karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

Bummed in Boston

Yay, it wasn't a bomb. Jeff Jacoby writes about the recent bomb scare in Boston. Among his comments:
Suppose for a moment that the harmless Lite-Brites that threw Boston into such pandemonium last week hadn't been so harmless after all. .... Suppose for a moment that the harmless Lite-Brites that threw Boston into such pandemonium last week hadn't been so harmless after all.

The question to ask is not whether last week's threat was real, the question is, how likely does it have to be?
...the police weren't wrong not to take any chances; even before 9/11, thousands of people around the world wound up in early graves because something that appeared to be innocuous -- a suitcase, a toy, a man's bulky coat, a yellow Ryder rental truck -- had turned out to be a terrorist's bomb.
Still: If public safety depends on a timely and effective police response to the appearance of every suspicious object, the public had better not count on being very safe. Spotting a bomb in time to defuse it is the *last* line of defense against a terrorist attack -- the one we're left with when everything else has failed, or when nothing else has been done.

Yes, quite true. And Mr. Jacoby makes some politically insensitive suggestions, such as concentrating surveillance efforts on those groups that claim they want to blow up as many Americans as possible.

It was interesting to read the comments. Many commenters took the "kids" to task for their stunt, and the police and other security forces for taking three weeks to notice these signs.
A couple of commenters remarked that they didn't look that much like bombs (and were therefore safe) (to which I responded, "Great. if a terrorist wants to plant a real bomb, he makes it look like an electronic billboard.")
One commenter said the police should have just spent a few minutes running a bomb detecting dog past the devices, and would have found they were harmless in moments.

I have a hunch – with next to nothing in the way of foundation exept for an intuitive sense that things are never as easy from the inside as they look from the outside. I suspect bringing in a bomb-sniffing dog involves a lot more than just pulling a dog out of a kennel somewhere, leashing him up, and walking him past a suspicious box. I imagine there's a fair amount of additional support behind the scenes, and you still want to evacuate the area just in case the timer decides to run down before it can be verified as a real bomb and disarmed.

I'm hoping someone like edgreen86 might have some comments.

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