In these halcyon post-9/11 days, we’ve learned apparently innocent actions can instantly convert us from "law-abiding Americans" into "terrorist suspects."
Just a few examples will suffice:
- Your reading habits make you a terrorist suspect. A senior at the University of Massachusetts came under investigation after he made an inter-library loan request for a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s paean to Communism called "The Little Red Book."
- Wearing the wrong shirt makes you a terrorist suspect. A man trying to board a plane in New York was detained due to his T-shirt, which bore the slogan "We Will Not Be Silent" in both Arabic and English.
- Paying off your credit card bill makes you a terrorist suspect. Walter Soehnge, of Providence, R.I., found himself under suspicion of terrorist activity because he paid off a US$6,500 credit card bill. Because this was much larger than his normal monthly payment, his bank froze his account and reported the payment to the Department of Homeland Security as a potentially "terrorist-related transaction."
Well, we can now add another notable indicator of terrorist activity to this list: your pet, or in this particular case, your cat.
In this age of heightened awareness of terrorism, we’re told we can’t afford to let any possible terror activity go undetected. One surveillance initiative is placing sensitive radiation detectors on interstate highways. After all, you never know when Osama might be tooling down the highway with the ingredients for a "dirty bomb" in his turban.
The radiation detectors are so sensitive, in fact, that they recently uncovered an unlikely terrorist suspect: someone’s pet cat.
Here’s the story: a few months ago, police on Interstate 5 in the state of Washington were monitoring traffic for radiation emissions. A vehicle whizzed by and the detector "alerted" to the presence of radiation.
The police gave chase and pulled over the offending vehicle a few miles south of Bellingham. A cursory search of the car revealed nothing of interest—with the exception of a "radioactive cat."
The cat, it turned out, had recently undergone radiation therapy for cancer. The tiny amount of residual radiation was high enough that it set off the detector.
We’re living in a very different world after the events of 9/11/01. And the scary thing is, it’s hard to predict what any of us might do create a terrorist profile for ourselves.
In the case of the terrorist cat, the driver was released after he showed documentation of the radiation treatment. I suspect he may have been grateful, after some reflection, that he had not recently undergone radiation treatment for say, prostate cancer.
Copyright © 2008 by Mark Nestmann
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