34] Shaun Waterman, United Press International, “Customs Agents Will Do Food Terror Checks,”, 3 December 2003

[35] Mr. Domenic Veneziano, director, Prior Notice Center, FDA, Arlington, Va., 30 November 2004, personal communication.

[36] Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, 107th Cong., 2nd sess. (23 January 2002), effective date 12 December 2003.

[37] FDA, “Protecting the Food Supply,” fact sheet, October 2003, available at:

[38] U.S. GAO, Much Is Being Done to Protect Agriculture from a Terrorist Attack, but Important Challenges Remain, GAO -05-214 (Washington, D.C.: GAO, March 2005).

[39] Testimony of the American Society of Civil Engineers on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2006 for the Department of Homeland Security before the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, 109th Cong., 1st sess. (8 April 2005).

[40] World Nuclear Association, “Chernobyl,” March 2001, available at:

[41] Associated Press, [No title],, 14 April 1979; Robert Sangeorge, United Press International, “Official Says TMI Operators Falsified Key Records,” 24 May 1983,, 24 May 1983

[42] The “China Syndrome” refers to the melting of the reactor-core fuel rods, their burning through the reactor core, its containment vessel, and the floor of the containment building and then penetrating deep into the ground. The idea that it would burn through the earth from the United States to China, though not possible, is the implication.

[43] U.S. GAO, Oversight of Security at Commercial Nuclear Power Plants Needs to Be Strengthened, GAO-03-752 (Washington, D.C.: GAO, September 2003).

[44] On 2–3 December 1984, the Union Carbide chemical plant experienced a catastrophic release of an industrial chemical into the air of Bhopal. Methyl isocyanate is a key chemical precursor for the manufacture of Sevin and Temik, popular insecticides. Insecticides have been the historical foundation for lethal military chemical weapons research. Penelope Souquet, “Bhopal Still Haunts Union Carbide,” Chicago Sun-Times, 4 December 1994, 44; News Services, “Union Carbide Vows Probe of India Accident; Lethal Chemical Also Is Produced in West Virginia,” Washington Post, 5 December 1984, A31.

[45] U.S. GAO, Federal Action Needed to Address Security Challenges at Chemical Facilities, GAO-04-482T (Washington, D.C.: GAO, February 2004).

[46] Charlie Savage, “Concerns Rise over Chemicals as Targets,” Boston Globe, 1 June 2004, A1.

[47] U.S. GAO, Federal and Industry Efforts Are Addressing Security Issues at Chemical Facilities, but Additional Action Is Needed, GAO-05-631T (Washington, D.C.: GAO, 27 April 2005), quote on p. 2.

[48] National Intelligence Council, Annual Report to Congress on the Safety and Security of Russian Nuclear Facilities and Military Forces (Washington, D.C.: National Intelligence Council, December 2004), 2.

[49] Ariel Cohen, Preventing a Nightmare Scenario: Terrorist Attacks Using Russian Nuclear Weapons and Materials, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder no. 1854 (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 20 May 2005), 4.

[50] Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press, “Hospital Group Puts Focus on Terror,”, 15 November 2001

[51] Jeffrey N. Rubin, “Recurring Pitfalls in Hospital Preparedness and Responses,” Journal of Homeland Security (January 2004), http//

[52] Dennis S. Agliano, “Liability Shut Down U.S. Sources of Flu Vaccine,” Tampa Tribune (Florida), 25 October 2004, 15.

[53] Mark Sherman, Associated Press, “FDA Found Problems at Flu Vaccine Plant in 2003,”, 17 November 2004

[54] Rita Rubin, “FDA, Executives: Rules Deter Drugmakers,” USA Today, 17 November 2004, B3.

[55] Mike Toner, “U.S. Stockpiling Drugs; Medical Arsenal an Anti-Terror Priority,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 29 January 2002, A1.

[56] United Press International, “$7 Billion for U.S. Anti-Terror Research,”, 7 March 2004

[57] Jim Abrams, Associated Press, “Congress Approves Measure Financing Biological Weapons Vaccines,”, 14 July 2004

[58] Dee Ann Davis, United Press International, “BioWar: ‘Wild Card’ Patent in Bioshield 2?”, 1 September 2004

[59] Peter Urban, “Project BioShield Put in Place; President Bush Signed Legislation Last Week to Develop and Stockpile Vaccines and Antidotes for Chemical and Germ Weapons,” Connecticut Post (Bridgeport), no page,, 25 July 2004

[60] “Bioshield Effort Termed Inadequate,” New York Times, 15 October 2004, 16.

