Andrew August 1, 2012 10:19 AM

“He who defends everything, defends nothing.”

That there is an arms race in counterterrorism between measures and countermeasures is undeniable. This evolution is what hardens what used to be soft targets.

It is in this vein that programs such as “See Something, Say Something” are intended to use the observations of ordinary people as a multiplier. Of course, this can backfire on occasion:

There will always be “soft targets.” I just hope Eurasia will not always have been at war with Oceana.

Adam August 1, 2012 10:24 AM

I’ve always wondered why people think that terrorists would bother hijacking an aircraft with so much security around these days.

It’s not hard to find other targets where lots of people at queued up or congregating – sale events, movies, concerts, lectures, parades, new years day celebration, rallies, restaurants, fairs, amusement parks etc. Park a truck alongside the build and blow it up, or walk amongst the people with a backpack and blow it up. Either way you get to kill a bunch of people with practically no risk of being stopped.

Even places like amusement parks which have security screening are more interested in stopping people smuggling drinks in and panhandlers. They’d pose little threat at all to a terrorist.

Captain Obvious August 1, 2012 11:17 AM

I’d agree with the new year’s day bit, but the rest are too spread out. How bout a Vegas convention? 15K in one wing of a building? Heck, you might even catch Bruce at one of those (though the blast would be intimidated and pass around him).

The simple truth is that the terrorists aren’t there. They have to be created through our peacekeeping efforts both at home and abroad. Suicide actors tend to eliminate themselves rather quickly, and anything we do to try and prevent them does far more harm than we can hope to prevent.

mcb August 1, 2012 11:30 AM


Agreed, the interesting article leads to better ones…

I have a tough time selling “Counter Terrorist Surveillance,” especially in the context of protecting against transanational actors. However, when training our staff we emphasize the ability to detect surveillance and to recognize probes of the facility has application in the prevention of criminal activity, single-issue activism, and some workplace violence risks.

NobodySpecial August 1, 2012 12:42 PM

@adam – you mean exactly like IRA/ETA/Irgun do(did)?

Terrrorism did not begin and end with 9/11

Bill August 1, 2012 8:17 PM

There are an infinite number of ways to attack an infinite number of locations.

Crazy thought here… how about not running around the world antagonizing people until they want to kill you?

MauroS August 1, 2012 10:00 PM

The modern terrorism was really born in 1946 with the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem by a Zionist terrorist organization led by Menachen Begin, late to be prime minister of Israel and a Peace Nobel awardee. It killed 91 people, a record only broken in the 1980s.

As shown by the destiny of that and many others successful terrorist organization (such as the IRA, the Vietcong or Argelia’s FLN), terrorism is just part of the political spectrum. As such, only political solutions can “fix” it; the rest seems to me like devices to control people or line the pocket of people selling “solutions”.

Toby Speight August 2, 2012 6:37 AM

@Captain Obvious

“the blast would be intimidated and pass around him”

I hope that’s on the official list of Schneier Facts!

NobodySpecial August 3, 2012 10:52 AM

@Mauros – if you later get to be president it wasn’t terrorism by defn. See ANC, IRA (1922) and America (1776)

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