Two Chicago trains collided during the busy morning rush hour on Monday, one filled with passengers and the other, an empty ghost train. In New York City, parachutists were spotted landing in front of a 42 story building in Manhattan, near the World Trade Center.
Both serious security breaches evidence the current state of homeland security, twelve years and hundreds of billions of dollars in counter-terrorism efforts since the establishment of the United States Department of Homeland Security, by then President George W. Bush less than 2 weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Monday's head on collision in Chicago between a passenger train and a ghost train that sent more than 30 people to area hospitals remains a mystery. Federal investigators from the NTSB have joined Chicago Transit Authority officials at the station where the crash occurred in search of an explanation of how a "ghost train" with no conductor could have maneuvered around the curves in the Forest Park rail yard, pass through at least two track switches — any one of which should have stopped the train — continued past the station platform, then climbed up and over a small hill near the Eisenhower Expressway before accelerating to about 20 mph and slamming into the other train at the Harlem stop.
Meanwhile, in New York City, NYPD Commissioner, Raymond Kelly said police are trying to identify two parachutists spotted landing in front of the Goldman Sachs building on West Street at about 3 a.m. Monday. Private security guards spotted the two parachutists as they landed. However, Kelly says it remains unclear whether the two may have jumped from an aircraft or from a high-rise building. "What they came out of, we don’t know."
"We’re not 100 percent sure of the location, if they came out of an aircraft, but they were seen walking away with the parachutes," Kelly said.
Kelly said he believed that some surveillance footage of the landing was recovered.
In June, Chicago Police released clear photographs of three men seen climbing to the top of the Trump International Hotel & Tower, and then parachuted to the ground and and disappeared.
A group of thrill seeking jumpers known as BASE are believed to be behind the Chicago jump in June, and NYPD investigators suspect Monday's jumpers may have been BASE members as well.
Following the Trump Tower parachute jump in June, Tom Aiello, a chief BASE instructor from Idaho told the Chicago Tribune that there was nothing especially challenging about the Trump Tower jump as high rise jumps are made easier by the building's height. What made the jump different, Aiello said was that the jump was from a national landmark, so it gained a lot of publicity.
"The only challenging thing would be access to the site," he said. "Ninety-five percent of the time, no one ever knows about it," Aiello added.
Whether members of an organized group of thrill seekers or terrorists, the security breaches that resulted at the CTA rail yard and several high rise buildings across America are very serious, and must not continue to be over looked.
Eleven days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil, the Office of Homeland Security was created and tasked with the oversight and coordination of a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.
The government shut down may affect some services provided by the United States Department of Homeland Security, which includes the U.S. Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which have furloughed an estimated 14 percent of its employees.
However, to suggest that U.S. residents are increasingly vulnerable to terrorist attacks due to the furloughs -- is a stretch.