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Homeland Insecurity

Reading and watching the news in the last few weeks has required a strong stomach. We are told in breathless news coverage that the deadly Ebola virus is spreading through West Africa and has landed on our shores. ISIS fighters are winning in northern Iraq and will soon be focusing on the American homeland. Our borders are porous and crossed at will. Internet security is a joke. Thank God for a low hurricane season, I can at least bail out to the Weather Channel for some relief – overlooking the droughts brought on by global warming, etc.

We have, I believe, lost our perspective on what truly constitutes a threat to America’s homeland and are telling ourselves ghost stories that are scaring people needlessly. There is no such thing as 100 percent security. The Federal Government can only do much. But, they do a helluva lot and that is a success story that needs to be told.

I realize that I do not have a “modern” view on these threats. My idea of threats was framed in a time long ago. For nearly 50 years, we had the potential of losing 150 million of our fellow citizens in less than 1 hour. One thousand five hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple warheads were aimed at America. There were some tetchy moments to say the least yet we survived.

The threats of the post 9/11 world are considerable, but far less existential. And, to its credit, Washington has done a lot since then to strengthen its homeland security with all the problems of trying to cover everything. The coalition of government, business and private citizen exists – in its usual loose American style. But, it does exist.

Since 2001, there have been no mass hijackings or a single hijacking of American planes. With the exception of Boston and Fort Hood, no terrorist has successfully carried out a mass causality attack. Some of this success was luck. Much of it was due to the flawed, yet large-scale exchange of information between the Federal government, state and local authorities and an enlightened public who get that if they see something, they really should say something.

As for disease control, such as the current Ebola scare, that is going to be tested over the next few months. Still, there are no mass outbreaks in the U.S. We have mechanisms set in place now through our alphabet soup of homeland security at DHS, TSA and CDC that has quickly locked in to address the issue. America’s doctors and hospitals have been made aware of the problem and what needs to be done if spotted.

As for our Internet and “physical” borders, the story is a little less sanguine. We seem to be handed the hack of the day. And our southern border with Mexico is still relatively easy to penetrate. Still, we have lined up considerable resources against both issues. The FBI, CBP, and our nation’s intelligence services are doing their best to collect information, pass it to local authorities and intercede when they are able. Hackers are being caught. Illegal aliens and those who pray upon them are being arrested. Despite it all, our “borders” threat has yet to either close the Internet or stop border traffic between US and Mexico.

The United States is a 3.8 million square mile, 320-million person nation with the largest economy in the world. We are a resilient people who respond to threats and get it right most of the time.

Our Federal Government has done a decent job of organizing us against these threats and getting the people to understand that they exist. However, the media’s constant telling us ghost stories about our imminent doom serves no purpose but to sell “news” and scare people needlessly. I appreciate their efforts at informing and trying to make some money. But, a little perspective is needed.