With the gummint spending jillions of greenbacks on anything labeled "anti-terrorism," seems like a good time to cash in on hysterical fears of cashing it in. Here are a few sub-hundred-million-dollar ideas guaranteed* to get the green, green, green light from Congress.
* i.e. "not guaranteed"
Program: Anti-Terrorism Meditation ("ATM" -- not the cash machine or the stomach-churning porn act)
Price: One Million U.S. Dollars or equivalent in Priuses
Description: Hundreds of intensely focused Buddhists will scan the ethereal plane for terrorists. When they find one (and they're bound to find one, since if you follow the Bush administration's logic there are only, like, four people in the country who aren't terrorists), the Buddhist Don't-swat Team will descend on the bad guy, become one with him, then mutually revert to nothingness. Problem solved, and we don't have to deal with show trials or extraordinary rendition.
Program: Anti-Terrorism Fairy ("ATF" -- not the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Shoot-outs)
Price: Twenty Million U.S. Dollars or one infinite lease on a large metro's fluoridation system
Description: Re-purposing the Tooth Fairy, a mystical being who looks under every pillow in America nightly. If the ATF finds a tooth, he or she leaves a nickel or a coupon for T.G.I. Friday's or whatever. If, however, the ATF finds a plan for blowing up the sky-scraping grain elevator in Bisbee, North Dakota, for example, he or she will remove all the bad guy's teeth, and bones, and muscles, leaving him largely unable to terrorize. (Then again, a boneless, toothless, muscleless thing with a grudge could be pretty creepy, in that irrational way a lot of folks freak out around moths.)
Program: Anti-Terrorism Flood (also "ATF," but this one's wetter)
Price: Ninety-nine Million, Nine Hundred Ninety-nine Thousand, Nine Hundred Ninety-nine U.S. Dollars and Ninety-nine Cents
Description: This one's complicated. We lure the bad guys into a town below sea level, assuring them the quinquagintillion-gallon lake upstream from them is secured by the full faith and credit of the United States. But! (here's the sneaky bit) we actually build the ostensibly life-guarding levee out of mud, a substance not typically known for its ability to withstand sloshing. (Try it. Get a ball of mud and a bucket of water. Play Hurricane for, like, one minute and see whether the mud or the water wins.) This program requires minimal involvement, which, thankfully, is the precise amount the government is willing to offer. We just wait for nature to take its course.
The best thing about all these admittedly under-priced initiatives: they'll work just as well as the multi-hundred-million-dollar versions ("Matrix?" Really?) and infinitely better than the multi-hundred-billion-dollar invasions. With American ingenuity and a little high-dollar Congressional gullibility, we'll have "terror" stamped out as a useful noun in no time.