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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Broken-down US could go any minute

Asia Times online

The US security complex is up in arms about cyberhackers and foreign terrorists targeting America's vulnerable infrastructure. Think-tank reports have highlighted the chinks in homeland security represented by unsecured ports, dams, and power plants.

Americans have been bombarded by stories about outdated software that is subject to hacking and the vulnerability of their communities to bioterrorism. Reports such as the Heritage Foundation's "Microbes and mass casualties: defending America against bioterrorism" describe a United States that could be brought to its knees by its adversaries unless significant investments are made in "hardening" these targets.

But the greatest dangers for the United States do not lurk in terrorist cells in the mountains surrounding Kandahar that are planning assaults on American targets. Rather, the vulnerabilities are homegrown. The United States plays host to thousands of nuclear weapons, toxic chemical dumps, radioactive waste-storage facilities, complex pipelines and refineries, offshore oil rigs, and many other potentially dangerous facilities that require constant maintenance and highly trained and motivated experts to keep them running safely.

The United States currently lacks safety protocols and effective inspection regimes for the dangerous materials it has amassed over the last 60 years. It doesn't have enough inspectors or regulators to engage in the work of assessing the safety and security of ports, bridges, pipelines, power plants, and railways.

The rapid decline in the financial, educational, and institutional infrastructure of the United States represents the greatest threat to the safety of Americans today.  

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