Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack

Clark Kent Ervin, Author . Palgrave Macmillan $24.95 (260p) ISBN 978-1-4039-7288-0

Appointed acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security in January 2003, Ervin left after 18 months when Congress refused to confirm him. The reason, he writes, is that he did his job too well, pointing out so much mismanagement and so many security lapses that the bureaucracy turned against him. Ervin sounds the alarm and attempts to settle scores in this book, a detailed warning that America remains frighteningly vulnerable to terrorism. Ervin explores the homeland's weaknesses, describes what the DHS should be doing and how it falls short. Ports, airlines, "soft targets" such as stadiums and critical infrastructure like the water supply must be further secured, as must mass transit (which receives a fraction the funding aviation does). Fragmented intelligence allowed the 9/11 plotters to succeed, but the DHS has not yet achieved coordination of intelligence. Finally, the massive DHS budget requires the establishment of strict accounting and antifraud policies. Though the author notes progress in some areas, he thinks the department has made woefully inadequate headway, is incompetently administered and starved for funds. Ervin's criticisms ring true, and they were well covered in the media, but readers may prefer an account less colored by personal feeling. 4-city author tour. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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Paperback - 260 pages - 978-1-4039-7894-3
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