Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Michelle Malkin: Hey, How's America's Rail Security Doing?

Michelle Malkin at Human Events offers a piece on rail security.

With vengeance-seeking global jihadists on the loose here and around the world, now is a good time to ask (again):

Are we ready for a nefarious terrorist attack on our train and transit lines?

Smoke and fire plagued two of the nation’s major metro rail stations this week, raising justified questions about safety and preparedness. On Monday, one person died and 84 fell ill after heavy smoke filled the L’Enfant Plaza Metro in Washington, D.C. Officials believe an “electrical arcing event” caused the lethal Beltway incident. A probe into the cause of the arcing — as well as an investigation into evacuation delays that trapped hundreds of passengers — is underway.

On Tuesday, an estimated 150 New York Fire Department personnel responded to a three-alarm fire at Penn Station that started before2:30 a.m. Two firefighters suffered injuries battling the Big Apple blaze, which was initially deemed “suspicious” and then “accidental.” Worth noting: A militant ISIS sympathizer published multiple threats on Twitter a few hours before the fire, warning that “tomorrow New York will burn” and predicting a “3:00 a.m. bomb.”

Whatever the causes of these two incidents, Americans need to know whether homeland security bureaucrats are doing their jobs — or hitting their over-worn government snooze buttons.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 


  1. Rail service is obscenely vulnerable to terrorism. Perhaps it is only a matter of time until something horrible happens. Other infrastructure targets -- too numerous to list -- are also sitting ducks. If we had a crystal ball into which we could gaze, I think the pictures would not be pretty. Frankly, I worry that there is no way we can completely defend against the cataclysmic inevitable. Perhaps I am just a nattery nabob of negativity (to use one of V.P. Spiro Agnew's infamous phrases), but perhaps I am a realist. Our government, by the way, avoid realism for a lot of reasons -- one of the reasons is the avoidance of widespread paranoia and panic. And so it goes.

  2. R.T.,

    When I was doing security work for the Defense Department I gave briefings and seminars to our civilian and military people and I told them that security was the opposite of convenience.

    After 9/11 we installed enhanced security measures and some of our people balked about being inconvenienced. Of course, these were the same people who would bitch about poor security if an incident were to happen.

    To better secure our rail systems, we need to install airport-type security at train stations.

    But that would slow down the rail service and many people would complain, just as they did when the enhanced airport security measures were put in place.

    It is a sad state of affairs, but it may take a major terrorist attack on our rail systems to make us finally install enhanced security measures at train stations.

  3. A terrorist attack would be bad enough, but a nefarious terrorist attack could be really serious. I would point out that WMATA, which operates the DC Metro, has its own police force.

    Airport-type security at train stations could be what brings hitch-hiking back to 1940s levels. You will remember that several bombs were set off in the London Underground a few years back. As far as I know, it continues to function without security measures that restrict operations.

    But the good news is this: if you can get 330 firefighters to Penn Station at 2:30 am, those "government snooze buttons" must not be that big a problem.

  4. George,

    The Brits do have enhanced security at their train stations, but you're right, they are not at airport security levels.

    However, the Brits make far wider use of cameras throughout the U.K. and the police and MI5 provide full surveillance of suspects and possible suspects in a very non-PC way.

    The Brits also have the Official Secrets Act.

    These enhanced security measures have been rejected by both liberals (like the New York mayor) and libertarians in the U.S.

    I mentioned above the inconvenience of enhanced security, but I also should have mentioned the drawback of the expense.

    We are willing to pay for enhanced security measures only after a major breech, such as the horrific 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


  5. George,

    Good point about the responce of the firefighters (and the police) to the Washington train station.

    As a retired DoD employee, I was not pleased with her "snooze button" comment.

    Yes, there are some government employees in some departments that are slugs, but the military, the police, the firefighters, and other first responders should not be lumped with them.

    Thanks for pointing that out.