Jewish World Review August 6, 2003 / 8 Menachem-Av, 5763

Dan Abrams

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Terror warnings do serve a purpose


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Why the constant warnings from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security about possible terror attacks are not just crying wolf as some critics have suggested

IN THE PAST three weeks, there have been warnings about possible attacks on ferries. We heard about airlines again as a possibility, and the Internet.

"What am I supposed to do about it?" is the most often asked question. How do these warnings help? First, there really is very little most citizen can do. Sure, be vigilant, know your surroundings. But these days we really don't need warnings to remind us of that.

But remember, most of these warnings are being sent not to the public, but to law enforcement and the people in charge of these various operations.

Sure, we all find out about them, but they're not designed for us and they do have some effect. The warning about airlines prompted the Transportation Security Administration to scrap its plans to cut back on the air marshal program. By getting the word out on the threat to the Internet, the Department of Homeland Security started an aggressive effort to get everyone from huge corporations to individual computer owners to patch a software flaw that may have been a weakness. And I assure you, ferry operators weren't thinking a whole lot about terror before that warning.

What we can do is ask the Transportation Security Administration, ask our office's IT manager, ask our local port authority, — "What have you done to respond?" Put the heat on them.

Look, even if the intelligence is not as "sound and good as we would like at times," it still make sense to issue these warnings, even if they're more akin to stark reminders. The truth is, we don't know how they'll try to hit us next, but if we can plug some of the holes by just reminding those in charge — that to me is not a wolf cry.

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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors “The Abrams Report,” Monday through Friday from 9-10 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today” and “Dateline NBC.” To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.

Up

08/03/03: How even the most pro-Saudi polls still make many of the Saudi people seem like enemies of America
08/01/03: Why is the outgoing president of one of the most influential legal organizations advising attorneys not to represent certain clients?
07/31/03: Class action lawyers get huge fees while their clients get squat
07/30/03: Why it makes no sense to keep the public and the victims in the dark about a key section of the 9/11 report from Congress
03/27/03: Homeland Security update
03/20/03: Did I misunderstand the French?
03/18/03: No longer shielded from reality
03/17/03: Franco-phobic nonsense sweeping the nation
03/14/03: An exception to my "be extra tough on terrorists" rule
03/13/03: Whiner Assad still doesn't get it
03/11/03: What a new deadline for Iraq should really mean
03/10/03: The dishonest arguments against war with Iraq
03/07/03: On Iraq, the administration seems undeterred. It seems, there is no other way out
03/05/03: The so-called human shields in Iraq, now coming back from Fantasyland
03/04/03: Michigan backing off of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes
03/03/03: Why military tribunals could be the best optione of defining them as military
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01/23/03: Why the feds should not give up on the prosecution of alleged 20th hijacker in a federal court
01/22/03: What was Powell thinking?
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01/16/03: Yet another reason why we shouldn't trust the Saudis
01/13/03: Why the administration should share intelligence with U.N. inspectors
01/10/03: From a special punishment to a garden variety one
01/08/03: Should victims of a terror attack sue the city?
01/06/03: The "Jackpot Jury" syndrome continues
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12/19/02: Requiring Pakistani and Saudi male visitors to register with the INS
12/18/02: Why many seem to misunderstand Iraq's international obligations
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12/13/02: Judge Rose by what he did on the field
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12/11/02: Why our government refuses to fully cooperate in the prosecution of a possible 9/11 conspirator
12/10/02: Hezbollah, not a terrorist organization, says Canada
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11/27/02: Why men should be able to sue women who lie about who's the daddy
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11/14/02: Al Jazeera: A state-sponsored mouth-piece
11/13/02: Should Moussaoui be sent to a military tribunal?
11/12/02: Should human rights activists complain about the detainees' treatment?

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