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Fear & Loafing In America

Friday, Mar. 09, 2006 1:56 AM

First, in the Why Fear Is Bad Department, a story from San Francisco, where debris on the BART (subway) tracks caught fire. The train operator followed procedure, informing passengers of the situation and what they were to do, but some genius panicked and used the emergency release, opening the doors and preventing the train from reversing direction away from the fire.

Folks, this isn't a remake of A Short Walk to Daylight. If there's smoke, opening the doors will let that smoke into the car, just as passengers in the London Underground discovered when they broke windows trying to get out.

Congratulations to Michael Chertoff, who has apparently figured out what he's supposed to do as head of Homeland Security.

"My job is to make sure we are better prepared for the next time," Chertoff said, dodging questions about the failures surrounding DHS and FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Chertoff also has plans for reducing illegal immigration, and securing our ports, subways, and chemical plants.

What the hell has he been doing in the past year? Making PowerPoint presentations?

And a boot to the head for all the congresscritters who are waxing eloquent about how capable Chertoff is, he just caught a tough break. It's been almost four and a half years since 9/11, and we're just now thinking about these things?

Oversight. Accountability. Responsibility.

So Dubai Ports World has dodged the controversy by agreeing to hand over the ports (that had better be all 21, not the erroneously reported 6) to an American-owned company.

It better not be Halliburton.

And the point isn't ownership, per se, it's security. If you can't track and verify containers coming from overseas - a secure inventory and anti-tampering system as well as inspection/scanning - then you have no assurance that a container from an overseas port (owned/operated by DPW) contains 100% George Bush bobbleheads as opposed to 95% George Bush bobbleheads and 5% Osama bin Laden fridge magnets.

Update: 2:40 AM

Norm Ornstein, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, believes DPW does plan on selling the ports to Halliburton.

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