Monday, May 14, 2007

Where did common sense go?

Thought you all might enjoy this editorial from the kelowna daily courier this am - but reprinted from Red Deer Advocate

U.S. Terrorism Fears Unhinged

Dread fears about our poppy coin are a measure of how lunatic the United States has become about terrorism.

It is at the forefront of everything the Bush Government does, including being a phony pretext for the war in Iraq

Fear of terrorist attacks trump all other concerns, to the detriment of commerce, convenience and common sense.

The poppy boondoggle started when contractors for the US army, travelling in Canada, got seriously bent out of shape about a coin that ironically was designed to honour our foreign war veterans.

With straight faces they filed secret espionage reports to their government calling the coins “anomalous” and filled with something that “looks like nanotechnology.”

Fears were advanced that the coins could be covertly slipped into the garments of potential terrorist targets, allowing the secret technology to track their whereabouts, after one contractor found a poppy coin in the cup holder of a rental car.

An agency of the US Defence Department subsequently issued a sensational report that the mysterious coins were embedded with frequency transmitters and were planted on US contractors with security clearances at least three times while travelling in Canada in late 2005 and early last year.

Its quite remarkable that the Inspector Clouseaus in the defence establishment have the time, skills and technology to conduct sophisticated tests on the coins, but lacked the common sense or the phone number to call the Royal Canadian Mint and ask about them.

The problem here is not so much that an innocuous artifact was elevated to the level of dread international threat. It does not seem that anyone was hurt by this misadventure, unless you count reputations. The serious problem is the mindset that sees terrorist plots as pervasive and imminent threats.

They are not limited to the few egregious examples like Maher Arar, who was detained in New York and transported to Syria where he was tortured and jailed for almost a year before the Syrians decided there was no credible evidence against him and let him go.

The US Homeland Security Department’s continuing insistence that Canadians and Americans must have passports to cross our shared border springs from that same dread sentiment. That view will diminish trade and cost jobs on both sides of the line.

Border-state US politicians and their Canadian counterparts have lobbied relentlessly to little effect so far.

To be sure, there is a terrorist threat, but it is tiny. In the Bush administration, that threat tops all other considerations and security agencies seem to have veto power over genuine risk assessment and common sense.

Let’s hope they don’t target TimBits or turn their attention to whatever secret threats might be lurking under rolled-up coffee cup rims.

From the Red Deer Advocate

Thanks Gus R.

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