The U.S. Coast Guard is talking about licensing boaters. It’s being talked about as an antiterrorism measure, in typical incoherent ways:
The United States already has endured terrorism using small civilian craft, albeit overseas: In 2000, suicide bombers in the port of Aden, Yemen, used an inflatable boat to blow themselves up next to the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding 39 others.
Terrorism experts point to other ways small boats potentially could assist in attacks for example, a speedboat could deposit saboteurs at the outlet pipes of a nuclear power plant, or hijackers aboard a cruise ship. In a nightmare scenario, suicide bombers in a crowded harbor could use small watercraft to detonate a tanker carrying ultra-volatile liquefied natural gas, causing a powerful explosion that could kill thousands.
And how exactly is licensing watercraft supposed to help?
There are lots of good reasons to license boats and boaters, just as there are to license cars and drivers. But counterterrorism is not one of them.