Skip to main content

We need to fund bombing prevention

By Robert P. Liscouski, Special to CNN
updated 5:45 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is detained by officers on Friday, April 19. After a car chase and shootout with police, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot and killed by police early Friday, and his brother and second suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken into custody Friday night. The two men are suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, that killed three people and wounded at least 170. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/us/boston-bombings-galleries/index.html'>See all photography related to the Boston bombings.</a> Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is detained by officers on Friday, April 19. After a car chase and shootout with police, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot and killed by police early Friday, and his brother and second suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken into custody Friday night. The two men are suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, that killed three people and wounded at least 170. See all photography related to the Boston bombings.
HIDE CAPTION
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Photos: Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
Manhunt for Boston bombers
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robert Liscouski: Improvised explosive devices are one of the biggest threats to the U.S.
  • Liscouski: How can we prevent attacks like the marathon bombing?
  • He says one way is to increase the budget for the Office of Bombing Prevention
  • Liscouski: The resources will help train those who are on the front line of defense

Editor's note: Robert P. Liscouski is a director of Implant Sciences Corporation, which makes explosive trace detection equipment. He is former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security.

(CNN) -- The bombing of the Boston Marathon has been described by some as another wake-up call. Regrettably, it seems we've hit the snooze button too many times to say that this time we've really woken up.

Our vulnerability to attacks such as the one at the marathon has been well known for some time. We have long been concerned that attackers would focus on soft targets in which many people gather in open and easily accessible areas. Moreover, these targets lack the sophisticated security measures that one would find at a chemical plant or federal building.

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are one of the biggest threats to the United States. The bombs used in the Boston Marathon cost less than $100 to make from materials that can be commonly purchased and with instructions found on the Internet.

Opinion: Don't ignore the threat of IEDs

Robert P. Liscouski
Robert P. Liscouski

Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization at the Department of Defense, stated in his July 2012 testimony before the U.S. House of Representative Homeland Security Committee that: "It is clear the IED is the primary weapon of choice for threat networks globally and is one of the enduring operational and domestic security challenges for the foreseeable future. ... The domestic IED threat from both homegrown extremists and global threat networks is real and presents a significant security challenge for the United States and our international partners."

The Boston Police Department was about as well prepared to address this threat as any police department could be. Boston has had a number of high profile events in the past years to be ready for unexpected events. The city has received millions of dollars in Homeland Security grants and the police force recently conducted a DHS sponsored multijurisdiction IED training program.

Still, at least two suspects were able to exploit the vulnerability of the marathon. The important questions now are not just who was responsible for the attack, but how can we prevent similar attacks?

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



We have to concede that it takes money and resources to prevent and fight attacks. But it's harder in this belt-tightening time.

For example, the budget for the Office of Bombing Prevention, a Department of Homeland Security office charged with the mission of leading the department's "efforts to implement the National Policy for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices and enhance the nation's ability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate the terrorist use of explosives ...," has had its budget cut or reallocated with rumors of further cuts in 2014.

Boston bombing suspect in custody
What FBI knew about suspect #1 in 2011

To be fair, the Office of Bombing Prevention isn't the only federal entity that deals with IEDs. The Transportation Security Administration, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives all have efforts aimed at helping the private sector and law enforcement agencies prevent IED attacks. However, the Office of Bombing Prevention has an important mission of enhancing counter-IED capabilities through coordination of bombing prevention efforts. Rather than cutting its budget, we should increase it.

Barbero's department requested a $1.9 billion budget for 2013. It is a highly effective organization that saved many lives through the use of intelligence, technology and equipment in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now that we have withdrawn from Iraq and will be doing so from Afghanistan, we should reallocate some of those resources to focus on domestic threats and to prevent attacks at home.

IEDs are a low-cost high-consequence type of weapon that will take significant financial and personnel resources to defeat. The alternative will be the loss of more lives and millions of dollars in investigative and recovery efforts if more attacks happen.

We need to increase the Office of Bombing Prevention budget so we can train state and local law enforcement and private sector security, because they are the front line in our defense.

Above all, we should never submit to the fear that deranged minds may attempt to instill in us. The people of this country are too strong and resilient to ever cower before acts of terrorism.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Robert P. Liscouski.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:42 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
updated 11:00 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
updated 4:54 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
updated 1:39 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
updated 4:01 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
updated 4:23 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
updated 9:26 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
updated 9:39 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
updated 12:38 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT