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America’s security mania?

July 30, 2009

I read with interest David Ignatius’s latest column on the security procedures for public officials with interest:

Protecting our public servants is important, to be sure. But we have gotten so cranked up about security in the United States that senior officials travel in cocoons, as if they are under constant threat. Every Cabinet secretary seems to have a security detail; so do governors and mayors and prominent legislators.

What are all these security folks protecting our officials from? Al-Qaeda? Hezbollah? Crazy people? Aggrieved constituents? Or is it something more ephemeral — a nameless, pervasive sense of danger that may suddenly assault the secretary of energy or the governor of New Jersey?

When I lived in Washington DC, I recall seeing (and hearing) the Vice President multi-vehicle tear down Connecticut Ave on the way to work, and wondered why there was a great need for dozens of heavily armed individuals to travel with him at all times — creating a large security footprint.  This footprint made it very easy to identify important people, undermining the whole purpose of the security in the first place.

On a bus stop enclosure in Dupont Circle, there was an advertisement for IT security that had some 20 alarm bells in a row with the tag line of “More Security Doesn’t Make You More Secure.” Perhaps the ad was onto something.

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