13 Years Later: The State of Homeland Defense

13 Years Later: The State of Homeland Defense

Creighton Goldsmith
The question is: Are we safer now than we were on 9/11/2001? Creighton started off by saying that these remarks were solely his own.
What is the state of affairs today?
Russia – Ukraine Crimea; Israel – Gaza; Isil in Syria and Iraq; Boko Haram – Nigeria; Al Shabab – Somalia; chaos in Libya, Bashar Al-Assad killed 200,000 of his own citizens; there are tensions in the South China Sea; narcotics traffickers in Mexico; tens of thousands underage immigrants in Central America; a world-wide economic crisis; and MERS, Middle Ease Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola in West Africa, with 2000 Dead & Rising!

To answer the question he divided us into two groups, those born before 1975 and those born after. Why? Because the events you’ve seen and been exposed to: Those of you under 40 didn’t have parents who were in WW2, really didn’t experience the Soviet Union and the Cold War.

The Vietnam War was over before you were born. 24/7 cable news didn’t exist until you were 5 years old when Ted Turner brought us CNN. And why that’s important? Senator John McCain said in July on CNN: “I believe that the things we’re seeing in the world today which is in greater turmoil than any other time in my lifetime, are a direct result of an absence of American Leadership!” John McCain most have forgotten that in 1973 when he was released from a POW Camp in Vietnam that 50,000 Americans and 1 million Vietnamese had died. That same year tens of thousands of Arabs and Jews died in the Yom Kippur War between Egypt, Syria and Israel resulting in the worst oil shortage America has ever seen and plunged us into a recession.

And in 1973, the Soviet Union and the US had 45,000 nuclear weapons pointed at each other at the height of the Cold War. Just a few years later, in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge killed over 1 million of their own people in an ethnic cleansing not seen since Mao-Tse Tung and Stalin were in office.

Going back to World War II, America lost 500,000 men and women in 4 years and the estimates of total deaths were between 50 to 80 million! Less than 10 miles from here, more than 2000 died in one day. Between 1914 and 1918, 50 million died in World War 1 and 50 million Chinese died of starvation between 1949 and 1976 under Mao-Tse Tung’s Great Leap Forward. Currently, there is a serious outbreak of Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and over 2000 have died. Compare that to the 1918 Spanish Flu that spread around the world in 18 months and killed 25-50 million people.

Today we live in a world with much fewer risks. We use seat belts; have safe drinking water in most developed countries; better medicine and on the political front we have one fifth of the nuclear weapons we had in 1973. And how are we defending ourselves from terrorism and Terrorist acts like 9/11? In 2003, the US stood up the Department of Homeland Security. Composed of: US Customs & Boarder Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement, US Coast Guard, US Secret Service, FEMA, Citizenship and Immigration Services and the stepchild TSA, Transportation Security Agency.

CBP now screens 100% of all arriving air passengers and fingerprints, photographs and has biographical data on all alien visitors. Passports now contain biometric information on a chip and visas are carefully issued against a unified database of all intelligence agencies. A database that did not exist pre-9/11. Air cargo arriving in the US is prescreened with the cargo data being forwarded electronically prior to arrival.

Are you safer now than 9/2011?
YES! We’ve lost our innocence. An event on an aircraft today would be met with several passengers taking some frontier justice. People are reporting in the principle of, “If you see something, say something.”

Will there be another attack?
Probably! but on a lesser scale by lone wolves and crazies. Just as we have seen at Sandy Hook and other shootings. According to the CDC there were 32,000 Gun related deaths last year and 33,000 automobile deaths.

Why don’t I feel Safer?
This brought Creighton to why he divided us into two groups; over 40 and under 40. Baby Boomers parents grew up with radio. They heard about Pearl Harbor and they heard Edward R, Morrow tell them about the bombing of London in World War II, but they didn’t see it! Baby Boomers grew up with television and they watched Walter Cronkite read the news and then on November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was shot, the television cameras replayed the story repeatedly, from every angle. With that and video from Vietnam, death became commonplace and real. The Challenger disaster of 1986 was broadcast on 100 channels and on 9/11/2001, we watched in horror as the Twin Towers fell over and over again on every national and international channel. We learned to be afraid!

And today we are bombarded with experiences on smartphones, twitter feeds, emails, 24/7 news channels and more. They keep us titillated and frightened. Creighton left us with a quote by H.L. Mencken circa 1918: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”  Today there are many more avenues to do so!