[This is the first formal essay that I was inspired to write and I could never get anyone to read or listen to it. I honestly believe it would have worked...]
A Homeland Security Experiment [An exercise in creative civil disobedience and patriotism]
By The Dood
“It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Dick Cheney.
“There are some who feel that if they attack us we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they're talking about, if that's the case; my answer is bring them on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation,” George Bush.
“We have met the Enemy, and he is us,” Pogo (Walt Kelly)
These quotations from our President and Vice President represent where they have chosen to stand in the upcoming election. This is virtually the only issue that they want to run on. They have drawn a line in the sand and are daring all comers as well as you, the American voter. It represents a position which is simple, and seemingly impossible to test. The central tenet presented is that Bush/Cheney is right on terror and security both at home and in Iraq.
This is a BIG, masculine line; colored red, white, and blue, and covered in stars and stripes. It protects all of our interests both at home and abroad and they dare anyone, including you, to cross. What happens if you cross that line, say, in an effort to see if they really can deliver? Not allowed; unpatriotic… "Over time it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity, you’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror," as Mr. Bush has said. But who holds them accountable for our own inactivity? Point this out and you’re framed as aiding the terrorists.
What constitutes activity in the fight against terror? A lot of creative and intelligent people have pointed out that even after three years of chronic fear and anxiety, we are lacking in any significant ability to anticipate or prevent some very horrific scenarios. These would be specifically, terrorists planting bombs as baggage handlers, attacks on chemical plants, port security, and soft targets, with Beslan as a prime example to name just a few. If you are not aware of these scenarios, I implore you to Google them right now, for the future of our country hangs in the balance.
A recent article in Mother Jones outlines a ‘money-as-activity’ allocation of resources from the Bush administration and contrasts this with the ‘nation building exercise’ that they have invested our taxpayer dollars in in Iraq. To summarize, needed investment in money/activity on the homeland security front is $49,793,000,000 and doesn’t really address chemical plant or soft target attacks. This is equivalent to 166.29 days worth of the money/activity that we have spent per day in Iraq, which has so far cost us $150 billion. How much has the president allocated in ‘monetary activity thus far towards the roughly, very conservative $50 billion needed…? $1.3 billion. Most of the vocal experts on this topic agree that this is fairly pathetic, and represents very little change since 9/11.
Iraq is framed by the administration as part of the global war on terror and the line in the sand that no one dares cross. How safe are we here in the US and how safe are our charges, the Iraqi people and the Afghani people, after this allocation of money/activity? How do we objectively evaluate just how safe we really are behind this rhetorical line in the sand that stretches between our countries, and therefore evaluate the job that our administration has done post 9/11? How can we find out to our own satisfaction?
One method would be a passive evaluation of reality behind the line in the sand, subject, of course, to censorship and interpretation on the part of line drawers and line critics. A review of current events leads half of us to question how safe from terror our charges in Iraq and Afghanistan really are and what we have “brung on” them and our own troops there. The other half of us are maybe content with the fact that this violence is evidence that Mr. Bush is doing something, and we feel safer here at home by the fact that someone else is being victimized. It’s a little hard to ask a real Iraqi or Afghani what they think.
From either viewpoint it sure looks like we’re protected behind our end of the rhetorical line in the sand. It’s pretty impressive that there have been no successful attacks in America in the three years post 9/11. The FBI, CIA, and others rightfully take credit for this, and routinely parade the fruits of clandestine operations. We’ve all made huge sacrifices with our own rights and freedoms via the Patriot Act and perhaps deserve pause to pat ourselves on the back.
But you can’t drop your vigilance, relax, and savor the feeling of security, because they could attack at any time. To do so is to not maintain the line in the sand, and become an unwitting terrorist accomplice. This is the philosophy that holds the red, white and blue line together. This is the reason you’re bombarded with endless warnings and alerts and a never less than yellow terror alert from Homeland Security. Sure, enjoy yourself every now and then, but don’t forget to feel guilty about it!