[61] Steve Doyle, Associated Press, “Old Fort McCLellan Hospital Revived as Terror Training Facility; Dateline, Alabama,”, 31 March 2003; Dee Ann Davis and Nicholas M. Horrock, United Press International, “Living Terror: List of Laboratories,”, 1 July 2003

[62] “War on Terror Gives Rise to New ‘Clean Facilities’: Increased Funding for Research into Treatments, Antidotes, and Vaccines Against Bioterrorism Agents Has Sparked a Building Boom for Biosafety Facilities,” CleanRooms 18, no. 9 (September 2004), 21 (ISSN 1043-8017).

[63] Dan Vergano and Steve Sternberg, “Anthrax Slip-ups Raise Fears about Planned Biolabs,” USA Today, 14 October 2004, A11.

[64] Julie Satow, “Study: Nation’s Medicine Supply Vulnerable to Terror,” New York Sun, 26 June 2003, 2.

[65] Gardiner Harris, “Tiny Antennas to Keep Tabs on U.S. Drugs,” New York Times, 15 November 2004, 1.

[66] Mark Sherman, Associated Press, “Radio Tags to Vouch for Drugs’ Legitimacy,”, 15 November 2004

[67] Francesca Lunzer Kritz, “Drugs at the Ready? The Government Suggests You Add Prescription Medications to Your Emergency Kits. That May Be Easier Said Than Done,” Washington Post, 4 March 2003, F1.

[68] Associated Press, “Two Teens Found with Syringes Containing Nerve Gas Antidote,”, 7 July 2004

[69] David Ho, “Government Warns Terror Remedy Sites,” Associated Press Online,, 2 January 2002

[70] Ted Bridis, Associated Press, “Government Discloses Details of Nation’s Bioterror Sensors,”, 14 November 2003

[71] Thom J. Rose, United Press International, “Bush Budget Proposes More Bio-surveillance,”, 29 January 2004; Dee Ann Davis, United Press International, “BioWar: DHS Biodefense Funding Appears Set,”, 29 September 2004

[72] Sandra Laville, “Staged Gas Attack Exposes Failings in UK Plans,” The Guardian (London), 19 July 2004, 2; Cahal Milmo, “Victims Wait Three Hours for Treatment in Mock Gas Attack,” The Independent (London), 19 July 2004, 6.

[73] Andy Dolan, “The NEC ‘Massacre,’ Anti-Terror Exercise Farce as Police Keep Out Firemen (And the Cream Cakes Get There Before 911 Crews),” Daily Mail (London), 19 July 2004, p.1.

[74] “DARK WINTER: Bioterrorism Exercise,” held at Andrews Air Force Base, 22–23 June 2001, conducted by Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense, Center for Strategic and International Studies, ANSER, and Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.

[75] Thomas V. Inglesby, Rita Grossman, and Tara O’Toole, “A Plague on Your City: Observations from Topoff,” Center for International Development 32 (1 February 2001): 436–45

[76] Richard E. Hoffman and Jane E. Norton, “Lessons Learned from a Full-Scale Bioterrorism Exercise,” Emergent Infectious Diseases (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Vol. 6, no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 2000), available at

[77] Philip Shenon, “Threats and Responses: Domestic Security; Terrorism Drills Showed Lack of Preparedness, Report Says,” New York Times, 19 December 2003, 32.

[78] Top Officials (TOPOFF) Exercise Series: TOPOFF 2, After Action Summary Report for Public Release (Washington, D.C.: Department of Homeland Security, 19 December 2003).

[79] Frank Munger, “Y-12 Test ‘Unreliable’; Inspectors General Report: Some Oak Ridge Plant Guards Were Tipped Off to Security Exercise,” Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), 27 January 2004, A1.

[80] U.S. Department of Energy, Protective Force Performance Test Improprieties, Inspection Report, DOE/IG-0636 (Washington, D.C.: Department of Energy, January 2004).

[81] Blake Nicholson, Associated Press, “Disaster Exercise Simulates Brucellosis Outbreak,”, 9 July 2003

[82] John Milburn, Associated Press, “Regional Exercises Seek Weaknesses in State’s Bioterrorism Preparedness,”, 12 October 2003

[83] Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press, “Exercises Detail Flaws in Local Terror Response,”, 30 May 2004

[84] U.S. GAO, Bioterrorism: Preparedness Varied across State and Local Jurisdictions,” GAO-03-373 (Washington, D.C.: GAO, April 2003).

[85] Ibid.

[86] Wilson Ring, Associated Press, “State, Federal, and Canadian Officials Drill for Attack,”, 26 October 2004

[87] Lois M. Davis and Janice C. Blanchard, Are Local Health Responders Ready for Biological and Chemical Terrorism? IP-221-OSD (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corp., 2002).

