ASPEN, COLORADO - Before 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste talked about the "menu of horrible possibilities" at the Aspen Security Forum, I had already met the guy in the stained suit running for President since he was 12 years old and the guy asking a client on the phone if he could bill him for printing something out.
National security is now a bonafide made-in-America industry with crackpots included, and that means the dreaded public-private partnership is well underway and holding sway. The national security industry, resident here for a handful of days, is the only industry in the civilized world that will boom during the promised doom soon to come. Believe it or not, this is also an industry that tells you something unspeakable is going to happen--and soon--and then asks you to pony up so as to prevent it.
Amidst all these experts on how things are going to get worse, you leave with the inescapable conclusion that we are not only much more prepared to fend off an attack, but also more likely to fall victim to something dire.
To summarize the guts of the conference: we have gone from being unable to connect the dots to having billions of dots to connect. To quote one participant, we are no longer looking for a needle in a haystack but looking for a needle in a pile of needles.
Believe it or not, though communication among agencies, state and federal, is much better than before 9/11, policy issues still prevent a useful flow of information. On top of that, some 300 to 400 new suspects are added to the terror watch list by the Department of Homeland Security every day.
If there is indeed another terrorist attack on the United States of America, there will be another 9/11-type Commission that will come to many of the same conclusions. But at least we'll have a gigantic industry in place to make some money off it.
Be afraid, my fellow Americans, be very afraid.