Another method of evaluating the effectiveness of the Cheney/Bush line in the sand would be active observation and testing. One could certainly make a trip to Iraq and check out conditions and the morale of our charges, but most of us, I’d venture, enjoy the fruits and benefits of having our heads attached to our necks. To paraphrase the Bush team in regards to their collective opting out of a previous war, ‘I feel I could better serve my country in another capacity at home, rather than risk being killed in Iraq’. I have a hard time framing self-preservation as being a chicken and I respect and don’t begrudge anyone, including the president that right. I only wish our troops were afforded the same rights.
But, I digress. Actively and personally evaluating “The Big Star Spangled Line” in Iraq and Afghanistan is frankly a little dangerous. What one can therefore infer about its effectiveness and security and thus the strength position of the Bush/Cheney ticket, I will leave to the reader.
This leads me to the crux of this essay. Is it possible to actively observe and test our end of the line in the sand here at home? Thank you very much if you have indulged me to this point, and I applaud your concern and Patriotism. I must caution you, however, if you plan to read any further. If you are happy and satisfied with “The Bush/Cheney Star Spangled Line”, read no further; for if you do, you will, by their definition, become a “terrorist”. To challenge the line or cross it puts you “against us” in the words of Mr. Bush and therefore in league with the terrorists. This is kind of like the red pill/blue pill scene from “The Matrix”.
I’m assuming that you’ve swallowed the red pill from this point on. Welcome to the resistance, and The Dood hopes that he can convince you to join our organization, Al-America. How’s it feel to be a terrorist? I felt pretty liberated when I first considered this. I’m not really living in fear anymore, and I feel my life has a purpose now. Will you join us as we challenge, right here in our own back yard the “Cheney/Bush Star Spangled Line” and seek to drive out the evil occupiers of our own government in America?
Let me say from the onset that Al-America is in no way affiliated with Osama Bin-he-who-must-not-be-named and his brand of terror. We accept no responsibility if there happens to be any overlap between our activities and theirs. We’ve all been warned to fear an attack from Al-Qaeda sometime around the elections. Al-America has no control over this, and will bear no responsibility if Al-Qaeda proceeds or is, God forbid, successful. I sincerely hope the “Star Spangled Line” is not tested in this way, because a lot of good Americans will probably die. If they do indeed attack before the election, then Al-America is moot, and we will be able to judge for ourselves the effectiveness of the “Bush/Cheney Star Spangled Line” and vote accordingly.
One of the central findings of the causes of failure during 9/11 reported by the bipartisan commission was a lack of creativity and imagination on the part of the government agencies assigned to stop terrorists. Therefore, The Dood propose that on October 30th (chosen as to still make a difference in the election and not interfere with Halloween), we members of Al-America theoretically take out as many of and as mercilessly as possible our own fellow Americans. We will do this by placing and photographing a pink card strategically in places where a bomb might cause the most carnage. Card a chlorine gas storage tank in a major city, card an acid storage tank, card a few airplanes, and get creative for the sake of our country! In all fairness, the cards should be placed and photographed at least 2-3 days ahead of time. Don’t get arrested. Sadly, you won’t need to trespass to achieve devastating results.
Realistically, there really should be only one pink card placed for every 3-5 “conspirators”. No fair, one person placing a hundred cards, unless you’d like to portray yourself as a Unabomber psychopath not affiliated with Al-America. If this is the case, I’d like to suggest maybe placing an alternative color card, maybe orange or so. But do place your card also, as we Americans should be theoretically protected from you, the home grown terrorist, by the “Star Spangled Line” as well. On October 30th return to your “target”, if possible, and take a follow up photo. If your card’s still there, congratulations! You have the right to claim you’ve knocked off some of your fellow Americans and feel free to tabulate your theoretical carnage.
