Seven years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, security remains a big concern for our nation.
The good news is that we have not witnessed a major terror attack on our soil. In addition, the recent response to two minor catastrophes – Hurricane Gustav and the recent California earthquake – seem to demonstrate that disaster preparedness has improved greatly since Hurricane Katrina.
But a panel at the Ronald Reagan Library & Presidential Museum on Sept. 9, hosted by California Lutheran University, underscores the fact that businesses will bear a lot of the burden for security arrangements for some time.
In the worst-case scenario, the impact could be huge. For example, in the event of a natural or terror catastrophe, a few million people fleeing Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley will make the Ventura-Santa Barbara corridor along Highway 101 literally impassable.
That means our corporate sector will need to learn how to function remotely, how to make do with limited food and utilities, and how to back up data. At some workplaces, employees may not be able to get home for several days and will need food, water and places to sleep.
But even lesser events will inevitably involve the private sector. As Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks pointed out, a major crime, terror event or even a major accident probably will be caught on video somewhere by a bank or convenience store. Those cameras typically are operated by private businesses and can be incredibly helpful in the investigation of an incident.
Businesses also are significant taxpayers, and the costs of the post-9/11 world are not small when it comes to footing the bill. Our federal government now includes a Department of Homeland Security, a very robust air marshals program, screeners at airports and tens of thousands of jobs that did not exist before.
Businesses also are required to disclose more information to banking and other authorities as part of the effort to crack down on the financing of terror organizations.
The session – hosted by Reagan Library chief Duke Blackwood and featuring Dave Banks from the Center for Asymmetric Warfare at Naval Base Ventura County, District Attorney Greg Totten, Brooks and an official from the National Transportation Safety Board – provided valuable insights into the benefits and costs of operating in a new and more dangerous world.
But living and doing business in this new era requires a certain level of risk. Let’s hope our experts have made the correct risk assessments and that they are spending our tax dollars wisely.