Crumbling Infrastructure Equals Compromised Security

March 11, 2009

Sitting in front of the special congressional investigative committee, you could see all he wanted was to come clean. As he began his testimony it was hard for me to believe what I was hearing.

“It’s better that everything comes out in the open,” he says, “We’ve done so many things in the name of protecting this country, we’ve created two worlds. Ours and the people’s we’ve promised to protect. They deserve to hear the truth and decide how far they want to let us go.”

Jack, say it ain’t so! Listening to Jack Bauer echo Democrat demands for greater transparency over U.S. counter-terrorist tactics, it appears that the iconic American hero played by Kiefer Sutherland in the television series 24 has been hijacked by the new administration’s kinder and gentler agenda for dealing with terrorism. Over the last six seasons, Bauer has never been hesitant to do what was necessary to foil the villainous radicals who threatened the homeland.

But Jack’s butt-kicking days seem to be numbered. Pandering to President Barack Obama’s liberal consensus — which has ended “enhanced interrogation” and closed down Gitmo — Bauer now finds himself being held prisoner by the Hollywood elite, as the producers of the show try to adapt to the new political reality, so say some critics. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Just as Bauer is getting ready to spill his guts at the hearing, the forces of evil have breached the CIP firewall protecting the national infrastructure and are beginning to wreak havoc on America’s air traffic control system, with promises of launching similar attacks against the country’s power grids, petro-chemical plants, water supplies and transportation systems.

Okay, it’s only TV. This could never really happen…right? Guess again. In a report released last month by the American Society of Civil Engineers discussing the state of America’s infrastructure, the ASCE gives a cumulative GPA of “D” on the country’s infrastructure report card, and estimates it will take more than $2.2 trillion to reconstruct our crumbling foundations.

So what are the security and risk issues involved when considering aviation, roads and transportation systems that are unable to meet the demands of today’s travelers and commuters? How is the nation’s security jeopardized because of aging water systems, bridges, dams, levees and electrical grids?

In June of 2006, the Department of Homeland Security released a report on disaster preparedness revealing that only 25 percent of state emergency operations plans and 10 percent of municipal plans were sufficient to cope with a natural disaster or a terrorist attack; the majority of the plans were deemed “not fully adequate, feasible or acceptable to manage catastrophic events.”

The ASCE integrates security into its just-released report card as the one constant endangered by our infrastructure woes. As Stephen Flynn, a Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations says in his recent book, “The Edge of Disaster,” America needs to rebuild “resiliency” into the systems that once made modern American life the standard-bearer for the world. Resiliency, he concludes, must now become our national motto.

All the facts point to an America that is ill-prepared to deal with either a natural or man-made disaster. I offer Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center attacks as exhibits A and B. Not only does our weakened state inhibit our abilities to recover from catastrophic events, compromised infrastructure also makes it virtually impossible to mitigate the risk.

The Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan, non-governmental organization in Washington, D.C., comprised of corporate CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders, recently said: “The ability to manage emerging risks, anticipate the interactions between different types of risk and bounce back from disruption will be a competitive differentiator for companies and countries alike in the 21st century.”