Wednesday, July 12, 2006

we are all doomed

all you america-haters who said "the terrorists would never invade indiana" need to read this nytimes article:

It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified "Beach at End of a Street."

But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child's play: all these "unusual or out-of-place" sites "whose criticality is not readily apparent" are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.

The National Asset Database, as it is known, is so flawed, the inspector general found, that as of January, Indiana, with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.

emphasis mine, bitches. and i'll even say it again for further emphasis: indiana has more terrorist targets than any state. in other words, we're totally fucked.

either that, or maybe there's something wonky about the list. let's look at some other places on the list to see if we can divine the answer:

In addition to the petting zoo, in Woodville, Ala., and the Mule Day Parade in Columbia, Tenn., the auditors questioned many entries, including "Nix's Check Cashing," "Mall at Sears," "Ice Cream Parlor," "Tackle Shop," "Donut Shop," "Anti-Cruelty Society" and "Bean Fest."

regrettably, even though indiana scored #1, the article seemingly doesn't list any indiana landmarks... unless the "mall at sears" refers to the sears in the muncie mall, made famous in the lazy muncie video.

how many of indiana's almost 9,000 terrorist targets can you name?

update: the indy star has a follow-up. for one thing, the amish country popcorn factory is in indiana:

About three miles from the nearest town, Brian Lehman's popcorn factory near Berne has somehow ended up on the federal government's list of potential terrorist targets.

"I don't have a clue why we're on the list. We're on a gravel road, not even blacktop. We're nowhere," said Lehman, owner of Amish Country Popcorn, which employs five people.

Nevertheless, Amish Country Popcorn is one of 8,591 places or events in Indiana that the Department of Homeland Security regards as serious potential terrorist targets, according to an inspector general's report that raised questions about the accuracy and relevance of what's known as the National Asset Database.

the story also offers an explanation for why indiana has so many potential targets:

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said federal officials are to blame for the state's large number of targets.

The list may have become inflated because states were left to interpret a request for potential targets however they wanted.

Pam Bright, a spokeswoman for the state's Homeland Security Department, said federal administrators asked Indiana to make a list of "critical infrastructure and resources," not a list of potential terrorist sites.

"There was not a clear definition of what they wanted, so Indiana took the safe side and submitted all of our important infrastructures," Bright said. "If that's not what they wanted, they should have sent it back and said that's not what they wanted.

according to this theory, dhs messed up twice: first by not being specific enough in its questions, and second in not suitably scrutinizing the answers.

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