Read today's edition of the Arizona Republic, and it's hard to suppose that we are any more secure from a terror attack than we were on September 11.
On the front page, there is an article about how there was a shootout at the airport between the Phoenix police and a car thief. The thing that makes this a concern, however, is that this is the SECOND TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED IN A WEEK! On June 30 there was an incident in which a car thief crashed through a fence (recapped in this article) and drove along the tarmac passing a number of fully loaded jets. Granted, this time the car thief got into the shootout near the front doors of the terminal instead crashing through a fence onto the tarmac, but with the security alert raised to orange, in addition to the incident last week, you'd think that there would be barriers raised that would not allow an armed man to drive a car to the front doors of the terminal. Of course, we know that terrorists have lived in Phoenix in the past, and several of the 9/11 hijackers are known to have lived in the Valley (what those of us in outstate AZ call metro Phoenix) and took flight lessons at the Deer Valley airport. We are lucky that both times these vehicles were driven by ordinary street hoods (and at least in the case of last week's driver, one who was full of drugs), but anything that these losers could do, a terrorist (or a team of terrorists) with a plan and a vehicle full of explosives could do and probably much more effectively. It may have taken us by surprise the first time (shouldn't, but may have) but when pretty much the same thing happens twice in a week, there is a security problem).
What else was in the paper? Well, an article about how even house Republicans (this is a first) are concerned about how the budget for border security at Organ Pipe and other national parks is too low to provide adequate security, especially if terrorists are coming in that way. Of course, they could have noticed that when they cut funding for the national parks in the first place.
Of course the Bush administration's solution is to require passports for Americans coming back from Mexico starting in 2008 (which won't do a thing to stop terrorists, who have always known enough to have their paperwork in order, unless they are studying Spanish and learning to pose as Mexicans, in which case the term 'undocumented' alien means they won't have a passport). This 'security measure' is pretty much exclusively aimed at granny who gets her prescriptions filled in Agua Prieta or Nogales. (Take advantage of fair prices negotiated with the Mexican government by drug companies who selectively gouge Americans, now THAT'S a Security threat as seen by Mr. Bush.)
Turn to the B section? Well, there was a big article on how the Arizona Counterterror Information Center in Phoenix is now a hub for counterterrorism activity. According to the article, since the London bombing they are now on 24 hour duty. However, the night of the bombing, which occurred at 1 o'clock in the morning Arizona time, the center "sat quiet and empty" until five hours later, at which time the staff came to work and determined that there was no local threat or Arizona connection. Now granted, it is probable that there is no specific connection to Arizona when this kind of thing happens, but it is not impossible (as 9/11 shows) and if it was the case that the computers there contained a vital piece of information, or if there was an attack planned here, then FIVE HOURS is plenty of time for someone to escape, or for them to carry out an attack. So now they are on duty 24 hours. I can understand that on what was to that point an ordinary day that they would have been closed at 1:00 in the morning, but not how apparently there was no one on call to get in there and start looking into it right away.