07/08/2005: Thought for the Day:
But in the wake of today's coordinated morning rush-hour bombings in London, [Department of Homeland Security chief Michael]Chertoff did precisely the wrong thing. Without receiving any new credible intelligence, he raised DHS's already discredited color alert to orange, saying he wanted to wake up mass transit authorities. In the process, he gave ever-jittery TV anchors one more reason to prattle on about danger in the United States, even though today's bombings occurred in a different country thousands of miles away and were, comparatively speaking, not an operational success for the jihadists who seem likely to have been behind them.
Perhaps it bears repeating that terrorists seek to alter the way in which we lead our lives, to close open societies, and to turn liberals into authoritarians. Instead of ratcheting up the threat level and along with it public fears, Chertoff should have told Americans what he most certainly knows: that national security officials and local police have been worried about a subway or train attack since last year's bombings in the Madrid transit system, and that they have little reason to be more worried now. Then quietly—rather than with a fuss—he should have increased the police presence in major metropolitan subways so that commuters returning from work tonight would see the effect of the government's concern.
At the risk of seeming callous, the other message Chertoff should have sent is that Americans need to toughen up a bit. Be vigilant; don't panic. Look at how the British are handling these attacks. Their endurance of the Irish Republican Army's 30-year terror campaign has made them masters at picking up the pieces after an attack and moving on. Did they institute a national alert today? No. Did they close down the subways indefinitely? No. Some theaters canceled shows scheduled for tonight, but that was a small and sensible measure taken to lessen the pressures on London's transportation system as it stretched to the limit to get people home from work. Could we possibly expect this sort of sane moderation had Los Angeles been the bombers' target rather than London?
Len on 07.08.05 @ 06:09 AM CST