Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The IED threat at home: "Left of Boom"

On October 19, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff spoke at a symposium focused on deterring Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the United States. Amazingly, the mainstream media's crack professional journalists chose not to cover his comments.’s not surprising that the challenge of dealing with IEDs is one that is a global challenge, whether it is in the war zone in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in Europe where the Germans recently rolled up a plot to use peroxide-based IEDs to cause damage in Germany, or in Britain where we’ve seen an aborted effort earlier this summer to use vehicle-borne IEDs to cause damage in London... And of course we all remember the bombing of Oklahoma City, which was in fact an IED...

And that’s why I’ve got a little display I’d like to put up here because I do think it illustrates and puts in context the whole Question of how we look at IEDs. It basically examines the spectrum – I think we’ve handed this out – going from left to right. And I hasten to add that the left and right have nothing to do with politics; it’s just the directional flow of the spectrum. But you’ll see that really the way of dealing with IEDs is a recognition that we have many different points in which we can counter an IED threat.

In some ways, it’s the expression “left of boom” that captures and articulates this concept; that before we actually have the explosion, there are a series of intervention points, when if we can prevent something from happening, we can stop that boom from taking place.

...The final thing I want to point out in terms of kind of general observations is the importance of public observation and what I would call public networking in terms of countering the IED threat. It is not an accident or, frankly, not a surprise that many of the plots that have been disrupted over the last few years have been disrupted because individual citizens noticed an anomaly and contacted the authorities.

Earlier this summer, the disruption of the plot to set off bombs in London and Glasgow began with an ambulance driver in London who saw something funny about the way a car was parked outside a nightclub and notified the police. Now that is not government detection, it is not a sensor on every corner, it is not some magic piece of technology. What it is, is the fact that ordinary citizens looking around, being alert, and not being embarrassed to speak up actually are a force multiplier for protecting us against IEDs.

I can go back to 2001, when Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was trying to light his shoe on an airplane. And that seems a little comical sometimes, but let me tell you, had he succeeded in lighting the shoe, the bomb would have gone off and would have caused enormous damage to the plane with a very high likelihood that the plane would have actually been destroyed and crashed with a substantial loss of life. Again, it is the intervention of people and ordinary citizens that is a key element in this strategy...

Ordinary citizens looking around? Being alert? Speaking up?

Perhaps someone could alert the Clinton-appointed Judge presiding over the "Flying Imams" case..

Hat tips: Pajamas Media and Powerline.

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