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Security vs. The Illusion of Safety

Friday, Jan. 08, 2010 3:54 AM

I have to tell you, I'm not really feeling any safer after President Obama's speech to tell America where we dropped the security ball.

And that's not because I'm afraid some al-Qaeda wannabe is going to light his Calvins on fire in the airplane loo.

It's because the findings of the study by the committee of the panel of the department of the whatever are the same as those of previous incidents. Information wasn't shared. Technology isn't in place. But we're going to work on it. We're going to study it. We're going to fix things.

So we'll be back to doing the exact same things, and there will doubtless be another incident in the future where some aspiring terrorists lights their shoes, underwear, hat, or whatever on fire, and our leaders and the experts making solemn pronouncements on talking head shows will collectively wet their pants, clutch their pearls and wail.

I'm fond of using baseball as an analogy for security, because it's in-depth/layered and it's flexible. But let's take it a little further - it's not realistic to focus on getting a no-hitter or a shut-out. Ask Nolan Ryan or Tim Lincecum what they're thinking about when they're on the mound, and it ain't that.

Similarly, we shouldn't be fixated on the myth of zero attacks. I don't really care if al-Qaeda is sending flunkies every other week. If we have our defense in place, if we're thinking the whole field and the long game, we'll stop them every single time. On the other hand, if we're flogging ourselves over the batter hitting that last pitch, we're ignoring the fact that he's now a runner on first, and it's our job to stop him from advancing/scoring.

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