Risk of a terrorist attack is high and the US hasn’t responded to the threat- we are still foot dragging
McCarter ’11 (Mickey McCarter, Journalist at Homeland Security Today, “TSA Calls for Increased Vigilance Due to Threat of Rail Plot”, http://www.hstoday.us/briefings/today-s-news-analysis/single-article/tsa-calls-for-increased-vigilance-due-to-threat-of-rail-plot/ee3a737e6470b70bf35d05bc696c3c82.html, May 9 ,2011, LEQ)
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continued to be on heightened alert over the weekend, following evidence that al Qaeda has been developing a potential plot to attack US rail systems on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. TSA provided US rail companies with a security bulletin, continuing its practice of sharing information and intelligence about relevant threats to transportation industry partners. While TSA had no specific intelligence on an exact or imminent threat, the agency took the step of warning US transportation systems to increase vigilance for possible suspicious activity. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday that it sent an intelligence message to state and local governments about the al Qaeda plot, apparently hatched in February. The information was gathered from material that US forces retrieved earlier in the week when US Navy SEALs raided the compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, earlier in the week and killed the terrorist leader. However, DHS chose not to raise alert level in the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) because no immediate threat was detected from examination of the available intelligence. "We want to stress that this alleged al Qaeda plotting is based on initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change," DHS Press Secretary Matt Chandler said in a statement. "We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue an NTAS alert at this time. We will issue alerts only when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public. Our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the coming days and beyond." Since the death of bin Laden, DHS generally continued to work with other agencies to take protective measures such as reviewing terrorist targets and critical infrastructure. The department sent officers and agents to boost security at various areas, including some US airports. Not everyone approved of the DHS decision to not issue an NTAS alert. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the decision in a hearing May 11. Friday, she reiterated her position that DHS should raise the alert level in light of intelligence concerning the plot against US rail systems. "Earlier this week, I urged the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the threat level, at least for the next two weeks, while an intelligence assessment is conducted of the data seized from Osama bin Laden's compound and as a precautionary measure given the possibility of a retaliatory attack. I continue to question the secretary's decision not to increase the threat level," Collins said in a statement. William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), stressed the history of terrorist attacks against rail lines and buses. Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremists have attacked rail transit systems in London, Madrid, and Moscow in recent years. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2002 that one-third of terrorist attacks globallytargettransportation systems, Millar noted. "The threat to public transportationstill clearly exists and the federal government needs to step up to the plate and adequately fund our nation's public transportation security needs. Transit security is national security and national security is the responsibility of the federal government," Millar said in a statement Friday. Federal funding for transit security has been too low, Millar argued. In fiscal 2011, DHS provides only $250 millionintransit security funding outside of airport security. The White House has proposed $300 million in its fiscal 2012 budget. "Both of these levels of investment are inadequate," Millar said. "The 9/11 Commission Act [Public Law 110-53] called for the need for increased investment in transit security and authorized funding at the following levels: $650 million (fiscal 2008), $750 million (fiscal 2009), $900 million (fiscal 2010), and $1.1 billion (fiscal 2011) or $3.4 billion over four years. In fact, over the past four years, Congress has only appropriated less than half of the funding it authorized in the 9-11 Commission Act." Millar cited a recent survey that determined US public transportation systems require $6.4 billion over the next five years to adequately secure their infrastructure. He called upon Congress to enact legislation to "dramatically" increase federal transit security spending.
