Christmas and Homeland Insecurity
by Bill Sardi by Bill Sardi
I was watching a replay of the Hollywood Christmas parade on television when suddenly the announcers called attention to a new participant in the parade……. The Department of Homeland Security. The DHS was hyping their newly produced TV series, D.H.S., starring Timothy Cavanaugh and Alison Heruth-Waterbury, billed as a "cliff-hanger TV series for the new season." The D.H.S. series is supposed to show how government agents are risking their lives to protect Americans at home.
Poster of new D.H.S. TV series
Normally Christmas parades are a time of fun and fantasy as moms and dads hold their children at curbside for a view of floats and bands. In the past, any potential security threats have been kept behind the scenes at events like these so the public can enjoy them without concern, that is, until now. The policy seems to be, "Keep the public slightly on edge." After all, the nation was on "orange alert," which was issued on Sunday, December 21, 2003. On that day ABC-TV interrupted its Sunday broadcasts to announce the orange alert and warned the public to "watch out and report any suspicious behavior."
Frankly, the "suspicious behavior" could have been any Arabic-looking American with the flu who happened to be sneezing in a public place. While the DHS is on the lookout for potential biological terrorist threats, the influenza virus sneaks into the U.S. every year from Asia and kills about 30,000 Americans, mostly older adults or young children with poor immune systems. A biological terrorist would have difficulty matching those numbers.
The Centers for Disease Control says there is a shortage of flu vaccine this year, but there always is a shortage since only about 80 million doses are produced for a population of 280 million, yet no epidemics have ensued in the past. (Seems the CDC is acting as a publicity agent for Flumist, the new nasally-instilled vaccine marketed by Wyeth Labs. When sales of Flumist fell behind projections, the CDC warned the public of an impending flu epidemic before there was one and bought 3 million doses @$20 to bail the company out.)
Another way to avert DHA defenses
Would-be terrorists became aware of another way to beat Homeland Security Defenses recently. Simply slip your biological threat into imported green onions. In early December about 500 Americans fell ill and 3 died due to hepatitis-A infected green onions brought into the country from Mexico. Imagine a script for the D.H.S. TV series where agents draw their guns on illiterate Mexican farmers who somehow mixed contaminated human feces into their exported onions. I can see the plot developing now. There is no word on whether Mexican farm workers will be provided with porta-potties to eliminate the hazard.
Orange alert issued by Dept. of Homeland Security
Biological Terrors Cross The Border Daily
Another major biological threat that crosses the U.S.-Mexico border daily, harbored by illegal immigrants, is tuberculosis. About 16,000 cases of drug-resistant TB have been reported in the past four years, which was previously endemic only in Mexico. Add to that another 7000 cases of leprosy brought into the U.S. by immigrants in the past three years and you’ve got a threat that D.H.S. is unlikely to ever control unless it can effectively block illegal immigration. The D.H.S. (which took over for the Bureau of Immigration) says they have removed 181,979 illegals so far this year, and have apprehended more than 70,000 immigrants a month along the southern border of the U.S., but an estimated half million illegal immigrants make their way into the country each year. According to a report by ABC News, while the D.H.S. is clamping down on travel in and out of Mexico, this policy is backfiring to some extent. Illegals working in the U.S. who usually return to Mexico during the Christmas Holidays now fear they will not be able to re-enter the U.S. A Catholic priest in Napa valley, where many immigrants work to harvest crops, says the D.H.S. policy "is supposed to keep people out, but it’s locking people in."
Meanwhile, D.H.S. efforts to deport illegals has been stepped up to the point where immigrants being treated for tuberculosis can’t complete their course of antibiotics before deportation, according to the Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis. These immigrants may die of TB or infect others due to this policy.
How To Prepare For Public Emergencies
The D.H.S. has also issued advice on how to prepare for public emergencies should a terrorist attack occur. For example, their published advice for people caught in a high-rise building during a terrorist attack includes "listen and follow instructions, know where the emergency exit is, and stay to the right while going down stairwells to allow emergency workers to come up." I’m sure this advice will soon be posted in every high-rise building, further creating a sense of potential terror and insecurity. And none other than the Salvation Army has been enlisted to assist the D.H.S. in distributing preparedness information. At least the down-and-outers will be prepared, if they can read.