What Does It Take to Bomb a Building?

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Identification. Not with Al Qaeda or the Unabomber. All it takes is a means of identification, like a driver's license. I have been riding Amtrak lately and visiting with editors in various high rises, and everywhere I go I am asked for a photo ID. Like most people, I show my license. I guess non-driving terrorists might momentarily be thwarted by this measure, but it's hard to imagine what else is accomplished aside from slowing down normal comings and goings.

I am reminded by these episodes of Bruce Schneier's comment about "security theater." While it's true that security used to be absurdly lax--I was once served with a subpoena in the middle of the LA Times newsroom--I have to wonder if we are doing much good now with all the passes and other measures employed in Manhattan office towers. I suppose if nothing else we are giving comfort to the lawyers.

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Daniel Akst

Dan Akst is a journalist, essayist and novelist who wrote three books. His novel, The Webster Chronicle, is based on the lives of Cotton and Increase Mather. More

Dan Akst is a journalist, novelist and essayist whose work has appeared frequently in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Wilson Quarterly, and many other publications.
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