America the Vulnerable: How our Government is Failing to Protect us from Terrorism


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HarperCollins, page(s): 272



Arguing for the primary role of homeland security, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Stephen Flynn describes a nation living on borrowed time. He presents a hypothetical scenario of a devastating "next attack" and stresses the difficulty officials have in learning new tricks and politicians have in paying for them. Flynn stresses as well the susceptibility of the food supply to sabotage and the lack of oversight in a vulnerable chemical industry, emphasizing in particular the continuing failure to establish systematic inspection of cargo containers. He is most convincing in arguing the risks of a "silver bullet approach," the assumption that a single innovation will solve a particular security problem. Instead, Flynn proposes a Federal Homeland Security System integrating private and public expertise, funded by levying fees on such activities as the movement of containers and by requiring owners and operators of critical infrastructure to carry antiterrorist insurance. The details of Flynn's proposals are significant in representing a genuinely long-term response to a threat he is convinced will remain serious for an indefinite longterm. Any risks they might pose to civil liberties, he argues, are marginal compared with the likely domestic consequences of being caught unprepared a second time-or a third.

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