Monday, March 21, 2005

Homeland Security: a political autoimmune disease

Wow, talk about nailing it. This from Sandia National Laboratories (via Science Bl0g):
Anticipating attacks from terrorists, and hardening potential targets against them, is a wearying and expensive business that could be made simpler through a broader view of the opponents' origins, fears, and ultimate objectives, according to studies by the Advanced Concepts Group (ACG) of Sandia National Laboratories. "Right now, there are way too many targets considered and way too many ways to attack them," says ACG's Curtis Johnson. "Any thinking person can spin up enemies, threats, and locations it takes billions [of dollars] to fix."

That U.S. response is actually part of the war plan of our opponents, points out ACG vice president and Sandia Principal Scientist Gerry Yonas. Yonas reports that an al Quaeda strategy document signed by Shiekh Naji, dated September 2004, reads: "Force the enemy to guard every building, train station, and street in order to plant fear in their hearts and convince Muslims to join and die as martyrs instead of dying as infidels."

Osama bin Laden put it in this way, according to Yonas: "We are continuing . . . to make America bleed profusely to the point of bankruptcy . . ."
There is also a lot of dangerous horse crap from the Sandia guys (" 'Suppose every PDA had a sensor on it,' suggests ACG researcher Laura McNamara. 'We would achieve decentralized surveillance.' These sensors could report by radio frequency to a central computer any signal from contraband biological, chemical, or nuclear material." Lovely.) But what do you expect from scientists called the Advanced Concepts Group ("a technical think tank that influences the direction of long-term research at Sandia, a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory")? Let's stay with the obvious.

You can't harden every target or even any but a miniscule number of targets. Anybody with more than a neuron or two firing can think of ways to attack the soft targets all around us with easily obtainable materials or products (like assault rifles). Yet except for 9-11 the only such attacks so far are from "homegrown" terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, anti-abortion assassins like Eric Rudolph or the as yet unknown anthrax attacker who almost certainly came from within the bioweapons establishment itself.

What that says is there aren't many, if there are any, al-Qaeda type terrorists in this country. And as the Sandia analysts point out, why should there be? They are getting everything they want without lifting a finger. And they aren't stupid enough to think they can actually attain the objective of bringing the society down from terror attacks.

Autoimmune disease occurs when the body's defense mechanisms turn against its own tissues, as in rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Homeland Security is a political autoimmune disease.