Last week, top officials from Homeland Security came to Colorado as part of a push to better prepare first responders in the event of a terrorist attack involving trains or subways. Their visit took them to TTCI, a facility near Pueblo that acts as a test track for the rail industry, and the perfect location, according to Ed Perlmutter and Ken Salazar, for Homeland Security’s next anti-terror training program.
What’s between the lines here is our state’s floundering security budget, which over the last few years has shrunk from $21 million to $7 million. The visit is more of a cheerleading effort from Perlmutter to put some weight behind his proposed amendment seeking to make Colorado, and TTCI, the nation’s official preparatory train-related terror camp, and thereby flesh out our funding.
But Perlmutter is betting on the wrong horse if he expects TTCI to earn Colorado a lick off that sweet, sweet anti-terror lollipop. Train-based terror isn’t ranking particularly high on anyone’s list of what-if-that-blew-up anxieties, mostly because a) if one wants a train to derail and wreak unholy carnage, all they have to do is wait a few days and the trains will do that on their own, no outside assistance required, and b) considering the dwindling number of people actually taking trains these days, Joe-terrorist will probably set their sights slightly higher than a passenger car filled with the only four people left keeping Amtrak in business.
Sure, subways are a grave concern, but something tells me the government will decide to drill emergency personnel in a state that actually has a subway system. All things considered, this is among the lamest of any state’s bid for anti-terror funding, right next to Nebraska’s proposal for 24-hour chopper surveillance of the state’s only Macy’s, and Missouri’s ill-received Operation: Arch-Support.
If we’re serious about increasing our security allotment, we need to drop this train stuff and get down to business. The best way to get that money is to show that Colorado is a high-priority terror target, and there’s only one demographic that can make that happen: terrorists.
Now, attracting terrorists is tricky. With so many rich, exotic locales out there to be fatwa-ed, how can we in the nigh-coastal states even begin to compete as a prime target? Colorado is known for its natural beauty, but bombing a forest just doesn’t appeal to today’s jet-setting terrorist on-the-go.
What we need is to massage our level of security into a state of beguiling un-readiness. Tempt them. We may not be cultured and sophisticated like Prague, but if word gets around that we have loose borders, guess who Jimmy McTerrorist is taking to the prom?
There are countless little things we can do. We can replace all of DIA’s security with a full complement of Wal-Mart greeters who will stand around dispensing mild pleasantries while not looking anyone in the eye. They may make the terrorists feel slightly uncomfortable, but certainly not unwelcome.
We could have a special summer uranium giveaway at Rocky Flats to pull in the crowd still riding the dirty bomb fad. This isn’t exactly a new idea, as Rocky Flats has had several special uranium giveaways over the years for the unsuspecting communities nearby, but a good idea is a good idea.
Once our state is overrun with terrorists, we’ll be shoo-ins for the funding that’ll make sure such a thing would never happen.
So come on, Colorado! Throw open your checkpoints and welcome our visitors from afar! And ladies, a heads up: a few of them may be doctors!
Ryan Nowell is a junior English major. His column appears weekly in the summer Collegian edition. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.