Monday, October 11, 2004

Hitting Home

My sister’s town is one of those found on that CD from a dead terrorist, the disk that showed the floor plans of schools. The school had a meeting Friday night for the parents. The County Attorney and the head of their area’s Counter-Terrorism Force, a retired FBI agent, addressed the parents.

My sister said that she has noticed police presence there since school started—patrol cars in line with parents dropping off kids, police on the grounds, other patrol cars circling the surrounding streets. Two weeks ago, my brother-in-law was sitting in his car one night after dropping off my niece for an SAT prep class. He was going to wait out the hour by walking their dog around the school grounds, which include a large field. A cop materialized out of nowhere, banged on his window, and told him to get moving—even after he had identified himself as a town resident and parent of a student.

All of this extra security made sense after the news broke on Thursday about the disk. At Friday night’s meeting, several parents were upset over not knowing the facts for the past month. The County Attorney said that the info was classified and could not be disclosed. The Counter-Terrorism speaker calmed the crowd by saying, “Look, I’m a parent, I’m a grandparent. I understand your concerns.” And he proceeded to point out all the measures being taken to protect the kids.

At the end of the meeting, one parent asked, “Do we know everything now?” The answer was, “No. You don’t know everything. You only know what has been declassified. That’s all we can tell you at this point.” And again, the protection of the kids was emphasized.

I asked my sister how she feels about sending her kids to school. “No place is safe,” she answered immediately. Her theory is that, because there is construction going on at the school, it creates a good cover for unidentified persons trying to enter the premises. The Beslan school had been remodeled over the summer, and at some point the weapons were stashed under the flooring.

She also thinks that a coordinated attack similar to the 9/11 strike was being planned, considering that the schools named on the disk cover far-flung regions of the USA: Northwest, South, Northeast. I think she’s right. Perhaps Beslan was a dry run for the grand attack on the US.

My sister lives in NJ, close to downtown Manhattan. Her community was among the hardest hit on 9/11. Dozens of her friends and neighbors perished in the attack. Her town “gets” the War on Terror like few others. I asked her, “Who are people voting for back there?” “Oh, are you kidding?” she exclaimed. “BUSH! We’re all voting for Bush!”