Jewish World Review August 6, 2003 / 8 Menachem-Av, 5763
Terror warnings do serve a purpose
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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