Photo by AP (file)
This week, U.S Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told a national audience there is a growing terrorist threat emerging within our own borders.
Lieberman was not referring just to jihadists like Army Maj. Nidal Hassan, accused of murdering 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood last November. Rather, Lieberman spoke of the re-emergence of American extremists displeased with their government.
Lieberman’s message is timely, coming on the heels of the FBI’s recent arrest of nine Christian extremists who formed their own militia in Michigan.
According to a federal indictment, the group was intent on killing a police officer and using the ensuing funeral as an opportunity to kill scores more. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported a marked increase in radical domestic groups. Clearly, homeland security resources need to be focused on internal as well as external threats.
Going after those who threaten terror is not the only major committee concern. The recent suicide attack aboard a Moscow subway, which killed dozens, has caused transportation security officials around the world to pay closer attention to securing local modes of mass transit.
According to Lieberman, all that is non-aviation is the most vulnerable part of our transportation system. And we need to give it more than we are giving it now if we are to protect the American people.
As a nation the United States has devoted billions since 9/11 to shore up aviation security – to mixed reviews. But not nearly as much attention has been paid to surface transportation security. This despite the fact that there have been a number of deadly attacks against rail systems in the West, including the notorious attack in Madrid in 2004 and the suicide bombing in London in 2005. Japan endured its sarin subway attack in 1995.
One need only travel through Grand Central Station at any time to recognize the enormity of the risk. A suicide attack in that terminal, or most any other, involving a simple explosive or chemical-biological agent would be catastrophic.
Add to this the possibility that the attack could come from U.S. citizens, whose names don’t appear on most watch lists and who don’t fit the profile of a terrorist, and safeguarding the traveling public grows even more daunting.
Lieberman’s committee should direct DHS to concentrate more effort on protecting these very real and very vulnerable targets. The best way would be by providing increased funding and training in behavioral profiling to the people who know the systems best: the local authorities.
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1246234