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Are we paying attention?

p>Eight years after 9/11, federal security is still so dismal that secret agents were able to sneak bomb parts into government buildings and assemble them in bathrooms. To add insult to injury, some of the offices “breached” belonged to Homeland Security.

The Government Accountability Office, as reported this week by CNN, sent the fake would-be bombers to 10 buildings to test the effectiveness of the Federal Protective Service, a team of 1,200 federal law enforcement officers that oversees 13,000 private security guards protecting federal buildings. Apparently, this is not enough.

According to the GAO’s report, in addition to security personnel allowing actual bomb parts to pass through, surveillance filmed a guard asleep at his post and a baby going through an x-ray machine as the mother fished in her purse for identification.

Security measures may have been tightened after 9/11, but we still have not learned to live by them. Many of us continue to groan about the inconvenience of added security checks, while guards, weary of complaining visitors, will just perform cursorily, often waving people through as quickly as possible.

Security has long been an important issue in the Jewish community and recent events have only highlighted that. Just two months ago, a group of would-be bombers came close to carrying out plans to bomb two Bronx synagogues – if not for the fact that their weapons supplier was a government agent. Still, the incident was enough to spark some Jewish organizations to review their security protocols.

The best advice, according to the Anti-Defamation League, is to be vigilant. For example, make sure employees know who is supposed to be coming in and out of the building so they can quickly pick out people who don’t belong. If you have been buzzed through locked doors and see somebody coming up behind you, etiquette dictates holding the door open – but security mandates closing it quickly and letting the administration decide if that person should enter.

Often, would-be terrorists will case a potential target, and if they see security measures in place that would make their task more difficult, they will move on to another target. All it takes are little adjustments in attitude to make your environment just a little more safe.

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