And Obama has de-regulated protection- increased the probability- high risk of an attack
Malkin ‘9 (Michelle Malkin, American conservative blogger, political commentator and author, “How Obama cronyism threatens rail security”, http://michellemalkin.com/2009/09/11/special-report-how-obama-cronyism-threatens-rail-security/, September 11, 2009, LEQ)
New Delhi. Mumbai. Chechnya. Madrid. London. The question isn’t whetherAmerica will suffer a jihadi attack on our passenger rail lines, but when. So, why has President Obama neutered the nation’s most highly-trained post-9/11 counterterrorism rail security team? All signs point to business-as-usual cronyism and pandering to power-grabbing union bosses. Amtrak’s Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations (OSSSO) grew out of a counterterrorism and intelligence unit developed by the Bush administration in the wake of global jihadi attacks on mass transit systems. The office was staffed with Special Forces veterans, law enforcement officers, railroad specialists, other military personnel, and experts who collectively possessed hundreds of years of experience fighting on the front lines against terrorism. Each member underwent at least 800 hours of rail security-related training, including advanced marksmanship, close quarters, and protective security exercises. OSSSO’s mobile prevention teams acted as “force multipliers” working with local, state, and federal authorities across the country to detect, deter, and defend against criminal and terrorist attacks on mass transit. They conducted hundreds of show-of-force, uniformed, and rail marshal rides. OSSSO also provided security services for President Bush, the Pope, the 2008 Democrat and Republican conventions, then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign events, and then-Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Amtrak whistle stop tours. The counterterrorism unit’s push to conduct random passenger and baggage screening earned predictable criticism from civil liberties absolutists, but also garnered bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill. Even Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas hailed the rail security team’s work last year: “Let me congratulate them for being aware” of the threat to rail passengers, the chairman of a House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security, told USA Today in July 2008. “(But) this has to be the new standard for Amtrak.” How will Congress react to the news that this high standard has been obliterated? According to multiple government sources who declined to be identified for fear of retribution, OSSSO’s East Coast and West Coast teams have not worked in a counterterrorism capacity since the summer. Their long-arms were put under lock and key after the abrupt departures of Amtrak vice president for security strategy and special operations Bill Rooney and Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold. Weiderhold played an instrumental role in creating OSSSO’s predecessor at Amtrak, the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU). He tapped Rooney to oversee the office. But Rooney was quietly given the “thank you for your service” heave-ho in May and Weiderhold was unexpectedly “retired” a few weeks later — just as the government-subsidized rail service faced mounting complaints about its meddling in financial audits and probes. As I reported in June, Weiderhold had blown the whistle on intrusion of Amtrak’s Law Department into his financial audits and probes. A damning, 94-page report from an outside legal firm concluded that the “independence and effectiveness” of the Amtrak inspector general’s office were “being substantially impaired” by the Law Department – which happens to be headed by Eleanor Acheson, a close pal of Vice President Biden. Biden, in turn, is tight with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the powerful union that represents the Amtrak Police Department. According to OSSSO sources, the APD brass have been aggrieved over the non-unionized counterterrorism unit’s existence from its inception. A West Coast OSSSO team member told me that union leaders blocked police credentialing efforts by his office for more than a year. An East Coast OSSSO team member told me that the FOP recently filed a grievance against one of its counterterrorism officers for assisting a train conductor who asked for help in ejecting a ticketless passenger. Unlike the highly-specialized officers at OSSSO, APD officers possess minimal counterterrorism training. Past studies show alarmingly low pass rates among APD patrolmen who have attended undergone basic special operations classes, according to government sources. The Amtrak FOP continues to squabble over turf with the rival Teamsters Union; its leaders can’t even agree on minimal physical fitness standards for its members that have yet to be implemented. Nevertheless, OSSSO is now under the command and control of the APD — and federal stimulus funding specifically earmarked for the counterterrorism unit has now been absorbed by the police department. Amtrak did not respond to my questions about OSSSO by my column deadline Thursday afternoon. Al Qaeda operatives have repeatedly plotted to wreak havoc on our mass transit systems. And they will try, try again. American jihadi Bryant Neal Vinas recently gave the feds details about a plot blow up a Long Island Rail Road commuter train in New York’s Penn Station. As America marks the September 11 anniversary and the “Never forget” mantra echoes, an OSSSO team member told me: “There is no room for internal protectionism, vested interests of unions, or asset-manipulating bureaucracies where the safety of our national passenger railroad is concerned.” Does anyone else in Washington agree?
And they would use biological/chemical weapons when attacking railways- cause massive bioweapon devastation and destroy infrastructure
HITRAC ‘6 (Homeland Infrastructure Threat & Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC), Office of Intelligence and Analysis / Directorate for Preparedness, Strategic Sector Assessment, “(U//FOUO) The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Commercial Passenger and Freight Rail System”, Ohttp://www.nefafoundation.org/file/FeaturedDocs/HITRAC_PassengerFreightRail.pdf, May 24, 2006, LEQ)
Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks (U//FOUO) Terrorists show continuing interest in toxic chemical dispersion devices, given the relative ease with which toxic materials can be acquired or produced, the potential for large numbers of casualties, disruptions at the scene of the event, and psychological impact on the population. Improvised chemical attacks against the U.S. passenger rail systems pose a serious threat, as evidenced bythe liquid sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system carried out by the Japanese religious cult Aum Shinrikyo in March 1995 that killed twelve passengers. (U//FOUO) Aum Shinrikyo also was responsible for an attempted biological attack in March 1995 in the Tokyo subway system involving three briefcases left in the Kasumigaseki train station. Although no injuries resulted, an Aum Shinrikyo member later confessed this was a failed biological attack involving the use of botulinum toxin. (U//FOUO) A radiological attack against a rail target could be conducted by exploding a radiological dispersal device close to unshielded individuals, rolling stock, and other rail equipment. (U) Hazardous Material Attacks (U//FOUO) U.S. freight trains carry more than 1 million tons of hazardous chemicals daily, 50 percent of the nation’s total.The vast majority of these chemicals, if released, will not cause mass casualties. A number of chemicals, however, can be fatal if inhaled. Nonetheless, an attack to release hazardous material (HAZMAT) as a weapon would be difficult for terrorists to execute and probably would not produce the desired effect, given the number of variables such as wind speed and direction, train timetables, and the capability of railroad HAZMAT teams to control and contain the effects of a release rapidly. (U) Toxic Inhalation Hazard Chemicals: A Rail Transportation Concern (U//FOUO) Of all toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemicals, chlorine is of greatest concern to the freight rail industry, because of the high number of chlorine-filled tank cars on the nation’s tracks each day, and due to the high demand and criticality of chlorine in water purification and other commercial uses. (U) Demolition or Sabotage of Rail Bridges and Tunnels (U//FOUO) The destruction or sabotage of rail bridges and tunnels is another possible method of terrorist attack against the U.S. rail system. Tens of thousands of rail bridges throughout the country vary widely in design, from reinforced wooden bridges to heavy steel trestle bridges. The simple sabotageof the rails on a bridge can cause a derailment, the momentum of which could force the engine and at least some of the cars to drop from the bridge. Demolition or sabotage of rail tunnels may increase casualties when they involve hazardous materials or are under water.
