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Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion Of Homeland Security Hardcover – March 2, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Author and CIA counterterrorism veteran Faddis (Beyond Repair) opens his latest salvo against the state of homeland security by detailing a surprise attack that cost more than 2,000 American lives, the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor; even worse, he contends, was the complacency that permitted successful "follow-on attacks" a full eight hour later, and for several days after, in the Philippines. Faddis finds the aftermath of 9/11 a bitter reminder of the 60-year-old failure to react effectively: over eight years, the U.S. has spent billions making the Department of Homeland Security the largest federal department in history, but effective new security measures are nearly nonexistent. Instead, the department's work includes a $200,000 grant for a tiny Alaskan fishing village 300 miles from the nearest major population center; and $160,000 for eight plasma screen televisions in Montgomery, Maryland. Meanwhile, many municipal railways, chemical plants, liquid natural gas terminals, and even military installations remain entirely vulnerable; in the case of a well-rehearsed, well-timed attack, the potential for casualties far exceeds those of 9/11. Faddis is a passionate and fully-informed advocate for effective and responsible security, and his analytical survey is a valuable clarion call for anyone involved in homeland security and public safety.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“To an America that has gone to sleep long since 9/11, this book will serve as a wake-up call, a resounding alarm alerting everyone to the very real threats we face from an enemy committed to attacking us, again and again. Based on decades of experience as one of the CIA’s top counter-terror operators, no one is more qualified than Charles Faddis to help us see our vulnerabilities and show every American what can be done to reduce them.”
―John Giduck, President, Archangel Anti-Terror Group and author of Terror at Beslan
“Well researched and written with sophistication, Willful Neglect is a crucially important yet wholly disturbing depiction of gullibility and greed. Faddis points to the pervasive diversion of resources from genuine security needs by those hyping pork-barrel projects and lucrative new ‘security’ wares, and he takes on the industries and regulators aggressively seeking to save money by shirking their responsibilities to defend predeployed mass weapons among hundreds of poorly defended chemical, bio-weapon, and nuclear facilities against a host of feasible attacks.”
―Jim Warren, Executive Director of NC WARN, a nuclear power watchdog organization
Praise for the author's previous book, Beyond Repair:
“Faddis, a career CIA operations officer, pulls no punches in this provocative critique of the iconic and dysfunctional spy agency. . . . In a world where threats are multiplying and becoming more complex, [his] bleak assessment of the CIA should be required reading.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A devastating portrait of the agency’s culture―with details that only an insider would know.”
―David Ignatius, Washington Post columnist and author of Body of Lies
From the author's Introduction:
We had, on a strategic scale, plenty of warning that 9/11 was coming. Al Qaida told us they were coming, and they launched a series of preliminary attacks on targets such as US naval vessels and embassies. Across the globe there was chatter about the idea of attacking US aircraft and of using those aircraft as flying bombs. We did nothing. Like the commanders at Pearl Harbor we sat with our hands folded and assumed that when and if the attack came, it would come elsewhere, certainly not on our soil.
Three thousand people died as the result of that complacency. Now, in the aftermath, it is our job to do what MacArthur did not do [after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941], to prepare for the next wave of attacks. There is no longer any possibility of avoiding the conclusion that we are at war. There is no question about the brutality of our foes, their level of creativity or their willingness to strike us inside our own borders. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to move as fast as is humanly possible to block any all future attacks.
Amazingly, though, as you tour this nation and examine the prime targets which beg to be defended from terrorist attack, what you find, eight years later, is that virtually nothing meaningful has been done. True, large new bureaucracies have been created and huge shiny, new office buildings constructed, but in terms of concrete measures which will stand in the way of determined, evil men, there is very, very little.
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Top customer reviews
The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. The U.S. National Security Establishment, especially the FBI, CIA and the National Counter-Terrorism Center, are quick to claim credit for thwarting terrorist plans and so keeping the U.S. safe by preempting or preventing terrorism. Perhaps, but there is not unanimous opinion on how effective these agencies really have been and the lack of successful terrorists attacks in the U.S. may be more to good luck that good national security. More importantly even if terrorist plans to attack the U.S. to date have been thwarted by our national security establishment, we are still dangerously vulnerable to any terrorist wishing to seriously damage the U.S. by attacking any one of a host of ill-secured targets.
What Faddis has done in this book pile up a horrifying number of antidotal examples of very important targets that are either completely unguarded or poorly guarded and completely vulnerable to even a few determined terrorists. Faddis is a retired CIA operations officer, who it must be presumed is trained to be acutely aware of his surroundings and who has spent twenty years observing security infra-structures of foreign nations (for his own safety). His opinion of the vulnerabilities of critical U.S. targets then ought to be taken very seriously.
In the course of describing these vulnerabilities he offers some off the cuff suggestions on how the security posture of these targets could be easily improved. His more cogent observation however in this book is why ground level homeland security is so badly neglected.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was caused by a massive system failure of U.S. National Security Establishment ("Pearl Harbor", Roberta Wohlstetter Stanford University Press 1962). Underlying this failure was the mindset of senior U.S. Military Commanders that the Japanese could not and would attack Pearl Harbor. Disturbingly, Faddis argues that the same sort of mindset, terrorists would never be able to attack this or that target, prevails now and prevents our entire security apparatus, especially the Department of Homeland Security, from thinking seriously about not only how to defend vulnerable targets, but how to mitigate the effects if an attack is successful. As Faddis rather ominously notes both time and our luck may be running out.
Its interesting that the U.S. Navy instituted significant changes in physical security of sensitive installations following the 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beruit. Yet after 9/11 we have created a massive bureaucracy supposedly dedicated to securing our "Homeland" only to see money spent on everything but.
After reading Willful Neglect I'm taking action in my local community and among my college students to increase awareness about the problems of insecurity. I now look for ways to improve the security of buildings, transportation, power, water, and other infrastructure where ever I am going.