Sunday, July 16, 2006

Target-Rich Environment

Several weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security caused considerable alarm by announcing substantial cuts in anti-terrorism funding for major American cities, and by declaring that there were no significant terrorist targets in New York City. Now, thanks to an internal audit of the department's National Asset Database (detailed in The Carpetbagger Report), we know what the DHS considers likely targets for terrorist attack:

* Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo (Huntsville, AL)
* The Amish Country Popcorn factory (Berne, IN)
* Kangaroo Conservation Center (Dawsonville, GA)
* Bourbon Festival (Bardstown, KY)
* The Mule Day Parade (Columbia, TN)
* The Sweetwater Flea Market (Sweetwater, TN)
* Bean Fest (Mountain View, AR)
* Nix's Check Cashing
* Mall at Sears
* Ice Cream Parlor
* Donut Shop

Most of these strategic installations are in Midwestern and Southern states whose voters have been more supportive of the current presidential administration than New Yorkers. In fact, the state with the longest list of potential targets is Indiana, which has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1964, and whose current governor used to direct George W. Bush's Office of Management and Budget. Indiana's homeland security department identified 8,500 vital assets in need of federal protection -- nearly as many as California and New York combined. (Last Thursday the Indiana DHS claimed that they were "confused." No doubt.)

It's tempting to argue that this list demonstrates the incompetence of the Homeland Security Dept. It's equally tempting to speculate that our Protectors of the Homeland have concluded, after reading several Philip K. Dick novels (like this one), that such seemingly mundane places as "Tackle Shop" and "Beach at End of a Street" are actually of vital importance to national security. Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner, whose audit of the National Asset Database led to this story, doesn't seem to agree that the database is "an accurate representation of the nation's...critical infrastructure and key resources," but perhaps he just can't perceive the hidden truths to which his more illuminated colleagues are privy.

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Don't let the label Amish fool you. The people of Berne, Indiana are not to trifled with. In 1903, members of this unruly, largely Mennonite population dynamited the home of a newspaperman, named Fred Rohrer, in hopes of halting his prohibition efforts. The city has never recovered from this act of terrorism and to this day, the citizens of Berne are made to suffer for the crime. First of all, the town has been dry since 1918. As if that isn't punishment enough, according to a local librarian, Berne's population is now so inbred that the first few times high schoolers attempt to date their parents inform them that they have been necking with close cousins. With nothing to drown that sorrow in what are those poor children left to do but wallow in their own dysfunction?

Dave Nichols said...

Holy crap! I didn't know we had any dry towns in Indiana, and the idea of Amish terrorists is, I must confess, entirely new to me. Thank you for the intriguing details, Jenn.