[88] John Mintz and Joby Warrick, “U.S. Unprepared Despite Progress, Expert Says,” Washington Post, 8 November 2004, A1.

[89] Salvatore Salamone, “Nanotechnology Electrifies Biological Agent Detection,” Bio-IT Bulletin, Bio-IT World, 18 April 2003, available at:

[90] Ross Kerber, “Immunetics’ Simplified Blood Test to Detect Anthrax Gets US Approval,” Boston Globe, 8 June 2004, D2.

[91] Paul Rincon, “Push for Anti-nerve Agent Drug,” BBC News,, 2 May 2004.

[92] Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press, “CDC Shipping ‘Chem-Packs’ for Chemical-Attack Preparedness,”, 14 July 2004

[93] Sharon Theimer, Associated Press, “Army Clears Sales of Chemical-Attack Treatment to First Responders,”, 23 September 2004

[94] David Barrett, Press Association, “Police Get Nerve Gas Antidote in Case of Attack,”, 30 May 2004

[95] Adam Zagoran, “Bordering on Nukes? New Accounts from al-Qaeda to Attack the U.S. with Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Time magazine 164, no. 21 (22 November 2004), available at:

[96] Kenneth R. Timmerman, “Canadian Border Open to Terrorists,” Insight on the News, 17 December 2001, 24.

[97] Julie Watson, Associated Press, “Mexican Drug Smugglers Tunnel under Border to Elude U.S. Guards,”, 12 May 2002

[98] Lynn Brezosky, Associated Press, “Border Patrol Chief Says Southwest Border Secure,”, 31 August 2004

[99] Leslie Hoffman, Associated Press, “Illegal Border Traffic Hits 3-year High in New Mexico,”, 5 October 2004

[100] Associated Press, “Customs Inspectors Add Tools to Screen for Dangerous Cargo,”, 27 October 2002

[101] Gregory Crouch, “U.S. Port Security Plan Irks Europeans,” New York Times, 6 November 2002, 1; U.S. Department of State, press release, “U.S. Wants to Prescreen Most Cargo Containers from Overseas: Security Initiative to Expand to More Ports, U.S. Customs Chief Says,” 25 August 2004.

[102] Associated Press, “Idaho State University to Help Develop New Cargo Inspection Technology,”, 19 July 2003

[103] James MacPherson, Associated Press, “Gamma Ray Machines Used at Border in War Against Terrorism, Drugs,”, 15 November 2003

[104] Katherine Pfleger Shrader, Associated Press, “Internal Report Takes Aim at Port Security Efforts,”, 14 October 2004

[105] Ron Harris, Associated Press, “Shipping Lines to Start Using ‘Smart” Cargo Containers,”, 30 October 2003

[106] Jonathan D. Salant, Associated Press, “New Technology Approved for Inspection of Cargo Containers,”, 15 April 2004

[107] S. C. Gwynne and Kate Getty, “Attack Here,” Texas Monthly (November 2004), 158.

[108] Tim Cornitius, “Texas City Explosion; 50th Anniversary Marks Progress,” Chemical Week (30 April 1997), 64.

[109] Maki Becker and James Gordon Meek, “Terror Lurks on High Seas, Pros Call for More Security to Avoid 9-11-Type Attack,” Daily News (New York), 21 September 2003, 26.

[110] Gordon Thomas, “Allies Hunt 28 Ships Carrying Al Qaeda Suicide Bombers; Bin Laden’s Fleet of Fanatics Target British Oil Rigs,” Sunday Express (London), 14 December 2003, 7.

[111] Ben English, “Terror Alert—Al Qaeda Targets Cruise Liners,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 29 December 2003, 1.

[112] U.S. GAO, Maritime Security: Partnering Could Reduce Federal Costs and Facilitate Implementation of Automatic Vessel Identification System, GAO-04-868 (Washington, D.C.: GAO, July 2004).

[113] Peter Jennings and Pierre Thomas, “Stolen Passports Black Market,” ABC News, 26 April 2004, transcript.

[114] Associated Press, “DMV Examines Ways to Crack Down on Fraudulent Driver’s Licenses,”, 6 November 2004

[115] Jerry Seper, “Biometric ID System Used at Land Ports,” Washington Times, 16 November 2004, A7.

[116] Fred O. Williams, “Area Firm, UB to Scan Fingerprints, Signatures/Project Could Lay the Foundation for New ID System at U.S. Borders,” Buffalo News (New York), 18 September 2004, D7.

