Major FAA Facility Disabled By Just One Person – US Air Traffic In Chaos If one disgruntled former employee can destroy, all by himself, a major air traffic control facility, imagine the damage that may be caused by trained terrorists targeting critical US infrastructure

WASHINGTON – Just one (mentally imbalanced, it seems) disgruntled contractor, (his name is Brian Howard), upset because he had lost his job, managed to disable a major air traffic control facility located in Aurora, Illinois, that handles airline traffic for the Chicago area, (one of the busiest in America, and indeed the world). He had easy access to this critical facility.

The damage

The damage has ben horrendous. The facility is out of commission; and this means hundreds of flights canceled in Chicago and a complicated and quite costly rerouting of thousands of flights that cannot be guided by air traffic controllers on the ground, since they have no working instruments. The estimate is that it will take weeks to get back to normal.

Again, this havoc was caused by just one person.

Homeland Security was supposed to take care of things

The United States government created the Department of Homeland Security as a response to the 9/11 attacks. The goal was to consolidate under one administrative roof dozen of government agencies that one way or the other share the responsibility to protect the homeland.

A daunting task

At the time it seemed like a good idea. Homeland Security was supposed to create new, hardened protection for vulnerable US sites, while doing its best to prevent the bad guys from getting in, or apprehend those who managed to get to America.

In reality, this was and still is an extremely complicated task.

In the first place, streamlining all the different agencies has proven to be an administrative nightmare. How do you coordinate everybody?

And then there is the task itself.

There are millions of people coming to America every year, most of them obviously legitimate travelers. How do you spot and pick up the few bad guys?

Too many vulnerable sites

And then there is the critical task of securing tens of thousands of vulnerable, unprotected targets: shopping malls, railway stations, sport events venues, power plants, hospitals, schools, university campuses, underground trains, you name it.

Of course, it is impossible to protect “everything”. However, the notion that just one person, venting his frustration, can totally disrupt US air traffic in a huge portion of the United States should give us pause.

Just a few terrorists

It would take just a few units of well-trained terrorists to plan and execute coordinated attacks that would target (for instance) major electric power transmission centers, data centers, major hospitals, a few oil refineries and may be something else.

If just one person can cause major chaos in the entire US civil aviation system, several capable and motivated individuals can do a lot worse.

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