The Criticism of Unheeded Warnings
The latest coming out of the Mumbai attacks is that the U.S. warned them a month ago that this could happen.
Although I eventually became no fan of the Bush administration for various weaknesses, one of the most unfair lobbed at them was the fact that they were warned of attacks before 9/11 and did nothing.
My argument is...how many warnings are out there? How many times are warnings made and nothing happens? Even in the post-9/11 world. You have to devote resources, every day, to something that may or may not happen. This, of course, plays right into the hands of those who make terrorism their vocation.
I think, just like any other crime, terrorism is something that can never be stamped out completely. It's entirely too random to predict everywhere, every time. The best you can do is stop what you can and punish those responsible. Plus, try to find an economical way to be on the lookout when threats are made. I think if everything in the known universe is implemented, you still will have bad things happen.
By the way, the warnings remind me of this post, in which a friend related to me events on the subway. The day of the Mumbai attacks, "unsubstantiated" threats concerning the NYC subway system were being made.
Let's make something very clear: this is likely something that's in the works whether it's unsubstantiated or not. But the awful truth is that the NYC subway system is vast, and the busiest stations can be accessed by merely finding a below-the-radar, sparsely populated station and riding the train in (or making a transfer). You would need cops, military personnel, secret service, the works to man more than 400 stations, 24/7, and either search everyone or have the most perfect suspicious mind to figure out who's up to no good.
So even if a warning came in tomorrow and all sorts of homeland security descended on the NYC subways, they would have to enforce a massive inconvenience for everyone, something along the lines of closing down the less-frequented stations and making everyone go into the manned stations, causing human gridlock, stuffed trains, serial lateness. The idea would be, "Well, yeah, it's inconvenient, but we saved lives," but it would only be a temporary solution.
I'm just saying...to prevent any kind of crime is difficult and would require lots of resources.