Column Date 2008-10-12

Let's improve Homeland Security -- here's my plan

We're not paying much attention to Homeland Security these days, and that makes me nervous.

After all, who can trust those crazy civil liberties people who believe the government has no right to tap private phones without a warrant?

And you never know what those Quakers have up their sleeves. Why, you might wake up one morning and find them actually picketing for peace. (Protests like that led the FBI to infiltrate their ranks a couple of years ago.)

Before we get to my plan to make us all safer, consider these three facts:

1. There are currently 151,000,000 people in the American workforce.

2. The unemployment rate is racing up toward 7%, which means that roughly 1,000,000 people don't have jobs.

3. If there's any outfit in Washington that seems to need help it's Homeland Security.

After all, they've placed more than 1,000,000 Americans on their infamous "no fly" lists – a huge group of untrustworthy people who are probably up to no good. (FYI: After years of trying, Nelson Mandela was finally removed from the list in July.)

Well, it's one thing to stop people from flying, but who's watching these 1,000,000 potential terrorists the rest of the time?

This is where my plan kicks in:

Let's hire our 1,000,000 unemployed people to keep an eye on those 1,000,000 government-identified potential terrorists in America!

Each terrorist would have his or her own Personal Homeland Security Agent – watching, following, videotaping, taking notes, protecting our country 24/7.

According to experts, one-on-one security is the best kind you can have. If a potential terrorist does anything that even looks suspicious, our previously-unemployed person would be on top of the situation in a flash. And swoop in to save our country.

Since the rest of us are obviously not under suspicion, my plan could give us back some of the freedoms we've lost in the past eight years -- freedom from illegal wiretaps, and from government bureaucrats peeking into our bank accounts and medical records.

It might even pay for itself, too – no more need for computerized searches of our e-mail looking for key words that terrorists use, like "bomb" or "that schmuck Bush."

We could also close all those irritating security checkpoints at airports. When a potential terrorist shows up at the gate, his Personal Homeland Security Agent would vouch for him, and confirm that he's not carrying weapons or bombs.

To sum up: my new plan solves two nagging problems at the same time – unemployment that's remained too high, and homeland security that's stretched too thin.

I, for one, will sleep better at night.

©2008 Peter Tannen