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Homeland Security? Don't make me laugh!

By Alan Caruba
web posted December 2, 2002

Like a lot of folks who actually are old enough to remember what a scoundrel Henry Kissinger is, I got a pretty good laugh out of his appointment to head a commission that will, we are assured, determine just why this nation was caught unawares on 9-11.

This is a man who dragged out the peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese so Richard Nixon could get re-elected. And, of course, won a Nobel Peace Prize in the process. Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter won the prize too. The Swedes should give me one just for making a damned fine cup of coffee. That's all its worth these days.

The news, however, got me to thinking about homeland security and that got me to thinking of moving further to the hinterlands away from New York City. I live in a small, suburban town about fifteen miles from "ground zero" and that's too close for me.

Not that any one of us is "safe" anywhere. Can the day be far off before al-Qaida blows up Disneyland? The Mall of America? An oil refinery in Texas? Or maybe a federal courthouse in Oklahoma City?

What's stopping them? Nothing. I repeat. Nothing.

This was impressed on me as I read the recent news that thousands of trucks from Mexico will soon be crossing our borders and traveling throughout the United States. More than 14,000 trucks cross the border from Canada every day. Let's add to them the thousands more trucks from Mexico. Do you think this will stem the flow of illegal drugs and aliens from south of the border? Are you feeling secure yet?

Then, let's throw in the countless folks with bad intentions who pass the State Department's rigorous three-minute review of those seeking visas or the ones who are already here as "students" attending our best colleges and universities. Not enough for you? Add in the "tourists" coming in to sample the delights of Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue. Don't forget those "businessmen" from Saudi Arabia.

Not every member of al-Qaida is an Arab. Some are blond, blue-eyed Muslims from the former Yugoslavia. Some are Afro-Americans recruited into Islam in some of the finest penitentiaries of our fair nation. Some, like the Lackawanna, NY cell, are native-born Arab Americans who look and sound just like your neighbor. Some look a lot like John Walker Lindh.

Let us understand something about waging war. You first fix the perimeter of your firebase. Any sergeant in the US Army or Marines will tell you that. Before you get into a fight with the enemy, you make damn sure you also have a deep foxhole, well defended. You make sure your machinegun fire zone overlaps in all directions. You have a couple of mortars standing ready; stuff like that just in case there are more of them than there are of you.

Right about now, it would be very nice to have Ronald Reagan's missile defense system in place, but everyone made fun of him when he suggested it in the 1980s.

So, the notion that this nation is "on alert" (pick your favorite color) is both true and irrelevant at the same time. We do not know if the FBI, CIA and NSA, among other intelligence agencies, are actually talking with one another these days, although friends who know about such things tell me they are. At least, they are talking a lot more than before 9-11. And since, despite a year's delaying tactics by a Democrat controlled Senate, a Homeland Security Department could begin to function.

A lot of deep-fried conservative friends of mine are worried about losing our civil rights as we gear up to fight an invisible enemy that looks like your next door neighbor. I am conservative, too, but not to the point that I think the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and other government agencies have so many people and so much time that they are going to be checking what I bought at the market last week. No, realistically, they will focus their personnel, time and money on finding the real enemies.

Does it bother me the government now has such broad powers? Yes and no. Yes, because the last time I read the US Constitution, they really should not have the right to invade my privacy without a court-ordered warrant. No, because I want them to invade the privacy of everyone of the more than one thousand mosques, the many Muslim parochial schools and Arab "charities" in America. I may be a patriot, but I am not stupid either.

Homeland security, right now, is a very thin line of dedicated men and women seeking to protect us and all the others who are too stupid to cooperate with them. Colleges and universities are balking about providing the government with the names of their foreign students.

There are an estimated eight to eleven million illegal aliens living in the United States and the Immigration and Naturalization Service hasn't a clue where any of them are.

Let me repeat. Our national borders are just lines on a map, unprotected. Our seaports are unprotected. There isn't a single passenger jet that can't be blown out of the air and, on the ground, airport security is a joke. The good news is you can now take fingernail clippers with you on your next trip.

For good measure, Red China owns huge facilities at both ends of the Panama Canal and a large port facility in Los Angeles. Canada will accept any foreigner who gets off the airplane and asks for protection. The Mexican government is issuing identification cards to any one of their citizens who wants to cross our border legally or illegally. Many American banks accept these cards so they can open an account and ship money to the folks back home. In some states, they are sufficient proof to get a driver's license.

So, please, the next time someone in high office tells you about homeland security, try not to laugh. Try not to cry either.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. A collection of his columns will be published in January by Merrill Press. © Alan Caruba, 2002

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