No satisfaction


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that some 100 known terrorists were passed through security checkpoints at three different major airports in March of this year. To date 297 people have been killed and another 839 injured as a result of having come into contact with the terrorists. Although DHS says that, at this point, roughly 75 percent of the terrorists have been killed or apprehended, it recommends that all citizens check their neighborhoods for any individuals arriving on or after March 13 and report any terrorist sightings to local authorities.

The latest incident is the largest outbreak since 200 terrorists successfully passed through the agency’s revamped airport security procedures last September. That mishap resulted in more than 1,500 deaths and 3,000 injuries across 35 states. According to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, DHS personnel were on site at all of the airports involved, but that “recommended security practices were not followed properly.” Chertoff further stated that “some of the airports that may have had less than stellar systems in place are getting caught. We now plan to send special assessment teams into any airports that seem to be lagging to urge them to adopt more stringent measures.” When asked during a recent debate how she would specifically address the problem if elected President, candidate Hillary Clinton blamed the situation on the “failed policies of the Bush administration.”

Well, relax. You can feel safe knowing that the above scenario is, of course, just a terrifying fiction. But you may not feel quite so reassured when you know that the quotes themselves are actually real and those of Dr. Richard Raymond, the Agriculture Department’s Under Secretary for food safety, speaking (of meat packing plants rather than airports) in the aftermath of this summer’s outbreak of E. coli in frozen hamburger patties from the now defunct Topps Meat Co.

Is this really an acceptable attitude and policy from one of the government agencies responsible for the safety of the nation’s food supply? Where is the public outrage and demand for accountability? Perhaps the pointless prattling of politicians and of the television media’s “blabberatzi” has simply immunized us all from any reaction to flagrant government agency unresponsiveness and blatant incompetence. It must be so, since years and years of recalls and years and years of studies, renewed attention, promises, and platitudes have left us with the same results.

We now have yet another widespread E. coli outbreak in hamburger meat. This time Cargill Meat Solutions (Wichita, KS) is voluntarily recalling approximately 1 million pounds of ground beef distributed to retailers nationwide. According to the company, in its release of November 3, it first learned of the possibility of contamination after the U.S. Department of Agriculture returned a confirmed positive on a sample of product produced October 8.

Is that the best the USDA can do for us? If so, my suggestion is that we shut down the department and put the money saved into flatulence-control research. And I don’t mean for the cattle. I’m sorry, but I’m far from satisfied. How about you?

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John Haystead,