How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism
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We live, writes national security expert Flynn, in a time of “homeland insecurity”—and, he adds, “we are sailing into a national security version of the Perfect Storm.”

Flynn, the author of the Hart-Rudman commission report “America: Still Unprepared, Still in Danger,” much cited in the recent 9/11 congressional hearings, urges readers at the policy-making level to take it as axiomatic that the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington were just the beginning, that “our enemies will soon launch far more deadly and disruptive attacks,” some surely involving biological and even nuclear weapons. In this regard, he offers several disturbing scenarios, all hinging on just how easy it is to get things into American ports of entry—and hinging, too, on an astonishing lack of attention by the Western powers. (“By the end of 2001,” he writes by way of example, “there were five thousand ‘orphaned’ radiation sources in the United States alone,” while in Belgium 20,000 blank passport documents have disappeared since 1990, the better to provide terrorists with fake papers.) For those of us who have no policymaking clout apart from a vote, Flynn calls for increased citizen awareness: rather than accept that things go missing and people get killed, or rather than buy the administration’s “false premise that the terrorist threat can be contained by taking the battle to the enemy, in overseas efforts to isolate and topple rogue states, and by hunting down the al Qaeda leadership,” we can all work to create better security domestically without at the same time creating a police state. Flynn goes on to offer proposals for uniting domestic and national security, which are now “on completely separate tracks,” under the aegis of a federal homeland security system, all with a view to replacing the “secretive, top-down-us-versus-them culture that is pervasive in government security circles” with more inclusive, more democratic, and ultimately more effective measures.

A provocative critique by one eminently qualified to make it.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-057128-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2004


NonfictionDEFENSELESS UNDER THE NIGHT by Matthew Dallek
by Matthew Dallek