Teaching Terrorists. The media have made much of an accident that caused a traffic mess in Oakland, California (where one of my nieces lives). A gasoline tanker truck slammed into a support under a highway ramp. The resulting intense fire collapsed a section of the overpass onto another major roadway. The traffic snarl that ensued will make commuters' lives difficult for months. The more important issue, however, is that any terrorist watching may have learned a valuable lesson about how to cripple an entire region, a point made explicitly across the Bay:
Terrorists presumably already knew to identify complexes of interchanges like the "MacArthur Maze" where the Oakland accident occurred, but the attention given to this ramp collapse doubtless has some thinking about such interchanges with renewed interest. They know that there are many such complexes, and now they know they don't need to plant explosives, at considerable risk of being stopped by law enforcement officers, but need merely hijack a gasoline tanker truck and slam it into a pier near exposed steel supports for a major roadway, and thus collapse it onto others. Do this in several places in a single metropolis, and you can keep rescue services from reaching victims of other terrorist acts and prevent the military from moving forces thru an entire region.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said the accident showed how fragile the Bay Area's transportation network is, whether to an earthquake or terrorist attack.
"It's another giant wake-up call," Newsom said.
I guess there's nothing one can do about terrorist planning. What we need to do is devise countermeasures, first to prevent attacks and second to recover quickly and find alternative ways to get around if key roads are closed. Of course, the larger question is how to defuse the rage that produces terrorism. But we don't want to think about that.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,351 — for Israel.)
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