When I was in France this summer, I saw far more evidence of anti-terrorist security measures than one sees in the U.S. Military men with heavy weapons were visible at some of the major tourist spots in Paris and also at Reims Cathedral.
Today, security must have been farily robust at the Stade de France for the France-Germany match attended by the French president. Otherwise, I imagine the attack would have occurred inside the stadium instead of outside.
However, armed personnel can’t guard every restaurant, bar, or concert hall in the city. The terrorists took advantage of this reality.
To the extent attacks like today’s can be prevented, intelligence is the key. Terrorism needs to be headed off before it can commence.
As proud as radical Islamists are of the Paris attacks, most would prefer to see an attack on America. We have obvious security advantages over France and the rest of Europe, but are far from invulnerable.
As in Europe, intelligence is the key to preventing attacks like today’s from occurring here. Thus, we need to regain our seriousness about collecting it.
We should worry less about hypothetical scenarios in which U.S. intelligence personnel obtain stray bits of information about our personal lives and put them to nefarious use (as if they have the time for this) and more about failing to find and connect dots pertaining to terrorist threats. We should strengthen the Patriot Act, not chip away at it.
The lesson for the West from today’s attack is this: “step up your game.” I’m pretty sure that France will step its up. I’m doubtful that we will, at least under the current president.