Teresa at Making Light has all the good links on the recent Aqua Teen al-Qaeda Force scrum in Boston. By now you're likely familiar with the basic outlines of the story: a marketing gimic featuring cartoon figures with LEDs sparked the sort of all-hands-on-deck interagency response that supposedly could've saved New Orleans, if only Hurricane Katrina had looked a little more like a vast, meteorological Lite Brite kit. Imagine the Pavlovian mania of our Fatherland Shock Troops when some drunken Peorian phones in the flashing-light bomb threat at two AM while confabbing with some fellow Rotarians in Vegas.
Officialdom, meanwhile, congratulates themselves to the tune of: This just proves that we're prepared to respond! It represents the ultimate triumph of the hypothetical over the observed. September 11 happened; Katrina happened; the East Coast blackouts happened. But plenty of phony terrorist plots have been broken up, and the last storm season was a piddler, and thus . . . Almost everything we do to prevent and mitigate these disasters is wrong, but because we do it so well when there's no actual disaster pending, by god, we must be doing something right. To make the basic libertarian point: This is the problem with government: It endlessly aggregates as a corrective to problems of which it itself is the ultimate cause. Homeland Security, such as the Stalinist euphemism goes, and the whole attendant structure of the National Security State is a neverending response by the United States Government to security problems, real and imagined, that are created, grown, and catalyzed by the policies of the United States Government. As goes the famous dialogue in Dr. Strangelove:
TURGIDSON: The duty officer asked General Ripper to confirm the fact the he had issued the go code and he said, "Yes gentlemen, they are on their way in and no one can bring them back. For the sake of our country and our way of life, I suggest you get the rest of SAC in after them, otherwise we will be totally destroyed by red retaliation. My boys will give you the best kind of start, fourteen hundred megatons worth, and you sure as hell won't stop them now. So let's get going. There's no other choice. God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all." Then he hung up. We're still trying to figure out the meaning of that last phrase, sir.To which I have nothing noteworthy to add.
MUFFLEY: There's nothing to figure out General Turgidson. This man is obviously a psychotic.
TURGIDSON: Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in.
MUFFLEY: (anger rising) General Turgidson, when you instituted the human reliability tests, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring.
TURGIDSON: Well I don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip up sir.