“United States” a Terrorist Target

The Department of Homeland Security is removing the words “United States” from a New York border station for fear that it will make the station a terrorist target.

Four years ago, when the federal General Services Administration unveiled its plans for a new border-crossing station here in northeastern New York State, the design was presented as part of the agency’s campaign to raise the dismal standards of government architecture. Even many in the famously fractious architectural community celebrated the complex — particularly its main building, emblazoned with glossy yellow, 21-foot-high letters spelling “United States” — as a rare project the government could point to with pride.

[…]

Yet three weeks ago, less than a month after the station opened, workers began prying the big yellow letters off the building’s facade on orders from Customs and Border Protection. The plan is to dismantle the rest of the sign this week.

“At the end of the day, I think they were somewhat surprised at how bold and how bright it was,” said Les Shepherd, the chief architect of the General Services Administration, referring to the customs agency’s sudden turnaround.

“There were security concerns,” said Kelly Ivahnenko, a spokeswoman for the customs agency. “The sign could be a huge target and attract undue attention. Anything that would place our officers at risk we need to avoid.”

As you can see from the photo of the station in question above, it’s clear that once the word “United States” is removed, no terrorist worth his salt will be able to tell that this building is, in fact, a border crossing station…

(link via Cory Doctorow)

Photo Courtesy the New York Times

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Terrorism, ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    …no terrorist worth his salt will be able to tell that this building is, in fact, a border crossing station…

    Especially a terrorist from Canadia.

  2. Have you considered the use of decoys? Could we not emblazon abandoned warehouses or tumbling barns with the words “United States” in bright yellow caps and thus draw the terrorists to those targets?

    Could we paint a giant United States on foreclosed properties and cleverly entice our enemies into solving the problem of too many available houses?

    And as a California resident I think a giant US sign might spruce up our state house.

  3. Mithras says:

    I thought this was stupid at first blush, too. Upon further reflection, though, it doesn’t seem ridiculous to think terrorists would be interested in damaging the building so that the large “UNITED STATES” was mangled. It would be a potent image for propaganda purposes, i.e., to show the U.S. itself as damaged and weakened.

  4. Triumph says:

    The Department of Homeland Security is removing the words “United States” from a New York border station for fear that it will make the station a terrorist target.

    Typical move from B. Hussein. The fact that he is a racist foreigner has already made the country vulnerable to attack. This is just a diversionary action.

  5. Eneils Bailey says:

    no terrorist worth his salt will be able to tell that this building is, in fact, a border crossing station…

    Problem is, Janet Napolitano, who carries very little salt thinks this is really helping in protecting the Nation.

  6. sam says:

    @Baily:

    Problem is, Janet Napolitano, who carries very little salt thinks this is really helping in protecting the Nation.

    Have any evidence that she ordered it?

  7. Eneils Bailey says:

    Have any evidence that she ordered it?

    I have absolutely none.
    But you know what, sport, I never said she ordered it.

  8. JKB says:

    This is just security theater to cover up the significant error made in the planning of the station. Obviously, the built it too close to the road. If only someone had been thinking from the get-go.

  9. sam says:

    But you know what, sport, I never said she ordered it.

    Well, any evidence that she “thinks this is really helping in protecting the Nation”?

  10. Drew says:

    Such idiocy in government is proof positive that government should be limited as much as possible, including this bone headed Obama care……….

  11. Eneils Bailey says:

    Well, any evidence that she “thinks this is really….”

    Sport,
    I am not playing your silly ass game. I voiced my opinion and I stand by it.

  12. odograph says:

    Let’s hide our name, that’s not letting the terrorists win, no sir.

  13. sam says:

    I voiced my opinion and I stand by it.

    Nice trick with one foot on the ground and the other in your mouth.

  14. I was just explaining to my American government students that bureaucrats are risk-averse. I now have a good example for my fall lectures.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    Such idiocy in government is proof positive that government should be limited as much as possible…

    When we see cockups in the business world, we never hear that such things are proof of idiocy in that sector and that it should be limited…such theories only seem to apply to government…

    Problem is, Janet Napolitano, who carries very little salt thinks this is really helping in protecting the Nation.

    Asking for the proof that she really thinks this is hardly playing a “silly ass game”, but making such a claim and not being able to prove it certainly is…

  16. shawninPhx says:

    Mithras:

    I had the same feelings. Then I was reminded that the 9/11 hijackers targeted ‘symbolic’ targets for propaganda purposes.

    This doesn’t strike me as a bad thing. Rather, I think it decreases the chance that some random idiot will seek to blow up this crossing for propaganda’s sake.

    Also, why is it that we even need to be wasting tax dollars with a huge United States sign anyway? Is the flag flying outside not enough? Do we need to put this sign up on every government building? Should we also start mandating that all citizens wear US Flag lapel pins? Just another thought that crossed my mind.