Yes, the geniuses at Homeland Security seem to think that's possible.
The Mayor of Dillingham, Alaska applied to Chertoff & Company for a sizable grant to "fight terrorism." And they got it. Dillingham, Alaska - population 2200 - was given $202,000 to fight terrorism. And how did they spend that money? Naturally, they put a surveillance camera on every street corner. Six policemen watch the town on a bank of plasma screens every day, recording every move of the citizens of this tiny, remote village.... just in case the terrorists decide to disrupt this year's salmon run.
According to the L.A. Times, Dillingham is a fishing community, 90 minutes by prop plane from Anchorage, 1200 miles from Seattle, 800 miles from Russia, the ocean around it is frozen for a good portion of the year, the rivers are clean, the air is crisp, the snow is white, and the wildlife is plentiful. Dillingham is a place where the salmon, and apparently the terrorists, come to spawn. And thank God we'll get it all on videotape.
But somehow the citizens of Dillingham just don't get it. They're not like the rest of us. They're not willing to bow to irrational panic the way we are. They, unlike us, aren't okay with their government eavesdropping on them without court authorization. They don't seem to appreciate the President's assertion that the statutes that protect our privacy are "pre-9/11 laws" and don't apply anymore. The citizens of Dillingham have the audacity to want to visit the local health clinic without their neighbors knowing or sneak a kiss with a new girlfriend on a Friday night without the Sheriff giggling down at mission control. Obviously, the citizens of Dillingham have a "pre-9/11 world view," unlike the rest of us who have agreed that the world is so terrifying that we should just hand over our collective balls to W and Cheney simply because they didn't bring a pair of their own.
Maybe the rest of America will just chuckle when they hear about Dillingham. They'll think it's rather quaint, a problem happening "up there somewhere, where we drill for oil." But Dillingham is America. It's your America. It's my America. It's Bush's America, too. We want to trust a President who tells us to sacrifice for our freedom. We want to trust a leader who sends young men and women to fight, bleed, and die for it. Bush says the terrorists hate us because they hate our freedom. Maybe that's true, I don't know. But I'd trust him a whole lot more if he fought for our freedom over here as hard as he's fighting for it over there.
As for keeping terrorists from crossing our borders, I'm all for it. But I'd like to know just who the hell is in charge of that? Who decided that $202,000 should be spent on surveillance cameras on the set of Northern Exposure. Your hard-earned dollars are being urinated down an Alaskan stream and wouldn't you like to know how and why? Who gave that favor? Who received that favor? What was exchanged for that favor? How many other Dillinghams are out there? And which communities aren't getting the money they need because of these favors? At a time when only 5% of containers coming into our ports are being checked, couldn't that $202,000 be used for a radiation scanner for the port of Miami, Los Angeles, New York or Baltimore? Is there anyplace where that money could have gone to better use? Like maybe....oh....I don't know.....the hurricane victims?
I have an even better idea. Let's use it to buy bus tickets. Lots of them. One way tickets out of Washington. And let's give them out to all the lobbyists, opportunists and foaming, ass-kissing, glad-handing, favor-junkie, money-hungry politicians who have long since exchanged their integrity for a happy-ending massage in the Lincoln bedroom.
Dillingham's Americans started a petition to remove the cameras from their lampposts. People will surely call these rabble-rousers un-American. Don't listen to them, Dillingham. Fighting a government set on denying you a basic liberty like privacy is what this country was founded on. Maybe its time to re-found it and find it again up there in Alaska. Maybe Dillingham's Americans will remind us that the Constitution is also a pre-9/11 law.
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