Security, Inc.

The LA Times has one of the periodic exposes of how bloated the security and anti-terrorism sector of our economy has become. As we’ve noted many times, it seems that policy and spending are driven not by a comprehensive overlook of the terror threat but by people sitting around, having a few drinks and imagining what terrorists might do.

On the edge of the Nebraska sand hills is Lake McConaughy, a 22-mile-long reservoir that in summer becomes a magnet for Winnebagos, fishermen and kite sailors. But officials here in Keith County, population 8,370, imagined this scene: An Al Qaeda sleeper cell hitching explosives onto a water-skiing boat and plowing into the dam at the head of the lake.

The federal Department of Homeland Security ago gave the county $42,000 to buy state-of-the-art dive gear, including full-face masks, underwater lights and radios, and a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar capable of mapping wide areas of the lake floor.

Up on the lonely prairie around Cherry County, population 6,148, got thousands of federal dollars for cattle nose leads, halters and electric prods – in case terrorists decided to mount biological warfare against cows.

We see this sort of behavior from parents who won’t let their kids play baseball or something because they heard something from someone about some kid whose heart … I don’t know … it’s such a violent game. Here’s a nerf ball, kid. But it’s a big nerf ball so you can’t stick in your mouth and swallow it. But not too big so that you don’t try to stand on and get hurt. And put this helmet on. And drinks all your meals through straws. You can never be too safe.

Of course, you can be too safe. We’re spendings tens of billions on this, decking out local law enforcement agencies like standing armies, creating huge databases of information about our citizens and … is it having an effect? No terrorist has ever been caught or arrested with this approach; the only ones we’ve caught have been through brave actions of citizens or information from concerned relatives. The defenders of the security state are reduced to saying we have no way of knowing what plots were never attempted because of their counter-measures — the national security equivalent of “jobs created or saved”.

Large sums of Homeland Security money, critics complain, have been propelled by pork barrel politics into the backyards of the congressionally connected.

No! Really?

The problem here is that no one apart from me and Ron Paul wants to get control of this spending. Because if they do then, the second a terrorist attack happens, a zillion assholes will pop out to claim that budget cuts are the reason the attack happened. We’ve seen this before. The explosives hadn’t even cooled before people were blaming Policy X for the Undie Bomber attack. And that invective was never corrected when it turned out that Policy X was completely unrelated.

We can never make the nation 100% secure. It’s time to stop spending money like we can.

Comments are closed.

  1. Mook

    Sitting around imagining what terrorists might do is a useful exercise, the Israeli’s do this. The problem as you point out is that they implement costly and wasteful “solutions” with zero regard as to cost vs. benefit, often needlessly trampling over individual rights in the process. It’s another govt bureaucracy run amok with too-little accountability.

    They will blow billions of dollars on this stupid shit, yet refuse to monitor mosques.

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  2. hist_ed

    The crazy thing is every year that same amount of money is allocated and goes searching for the next lowest priority to throw itself at. After every dam in American has its own SEAL style dive team security group, we’d better start looking at urban reservoirs. You know those terrorists could dump poison in them, so maybe every one of them needs round the clock security. But wait, them terrorists might go after public fountains that kids play in. Security FOR THE KIDS!!!! We need the fountains to all be secure. MORE MONEY!!!!

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  3. Seattle Outcast

    blowing up the damn might kill a few pheasants, a shitload of carp, and do a good job of irrigating a lot of corn.

    These people have too much fucking time on their hands.

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  4. Thrill

    It’s not just government either. One local office high-rise in my area performs explosives testing on every vehicle and package that delivers to its dock. Of course, a terrorist COULD simply just park on the street and detonate a truck bomb and there isn’t anything the building’s security department could do about it. Doesn’t stop them from investing thousands upon thousands of dollars on expensive explosives detection equipment, hourly wages, and training. Madness.

    Recently, I had an online argument with some Homeland Security types who were frantic over a terror alert that AQ in Yemen was developing Ricin to be used in conjunction with explosives. I pointed out that ricin is not really a very efficient bioweapon, it wouldn’t really cause mass casualties since it isn’t contagious, and explosives are sufficiently deadly by themselves without freaking out over ricin.

    They didn’t like reading that.

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    Gregg Eastebrook was arguing a long time ago that terrorist have figured out what we haven’t — conventional explosives are just fine bang-for-buck.

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