If you have more of a flair for the dramatic and you’ve really bought into the ideology of Al-America and are willing to die for the cause, might I propose that you could be a suicide carder. A suicide carder wouldn’t necessarily have to wait until 10/30/04. While the God of The Dood would never condone suicide, perhaps you feel that you must do what you must. If this is the case, feel free to choose a public place to your liking, symbolism is up to you. Walk into the crowd, and pull out a stack of pink cards. Yell, “Bang”, or “Boom!” at the top of your lungs and throw your cards into the air! Take a picture, and feel free to email it along with your carnage estimates, but after that, you’re out. No more participation.
If the “Star Spangled Line” wants to play along with this exercise, I might suggest that the Department of Homeland Security participate by starting an alternate color code system alongside the real thing that assesses the terror threat level from Al-America. I would propose as follows: Brown=this is just BS and nobody is going to do anything, Tan=this is popping up on the internet and receiving media coverage, Purple=Office Depot and Staples are running out of Pink note cards, Pink=Tom Ridge or Dick Cheney has found a pink card under their desk, White=Total theoretical carnage for America will reign on 10/30/04.
I propose that Al-America tabulate our results in as non-partisan a fashion as possible. I would suggest that you email your before and after pictures and casualty figures to both presidential campaign headquarters. Each should be able to assign personnel to such an important task. At stake is a public referendum on the central issue that Bush/Cheney has submitted to you as their core strength, “A vote for us is a vote for your safety and effective leadership in the war on terrorism”.
This could also serve as a referendum upon the media as well. Simply cc your carnage submissions to all of the major networks or newspapers and see who finds this an interesting story, particularly on 10/30/04. Again, they should have the resources to fairly tabulate the results. Perhaps Michael Moore could volunteer as an objective referee if you cc your results to him as well.
Imagine the glorious headlines on 10/30/04… “100,000 killed in simulated chemical release in New York”, “4 Suicide carders simultaneously “explode” at Fenway Park during 7th inning stretch”, “3 Airliners “crash” simulating a total of 1500 deaths, Al-America claims responsibility”. We’re all told that our government does these simulations on a regular basis, but we never really get the lowdown about how everyone performed. Don’t you really want to know for yourself?
Perhaps you actually swallowed the blue pill earlier, cheated, kept reading, and are getting pretty angry right about now. That’s OK with The Dood. Al-America respects that kind of initiative! You too can do your job and fight terrorism. If you know or suspect someone might be planning on becoming a suicide carder or suspect a group of plotting to plant a card before 10/30/04, simply talk to them! Maybe you can talk them out of it! If not, feel free to find where they’ve planted their card and throw it away. You’ll have done your duty and maintained the “Star Spangled Line”, and kept America safe, if not clean of litter. This is not about hating America, because we all love and want to protect our country. This is a severe disagreement about how best to accomplish a common goal. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Trust… but verify.”
What will happen come 10/30? The Dood can make no predictions, but, God willing, the forces of Al-America will prevail. The pervasive anxiety and fear perpetuated by this administration will blossom into thousands of Al-America converts who will activate their own independent cells. God is on our side, because the occupiers of our government hate us for our love of Freedom. They seek to take our freedom away from us but they will never succeed. God willing, the Cheney/Bush Star Spangled Line will rapidly bleed to death from thousands of tiny paper cuts come 10/30/04! Have faith, warriors of Al-America, for even If the FBI tracks down and silences The Dood through Carnivore or the Patriot act the movement will continue, God willing.
If Al-Qaeda and He-who-must-not-be-named actually do strike, Al-America is finished and our thoughts, prayers, and tears will be with the lost American souls and their surviving families. If Al-America, instead, is successful come 10/30 we will look forward to resurrecting our “dead” fellow Americans on 10/31. We will then overthrow the evil occupiers of our democracy on November 2nd and proceed with rebuilding a stronger and safer America. Let’s turn pink cards into pink slips for this administration as well as those not held responsible for the failures of 9/11!
Keep in mind that asymmetrical warfare has been around for a long time. Even during the time of our country’s birth there were people who went after the British occupiers using tactics which were considered terrorist. We refer to them as “Patriots” and “Founding Fathers” nowadays. In the manner of Karl Rove, ‘attack your opponent’s strengths.’