The Department of Homeland Security is back in the news.
But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.The blogosphere has had much fun with this news. Below the Beltway is happy to know Amish popcorn is safe. Dr. Taylor wishes government spokespeople would just admit a screw-up has happened. Alex at OTB makes note of HS still not deducing that the Statue of Liberty is a national monumnet.
The National Asset Database, as it is known, is so flawed, the inspector general found, that as of January, Indiana, with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.
The database is used by the Homeland Security Department to help divvy up the hundreds of millions of dollars in antiterrorism grants each year, including the program announced in May that cut money to New York City and Washington by 40 percent, while significantly increasing spending for cities including Louisville, Ky., and Omaha.
“We don’t find it embarrassing,” said the department’s deputy press secretary, Jarrod Agen. “The list is a valuable tool.”
But the audit says that lower-level department officials agreed that some older information in the inventory “was of low quality and that they had little faith in it.”
In addition to the petting zoo, in Woodville, Ala., and the Mule Day Parade in Columbia, Tenn., the auditors questioned many entries, including “Nix’s Check Cashing,” “Mall at Sears,” “Ice Cream Parlor,” “Tackle Shop,” “Donut Shop,” “Anti-Cruelty Society” and “Bean Fest.”
I'll agree, the database is dumb. TFM has also blogged in the past about some of the silliness or stupidity going on at Homeland Security and the departments it oversees. HS is often a soft target for us bloggers.
Now step back from this story and think for a minute.
Terrorists want to attack America. They want to cause death and destruction on our shores. No one will argue about that.
Where will these terrorists hit? New York and Washington DC were the targets of 9-11. They are the most likely targets of any attack.
But they aren't the only targets. For one thing, they are also the most heavily guarded targets in this country.
I think we're beginning to think like Hollywood and suspense writers. They like to think big. New York, LA, DC, San Francisco. These are the places the public can identify. Sometimes I think we have an 'Independence Day' syndrome or mentality
We look to the dramatic places.
But wouldn't an attack at a parade where there are 2,000 potential targets say in Lexington Kentucky be as fruitful for terrorists as a similiar parade in New York?
What I'm trying to say is, terrorists seek out the weak, unprotected, the vulnerable. They're cowards by nature. An attack in middle ordinary America may not sound dramatic, but the headlines would be the same as would the destruction to the fabric of this country.
Maybe some of those targets mentioned by the Inspector General aren't so funny after all. They are rather soft after all, and not where people would be expecting trouble. Also not as likely to well protected and where local police may be complacent.
TFM is just playing devil's advocate. Feel free to say I'm nuts or that I'm a knucklehead if you want. Maybe Dr. Taylor is right, al Qaeda wouldn't know where Woodville Alabama is. Or maybe they are smarter than we think.
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