And railways are hyper-vulnerable to terrorist and hazardous catastrophes – err affirmative on risk- destroys the environment
Temple ‘7 (Bob Temple, Contributer to Group 7, think tank for Railroad Security, Quoting The GAO Report on Rail Security, The AAR Hearing on Rail Security, and The CRS Report for Congress - Passenger Rail Security: Overview of Issue, http://www.personal.psu.edu/staff/r/p/rpt117/sra211/vulnerabilities.htm, May 8, 2007, LEQ)
Major Vulnerabilities to Railway Security Looking at the past, the United States has not had many major attacks on its railways. This could lead people to falsely believe that our railways are secure. Our railways do have some levels of security, but unfortunately, there is just not enough of it where it needs to be. The object of this section is to identify the major vulnerabilities to railway security. Large Area Covered by Railroads Possibly the largest, and probably most obvious, vulnerabilities to railways is the sheer amount of railroad tracks around the country. There are over 100,000 miles of rail in the United States . The extensiveness of the infrastructure creates an infinite number of targets for terrorists (GAO Report). Since the majority of these tracks are publicly owned, large sections go entirely unmonitored.One of the major problems with this vulnerability is that it is physically impossible to monitor every inch of railroad track at any given time. It just can’t be done. This leaves hundreds of miles of railroad open for terrorist attack. Points Where Cargo Is Transferred Intermodal Another vulnerability posed to railways is at points of which cargo is transferred from one mode of transportation to the other. The issue of port and border security extends far beyond the issue of rail security, although railroads, by virtue of the facts that they carry millions of containers unloaded from or loaded onto steamships each year and move hundreds of thousands of railcars and intermodal units across the Canadian and Mexican border each year, are certainly impacted (AAR Hearing). The sheer number of cargo loaded onto trains makes it physically impossible to actually examine each freight container. This makes it extremely hard to be positive no dangerous materials have made it onto trains they shouldn’t be on. An example of this vulnerability is when cargo is taken from a cargo ship at a port and then placed on a freight train for land transportation. Even if proper railway security is in place, vulnerabilities may still arise if the security at the port allowed for possibly harmful cargo to get through its own security measures. In this case, the security of the railway is directly affected by the security of other modes of transportation such as the cargo ship and port security. Train Schedule Databases Another huge security vulnerabilitythat must be addressed is that of databases containing schedules for shipment of sensitive materials. Schedules of what shipments are going where, and what they contain are kept of trains so that they can get to where they are going efficiently. However, if access to these databases is gained by someone who is not supposed to have that information, a huge security breach could arise.If terrorists get access to schedules for hazardous material shipments, they would be able to coordinate a terrorist attack accordingly. Access to such information would allow them to know exactly where a train will be at exactly what time. This could allow for terrorists to set explosives on a track that they know a hazardous materials shipment is going to be using. This also provides terrorists with opportunities to hijack trains in areas where they know security is lax. Train Station Lack of Security Train Station A vulnerability unique to passenger trains is that they are constantly making highly predictable scheduled stops along the way to their destination. This makes it very easy for terrorist to know exactly where a train is going to be, and how to get to it. People are free to board and exit the train at each stop along the way. Unlike in airports, there are no secure areas in which all passengers must pass through designated security stations to get to. People are free to come and go as they please, and that poses a severe problem in terms of ease of access for terrorists. The nature of this vulnerability is inherent within the design of passenger trains themselves however. Train stations require that passengers be able to quickly board and exit trains. With extensive security measures in place, such as security checkpoints that passengers must go through, passenger train companies are likely to lose business. If boarding a train became too much of a hassle, passengers would be more likely to simply drive somewhere, or take other means of transportation like a bus or plane. Ambiguity in Who Is Responsible For Security The last major vulnerability with railway security is that the United States does not have one specific agency that deals with the security of its railways. In fact, it actually has over four separate agencies working on implementing security to difference aspects of the railway system. According to the GAO Report, the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and the Research and Special Programs Administration are all partially responsible for railway security. This poses a problem, because with the agencies working separate of one another, the possibility for gaps in security arises. If each agency thinks that the others have already thoroughly covered a particular vulnerability, it is possible that none of them will actually put in the time and work necessary to fully secure that vulnerability. Another costly problem with not having a specific agency responsible for railway security is that certain