[117] U.S. GAO, Improvement Needed to Strengthen U.S. Passport Fraud Detection Efforts, GAO-05-477 (Washington, D.C.: GAO, May 2005).

[118] Shaun Waterman, United Press International, “McCain, 9/11 Panel Want National ID Debate,”, 16 August 2004

[119] Audrey Hudson, “National ID Card Feared in License Standards,” Washington Times, 7 October 2004, A3.

[120] Audrey Hudson, “Suit Targets Travel-ID Mandate,” Washington Times, 10 September 2004, A10.

[121] Declan Walsh, “Taliban Warn of More Attacks,” The Guardian (London), 31 August 2004, 9.

[122] We have a military presence in approximately 140 countries around the world. Though most are essentially military attaché contingents with U.S. embassies, quite a few are major military forces. See Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, U.S. Department of Defense, Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country (309A), 31 March 2000, 31 March 2001, 31 March 2003, 31 March 2004 (Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense).

[123] Ivan Eland, The Empire Strikes Out: The “New Imperialism” and Its Fatal Flaws, Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 459 (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 26 November 2002). Eland was the former director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, Washington, D.C., and is now a senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace and Liberty, Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif.

[124] Preston Jones, “The World According to Robert Kaplan,” Ottawa Citizen, 3 March 2002, C13.

[125] Max Boot, “The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rule of American Power,” dialogue with James Gibney, Slate, 8 May 2002, available at:

[126] Sid Balman Jr., United Press International, “U.S. Wants N. Korea to Act on Promises,”, 9 November 1994; Paula Wolfson, White House, “US Aid to N. Korea May Resume If Pyongyang Suspends Nuclear Program,” Voice of America News,, 14 January 2003

[127] Jim Hoagland, “Carter Has Moved into Center of Arab-Israeli Chessboard,” Washington Post, 24 September 1978, A19; Joseph Kraft, “A Marshall Plan for Egypt?” Washington Post, 7 November 1978, A19.

[128] I define a strategic alert as one that is nationwide. Localized alert increases such as the ones that occurred in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J., on or about 2 August 2004 are tactical alerts. The strategic alert status has been raised nationwide at least four times since 9/11: 10 September 2002, 8 February 2003, 21 May 2003, and 23 December 2003.

[129] Dave Addis, “Holiday Terror Alerts Are Getting Annoying,” Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk), 30 June 2004, B1.

[130] Dan Eggen and John Mintz, “Washington and N.Y. Put on Alert; Al Qaeda Plotting Attacks on Financial Sectors, Officials Say,” Washington Post, 2 August 2004, A1.

[131] Tom Hays, Associated Press, “Reduced Threat Level Calms Nerves at Financial Institutions in New York and Elsewhere,”, 11 November 2004

[132] Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (Washington, D.C.: FEMA, 15-22 August 2004) 96, available at:, and

[133] FEMA, Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (Washington, D.C.: FEMA, 15-22 August 2004), available at:, and

[134] Fred Walters and Eric R. Taylor, “Chemical Terrorism Attack Decontamination—

Household Oxidizers: What Works,” Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research 3, (2003): 107-111; Denise Flaherty, Loni A. Guidry, Kelly Marie Guilbeau, Allison Marie Lewis, Carley Ann Welch, Alan Trahan, Gregory W. Broussard, Penny Antley, and Eric R. Taylor, “Civilian Household Bioterrorism Decontamination Agents,” Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research 4, (2004): 165-168; Christina Costin, Alan Trahan, Fred Walters, and Eric R. Taylor, “Chemical Terrorism Attack Decontamination II—Household Oxidizers: What Works,” Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research 1, (2005): 23-26

[135] Aviation and Transportation Security Act, Public Law 107-71, 19 November 2001.

[136] Homeland Security Act of 2002, Public Law 107-296, 107th Cong., 2nd sess. (25 November 2002).

[137] National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Final Report (Washington, D.C., July 2004) available at

[138] U.S. GAO, Homeland Security: Information Sharing Responsibilities, Challenges, and Key Management Issues, GAO-03-1165T (Washington, D.C.: GAO, 17 February 2003).

[139] Given at the DHS Web site:

[140] Katherine Pfleger Shrader, “White House Working to Heed 9/11 Panel,” Washington Post, 27 August 2004, A19.

[141] Interestingly, I pointed out in a previous work that the president can order agencies to cooperate, but that they will not necessary do it. See Eric R. Taylor, The New Homeland Security Apparatus: Impeding the Fight Against Agile Terrorists, Cato Institute Foreign Policy Brief no. 70 (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 26 June 2002), 4.

