It’s The People, Stupid

Joe Doakes from Como Park emailed me a link to this piece, by Richard Fernandez of Belmont Club in re not so much the police response to the Boston Marathon bombing, but our newfound cultural non-response to all sorts of violent threats:

Read the whole thing, natch – but here’s the money quote;

We focus on things because it is prohibited to focus on people. The TSA looks for things — scissors, liquids, shoes, etc — but it doesn’t stop the underwear bomber. People now want to blame “access to guns” for the Tsarnaevs. But it would be uncouth to ask about what they heard from their imam or their teachers.

This is in contrast to the “El Al” system of screening. They look at the man first. “Who are you?” is in many ways more important than “How long are your scissors?” But since we can’t inquire into the man, might as well look into the scissors.

As time passes, more and more acquaintances will come forward saying, “Well, come to think of it he did say this and that and this. …” It will transpire that many knew. Many suspected.

But no one came forward. Why not? Because the system doesn’t do things. It doesn’t do people. It doesn’t do mental strife. But the system has really nifty swords. Armored vehicles, dogs, drones, thermal scanners, .50 cal sniper rifles. Heck, there might even be a minigun or two out in Watertown. Betcha they work real good too. Pity they might have to be used in those neighborhoods.

It’s easier to clean up messes afterwards (and creates more unionized public works jobs!) than to risk the lawsuits involved in getting it right in the first place.

11 thoughts on “It’s The People, Stupid

  1. Well played Mr. Berg. You managed to link unions and gun control into one post which also mentions the TSA, El AI and airport security.

    I don’t know what we should do to mitigate the likelihood of future attacks, but clearly whatever “we” have been doing was the wrong thing, because it completely missed this one. So, more of what we’ve been doing is probably not the answer.

    “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both”

    – Benjamin Franklin, probably, but it might have been Jefferson.

  2. “clearly whatever “we” have been doing was the wrong thing, because it completely missed this one”

    Begged question.

    Government isn’t omnipotent, and we don’t want it to be. Attackers are trying hard not to get caught, and sometimes it’ll work, especially if they’ve had plenty of practice at it.

    One attack doesn’t constitute a failed system in and of itself.

  3. A few years back there was another Islamic terrorist event at an El Al counter. The misunderstander of Islam began shooting people at the counter and was quickly shot by the El Al security. I remember thinking at the time that if the misunderstander had picked the Northwest counter he would still be firing away.

  4. I’m just wondering when someone other than myself and some of my friends will look at the video coverage of this incident and suddenly ask themselves “Why are those coppers dressed in Army fatugues?” “Why are they wearing balaclavas to hide their faces?” “Why does a civilian PD have an armored personel carrier with a mounted .20 cal machine gun?” “Where were the warrants that allowed cops to ‘escort’ people out of their homes while it was searched?”

    I’m not a black helicopter guy, but that sure as hell looked like a dress rehersal that had been well practised.

  5. Interesting to me – The guy who tipped the cops that Jokar(sp) was holed up in his boat had gone outside (on spouses’ orders) to have a cigarette. Based on this and on cigarettes recently rediscovered ability to help the DFL close alleged budget gaps, I have a question…is there anything cigarettes can’t do?
    I’m certain that the ‘evil doers’ of the world noticed that elected officials will demand businesses close, lock down private activity (Shelter in place? did Orwell write that line in one of his original “1984″ drafts?) and declare martial law in a major metropolitan area if the attacker can survive the attack and manage to get on the run. I’m hearing cost estimates that it cost $250-300 million to the local economy. Barry will likely cite this when this months ‘unexpectedly’ bad economic numbers are released next month.
    Swiftee- I’ve noticed the same thing. Each year at the county fair parade, the po-po of the county seat bring out their ‘Tactical Response Unit’ replete with armored personnel carrier, a semi truck towed command center, humvees with machine gun mounts (factory standard, I’m sure) and all the ‘po’ have tactical gear on. My neighbor, a law enforcement professional, told me this city has this because they have a nuclear power plant and a prison (that sometimes rents cells to the Feds) in their jurisdiction. (Back in the day – before you had to show ID to buy Nyquil – there were plenty of meth labs too, but I didn’t see any ‘po’ in chem suits back then). I’d have said ‘yeah, sure’; but if the s*** really hits the fan, I’m headed to his house to ‘shelter in place’.

  6. There is an interesting academic paper titled:
    The Plots that Failed: Intelligence Lessons Learned from Unsuccessful Terrorist Attacks Against the United States. I have access to it through an online library service, I don’t think anything but the abstract is freely available.

    This data set includes 176 attacks or plots against Americans that have been prevented or that were otherwise unsuccessful, dating back to 1987 and including data through October 2010.26 The list is shown in the Appendix. As shown in Figure 1, the number of attacks and plots was at its highest from the years 2001 through 2004, with the peak in 2003 with 25 unsuccessful plots. Of the 176 total plots, 73 involved plots or attacks that occurred or were primarily planned outside the United States (labeled “overseas” in Figure 1), while103 plots were primarily planned or targeted within the United States (labeled “domestic”).
    Although a majority of these plots (121) took place since the 9/11 attacks, these data show that a significant number of unsuccessful plots (55) took place before 11 September 2001.
    Although 126 of these plots appear to have been inspired by radical Islamism
    (72 percent), 42 were attributed to domestic rightwing and antigovernment extremism (24 percent).27 Twenty-nine plots targeted U.S. embassies, consulates, or other diplomatic facilities abroad, while American military bases, facilities, or personnel—both overseas and within the United States—were targeted in 35 plots.

    There is a pie chart that shows that about 3/4 of the attempts were foiled by ‘sigint’ (electronic eavesdropping, the ACLU does not like that) and 25% were foiled by humint (spying, ACLU does not like that either).

    The left believes that there is an explosion of right wing terrorist plots because they use bad statistics. They don’t count arrests made, they count ‘terrorist incidents’, with any crime that could conceivably have a hate crime angle as a ‘terrorist incident’. What you end up with when you use that statistic is a number that reflects population size, not a measure of who is more likely to commit acts of terrorism.

  7. Terry according to the stats you sight the lefty’s are responsible for 4% or less of the terrorist plots within your time frame. Considering the St Paul RNC bust, Various Occupy busts, one has to wonder who is compiling the stats and deciding who is and is not a. ” right winger”.

  8. The measure was of attempted plots that were foiled, jpmn. The author of the paper, a West Point scholar, went into some detail about why he chose that as a measure of terrorism. I’d post it here, but after the JSTOR hacking fiasco, I’m afraid that I might end up in Guantanamo.

  9. What can be said with greater confidence is that there will be more such attacks from disaffected individuals: identifying them and stopping them before they strike is almost impossible without maintaining levels of security that would be intolerable in a free society. At the very least, the events in Boston represent Russia exporting its domestic battles to the United States by default.

  10. I take it, then, that the search for the pasty-faced, Baptist, Tea-Party plotting bomber of the Boston marathon has been called off?

  11. Disaffected individuals?

    They are Chechnyan Muslim immigrantss, members of a radical mosque, recently returned from training abroad, so worrisome that the RUSSIANS called the FBI to say “you better keep an eye on these guys” but we blew them off with a cursory glance.

    These are not disaffected individuals. These are Muslim terrorists. Keep them out of the country.

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