Skip to main content

We need to fund bombing prevention

By Robert P. Liscouski, Special to CNN
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
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
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT