FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, August 02, 2004

A Better Approach to Homeland Security

By now you've surely heard that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has raised the terror threat levels from yellow (elevated) to orange (high), but only for New York City, Washington, and certain locations in Newark, NJ.

Yesterday, DHS Secretary Tom Ridge made the announcement, which was apparently based on much more specific data than they're worked off of in the past. In my view, this is far preferable to previous warnings, which were too broad and too vague to be of much use (remember the scrambles for plastic wrap and duct tape?). However, by announcing not only that specific cities, but also specific buildings, were at risk, law enforcement can focus their efforts on those areas most vulnerable.

Assuming the information DHS is working with is accurate (and it might not be), it also puts terrorists on notice that a) we're on to them and b) their plans are somehow being compromised. There are those who say we should keep quiet and not show our hand, but if we manage to spook terrorists enough for them to scrub their attack plans, we've saved lives.

Finally, in response to those who suggest that this announcement was politically motivated to make President Bush look good in the aftermath of the Democratic Convention, it would be very sad if that were true. But I don't think it is, as even the most partisan operative at the White House must realize that homeland security is too important to use as a political football. Plus, if they really wanted to throw the Democrats off kilter, they would have made the announcement Thursday night...