Mumbai lessons

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The news from India is unsettling on many levels. The killings, injuries and damaged property of a week ago remind us how vulnerable we -- all of us everywhere -- are to terrorist attacks.

But what is most troubling of all is finding out after the mayhem in Mumbai that Indian authorities were aware that these attacks were in the works. Their own intelligence plus additional input from U.S. sources described the attacks -- where the attackers would come from, how they would get into the city and what targets they would it, including hotels favored by foreign visitors.

In the days before the attacks, the management of the grand Taj Mahal hotel agreed to heightened security, but it was removed when guests complained.

This is not the time to let down our guard. Just as Indian officials were cleaning up after killing all but one terrorist involved in the attacks, a major report prepared by a congressionally mandated commission -- its vice chairman was former U.S. senator Jim Talent of Missouri -- concluded that a nuclear or biological attack somewhere in the world is likely to occur within the next five years.

That's not to say there will be an attack. But the report is a major warning that simply cannot be ignored. The lessons from Mumbai are tough, and we had better heed them.

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