security aspects that are completely secure may be covered multiple times by multiple agencies. On the surface this seems like a good thing, because we are positive that that aspect is entirely covered. However, if you look at the financial costs of repeate dly covering the same security aspects multiple times, it becomes obvious that a large amount of funds are wasted that could be used on securing other vulnerabilities. Major Likely Forms of Attack Aimed at Railways The major forms of attack that are likely to be aimed at railways can be narrowed down to three subgroups. The purpose of this section is to identify what constitutes an attack in each of these subgroups, as well as elaborate on possible real world implementation of each subgroup. Destruction of Trains and/or Railways Themselves In this particular subgroup, the primary objective of an attack would be to cause as much destruction and damage as possible to anyone onboard, and within the immediate vicinity of a train. This can be accomplished by in many ways. The first way I will discuss is through the use of bombs on the actual trains themselves. A bomb could be placed on either a passenger train, or a freight train carrying a number of different cargos. Due to vulnerabilitiesin the security of actual train stations, a terrorist could place a bomb on a train and detonate it at any point while the train is in transit to its destination. Prime targets for this type of attack would be passenger trains containing a large number of passengers, as well as trains containing shipments of hazardous materials. The latter of which would most likely be detonated while the train is close to a highly populated area, such as a major city or town. Another way that terrorists could destroy a train is through making an attack with the intent to derail the targeted train. This type of attack could be orchestrated by destroying important sections of railway along a trains designated path. An example of this would be if a terrorist destroyed a bridge along a trains path before the train would have enough time to effectively stop, resulting in a derailment. An destroying a bridge like this over a waterway could be extremely destructive if the trains cargo is hazardous and ends up seeping into the water,which would result in a massive amount of pollution or contaminated water supply. An example of the contamination of a water supply by derailment is clearly illustrated below. The railroad tracks in this picture go right around this local water supply in Altoona, PA. A derailment of a train containing toxic chemicals would be catastrophic. Attacks with the aim of derailing and/or destroying a train can also come in the form of attacks made at railroad crossings. Examples of this could be by parking large vehicles filled with explosives on a railroad crossing, or even driving a an explosive filled or large vehicle into the side of a train as it passes over a railroad crossing. If orchestrated properly, the effects could be extremely damaging to any local cities or towns if chemicals or other hazardous materials are present on the train. An attack like this on a passenger train could also cause a sever loss of life. Hi-jacking of Trains In this type of attack a train’s contents is of some value to the terrorists or criminals. These contents could include chemicals which could be used as weapons, biological weapons, or in the case of a military shipment, military weapons and supplies. This type of attack sounds like something out of a movie, but it could in fact be orchestrated in a real life scenario. With information on when and where a train containing a shipment of interest, terrorist or criminals could use the resources available to them to infiltrate trains in transit and effectively hijack them. Hijackings could be particularly effective on trains that have little or no physical security on the trains themselves. An instance of this would be if a shipment of hazardous materials was only operated by a few conductors in the front car. Once on board, hijackers could easily eliminate the few conductors’ and then have full control of the train. With control of the train, and due to the vast amount of railroad tracks around the country, the hijackers could stop the train in a deserted area and make away with their cargo of interest. Breaching Railway Databases The last form of a possible attack on railways comes in the form of breaching confidential railway databases to obtain top secret information. This type of attack can be conducted either by hacking into an electronic database housing the sensitive information, or by physically obtaining the information from an onsite source. Once the information is obtained it would be more than likely sold to or used by terrorists to conduct either the first or second type of attack mentioned previously. Breaching railway databases in the previously mentioned way can actually be thought of as a preliminary step to the first two forms of attack. The reason for this is because obtaining information on hazardous material shipments allows for terrorists to better orchestrate an attack on a target, because they will know what it is carrying and where it will be. Another type of attack that could be used involving railway databases is data alteration. If someone were to access sensitive databases they could have the ability to alter the time tables of when certain trains will be on certain tracks. A variety of vulnerabilities could arise from this. A prevalent example of this would be if someone were to make it seem as though a particular track was clear, when it actually already has a train using it. This could cause anything from head on collisions to extreme confusion as to what trains are actually where they are supposed to be.