Homeland Insecurity

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 2004

Wish I knew how to type music so folks would know what I have in mind.

I was planning to start this week’s column with the opening music from the Twilight Zone television series. It would have looked something like this: do do do, do do do, do do do, do do do, do do do….

I figured those few who haven’t already decided I’m nuts would be swayed to that opinion if I led the column that way without explanation. I was thinking the world’s turned upside down because of a few items in the news over the past few days, a common theme from Rod Serling’s &uot;Twilight Zone&uot; series.

Terrorists just ain’t safe any more. Not even fake terrorists. In Costa Rica, a man wearing an Osama bin Laden mask was enjoying a night of scaring motorists by jumping out onto the street and brandishing a pellet rifle. Good fun. Good fun.

Well, it was until he jumped out in from of a cab driven by Juan Pablo Sandoval, who, upon recognizing the features of most wanted man in the world, pulled out his real gun and opened fire. He shot the Osama nolongerwannabe twice in the stomach, but luckily no one was seriously injured.

&uot;For me and I think for anybody else at a time like that one thinks the worst and so I fired my gun,&uot; Sandoval told reporters. Police declined to detain Sandoval, saying he had believed he was acting in self-defense.

Let that be a lesson to you: Do not dress like terrorists to see the shocked reactions of others. And if you happen to see Osama wandering around the mall this Christmas season, I guess it’s all right to gun him down. Better safe than sorry, I always say. By the way, that must have been a pretty darned good mask.

While we’re on

the subject of Homeland Security, if you travel over the holidays and stumble across a fake bomb in your luggage, send it to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Seems that during a training exercise to help airline security detect bombs in luggage, Newark authorities lost their fake bomb, which apparently looked like the bombs in all the movies with plenty of wires and a clock for a detonator.

If you’re thinking this was just an aberration, that it could never happen again… well, this was the second time this month security officials lost their fake training bomb. Earlier in the month, French security officials lost a real fake bomb – one that actually had a small amount of explosives in it – to see how their bomb-sniffing dogs would do in finding it.

Not so good.

Apparently the folks in Newark and France aren’t by themselves. A recent study indicates that security personnel miss one out of every four fake bombs that pass their way. I hope they’re having more success with the real thing.

But this is nothing. Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, was very nearly put in charge of the nation’s Homeland Security. So what’s wrong with that? He’s a tough talking, no nonsense police official who helped clean up New York when Rudy Guilliani was mayor.

While he said he was pulling his name from consideration because some dastardly illegal immigrant weaseled herself into his home to be the nanny for his children, accepted cash payments for her employment, and never paid taxes (or was reported to the IRS for taxation), it turns out that Kerik had a lot more skeletons in his closet than that.

Let’s see, he accepted lavish gifts as police commissioner (including a gem encrusted badge), had not one, but two mistresses (he’s married), and took over an apartments (for his mistresses) that had been donated to the police and firefighters working at the scene of the 9/11 terrorist attack. There are other things, but I think these are sufficient.

Needless to say, even after his abject public apology to President Bush for recommending Kerik to be the Homeland Security czar, Guilliani ain’t too popular around the White House these days.

Speaking of national security and the White House, on Tuesday President Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former CIA Director George Tenet, former Iraq War Commander Tommy Franks, and former U.S. Administrator of Iraq Paul Bremer.

Tenet failed to see 9/11 coming even though several security officials formerly in the Pentagon warned him months ahead of time that it was coming. He also assured the President that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (false), that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the U.S. (false), and that Iraq had a hand in the 9/11 attacks (false).

Good work, Mr. Tenet.

U.S. forces did make quick work of the Iraqi military during the war under the generalship of Franks, but Franks sent our troops into battle without inadequate body armor, unprotected vehicles, and not enough troops to secure the country.

In other words, most of the deaths following the actual war might have been prevented if Franks had planned his strategy more than a month in advance.

Good work, Gen. Franks.

Bremer, for his part, disbanded any semblance of security forces in Iraq out of spite for Saddam Hussein (either his or the president’s), which allowed some of the most important historical artifacts in the world to be looted while U.S. troops guarded oil company office buildings.

He also alienated most of the Iraqi populace by ignoring their concerns and has almost guaranteed that when the dust settles in Iraq, there will be civil war. Either that or the U.S. can establish bases in Iraq for a 50-year stay.

Good work, Mr. Bremer.

The gall of giving these three losers the nation’s highest civilian honor cheapens the medal and proves, once again, that President Bush has no shame or honor.

Do do do, do do do, do do do….