A Lesson From Mumbai on The Occasional Futility of Common Terror Countermeasures


Some observations, which seem spot on to me, from security maven Bruce Schneier:

  • If a bunch of men with guns and grenades is all they really need, then why isn't this sort of terrorism more common? Why not in the U.S., where it's easy to get hold of weapons? It's because terrorism is very, very rare.
  • Specific countermeasures don't help against these attacks. None of the high-priced countermeasures that defend against specific tactics and specific targets made, or would have made, any difference: photo ID checks, confiscating liquids at airports, fingerprinting foreigners at the border, bag screening on public transportation, anything…..

If there's any lesson in these attacks, it's not to focus too much on the specifics of the attacks. Of course, that's not the way we're programmed to think. We respond to stories, not analysis. I don't mean to be unsympathetic; this tendency is human and these deaths are really tragic. But 18 armed people intent on killing lots of innocents will be able to do just that, and last-line-of-defense countermeasures won't be able to stop them.

Another salutary thing we can learn from Mumbai, given that the resources and openings to commit horrible crimes like this are quite common, is that it seems there just aren't that many people inclined to commit acts like this, even if they can't really be prevented from doing so.

Instapundit w/links on gun control, and a lack of inclination on the part of even the legally armed to shoot, in India.

Schneier's name is oft-dropped here at reason.

Link via Unqualified Offerings.