Friday, February 06, 2004

Terror alert: American tourists are not allowed to pee!

By Jane Stillwater

Returning from a peaceful vacation far away from CNN, imagine my shock when I got to the airport and discovered that America was on Code Orange terrorist alert -- again. "I thought the war on Iraq was supposed to keep us safe from terror yet here we are on high alert," I said to the person next to me as we warily boarded the plane. "Bush has failed yet again to keep America safe."

But the biggest shock was yet to come. As we took our seats and fastened our seat belts, the captain announced, "According to new Homeland Security procedures, passengers will not be allowed to congregate in groups aboard the aircraft. Anyone standing in line to use the lavatories will be sent back to their seats by the cabin staff." What? American tourists are no longer allowed to pee? Unless we raise our hands in class?

Instead of our government supporting and protecting us from the world of international terrorism, Americans since 9-11 are being treated more and more like we ourselves are the enemy. For instance, the mother of a 10-year-old boy was recently interrogated because she tried to buy flight-simulator software at Staples for her son's Christmas present. This woman is a terrorist? Who will we be suspecting next? Santa Claus?

Anyway, after being frisked at the airport and kept from bathroom duties, I finally arrived home and there was an e-mail waiting for me from Joe Thompson of Tennessee. He said, "The local sheriff here is all ready, willing and able to follow Code Orange procedures here exactly -- just as soon as the feds send him the money to do it with." Apparently, terror alerts are costing Americans one billion dollars a week. And where exactly is this money coming from? Apparently, it's not coming from Washington DC. It's coming out of the budgets of our local police and fire departments. That sucks eggs.

I immediately wrote Joe back. "Speaking of realistic budgets," I said, "it's obvious to anyone who has ever had to balance a checkbook that either America can continue to enjoy the lifestyle that we have grown accustomed to -- or we can occupy Iraq. We cannot afford to do both." Not even if we juggle Visa, Mastercard AND American Express.

What is the answer to our national crisis? Let's start by trusting in the awesome power of democracy -- followed by a chaser of truth and fiscal responsibility. To quote Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, "America has a higher destiny" than to just shot and loot. We must not match and raise terror by inflicting even greater terror, fear and death upon an already-fragile world. We must combat terror with hope. And with morality. And with our top secret weapon -- democracy.


Beware of strangers carrying books, warns FBI_

Our terrorist-prevention dollars at work in Iraq:

Question about flight simulator brings visit from police
Recorder Staff

COLRAIN - An innocent inquiry to a Staples store clerk about a computer software program that teaches how to fly an airplane by instrumentation brought a surprise visit this holiday season to a local family from the state police.

...About a week before Christmas, Olearcek said the couple's 10-year-old son, who has flight simulation software and is keenly interested in learning to fly like his parents, commented that he'd have to wait until his dad retired to learn to fly by instruments. She went to Staples soon after and took her son to the office supply store, where he looked through the available software.