School Bus Drivers to Foil Terrorist Plots
This is a great example of a movie-plot threat:
Already mindful of motorists with road rage and kids with weapons, bus drivers are being warned of far more grisly scenarios. Like this one: Terrorists monitor a punctual driver for weeks, then hijack a bus and load the friendly yellow vehicle with enough explosives to take down a building.
It's so bizarre it's comical.
But don't worry:
An alert school bus driver could foil that plan, security expert Jeffrey Beatty recently told a class of 250 of drivers in Norfolk, Va.
So we're funding counterterrorism training for school bus drivers:
Financed by the Homeland Security Department, school bus drivers are being trained to watch for potential terrorists, people who may be casing their routes or plotting to blow up their buses.
The new effort is part of Highway Watch, an industry safety program run by the American Trucking Associations and financed since 2003 with $50 million in homeland security money.
So far, tens of thousands of bus operators have been trained in places large and small, from Dallas and New York City to Kure Beach, N.C., Hopewell, Va., and Mount Pleasant, Texas.
The commentary borders on the surreal:
Kenneth Trump, a school safety consultant who tracks security trends, said being prepared is not being alarmist. "Denying and downplaying schools and school buses as potential terror targets here in the U.S.," Trump said, "would be foolish."
This is certainly a complete waste of money. Possibly it's even bad for security, as bus drivers have to divide their attention between real threats -- automobile accidents involving children -- and movie-plot terrorist threats. And there's the ever-creeping surveillance society:
"Today it's bus drivers, tomorrow it could be postal officials, and the next day, it could be, 'Why don't we have this program in place for the people who deliver the newspaper to the door?' " Rollins said. "We could quickly get into a society where we're all spying on each other. It may be well intentioned, but there is a concern of going a bit too far."
What should we do this with money instead? We should fund things that actually help defend against terrorism: intelligence, investigation, emergency response. Trying to correctly guess what the terrorists are planning is generally a waste of resources; investing in security countermeasures that will help regardless of what the terrorists are planning is much smarter.
Posted on February 21, 2006 at 9:07 AM • 104 Comments