[142] “Cooperation a Key to Intelligence Overhaul; Struggles over Power and Turf Shouldn’t Hamper This Important Process” (editorial), Portland Press Herald (Maine), 2 August 2004, A8.

[143] Barbara Borst, Associated Press, “Former CIA Director Says Political Pressure from White House a Problem for Intelligence Agency,” 12 May 2004, available at

[144] Katherine Pfleger Shrader, Associated Press, “CIA Officer Quits to Speak Freely about Problems with Intelligence Community,”, 11 November 2004; Walter Pincus, “McCain Backs CIA Shake-up,” Washington Post, 15 November 2004, A2; Katherine Pfleger Shrader, Associated Press, “Top Two Officials at CIA’s Clandestine Service Quit Amid Infighting,”, 15 November 2004; Jay Ambrose, Scripps Howard News Service, “Needed Shakeup At CIA,”, 15 November 2004

[145] Katherine Pfleger Shrader, Associated Press, “Goss to Employees: Avoid Politics but Serve the Administration,”, 17 November 2004

[146] Katherine Pfleger Shrader, Associated Press, “Turmoil at CIA as Goss Lays Down the Law,”, 27 November 2004

[147] United Press International, “Pentagon Applauds Shake-up at CIA,”, 17 November 2004

[148] Don Van Natta Jr., “Threats and Responses: Antiterrorism; Intelligence Critics Urge U.S. to Look to British Spy Agency,” New York Times, 26 July 2003, 8.

[149] Charlie Savage, “Testimony Illuminates Flaws in U.S. Intelligence Agencies,” Boston Globe, 18 April 2004, A13.

[150] Dan K. Thomasson, Scripps Howard News Service, “FBI No Answer to Terrorism,”, 7 June 2004

[151] Kevin Johnson, “CIA Role Inside the USA Greater,” USA Today, 8 November 2004, A1.

[152] Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT), Public Law 107-56, 107th Cong., 1st sess. (26 October 2001).

[153] Bryan Mitchell, “Panel Examines Erosion of Civil Rights,” Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), 5 February 2003, B3.

[154] U.S. Department of Justice, Report from the Field: The USA Patriot Act at Work (Washington , D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, July 2004).

[155] Ibid., 1.

[156] Ibid., 19.

[157] That said, child pornography is of course a heinous crime and should be prosecuted to the fullest, but not as an act of political terrorism.

[158] Curt Anderson, Associated Press, “Probe Eyes Faulty FBI Arrest of Lawyer,”, 13 September 2004

[159] U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Report to the Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA Patriot Act (Washington, D.C.: Department of Justice, 13 September 2004).

[160] Anne Gearan, Associated Press, “Supreme Court Rules Against President Bush in Case about Terrorism Prisoners,”, 28 June 2004

[161] “ACLU Files Suit Against Parts of Patriot Act,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 July 2003.

[162] Leslie Miller, Associated Press, “ACLU to Sue Government Over ‘No-Fly’ List,”, 6 April 2004

[163] Larry Neumeister, Associated Press, “Judge Strikes Down Secret Government Searches as Unconstitutional,”, 29 September 2004

[164] United Press International, “ACLU Praises Patriot Act Ruling,”, 29 September 2004

[165] Julia Preston, “Judge Strikes Down Section of Patriot Act Allowing Secret Subpoenas of Internet Data,” New York Times, 30 September 2004, 26.

[166] Quoted in Dan Eggen, “U.S. Uses Secret Evidence in Secrecy Fight with ACLU,” Washington Post, 20 August 2004, A17.

[167] See the Web site

[168] Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., “The State and the Flood,” September 2, 2005, available at:

[169] Mary L. Theroux, “Public and Private Responses to Katrina: What Can We Learn?” October 20, 2005, available at: This talk was originally presented at the Chief Executive Organization’s Women’s Seminar on 7 October 2005.

[170] Michael S. Rozeff, “Katrina and the Authorities,” 3 September 2005, available at:

[171] Jack Spencer, The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission Warns of an Old Threat with a New Face, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder no. 1784 (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 3 August 2004).

[172] Rozeff, “Katrina and the Authorities.”

[173] James Jay Carafano, Beyond Duct Tape: The Federal Government’s Role in Public Preparedness, Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum no. 971 (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 3 June 2005).

[174] Edward H. Kaplan, William J. Bicknell, and Lawrence M. Wein, The Citizen as First Responder (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 13 August 2003).

[175] Eric R. Taylor, unpublished results.

[176] “Reform Congress to Fix Intel Gaps” (editorial), Boston Herald, 15 September 2004, 32.