Mon, Sep 08, 2003
"We Haven't Even Secured The [Airport] Perimeters"
Two years into the era
of "homeland security" many experts and local officials say the
nation remains deeply vulnerable to a domestic attack. Most
worrisome, critics say, is the huge gap between the reassurances
coming out of Washington and what's actually happening on the
ground, reports Senior Editor Michael Hirsh in the September 15
issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, September 8).
At airports, despite recent federal warnings about
shoulder-fired missiles, "we haven't even secured the perimeters,"
says Rep. Bill Pascrell, a member of the Homeland Security
committee. "And some 20,000 airport workers still haven't been
The government is doing a worse job than Argenbright was,"
Pascrell adds, referring to the airline-security company that once
handled most airports but was dismissed after 9/11.
Intelligence about the
real threats out there also seems as sketchy as it was before 9/11.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told Newsweek that
some success so far can be measured in the quiet since the terror
and anthrax attacks of nearly two years ago.
"We know from [terror suspect] detainees they have at least
postponed certain operations because they noted there was
security," he says.
Ridge tells Newsweek that the mostly privatized
seaports, as well as shippers and airlines, have to think about
protecting themselves. "We need to determine whether or not the
profit centers of this country are going to be responsible in large
measure for their own security," he says. Critics say that security
funding has been not just meager but irrational, with low-risk
areas getting as much as high-vulnerability zones. Ridge, who last
spring said he would reassess each region's needs on the basis of
risk, now admits, "I'm not sure we're ever going to come up with a
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