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Condition: Orange


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Condition: Orange
Topic: Current Events 2:11 am EDT, May 21, 2003

Well it's that time again. Time for John Ashcroft to look like he's doing something (or is it Tom Ridge in charge of these things now? I can never tell they look the same, although my guess is that Ridge isn't as inept as Ashcroft) and we're now back to condition Orange.

How we got there looks something like this. 18 months ago 19 guys demonstrated just how much of a joke US airline security was and killed over 3000 people. If their timing had been better and their aim, they could have killed 25,000, and I think that's what their target number was, but they're terrorists and pretty much botched it. This is not to say what happened wasn't bad, but that it could have been much much worse.

Somehow, this national tragedy catapaulted a man singularly unsuited for such a job into the role of national saviour. And watching GW Bush at the National Cathedral, all I could think was, he looks like a televangelist. He's wearing this powder blue tie, and sounding like he's about to call for an amen.

Fast forward to now. We've spent billions of dollars bombing Afghanistan, and failed to find the person who was behind the airplane attack. We have spent billions more and alienated every other first world country with the exception of Great Britain removing from power someone who there is no question was a despot, but obviously without any idea how to fill the void left by removing him.

In the meantime, nothing has been rebuilt in Afghanistan, which may actually be in even worse shape than when we started (brutal theocracy vs brutal tribal warlords?) and the Iraqis are even angrier. The oil fields are safe, but we can't seem to figure out how to do basic things like provide water and electricty in places that, before we sent in the tanks, had them.

To put this another way, we kicked the Taliban out of Afghanistan and left it to the warlords, and have kicked Saddam out of Iraq, but what's showing up there now looks surprisingly like the Taliban. I'm not saying we should have left these guys where they were, but it seems to me that a good rule for foreign intervention, and one that we only followed from about 1940 until 1953, and even then we managed to slip up pretty often, is the first rule for doctors, "do no harm."

So now, the guys we didn't catch have blown up a bunch of buildings in Casablanca and Saudi Arabia, and now I can't park my car at the airport? How does this make anyone safer?

Allow me to pose another conundrum to you, since I'm talking about airports. Rather than spread things out and so minimize the damage if it does strike, the current idea at airports seems to be to concentrate people as much as possible. I don't want to give the people who would actually like to do harm any ideas, but the way security at US airports is run right now, we've made them even better targets than they were before.

I'm all for security, but the fact that the chief law enforcement officer in the country got the job because he was unemployed after losing an election to a DEAD GUY tells me that the standards are way too low.

And if "Condition: Orange" tells me anything, it tells me not to fly anywhere because getting to, from, and around the airport is too much of a hassle and even more dangerous than without it.

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