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Learning From Israel

I stumbled across this local story which is both heartening and depressing at the same time. Local police officers have been training in Israel, learning tactics to beef up homeland security:

They saw security measures in action at Israeli schools, ports, malls and power plants, and even came within 3 miles of missile attacks.

Israel has experienced nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in the past decade, they said, although the country has clamped down and now thwarts an estimated 91 percent of suicide bombs. [snip]

The three men talked Wednesday on how Israeli security tactics were becoming more relevant to American communities. The group said that some lessons learned in Israel would show up at local festivals and venues.

"There will be things that people won't see or be touched by, but operational tactics that could be helpful," Laine said.

Urban said it was enlightening that even a large mall that sees as many as 16,000 cars a day could search each of the cars for bombs and each of the customers' bags once inside.

While sporting events in the United States require security checks of visitors, Americans largely remain free to come and go. That lifestyle might be curtailed eventually, Urban said, and residents should open their minds to that looming change.

"It's not a question of if it's going to happen," he said, "but more of when and to what extent."

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans readily accepted longer lines and fortified security measures, Laine said.

"But over time, it has become a frustration for people because they have forgotten what happened to our country," Laine said. "There's a prevailing feeling that we're immune again."

I think I might take issue with that last line. While I agree with the officer that public complancency about the nature of the terrorist threat we face, in general, has grown as we've moved farther away from September 11, most of the polling I can recall doesn't indicate a feeling that the public feels "immune" to terrorist attacks. If I remember correctly, when asked about the likelihood of another terrorist attack in the U.S. in the next 6-12 months, a decent sized majority still responds that an attack is either "very" or "somewhat" likely. Obviously, that number has dropped as we've moved further away from 9/11 as well, and it will continue to slide as long we remain free of another attack, but we're still a long way from most people feeling we're "immune" from terrorism. In fact, it seems fanciful to think we'll ever truly feel that way again.