Counterterrorism Scorecard: New Jersey Store Clerk: ‘A+,’ Congress: ‘F’
Like the Dutch filmmaker on NWA Flight 253 and the video clerk near Fort Dix, a Quick Chek employee steps up to the front lines in the war on terror. (See also Phyllis Chesler: "The Terrorism Quiz")
January 27, 2010 - 9:02 am
There is not much else to tell you about this story that you can’t already surmise. The angry, weapons-toting ideologue bent on killing U.S. soldiers has become a familiar narrative in the war on terror. So has the mislaid blame.
The important player in this story, at least as far as winning the war on terror is concerned, is the Quick Chek clerk on Route 28. Like the Dutch filmmaker on NWA Flight 253 and the video clerk near Fort Dix, the clerk’s actions no doubt saved countless lives. Sad but true, the clerk gets an A+ for counterterrorism work well done. Long gone is the idea of John Doe being “the last line of defense” — the clerk, the filmmaker, and the video duplicator are increasingly finding themselves on America’s front lines.
This is, I think, largely due to a second narrative, best represented this week in a news story that broke 24 hours later.
On January 26, a little before the business day began, former Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent — chair and vice chair of the “bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism” — released a “report card” saying the U.S. government is doing a bad job protecting the nation from terrorists’ WMD threats. In fact, say the former senators, out of 17 subjects to address, the U.S. government got three “Fs” and an “incomplete” — that one on implementing a comprehensive policy about nuclear risks in Pakistan, no less.
There are 535 members of Congress. There are 80 congressional committees and sub-committees dealing with homeland security. Eighty. And between them, they collectively failed three out of seventeen subjects and got an incomplete in the subject of Pakistani nukes.
These two stories epitomize what the war on terror has come to in 2010. The average citizen takes action, or is forced to take action, while an impotent Congress rearranges deck chairs on the Titanic for pay.