Jeffrey Rosen has an article up at The New Republic criticizing the Department of Homeland Security as a bipartisan effort to be seen doing something about terrorism. Unfortunately, that something fails any rational cost-benefit analysis: “Both parties seem incapable of acknowledging an uncomfortable but increasingly obvious truth: that the Department of Homeland Security was a bureaucratic and philosophical mistake.” Go read the whole thing.
Rosen cites security expert Bruce Schneier on the misallocation of funds to security cameras. These cameras proved ineffective in preventing the 7/7 bombings in London, and the capture of the bombers was due largely to good intelligence and police work, not camera systems. New York City immediately jumped on the camera bandwagon in spite of their dubious utility in terrorism and crime prevention. As Schneier puts it, “[t]he question isn’t whether the cameras are useful; the question is whether they’re essential–or would it be better to spend that money on the policeman on the beat?” Check out Schneier’s blog here.
Schneier’s excellent book, Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World, is required reading for any serious discussion about national security. Schneier will be a panelist at Cato’s conference on national security on January 12th and 13th. Information about the conference is available here. This conference is part of Cato’s three-year initiative on issues relating to civil liberties and counterterrorism.